The Sniper Mind: Eliminate Fear, Deal with Uncertainty, and Make Better Decisions

The Sniper Mind: Eliminate Fear, Deal with Uncertainty, and Make Better Decisions

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The Sniper Mind: Eliminate Fear, Deal with Uncertainty, and Make Better Decisions

On November 7, David Amerland’s new book, The Sniper Mind, will be available for general orders ( I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy and would like to share some thoughts with you about this excellent book.

First, let’s talk about the subject matter, which is snipers. I never thought I would be someone who’d read a book about snipers. And were it not for the fact that I trust David to regularly deliver excellent insights through his writings in Forbes, Google+, and many other places, I doubt I would have read a book like this. That would have been a shame. Why? Because snipers are really just a vehicle for talking about something much deeper.

Ultimately, this is a book about sharpening the mind in order to make better decisions. David uses snipers as the protagonists because these are people who regularly find themselves in extremely difficult decision-making situations. In this sense, this is a book about knowing oneself, wrapped in a business book, that is in turn wrapped in a book about snipers.

One of the core contentions of this book is that the sniper’s mind is not born, but made. David explores the neuroscience behind the transformation that a sniper goes through in training and over the course of long and extremely difficult hours in the field. The book is peppered with engaging stories about individuals making heroic efforts to save their comrades from horrible situations. The stories don’t glorify war and neither do they dismiss its horrors, but they do give you a much better understanding of these extraordinary people who train and train and train as elite snipers.

I am personally in the midst of deepening my meditation practice these days and have become increasingly focused on the balance of attention and awareness that goes into expanding mindfulness. So, it’s been extremely interesting to experience some of what David is describing in terms of the mind’s ability to sharpen its focus through training over time. As David quotes Jon Kabat-Zinn in the book: “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgmentally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”

I recommend reading this book. The sniper stories act as a kind of fuel that keeps you moving through it, so it ends up being a quick read. Over the course of reading this book, you start to put together a much better understanding of how it is that the human mind can be trained over time to accomplish amazing feats and perform on a whole new level.

I’m not guaranteeing that you too will emerge with a sniper mind (probably a good thing), or that you will necessarily come away making better decisions. But you will understand that it is possible and you will have a roadmap for helping you to get there. The training part is up to you.

If you are thinking about ordering this book, now is a very good time to do so as it’s still technically in pre-order. You will get it very soon and by priming the pump now, you send a nice signal to Amazon that this book will do well (which having read it, I’m confident that it will). David is a big part of the Google+ experience for many of us here, so let’s see what we can do to promote one of our own and help make his book a best-seller!

Here’s the link up on Amazon:

Want to buy it someplace else? Here are some other options:



  1. Gideon Rosenblatt thank you! I am thrilled the book resonated so much with you. I have high hopes that it will become part of a much larger and much-needed push for better thinking. Something that’s really needed in our times. Like everyone else here I am part of the network. You have all helped shape some of my thinking and ideas. In this constantly co-creational environment I feel, always, grateful to be able to connect with people like yourself. When it feels that the world is not as right as it should be, these connections provide true hope.

  2. You say that so much better than I could Gideon Rosenblatt 🙂

  3. David Amerland, it is my pleasure. I think that you have made an important contribution here, and done so in an intriguing and unique way. I think you may have a hit on your hands. 🙂

    And yes, this place has been so very important as a kind of feedback pool through which to test and strengthen ideas. I feel that still. You, of course, have been a big part of that.

  4. Thanks Ron Serina. 🙂

  5. Is it a book that’s well represented if you read it on Kindle? Or do you recommend the physical book as more consumable?

  6. John Jainschigg I haven’t looked at it on Kindle, just print. David Amerland​?

  7. I’m sorry — it sounds like a sub-literate question, doesn’t it? I just find that Kindle is great for books consisting mostly of words, but bad-to-appalling for anything requiring illustrations, diagrams, tables, etc.

