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Category: Chris Schafer

The Warrior Spirit: Laughter is a critical component of resilience; An essay by Chris Schafer

What is considered a threat today pales in comparison to what our ancestors faced daily. A clear tribute to the ability of humans to create and invent better ways to live. At the same time, as we advance there arise new threats that are perceived as real but are less than physically harmful. Today there are unbalanced perceptions of what threats are. For many of our school-aged young adults, these perceived threats materialize into forms of despair through the loss of social status and reputation through shaming and malicious posts. However, being less than a threat to life or limb these new perceived threats have a real impact.

The Association for University and College Counseling Centers Directors in a 2017 survey found that one-third of students are depressed and about one in four students had thought of suicide.  Is there a direct correlation to our tech-savvy and social media society? Maybe however unlikely the correlation is singular.

Today we have an abundance of perceived threats like ‘trigger words’ and politically incorrect speech which are not threats unless the individual is unstable. Unfortunately, the National Association of Medical Illnesses has found that 1 in 4 college students are on psychological medication which may be the reason for Safe Spaces and the elimination of ‘offensive speech.’ The issue is who is determining what is considered offensive and what is not.

Physiologically the worlds that are created through platforms via technology like online gaming and social media become very real within the mind that is still developing. They like the rest of us struggle with the deluge of information that is available unlike any other time in our history. Training and guidance are key to defeating perceived threats and dealing with them in a positive way.

Real Threats

In our first world difficulties, there is little to teach our mind in how to distinguish between what is a real threat and what is not, outside of being in the military or first responders career fields. For the majority of us, everyday life is non-threatening. This impacts what we perceive as threatening events and shapes our response. Ever seen someone freak out about not getting enough ketchup packets in their value meal or a road rage incident for someone being cut off while driving? Unfortunately, these things do happen every day but are they real threats. Should they elicit an aggressive reaction? Our minds are naturally wired for flight or fight response but what of the non-threats that are perceived as such?

Threats like that of a damaged reputation and social status or that of being eaten by a lion have a commonality, and that is “loss,” and without training and perspective, the response to non-threats may be perceived as real enough to take action. Action to a threat without purpose and analysis can lead to disaster. The ability to laugh at situations that are less than threatening can thwart irrational acts and reduce anxiety and blood pressure. If you think it can’t be done or it won’t work, I offer the following:

Laughter in the Face of Death

I once asked my great grandfather Fred what it was like in WWI, the war to end all wars, with an estimated 40 million causalities. He told me that he had been mustard gassed and spent some time in a French hospital “The nurses were fine,” he said to me with a smile on his face. I was about twelve at the time. I gathered that the nurses that took care of Private Fred Schafer for nine weeks were very kind and pretty. Today I’m confident that he, like many of the Dough Boys, found the local women charming. The point is that he remembered the women, not the horror of being mustered gassed. Fred lived into his 90’s.

Laughter is a Commonality

I have found that many times when I talk with veterans of other conflicts, we laugh about incidents that would be considered mortifying and less than humorous by our non-military peers. Similarly, my teammates and I laughed more often when the threat was intimate, and we were at a disadvantage. The ability to see the lighter side of events while suffering hardship is a core principle of the Warrior Spirit.

Laughter can be a defensive mechanism and a way to cope with a situation that has little chance of improving or changing. Once the harrowing event has past, laughter is a way of conquering the moment and demonstrating relief. It’s a key element in seeing the problematic and embracing it with defiance. The question is how to train one’s self to laugh in such situations.

Training To Laugh In The Face Of Death.


Training to be resilient takes some self-awareness. It’s better to consider how the event impacts your ability to function. Asking questions like:

How it hinders or impedes the ability to do an activity or accomplish a task.


The warrior spirit analyzes the event for its ability to impact the function of an individual and calculates a response that is appropriate. Many times the warrior will do nothing understanding that patience and doing nothing is statistically better than forcing an action a majority of the time.


Warriors will take an initial look at something and then carefully consider the event before taking action. A seasoned warrior will go one step further studying and caculating the related return on investment before taking action. If it appears that it will be less than profitable, then the warrior will move along knowing that he was stronger for not being provoked.

