Can You Keep Your Cool?

By | June 23, 2020

[June 23, 2020]  While training many years ago for deployment into combat, my unit participated in a live-fire exercise.  When we came under fire, our job was to return fire, report, and then move out of the area if possible.  My best friend’s job was radio operator.  When the simulated attack took place, my friend Josh was freaking out and jabbering incoherently on the radio.  It’s not easy to be steady and calm.  Can you keep your cool?

There are plenty of benefits to keeping your head while everyone else around you is losing theirs.  Emotion quickly bubbles to the surface and poor decisions are the result.  In combat, this loss of emotional control can lead to disaster.  Later in combat, Josh did much better but it was the training we had back at Fort Sill, OK that gave him the confidence to do what was right.

Keeping your cool under stress is no easy task.  It runs counter to our biological make-up.  We have all heard about those who cut and run on the battlefield, the guy who freaks out when told to stand in line at the grocery store, or the little old lady who tells you to ‘get back’ because you are standing too close to her.  Maybe you just want to yell back that they are just a “pathetic moron.”  Holding your tongue is better.

Today, as I write this article, there is an excess of  stressors that are pushing many of us to an emotional brink.  Economic shutdowns have put millions out of work, most Americans have lost their livelihoods permanently, the COVID-19 pandemic, rioting and looting, marches against racism, and a host of smaller-scale tragedies that are common for us to endure.  Who could blame someone for losing their cool?

However, there are lots of tips on how to stay calm.  Found in self-help books and articles, these are largely unchanged since the Neanderthal first walked on this planet.  For example, we are told to 1) think before you act (or talk), 2) learn about your triggers and avoid them, 3) count to 10, 4) take a few deep breaths, and 5) pretend you are a better person.  Sure you want to tell the idiot at the grocery checkout counter that he is a ‘thug-wannabe’ for screaming at you for no reason, but it’s not worth the brief moment of satisfaction.  Besides, he might be the local police chief and you don’t know it.

If there is one thing I did learn in combat that relates back to being a better, more resilient person is to not sweat the small stuff.  When you live in a life and death environment, small things like a person that gets upset, should not bother you.  Don’t tell them they are “freaking out” or “stupid” or even that they are a “thug-wannabe.”  Keep your cool.  You are better.

So, the next time someone loses their cool, remember that they haven’t yet learned the basics of human social interaction.  Put yourself voluntarily into situations that push your limits.  Learn from them, focus your mind, and don’t give up learning how to stay calm under stressful circumstances.  This is better for your health.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Can You Keep Your Cool?

  1. Yusaf from Texas

    Another excellent article and one everyone should read. Also the comments in the forum have been also great. Thanks everyone.

  2. Doc Blackshear

    I think that being able to stay calm and collected (mentally) during any crisis is a deep sign of maturity. We all should strive for it. Yet, too many leaders reward those who do not obey this simple axiom of civilization. They encourage the mob. The mob has no responsibility. Steal a big screen tv? No problem, the insurance will pay the owner. Start fires, no problem, the city govt says its okay. You get the picture — when you are superior, nothing you do can be ‘wrong.’

    1. JT Patterson

      Wow, Doc, you got it. This is the point too many do not see with their eyes wide open.

  3. Darryl Sitterly

    Keep your cool? The young cannot.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      Thanks Gil. And there is a lot more. What makes any ideology so attractive? It makes the world simple by creating a single cause for all the world’s problems. If you are against that single cause, you are superior to everyone who doesn’t see it that way. You don’t have to work to bring about utopia… just believe.

  4. Kenny Foster

    Yes, lots of stressors out there today, from the pandemic lockdown to the economic crash to riots, etc. Not much good to see and the media (note the extreme bias they have) plays up and doesn’t hold them accountable. They just want to be WOKE (morally superior). Of course, they are. /sarc off

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      Good comment, Kenny and thanks. That is the reason Communism is so attractive. It gives you superiority without the responsibility.

      1. Benny

        Excellent point and one that I will be using with my friends who are little, mini Marxists. They think they can implement Marxism because they won’t make the same mistakes all the others did in the last century. Oh, what about those 100+ million killed by it? Hmmmmmm

      2. Shawn C. Stolarz

        Well said, Willie and you are spot-on. That is why socialism and all its variants are so attractive to the young. No responsibility? Wow, sign me up! How easy can you get?

  5. Valkerie

    Excellent blog post today, General Satterfield.

  6. Max Foster

    “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” nothing more important has been said. I will say that this is one of the teachings of Christianity. While the young may pooh pooh talking about religion, it works and has for thousands of years. They, on the other hand, worship at the foot of Marx and Engles.

    1. Dennis Mathes

      Ouch, tell us what you think. I do believe you hit the nail on the head with this comment. Why is this so? Well, I’m not smart enough to know but I can see their levels of immaturity are stark. Thanks Max for a great comment.

  7. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Like pre-school children, our maturity is at the lowest level ever. Young adults have not only been indoctrinated by tv but also in school (really hyper-progressive Marxist). So, the real test is to see if they expect everything to be given to them. They are truly priviledged in the truest sense.

    1. Eric Coda

      Sad, but true, yet they ‘protest’ against privilege and do not see that they are the ones who are the very thing they are against. Must be some serious cognitive dissonance going on there. I know a young lady exactly like that. Liberal, school-book smart, but dumb as a rock when it comes to understanding people or seeing herself as what she is against.

    2. Scotty Bush

      I thing we’ve all seen this. At first, I thought it was an aberration. Now it is indeed a pattern.

      1. Nick Lighthouse

        Yep, and there is little most of us are doing about it. How many of us are volunteering to help out youth groups like the Boy Scouts? Tell me! Nope, none of us. So we are also part of the problem.

        1. Dead Pool Guy

          I know that Gen. Satterfield is part of the Boy Scouts. Some of his articles are about the lessons learned from them. ?

  8. Stacey Borden

    Good one! No longer do we consider this a quality character but expect ourselves and others to “appropriately” lose our tempers.

Comments are closed.