  8. John Jainschigg, you’re so right about that. Kindle has a hard time handling the layout well in those situations. I think that this book should translate pretty well though as most of the images are pictures rather than diagrams.

  9. That will be a very interesting book to read then.

    I try to find it sooner.

  10. Just pre-bought it on Amazon.

  11. I would like to read how the author used his imagination, giving the readers understand the works of one’s mind.

    Those options they don’t take & how they react after that.

  12. As always sir.

    It will be worth reading this winter time .

  13. Gideon Rosenblatt, I love how you always seem to get to the heart of things that can go overlooked and express yourself in a way that seems so clear-minded. It’s like a warmly intimate birds-eye view.

    Your review of The Sniper Mind does that. And really, everything you said feels like something I would have liked to have said but wouldn’t have been able to distill as succinctly. That’s the Gina way of saying, “Spot on! I love how you said that, lol.

    I’m consistently amazed at how deeply this book has traveled into my own life and psyche. It seems to touch on so many things dear to me from a baseline subject that totally surprised me.

  14. Thank you so much, Gina Fiedel​. That means a lot to me. I really wanted to pull out the importance of the book because I think there are many people who might not naturally be drawn to the topic of snipers, but who would really benefit from reading it.

  15. Gideon Rosenblatt! 🙂

    I totally know what you mean. I have belonged to a women’s small business owner networking group for 17 years that meets weekly (it’s become kind of like a sisterhood over time) and I have incorporated speaking about the book wrapped into topics I know they are interested in several times. I’ve been impressed by how many of them have keyed in to realizing how useful it will be for them and say they plan to read it. They are fascinated and able to see past their initial raised eyebrow when they hear the title.

  16. I’m sure the book is well-written, but I can’t support yet another tome that equates business with combat, whether stretching Sun Tzu or Patton to arbitrage and offshoring or directly comparing business decision-making to killing humans at great distances.

    Killing isn’t a trendy topic to exploit to win book sales. It is, at best, an occasional, terrible necessity; at worst it is the most complete, final, and irreversible act a human being can commit. And once committed, it is inescapable and shadows you forever.

    No business decision short of supplying arms can carry that weight, nor should it. The comparison is exploitive and frankly vile.

  17. As noted above, I’m going to read this book. But I think Michael Verona makes a very important point. To elaborate a little (and with apologies, since he may not have intended taking his point in this direction), this ‘militarization’ of business can be part of the apparatus of institutionalized sexism that warns off and excludes women (and anyone else who doesn’t resonate with martial concepts and attitudes) from (some) business.

    Then again, Ludmila Pavlichenko.

  18. Thank you for the heads up this looks really fascinating have an interactive but I appreciate your posting and for this and particular

  19. Michael Verona , I cannot disagree with your views on killing or the glamorizing of killing that is such a part of modern entertainment and our culture in general.

    Having actually read the book, what I can tell you is that it doesn’t fall into the trap of the “business = war” trope. What is difficult about the book for me is that it focuses on the extraordinary performance of a set of individuals who are exceptionally well trained in the tasks associated with killing other human beings.

    Killing is horrible. And even though I would like to think that I would never do it myself, part of that has to do with the fortunate circumstances of my life. There have been times in history when that would not have been the case, as was the case in World War II, for example. The problem, as I see it, is that at least in the United States, much of the killing that our military has been ordered to do in recent decades has been driven by some very immoral goals and leaders.

    I have not asked David about the motivation behind selecting this particular topic, but knowing him as I do, I doubt very much that the inspiration was the kind of cynicism that you suggest.

  20. Gideon Rosenblatt – Everything about this conversation is awkward. I’m not trying to beat you up, nor to undermine the author, and I’m sure you’re both good people in the most generic sense, but the premise is bizarre at anything other than the most superficial, least thoughtful level. Beyond what I’ve already described, I’ll offer these:

    “The sniper stories act as a kind of fuel that keeps you moving through it….” Consider what you’re saying here about the way that structured, organized killing is exciting and motivating, consider your later comment about “…how it is that the human mind can be trained over time to accomplish amazing feats…”, and that methodical killing illustrates those amazing capabilities. Contrast that with your later assertion that killing is horrible, so much so that you like to think you would never do it. There’s a complicated or careless synthesis there that bears some mediative, mindful examination.