Keep Calm

Remaining calm in stressful situations is paramount to survival. This improves our ability to react correctly to a real threat.

Today threats are new and more overt in their nature and require a warrior spirit to overcome them. There is a great need to teach and train or young in the warrior ways and to understand the difference between real and perceived threats and what is appropriate an action to take and how.

Photo from (Baiajaku)

CHRIS SCHAFER is a retired Green Beret and the COO of Tactical16 Publishing. He is an expert in leadership and business development with 13 years of experience. Chris is co-author of the book Intrepid Professionals, a book that helps executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and self-improvement seekers understand and leverage principles of the military mindset. Chris has advised foreign militaries, worked in 20 countries, and worked with numerous U.S. agencies including the FBI and DEA. He resides with his wife and children in beautiful Colorado. You may also email Chris here, or call him at 719.398.8002.

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The Warrior Spirit: How We Need it More Than Ever; Essay from Chris Schafer

“Come back with your shield – or on it.”

An essay from Chris Schafer
Many of us will recognize the above statement from the movie 300. Scholars believe Spartan mothers used it as their sons departed for battle. Not in a malice way but encouragingly and lovingly. The value and implementation of this type of warrior spirit in today’s culture are missing, and its essence is needed more than ever. Re-invigorating the warrior sprit, however, takes comprehension and discipline.

After nine combat tours serving this great nation and blessed with a wife that possess the warrior spirit, I believe a fitting translation for the Spartans mothers cry is merely this.

“You will face trials of many kinds in life; I expect that you will give it everything you have.”

This is a far cry from the Lawn Mower Parents of today’s culture. Learn more about lawnmower parents here.

Several archetypes typify the overprotective and enabling but seldom do we hear about the warrior archetypes. I believe its due in significant part to fear and a lack of understanding of how the warrior archetype is a benefit to society as a whole. These are severe roadblocks to fostering the warrior archetype and defeating these roadblocks is not an easy task.

I have fought many battles throughout my children’s upbringing to instill the warrior spirit in them. Numerous times overwhelming resistance against the principals of the warrior spirit has won the day. Even when fought with sobering reality and solid reasoning both my wife and me have failed to change the outcomes of how events transpire. I offer the following story.

Once, we argued to keep score at my son’s baseball games. He was playing on a city league for ages under nine. We pointed out the fact that the boys were keeping score and knew when they were winning or losing. We were agreed with but denied. Instead, the coach and parents pretended that everyone was a winner even when some of the boys were visibly upset that they lost. I couldn’t figure out which was worse. Denying the boys their true feelings or acting so ignorant in the face of truth. Regardless, the ability to foster warrior principals like engaging in a common struggle and to honor others when defeated was lost. Many see this story as an unrelated petty issue, and I disagree.

Something for Nothing

As I have already mentioned the warrior spirit is suppressed by not keeping score during sports, and everyone receives a trophy mentality, but there are many others. Consider:

• Our education system that passes students regardless of their ability.
• Our legal system that allows irresponsible suits for those that do not take responsibility for their actions.
• Our leaders managers and officials that use their position to serve themselves.

Every one of these activities is outside the warrior principals and unfortunately reinforced hourly.

Hundreds of times a day we are bombarded by media campaigns that promote something for nothing or wealth and happiness because its deserved. The media is not the only entity that supports these anti-warrior ideals. The disturbing thing is that each in their own way weaves a common thread in the messaging. They all encourage and support the victimization and entitlement mentality. Both victimization and entitlement are defeatist attitudes that the warrior can not embrace. The warrior spirit guards against any assurance that there will be an easy day. The warrior understands that every day is a new day regardless of yesterdays success.

When the warrior spirit is understood and embraced, it materializes more resilient productive leaders, employees, and youth. The warrior spirit is the anti-establishment of entitlement and victimization. Even with these positives, we must guard against some common risk.


Without an understanding of the warrior spirit values, we cannot instill it nor correct it when it strays. Deprived of the values and valor that create an honorable and loving warrior spirit the ideals become distorted and eventually destroyed. When the principals of the warrior spirit are destroyed individuals justify activities that cause hate giving rise to gangs and terrorists.

