> TEOTWAWKI Blog: The Good Idea Fairy



The Good Idea Fairy

Enemy #1: The Good Idea Fairy
Many of you have probably read No Easy Day, the firsthand account of the raid to kill Osama/Usama Bin Laden. Great read. One of the things that stuck with me was the SEAL Team 6s constant struggle with the "Good Idea Fairy."

All sorts of experts and Brass are involved in the planning phases of the team's missions, and probably deservedly so. These are critical, life-or-death, high profile missions. There are numerous contingencies to plan for, and that's where the Good Idea Fairy flies her chubby little self in and starts waving her wand. With each new possible contingency, the Team has to battle having to carry more gear or running the mission differently.

One example from the book, if I remember right: the mission planners were concerned about getting undue attention from the locals outside the compound. The plan was to have the team's interpreter warn the locals off with the ol' "police operation, move along, nothing to see here" act. But, in order to do that well, the interpreter would need a megaphone, right?

Of course, bringing a megaphone along would mean that someone on the team would need to carry a frickin' megaphone along with them. 60 pounds of gear--explosives, tools, armor, mags, smoke grenades, quad tube NVGs, pistol, suppressed M4, and now you've also gotta somehow carry and fast rope with a megaphone, too? And for what added advantage?

The Team shut that idea down pretty quickly.

While I don't think many of my readers are SEAL team members, high-speed operators aren't the only ones who have to contend with the Good Idea Fairy. Heck, anyone who has tried to plan for next to anything has probably dealt with her. It's very easy to get into paralysis by analysis, bog things down in endless rounds of decision making, over pack and over spend.

Of course, there's certainly consequences to not being prepared and not having the tools you need to accomplish your mission or task at hand. So, there's a balancing act to be done--having what you need and not much excess.

Survivalism has to be one of the Good Idea Fairy's favorite topics. It is exceedingly easy to lose focus and get caught up in the what ifs. The Good Idea Fairy waves her wand and POOF, you've end up with a 100 pound pack you can hardly lift, a house overflowing with excess gear and an empty bank account.

So, how do we battle the nefarious fairy? First and foremost is experience. The SEALs can spot this kind of stuff a mile away because they've got experience and know exactly what tools they need on hand to perform a mission. Very few of us will ever have that level of experience, but the more that we use our gear, the more familiar we will become with the tools that we need. So, every day carry it, get outside and use it, take classes and use it, whatever.

Second, before you give into what seems like a good idea at the team, take a step back and think about it. Ask yourself questions like "What will this do for me?" and "What are the costs of adding this? The consequences of not?" When examining costs, think about the obvious monetary costs, but also the weight, bulk and space required.

Finally, evaluate your preparations and yourself on a regular basis. Look at what you've used and what is just excess. What works and what doesn't work. Bust out the scale and trim weight. Look at what you've bought that was a good idea the time, but has since lost its luster.

What run-ins have you had with the Good Idea Fairy? What have you bought that felt like a good idea at the time, but turned out to be a waste? Do you feel like you over do it with gear or pack just enough?


  1. "What run-ins have you had with the Good Idea Fairy?"

    The list of things I haven't run into is way shorter than those that I have.
    Stick with the KISS and use it or lose principles and you'll be alright.

    I've also stopped worrying about really low probability stuff. As in: the probability that I'm going to get thirsty and hungry at some point is about 100%, so I should have some food and water in my car. The probability that I'm going to get stuck in my car for a week, when I'm just running a errand 3 miles from home, is really low so a quart of water and a couple of energy bars is probably all the food I really need.

    I'm still pondering why I thought owning a dagger was such a good idea that I bought two. I have no need for a dagger.

  2. AnonymousMay 21, 2013

    Reusable toilet paper! Yep, that's what one guys swore to me was the key to not having to stock hundreds of rolls of the disposbale kind. When I asked how you make it reusable, he looked at me like I was an idiot and said, "you boil it in water, wash it and hang it our to dry" When I asked about the gear and resources needed (fuel, water, pot, etc.) to do all that he said fuel, water, etc. is free and available in nature. At this point, it was no longer any fun trying to bring this person to his sences and I took my leave of this gentlemen. As I left he looked at my like I was the dumbest guy on earth. And, I guess I am if reusable toilet paper is tops on most peoples list of supplies.


    1. Milo MindbenderMay 21, 2013

      From a practical standpoint linen wash clothes and a bidet would be much more practical than wharehouses of TP, but no more mobile. Bugging in with a bidet makes sense, but very impractical in a gun and run scenario. Wshing your nasty goat smelling every time you void your bowels might even be a good thing, but TP is americas choice.

  3. AnonymousMay 21, 2013

    This would make a good series of articles.

    BOB = 80/20.... twenty percent of what you carry is used eighty percent of the time... and less than eighty percent is used even twenty percent of the time.

    But the good idea fairy is that 1/99 theory... you could carry 99 items that you may only need once (drop these)... better to try and figure 99 uses for a single item instead... a good knife comes to mind first.
    But what are the others?
    For... water, food, fire, shelter and security?

    1. AnonymousMay 23, 2013

      Using a ratio to measure what to have make sense - but diffeent ratios for different locations. In my pockets for every day carry 20% rarly needed (gun) vs 80% use daily (keys/wallet/phone/knife); then in the truck can be 50:50, and house 80:20.

  4. AnonymousMay 21, 2013

    The prepper who spends $4000 tricking out the ultimate zombie rifle when they have 100 RDS of ammo and a can of beans comes to mind. Until we get the most important things squared away, let's not worry about night vision goggles, Geiger counters, .50 cal sniper rifles etc.

  5. AnonymousMay 22, 2013

    Dave Canterbury's 10 C's of survival essentials comes to mind here.
    EDC gear needs to be multi-purpose. Also keep in mind that on a trip to Wal-Mart, 90% of what we buy every week is NOT what we need.
    If you are impulsive spending at the grocery store, you probably do this with prepping.