    Consider the subtitle: “Eliminate Fear, Deal with Uncertainty, and Make Better Decisions”. What fears, uncertainties, and better decisions does a sniper deal with? Not whether this kill is morally acceptable or has extensive negative implications to all participants; that has to be set aside, safely isolated in hierarchy and chain of command, in order to do the job. That cannot, must not be the case in our everyday lives and our everyday work. Civilians are not perpetually at war, we are not perpetually preparing for war; we cede those unhappy tasks to others in our society for the explicit purpose of isolating the mindset and collateral damage that comes with the job. If you haven’t already, visit your nearest VA medical center for sobering evidence of the physical and psychological cost of the mindset demanded by war, and think hard about how far we’d like to propagate those effects throughout our population. We cannot afford to set aside our morality, our responsibility, the impact of our actions in our personal lives, in business, or at the negotiating table. We cannot morally divorce ourselves from the outcomes of our “better decisions” and expect to have anything less than a continuously destructive society and continuously corroding morals. Fear of our capability to do harm to others is the axle of our moral compass; it is upon this that our decisions turn, and we should heed that fear before we set off on a devastating, irreversible path, sniper mind leading the way.

    Finally, as a cautionary tale about the sniper mind, let us recall John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, who, working as a sniper team in 2002, killed 17 innocent people and injured 10 others across 10 states and Washington, D.C. Despite their effectiveness, neither were “exceptionally well trained” as snipers; Muhammad was M16 qualified in basic marksmanship, but worked in Army engineering units; Malvo was a 17-year-old boy. Snipers have a method and a mindset, but isn’t one we should adopt or emulate unless our goal is to rationalize and act on our own ruthless, destructive urges regardless of context.

    Contemplate if that is how we want to build our shared society.

    As for me, I’ve said my piece and I’ll let this go. Reputations, public image, and likely an author’s livelihood depend on this book. If I’ve damaged those things, maybe that damage, too, will be isolated or compartmentalized to just this space, or can be set aside in favor of the expediences and exigencies of the day. Maybe my contribution is also the wrong way to win hearts and minds.

  21. Michael Verona interesting judgement based on your perception of the subject and I agree completely. Killing is never to be glorified, whatever its purpose or context. That’s not what the book is about. Nor does it look at combat and equate it to business, that analogy has served us poorly, helping justify ethically suspect business decisions that produce “collateral damage” and totally overlook the social and human elements. Go to for a more nuanced approach and I will then be willing to actually discuss any objection you may have.

  22. Michael Verona I am just reading down the thread so I apologize for the additional response. I just saw your second comment. Obviously, as the book’s author, I am naturally going to be defensive to any suggestion that affects the perception of it 🙂 I am going to try and not fall into that trap. As Gideon Rosenblatt said on killing and how it is perceived we are on the same page. As far as what war does to the human mind and how deplorable it is, you will find me a staunch advocate. I think that Vets have been treated horribly in the US and the service they perform when demanded of them goes above and beyond.

    Your perception of snipers however is out of date and, in the case of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo completely wrong. As you already said neither of these two people were trained as snipers and one of the premises of The Sniper Mind is that a trained mind is already less likely to take actions such as these two individuals than an untrained one.

    Furthermore you said: “Not whether this kill is morally acceptable or has extensive negative implications to all participants; that has to be set aside, safely isolated in hierarchy and chain of command, in order to do the job.” This comment does not accurately reflect how snipers operate. In any modern theater of war there are are now strict rules of engagement that are overseen by the Judiciary which determine the legality of engagement even when it takes place in a war zone.