Terrorists and gangs serve only themselves. Their purpose is a twisted mindset of “we against everyone” and uses immoral violence to create outrage and fear. They reinforce their resolve through unfounded self-pity and encourage civil disobedience. Both are clearly outside the selfless service and empathy inherent of the warrior spirit. Warriors do not let self-pity influence how they act or interact with others.


Without understanding the warrior spirit, we increase the follower mentality absent of critical thinking which encourages acceptance without searching for truth. Without the firm resolve possessed by a warrior, thought police are emboldened to bully those that may have different ideas or beliefs. The warrior spirit can hold a thought without accepting it. This ability is at the heart of the warrior thought process and is a strong defense against acting out irrationally against differing values and beliefs.

Beneficial Values

Warriors protect those that they love and defend the right of the collective in which they are to protect. This is true even if the collective they are charged with safeguarding has contempt for them. A warrior’s valor is driven from the following principals:

• Values self-sacrifice and endures hardships.
• Engages decisively against authority when needed.
• Is cautious of anyone that tells a story from a removed perspective.
• Warriors seek to simplify the difficult and drive to the core quickly without prejudice.
• Recognize injustice and oppression and intervenes with deeds.
• State “Here I am. Send me!”
• Willing to give their life for another.
• Harbors no malice towards a defeated enemy.
• States truth without regard to personal gain.
• Practices restraint and patience.

False Warriors

How few warriors we genuinely have that understand the concept of the warrior spirit fully. Instead, we have numerous fake warriors that kneel or stand before others in a public forum declaring “this might be my Rubicon moment.” Other times its falsely personified by leaders when they say “let us go to war” in some twisted ideal of motivating the masses. Utterances like these point out an evident lack of understanding about warfare and the warrior spirit and do not follow the principles above. Unfortunately for these false leaders, there is little hope of reforming them into real warriors.

As a nation we have to instill it in our youth at a young age beginning with keeping score, teaching that success and happiness are not free and failure is not causation for a victimization narrative.


Editor’s Note: Be on the lookout for more posts that expands on the idea of the Warrior Spirit from Chris Schafer. If you resonate with this article, follow the link below to get your copy of Intrepid Professionals today, where you will find more concepts of the warrior spirit.

CHRIS SCHAFER is a retired Green Beret and the COO of Tactical16 Publishing. He is an expert in leadership and business development with 13 years of experience. Chirs Co-Author the book Intrepid professionals. A book that equips executives, managers, entrepreneurs and self-improvement seekers to understand and leverage principles of the military mindset. Chirs has advised foreign militaries, worked in 20 countries, and with numerous U.S. agencies including the FBI and DEA. He resides with his wife and children in beautiful Colorado.

You may also email Chris here, or call him at 719.398.8002.

(the podcast on iTunes)

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How the “Just Do It” philosophy is dangerous for leaders, by Chris Schafer

“Making a wrong decision is understandable. Refusing to search continually for learning is not.” Philip B Crosby

An article from Chris Schafer
“Don’t think just do.” were the words I heard between a doubleheader at my son’s High School. How can that be a good method to operate, I thought out loud. “You need to have a plan before you take action. You don’t launch the ball towards the infield. The infield doesn’t just throw the ball towards the pitcher every time there’s a hit. You have to think about the situation and have a plan of action.” I said looking at my son. “Yeah but these guys take too long when the ball is coming at them. Just do it!” My son stated in frustration glancing towards the dugout. The defeating part for my son was knowing that there is a problem and not having the time to critically think about the solution before the next game.

How many times does this same frustration manifest itself at your work, where the people surrounding you seem unfocused and aggravatingly slow? Where one finds themselves pondering how to fix the problem or to give up and agree with the old adage “If you want it done right do it yourself.”? The former takes critical thinking where the latter will heap on additional responsibilities and lead to employee dissatisfaction. The real questions for business leaders and managers is how to create an environment that functions profitably at the speed of business.

