11/27/2013 01:29 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2014

Violence: Best Practices, Awareness, Mitigation and Response

Navy SEALs are tasked with planning and conducting complex and dangerous missions in the worst places on earth. The planning methods we use have proven to withstand the ultimate tests of real-world worst-case scenarios.

Everybody can improve on keeping themselves and the people around them safer by learning the lessons of the Navy SEALs. It is a popular misconception that physical skills or prowess allow SEALs to be successful. In reality, the extraordinary actions come not from the physical but rather from the mental mindset. In this article you will find 10 lessons that will help anyone develop the mindset of a Navy SEAL.

Indeed, as a society, we've experienced horrific violence in recent years -- both public and private. Whether it is a shooting at a workplace, the horrors of domestic violence or a home robbery -- all of these can make us feel powerless. These feelings of being powerless are normal and represent the origin of fear.

Fear comes from the perception of a lack of power to control a situation. Power is the ability to influence change. When we are in a situation where we cannot influence change, we feel fear. The beauty of this is that you can combat fear through knowledge and experience. Everyone has the ability to decrease their fears and live lives with less stress.

As a Navy SEAL veteran of 10 years, I've spent a considerable amount of time hunting evil in this world and protecting the innocent. It was this passion that led my wife and I to begin an academy -- -- that teaches average citizens to protect themselves, their family and their co-workers in the event of a violent attack. Training always starts where we can make the biggest gains, which is always with the mental aspect.

Take a minute to answer this question: "Have you or do you personally know anyone that has suffered from crime or violence?" I have never come across someone who has answered "no" to that question. The first step to being safer is accepting that there are people who will do you harm. The second step is to resolve yourself to the truth that you will not choose to be a victim. The third step is to gain the knowledge and experience to live with confidence.

I'd like to offer 10 lessons for you to start your journey to gaining that confidence:

Lesson 1: Your natural defense mechanisms are counterproductive to your safety.

As a species, we have spent much more time on this planet as cave-people than in modern society. The biggest difference is that as a cave dweller, when you left your cave, creatures with big teeth tried to eat you. Your natural defense mechanism work best in that environment. When we are met with a threat to our safety, adrenaline causes our thinking and planning brains to shut off, but it does make us stronger. Knowing this helps us to prepare for these changes and optimize our body's natural defenses.

Lesson 2: A bad plan executed poorly is better than no plan at all.

As we learned in Lesson 1, your brain shuts off under stress. Therefore, you must develop and practice your plans ahead of time. Your mind is designed to respond to visualization; your neurons do not really know the difference between doing something and thinking about doing something. So, one of the best things you can do is to visualize and plan ahead of time to be successful in threatening scenarios. You never want to have to solve a life-and-death problem for the first time when your life depends on it.

Lesson 3: Take action first.

Early action always has a lower risk and is less drastic. If you see a potential threat and you quickly turn around and go the other direction, you have exposed your self to less risk. If you wait until the potential threat turns into a physical threat and you have to take the drastic action of defending yourself, you expose yourself to more risk.

Lesson 4: Fighting is not the first or only option.

An attack is stressful for the attacker as well, so their ability to come up with a new plan of attack is limited. Therefore, our goal is to throw a wrench in their plans as soon as possible. This is the order in which to take action as soon as you perceive a possible threat: 1.) Increase the Distance; 2.) Introduce a Barricade, Look for Help then an Exit; 3.) Defend Yourself.

Lesson 5: The flashlight is mightier than the sword.

Tactical flashlights are one of the best-kept secrets in self defense. They are the most capable, non-lethal tools. It can used to identify a threat across a great distance. Shining an extremely bright light at a potential threat is a great deterrent because these are normally carried by the police and military. They are a great physical defensive tool as they overstimulate the senses of an attacker, which can derail his plan. In addition to its blinding light, it also can be used as a striking weapon with little to no training. Plus, there are no legal repercussions to its use, and it can be carried anywhere.

Lesson 6: It is human nature to falsely assume others will act as you do.

If you are a good person who treats people with respect and fairness, you automatically assume that those you come in contact with will act the same way. If you met someone for the first time, you would never expect them to punch you in the face. That would be illogical and immoral. Unfortunately, the nature of being a criminal is illogical and immoral, so it is important to assess each person you meet through their actions with a clear, unbiased lens.

Lesson 7: You can judge a book by its cover.

We all practice assessing people without thought on a regular basis. We focus on their clothes, jewelry or looks. The shift I am suggesting is that we take control of our focus for assessment and look at the attributes that help us to determine if they could be a threat to our safety. This focus can be called upon when we need it.

Assessing someone as a threat has to do with his or her capability to cause us harm and the intention to cause us harm. The best way to assess capability is to look at the person's hands and shoes. Strong powerful hands or weapons in the hands provide a clear indication of capability. The best way to judge intent is through the eyes. Do they track our movement, avert their eyes when we look at them, or avert their eyes when a position of authority enters the room? Those are all signs of intent.

When you believe someone has both the capability and intent to cause us harm we immediately take the actions above to stay safer.

Lesson 8: Don't follow social norms when it comes to your safety.

Social norms such as respect for others, following rules, not causing a disturbance and not being rude all put us at a disadvantage when looking to be safe. These social norms help us to function in society, yet we must be prepared to break them to keep ourselves safer. When your safety is at risk, you must do whatever is necessary.

Lesson 9: Instinct is real; listen to it.

Your conscious mind can process 40 data points a second; your subconscious mind can process 11 million data points a second. Your mindset acts as the filter between the two. Focus on your safety when it is important, and listen to your instinct as it is your subconscious mind telling you that it sees something important.

Lesson 10: Confidence matters most.

Your MINDSET determines what you see and how you will act. Confidence comes from knowing what to do, practicing it and experiencing that it works.