Make ‘Rules of Ranging’ Your Rules for Business: Part 7

January 12, 2020 Updated: January 13, 2020


In 1757, in the middle of the French and Indian War, Maj. Robert Rogers composed a list of 28 rules intended to serve as operational guidelines for his legendary and groundbreaking light infantry force, the original special operations unit known as “Rogers’ Rangers.”

These “Rules of Ranging” were a hybrid combination of Native American combat techniques and his own blend of guerrilla warfare, revolutionary in their own time and still a foundational element in special operations units such as the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment.

This list of combat-proven knowledge isn’t just applicable to the battlefield. In Part 7 of this series, we’ll continue to explore how you can adapt these strategies in your professional daily life.

Rule 19: ‘Avoid using regular river fords as these are often watched by the enemy.’

Or ‘Risk mitigation is preventative medicine.’

All self-aware professionals knows their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities as intimately as they know those of their competitors. Pragmatic realists understand that weakness and vulnerability is sometimes unavoidable, so they build risk mitigation strategies into their operations, as well as courses of action that ensure their fragility is limited in the event of a worst-case scenario becoming a reality.

The path of least resistance is usually just the express lane to failure, sometimes catastrophically so. There’s no benefit to plunging headfirst into avoidable dangers, but there’s also little long-lasting reward in reckless shortcuts.

Be honest with yourself about your own capabilities in the face of challenges and threats. When you have a plan for your opposition’s most likely and most dangerous courses of action, you’ll often find yourself on the road to victory.

At the end of the day, leaders are judged by the things their team failed to do, as well as the things they accomplished. The survivability of an organization holds to a similar relational model: Success is as dependent on the risks that were avoided as it is on the things that were done well.

The best way to prevent a specific illness is to limit and avoid exposure to the materials that cause the infection and enable it to thrive.

Rule 20: ‘Avoid passing lakes too close to the edge, as the enemy could trap you against the water’s edge.’

Or ‘Situational awareness is most efficient before going on the defensive.’

One of the most painful lessons for every inexperienced fighting force to learn in the early stages of conflict is that “complacency kills.” It’s all too easy to settle into routine, even in extremely high-stakes environments, when the initial uncertainty wears off and the unfamiliar becomes familiar.

Just about the time the “business as usual mindset” sets in is the time an organization becomes most vulnerable to disruption and asymmetrical threats.

Growth doesn’t occur in any organism or system that’s only active in the sense of how it seeks out comfort and the subsequent entropy. By pushing outside of our comfort zone, we find ways to grow and perform more efficiently. Laziness robs us of these opportunities. Before you know it, you’re taking shortcuts, lowering standards, and cutting corners.

It’s not that you think you’ve become invincible, but that you don’t think about vulnerabilities any more. The most effective countermeasure to this is a vigorous and vigilant approach to what task you’re carrying out, regardless of how many times you’ve done it before.

Rule 21: ‘If an enemy is following your rear, circle back and attack him along the same path.’

Or ‘Complacency kills the enemy just as easily as it kills you.’

The good news is that you’re not alone in being vulnerable to complacency, for it’s a great equalizer of men. If your competition allows it to creep in to how they conduct their own operations, it’s almost your duty to leverage their weakness and exploit this vulnerability. If they’ve grown so comfortable in how they do things that they invite disruption into their ecosystem, it’s right and just to harness this complacency.

There’s no honor in viciousness for viciousness’ sake, but to capitalize on your strengths and overcome adversity when the opportunity presents itself is indeed good form. To do so is not immoral or even deceptive, as the competition’s own actions in these situations act as invitations for certain courses of action.

When you’re involved in this situation, it’s better to be an effect rather than the cause.

Chris Erickson is a combat veteran and former Green Beret, with extensive experience deployed to various locations across the world. He now works in the communications industry. You can follow him on Twitter @EricksonPrime.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.