The OODA Loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act

Mind4Survival-OODA LoopOODA Loop? Is it Cheese?

No, it’s not cheese. The OODA Loop is the brainchild of Colonel John Boyd, who was a U.S. Air Force Pilot and military thinker.  His OODA loop philosophy helped fighter pilots to combat their opponents better. It did so by helping them to out-think their enemies by using a systematic thought process.

Eventually, it proved so useful that it became a primary core philosophy of preparedness that applies to all aspects of life, business, and survival.

Security Guard Disarms Active Shooter

The video illustrates what the actions of one observant, prepared, and brave person can accomplish. In this case, Jon Meis, a Seattle Pacific University student security guard survived an active shooter incident.  He did so by, knowingly or unknowingly, employing the principles of the OODA loop.  These principles led to the disarming, pepper spraying, and tackling of the shooter.

When it was needed, Jon was ready and willing to take decisive and effective action.  In so doing, he saved his life and the lives of unknown numbers of other students.


Preparing for a situation like this is not difficult.  What is difficult is identifying the problem, or in this case, the threat.  There are far too many examples of people needlessly suffering because they failed to recognize a problem.  They failed when the issue should have been identifiable.  Therefore, do not fail; start every day with a commitment to yourself.  You must commit to using your powers of observation and situational awareness to identify developing situations.  Does this mean you move throughout your day, paranoid and on edge?  No, it means you listen to your gut.  It means you take in the environment around you.  It means you look for things that you think are not normal.


When you do observe something that doesn’t seem reasonable or makes your sixth sense poke you, you need to take notice.  Taking notice means paying attention to the situation and what is happening around it.  As you do, you’ll process the events and conclude the unfolding situation.


After orienting yourself to the situation, you will decide upon a course of action. That decision may be to do nothing as the situation isn’t threatening, nor even an issue.  However, that decision may be to get actively involved as student hero Jon Meis did.  Regardless of what you do, make a decision.  Do not stand there like a lookie-loo on a Southern California freeway.  Make a decision!


Once you make your decision, it’s time for action.  So, take action.  When you initiate your course of action, do so with commitment and determination.  Maybe your chosen course of action is to leave the area because there is no threat.  If so, then leave while committing to remain vigilant.  However, if your course of action is like Jon Meis, to become involved, then do so with 100-percent commitment. Anything less than 100-percent engagement increases your chances of a less than desirable outcome.  So, remember when taking action, be like a momma bear saving her cub; relentless and in total survival mode.

Survive & Thrive

If you follow the basic premise of the OODA loop, Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act, you can become better prepared to overcome difficult situations that may arise.  By doing so, by noticing what goes on around you, making confident decisions and taking action, you will help yourself to be better able to survive and thrive in any situation.


Never forget, you’re just one prep away.

If you have any other thoughts or questions about the OODA Loop, please leave a comment below.

Stay safe, secure, and prepared,


Brian Duff

Brian began his preparedness life at the age of three after surviving the 1971 San Fernando Earthquake. The prepping path led Brian to become a boy scout, lifeguard, firefighter-paramedic, army ranger, tactical-medicine training center director, and international security director. Adding to his time helping save lives here in the United States, Brian spent over a decade protecting others in countries like Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and South Sudan. In addition to his bachelor's degree in security management and a master's of business administration, Brian holds numerous certifications from the safety, security, and emergency medical industries.

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