    Of all the armed forces snipers are the ones subject to the most oversight. Every single shot is accounted for and every single kill is legally examined. The question, I suppose, is whether legal oversight is sufficient to reflect the ethics we expect to have in place as people. That’s open to debate. Snipers however are not triggers blindly following orders (and in truth the U.S. military hasn’t worked like that since its disastrous performance in Vietnam). Having interviewed over 100 of them over the course of three years I would argue that when it comes to taking another person’s life they are amongst the most accountable and ethically-minded of all soldiers.

    I can go on at some length, piling evidence to back this up. I won’t. I think your reaction is valid and indeed, when writing the book, it is something which I did take into account and fully expect to be part of the conversation. So, thank you for being honest enough and brave enough to bring it up here.

  23. I like the term ‘occasional

    terrible necessity ‘

  24. David Amerland – Thank you for responding, and for responding thoughtfully. As I said, I recognize that this book is your work, that some portion of your livelihood depends on it, and I’m not looking to take that away from you.

    I have never been a member of the military. I only know two trained snipers, not a hundred; both are Army Special Forces, both were active in Iraq and Afghanistan (and several simultaneous elsewheres, much to my surprise), and they are both good, damaged men. One retired into the private sector a couple of years ago, the other is still on the job. Neither fits well in the less-killing world anymore.

    They don’t talk about the war or their operations much, usually after a handful of proofed beverages when their wives have found something else to do, and carefully lest the whole of them unravel. The conversations are questioning and confessional, not self-congratulatory. On a bad day I had to separate one of the guys from a civilian in a Walmart parking lot who thanked him for his service. I did not and do not want to be the man who stands in the middle of that brief fury, though it was impressive how quickly it moved from fawning to threats of incarceration and worse. There’s a comment on the truth of our social values in there somewhere.

    All of this is hard to watch in a friend; in anyone, really. It’s harder knowing that we manufactured this in our rah-rah excitement to find someone to attack after 9/11.

    In your response, you touch on legal versus ethical guidelines and behavior, and that’s the fundament of this conversation. We hold sharply different standards for civilian and military populations, for reasons that are both obvious and necessary, though that line is steadily blurring, and I (equally obviously) feel strongly that we in the civilian population should honor that line of demarcation by not claiming portions of the military experience for ourselves until and unless we’ve earned it by doing the hard, dirty, murderous work that goes with it. And I mean all of us, from janitors to CEOs, from stay-at-home dads to soccer moms.

    Again, thank you for engaging in an honest conversation. I appreciate your candor, and I’m happy to stop digging this particular hole and call it done. I wish you luck with your book, and I wish long lives and peace of mind to the soldiers you interviewed.

  25. Michael Verona we owe them all a lot for their service, regardless and, like you, I have no idea how a person does what soldiers are asked to do and remain sane.

  26. Gideon Rosenblatt I need to get there and sign it for you! Working on that. 🙂

  27. I hope so, David Amerland.

  28. Just posted a review of the book up on Amazon!

    (don’t ask me why Amazon labels the link “Robot Check”!) – Robot Check

  29. Gideon Rosenblatt I just saw it! Thank you and it’s really interesting to see how it ties in with things you’ve been doing independently.

  30. David Amerland , my pleasure, and yes, it’s been perfect timing too.

  31. Good afternoon… this is my first time to comment on this situation occurring in my life ….I just found out that I have a very serious brain situation due to falling down a flight of stairs and having a contusion /hermongige on the side of my head

  32. Carroll Boatwright I’m sorry to hear that.

  33. It has been a bumpy ride’, I have an Awesome support system

  34. Alejandro Perales WTF perhaps you might want to brush up on your EAS-english as a second language!If you want to make a point,try to put the proper words in order for others to understand!

  35. I don’t know what to say

  36. Likely not a book for the hopeful dopefuls of the world☺I’m guessin!

  37. With out a doubt. Only Fear God in which all is Created by Him… Nothing more, nothing less

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