> 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?