Pondering a solution to complex problems takes critical thinking. Critical thinking is routinely overlooked by leaders and managers in their efforts to find solutions. Just do it, may be a good marketing slogan but is useless for most endeavors including my son’s baseball team and business organizations. Rarely is there a time where acting on instinct is profitable. For an excellent article on this read the HBR article titled How to act quickly without sacrificing critical thinking by Jesse Sustain.

Outside of the military or first responders, organizations do not have situations that require acting on instinct. Even inside these occupations instincts are shaped through a set of per planned responses to a given event. For the military, there are battle drills. Battle drills are rehearsed until they are muscle memory and can be executed within seconds after a command is given. They are simplistic, easily remembered, and work well for times when thinking is not an option. Battle Drill’s leverage the flight or flight response in our brains and only at advanced levels of training are these basic instincts overridden. This is when the flight response is approached from a position of critical thinking that takes into account the probability of effects and reactions of executing an action. The military teaches the acronym OODA (Observe Orientate Decide and Act) loop. OODA is trained as a loop because it loops back on itself repeating the process until a positive outcome is achieved. Essentially it is a sped up version of critical thinking for the warfighter. At a simplistic level, it’s a profitable method for teaching members of any team how to quickly make better decisions in bad situations.

The game of baseball is not unlike a company, business, or team in the corporate world. Like baseball teams, they need the right people in the right positions at the right time to win or create positive ROI. Highly effective organizations have individuals that can substitute one person to cover another when needed. To reach this level of performance managers and leaders need to ensure that training is done in a method that will teach the necessary skills to be effective at a particular task and provide latitude to be creative in unfamiliar territory. To do this effectively critical thinking skills are required. In an article on critical thinking by the International Institute of Directors & Managers, it had this to say.

“Critical thinking is essential for the leadership of an organization because they have a different mindset on how to operate and function.“Critical thinkers think differently about their impact on the organisation – understanding how their decisions and actions influence business both inside and outside their narrow functional silos. These leaders are able to balance department or team issues with broader company issues and embrace a larger responsibility for the success of the organisation. This keen sense of accountability is what enables them to execute for results now while fulfilling their obligations to positively impact the future.”

To define critical thinking points out that in an environment with many changing dynamics, critical thinking is purposeful and productive.
“In general, critical thinking is the ability to deal with the contradictions and problems of a tumultuous environment in a reasoned, purposeful, productive way. Decisions are made using an approach that is fair, objective, accurate and based on information that is relevant to the situation.”

For organizations with a need to change how they play the game to keep pace with an ever-changing environment, leaders must train themselves to resist the urge to “Just do it” or act on instinct. The leader that masters critical thinking in stressful situations and implements processes that include critical thinking within difficult constraints will create better ROI. The organization that teaches these methods to their team members will outpace the competition. Below are some actions to take to help with decision making and critical thinking gathered from the book Intrepid Professionals:

Write down a list of people who are dependent on and influenced by the decisions you make. You impact the people immediately around you. You impact the people they touch. You impact future generations who are watching you. You are an impact whether you want to be or not. Does that awareness change the way you make decisions?

Decisions are nothing more than a pivotal time in your history that either validate the path you are on or divert your path on another course. It is necessary for growth, learning, and mastery of anything great. Write down five things that you know about yourself in regard to decision making. Now, write down five abilities you know you possess or will be working on as you face the next decision. Lastly, imagine that big decision happening now. What precisely are you going to do?

How are you preparing to make the next decision? What is your habit when your planned outcome is challenged, blocked, or simply fails? Think back to the last quick decision you made; review why you took your actions. What can you learn from the results of the last decision you made about past measurable outcomes such as profit or loss?

CHRIS SCHAFER is a retired Green Beret and the COO of Tactical16 Publishing. He is an expert in leadership and business development with 13 years of experience. Chirs Co-Author the book Intrepid professionals. A book that equips executives, managers, entrepreneurs and self-improvement seekers to understand and leverage principles of the military mindset. Chirs has advised foreign militaries, worked in 20 countries, and with numerous U.S. agencies including the FBI and DEA. He resides with his wife and children in beautiful Colorado.

You may also email Chris here, or call him at 719.398.8002.

(the podcast on iTunes)

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