As an intelligence officer in the CIA, I was taught how to survive an ambush by conquering the tendency to freeze, to move away from the site of the attack. The longer you remain on the X, the less of a chance there is to get out of there alive. This well-known security concept is known as, “Get Off the X.”
My career as a counterterrorism official CIA in the Middle East was one of constantly pushing myself off the X—pushing through my own self-limiting ideas, false assumptions of my capabilities, conscious and unconscious bias in the CIA, and the misogynistic views of our terrorism sources.
At every turn I battled fear, intimidation, and uncertainty, and yet…I did it. I kept pushing forward in spite of those things. In the process of trying to survive, I realized that my determination to push through the discomfort had cracked the code. I’d learned how to ‘Get Off the X’ so well, I wasn’t just surviving…I was thriving! I figured out how to turn my disadvantages into my greatest assets.