What if You Aren't There?

HikingThroughMeadowI was reading a good article describing types of brain injuries at Doom and Bloom. “Traumatic Head Wounds” describes how various head injuries progress from initial injury to possible outcomes. It is worth reading.

I got to thinking, though, about the effects head and other injuries have on others – when the injured person dies. Imagine, if you will, a scenario wherein the individuals involved rely on a relative few of their number for major supply and protection. If persons critical to the survival of the group wind up incapacitated or dead, the overall chances for group survival diminish. Everything they knew and could do went with them.

This being the case, it would be wise for a group that is committed to each of its members to assess the impact of the loss of critical persons. To do this, the group needs to do a few things.

  • Inventory each person’s skill sets
  • Identify likely scenarios that would force a dependency on those skills
  • Evaluate the potential results if those skills were no longer available

Along with the usual things thought of as skills, such as fire making, shelter construction, hunting and food preparation, medical skills, defensive skills, etc… there are others that might be tied up in the heads of just a few individuals. The primary skill within my head is that of leadership.


Leadership is more than just laying down the law. It goes beyond forcing order on a group that might otherwise fall apart under pressure. True leadership is the formation and maintenance of trust within the group, to the point that the leader’s word is enough to elicit quick response and provide comfort and inspiration.

If your leader is taken out in some manner, you will need a new one, right? I’m laughing here, because I can hear some people saying “we’ll work that out”, or “we’ll just take votes”. Leadership is more than a creative activity, where answers are conjured up when needed. It is something that takes time to develop. A replacement should already be in the wings. An order of succession needs to be established, and this can only be accomplished if the leadership resources already exists. It’s not something done on the fly without serious potential consequences.


My recommendation for groups of any makeup is for leaders to be chosen soon, and backups identified. Go through the simple 3 point list above, and keep the interpersonal skills of each in mind when doing so. It is likely that you have leaders already chosen. It is important that they be tested.

I would also recommend that your group, however composed, engage in cross-training. See what skills are lacking where, and how each of them should rank in order of importance. Engage in leadership training by engaging in cross-training. This is a great way to combine very important aspects of group survival preparation. You get to:

  • see who is a leader or a follower
  • bring some up to higher levels than they could see previously
  • awaken new talents and broaden thought processes throughout the group
  • identify hidden and serious deficiencies before they are a threat
  • solidify trust between group members
  • enable fluid motion among all members, with cooperation becoming second nature

Even if your group is small, these things can be done. In some cases, it might be easier. Take inventory. See what needs to be done. Make leadership a priority, and train accordingly. And remember, if you are the leader, what would the others do if you weren’t there?


3 comments to What if You Aren’t There?

  • Excellent information. People can tend to plan on ‘forever’ situations where nothing really changes. But things do change, sometimes for the worse. And that includes losing people due to many factors. They could just move away, become less interested, just not have the time, or, as this article points out, die. Just as plans should be made for changes in the events that might be going on, plans should be made for personnel changes, just as this article points out. Good work. Thanks.

  • nicki Schneider

    a Chain-of-Command is always important to establish. Everyone should take responsibility and and plan to do double-duty where the scenario requires.

    In medical/dental practices, a monthly convening of staff is generally done to reinforce the “what-if” scenarios. Emergency procedures are practiced and role playing is vital.

    Might be an idea for all who are involved in a certain pod or group.

    As Jerry mentioned, when nothing is seemingly happening, people could lose interpreter or move away….

    Good thoughts!

  • nicki Schneider

    On my last comment – I mean “interest” but interpreter might also work, if that is the individual who is in charge of explaining…LOL!

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