Each moment we are given another opportunity to observe, orient, and decide how to act. This is our immediate experience and the most intimate of time horizons. Our immediate apprehension of the reality of our situation is our tactical interaction with our environment. In this time horizon, situational awareness is all about the immediacy of our existence. The needs of our immediate experience are centered around the basic elements of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Of coarse if our lives are stable and without immediate threat, we don’t often think about where the next meal or drink of water will come from. Unless we are in a war, in an impoverished state, or out in the middle of the wilderness, our safety and security of body and health are not in question. However, our situational awareness whether unconscious or not takes into account our basic physiological and safety needs. Outside of our basic needs our tactical outlook can also include our belonging, esteem and even self-actualization.
Beyond our immediate experience, there is the short term time horizon. This is the response to our immediate situation. It is where we deal with the short term effects of the actions we take out of our OODA looping. Applying John Boyd’s thoughts on strategy, this is our grand tactical interaction with our environment. When we get angry and tell some one off, the short term effects are to deal with that person leaving or getting angry themselves. When we tell a potential significant other that we love them for the first time, the short term effects are to deal with their response whether it be reciprocal love or a shying away.
Then there are the long term consequences of our actions. This is our strategic environment where something we decided and acted upon months ago returns to us in some form or another. Looking out to our long term time horizon, we can see that small factors become magnified over time. When we got angry with a person in the paragraph above, if we let the situation fester and develop, it can turn into a significant problem later down the road. Say, that person we angered becomes a hiring manager at an organization we want to work at, our past behavior will lower the probability of getting hired. Or if that person we shared our affection for, later becomes married to a good friend of ours, potential for sexual tension and issues arise or it could be a situation we want to exacerbate. Who knows?
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”