You Have to W.I.N.—Not Just Survive!

<p>Brian Willis presents a Below 100 class on the concept of W.I.N. in Raleigh, N.C.</p>

Imagine someone in your life who you love so deeply that you would give your life for them. Maybe it’s your child, your spouse or your parents. Now imagine some violent criminal intent on harming them or even killing them. Would you want your loved one to simply survive that violent encounter—or would you want them to win?

Of the thousands of officers across North America that I’ve asked that question, every one of them said they would want their loved one to win, not just survive.

Why then do we continue to settle for training to survive within the law enforcement profession? There’s a difference between winning and survival that’s real—it isn’t simply semantics as some would argue.

Survival for many people is defensive in nature. We’ve all seen the 5–10 minute violent encounters where officers are completely defensive throughout. Most of those officers survive. Some do heroic things after the encounter to ensure they survive. We need to ask ourselves, however, would the encounter have been different if the officer had been trained to win, instead of survive? Would it have been different if the officer had been trained to be offensive, rather than defensive? I strongly believe the answer is yes.

In my seminars on Harnessing the Winning Mind and Warrior Spirit, I share stories of officers, such as Marcus Young, Jared Reston and Michael Neal, who understand the importance of training to win and fighting to win.

Marcus Young was shot five times at contact range by a violent gang member intent on killing him. Despite being shot in the face and having his right arm rendered useless by a round that shattered his humerus bone, Young stayed focused in the fight and eventually shot with his non-dominant hand and killed his attacker.

Like Marcus Young, the first indication Jared Reston had that he was in a gunfight was when he got shot in the face at point blank range. The .45-caliber round collapsed the lower portion of his jaw and knocked him to the ground. Reston didn’t just lay there and try to survive; he took the fight to his assailant. Despite getting shot six more times in that violent gun battle, he won the fight by pulling the subject into him and making three contact distance shots to the subject’s head.

Michael Neal drove his patrol truck directly at a van carrying two subjects who had murdered two West Memphis, Ark., police officers and gravely wounded two sheriff’s officials. Neal rammed the van while firing his AR-15 through his own windshield. Neal went there to win and he did—killing both cop killers in a violent gun battle.

What allowed these three heroic law enforcement professionals to be successful? They trained to win. They prepared to win. They accepted nothing less than winning. Survival for them was a by-product of winning.

What About You?
Are you training your mind and body to win? Are you preparing to win?

Are you doing everything in your power to give yourself the best possible chance of winning, such as:

  • Wearing your body armor. Young, Reston and Neal were all wearing armor and it saved Young’s and Reston’s lives.
  • Slowing down and driving at reasonable speeds while responding to calls. Slowing down isn’t about surviving crashes; it’s about getting to the call safely and getting there in a calm state of mind that allows you to win any ensuing confrontation.
  • Wearing your seat belt. Winners wear their seat belts. Victims make excuses not to.
  • Embrace What’s Important Now? (W.I.N.). W.I.N. helps you prepare in advance for winning violent encounters through continual mental and physical training. Young had listened to officers who had been shot and had imagined getting shot, staying focused, staying in the fight, winning the fight and going home to his family.
  • Practicing vigilance, awareness and preparation. Complacency gets officers hurt and killed. Complacency is a survival mindset, not a winning mindset.

Remember those family members who you envisioned winning rather than just surviving? They feel the same way about you. Embrace the concepts of Below 100 ( and make sure you continually think W.I.N.! Doing so will help ensure you make it home.


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