The late Chris Kyle did a lot to attract attention to the role of snipers in combat zones and, in the process, polarize opinion about a type of soldier that continues to be misunderstood.
The question of whether or not I glamorized snipers, guns, wars and killing when I chose to title my book The Sniper Mind is inevitable. In my mind, of course, I didn’t. Just because snipers are tasked with killing and employed in a battlefield scenario, in my opinion, does not diminish the amazing skillset they bring to the task. Nor does it take away from the magnificence that is the nexus point of training, focus, task-oriented performance and decision making under pressure:
Chris Kyle, obviously, as the personification of so much of that; drew a lot of criticism and was depicted as a person who used hate and bigotry to come to terms with what he had to do. My take is that it is easy to judge when you’re not in it. As outsiders living a safe life we can take issue with killing, gun-culture, wars, death and injustice at an international level and that is exactly what we should be doing.
At the same time we also ought to have a better understanding of the complexities on the ground. Chris Kyle chose to be a sniper but that ‘choice’ may not really be as intentional as most of us might think it is. Conditions and circumstances exert their own pressure on everything we do. Everything we do then is informed by a lot more than just our willingness which, incidentally, is also a basic premise of The Sniper Mind.
Developing just the right kind of mindset, cultivating the right attitude and putting it all together in away that benefits us in our day-to-day life and job demands a better understanding of things like how we form our identity, discover our purpose and become the main drivers of our own development instead of being passive participants to it.
Being able to make this kind of separation between function and form, task and process, is evidence of exactly the kind of emotional control we need to have in order to make more rational decisions.