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Caution!  Never Underestimate Your Opponents Caution!  Never Underestimate Your Opponents
Learning to not underestimate your opponents is one of the best ways to preserve our land use and access interests. All motorized recreation organizations... Caution!  Never Underestimate Your Opponents

Learning to not underestimate your opponents is one of the best ways to preserve our land use and access interests. All motorized recreation organizations are fighting daily to do this, but we must do our individual part also.

Never assume our opponents will understand the variety of our motorized sports or how they fit in the big picture.

Underestimating Your Opponents

If you’re out there fighting for access to public lands for your sport/hobby or interest, allow me to offer some input into your strategy: Never underestimate your opponent!
You’ve heard this before but let me expand the idea a bit. It’s happened more than once lately, that we’re so close to victory, only to have the rug pulled out by our opponents at the last minute (e.g. lawsuits).

This advice applies to many other aspects of life too. Every boxer and professional competitive sports player know never to underestimate anything. Never underestimate the odds against you, whether it be working on something in your shop, or out in the wilds enjoying your sport. Murphy’s Law is always out there.

What happens around the land use table does not always turn out the way it should have…

What can we do?

→First, we must learn to listen in order to determine who is worthy of our attention. I call it aerobic listening – where you’re actively involved, listening for every detail, participating with questions, trying to fully understand what’s being said (or implied). I always tell young people who ask me how to succeed in the fire service (my previous career), that learning to listen is the key — especially to the older folks who’ve been there and done that.

It goes hand in hand with the old adage about seek first to understand; then be understood. It’s all about communication and listening; but it’s the first step of learning not to underestimate your opponent. Probably the worse trap for many of us is to be thinking of our reply rather than listening to what’s being said. Aerobic listening is the way to avoid this from limiting our full understanding of the situation.

→Second, it’s important to learn to rely on your instincts and gut reaction. Learning to trust and listen to your instincts is not easy. It takes practice, but it is one of the most powerful tools you have.
The reason many people don’t trust their instincts is that they don’t know how to listen to them. But if you can get to the point where you listen to your gut (honestly, frankly), you’ll find that you may have a better handle on life’s situation than you realize. When listening to our elder generation, I rely on my gut instincts to help me separate war stories from helpful hints.

But I always listen. Why should we reinvent wheels when all they need is a little grease?

→Third, we’ve got to take time to do our homework and know our opponents. I’m often reminded of General George Patton during WW II who whipped his enemies in warfare and proclaimed about one enemy General: I read your book!

Do your homework; learn the lingo; understand our opponents and what they think is important

In other words, he really took the time and effort to learn about his opponent. He applied his homework and won. Knowing where anti-access folks are coming from is critical to developing strategies to beat them. Visit their web sites; participate in their chat rooms; go to a few of their meetings; read their propaganda.

→Fourth, never become complacent or figure you’ve got things rounded up until the last cow is in the barn. Sometimes the battle for access can be like pushing water up hill; you’ve got to keep pushing in spite of the odds.

Do not assume wrong!

And don’t assume the battle is won prematurely. Plan ahead for contingencies and fall backs. It pays off. Again, don’t underestimate your opponent.

Learning to know when the deal is good vs bad takes training, practice and patience…

Assume he/she is going to do something to your barn, even after the cows are in it. Then be prepared to handle it. Some folks call this Strategic Thinking. It will pay huge dividends to your efforts in life if you can learn to do this (individually and organizationally).


We can win more battles and preserve our access if we never underestimate the forces or influences in our lives. Figure out the key players; learn to trust your gut; do your homework; and don’t get complacent. Give yourself an edge by not underestimating those who oppose our way of life.

Read more from ModernJeeper about dealing with compromise and land use negotiations here.

Del Albright Ambassador

Internationally published author; WorldWide ModernJeeper Abassador and 2014 Inductee of the Off Road Motorsports Hall of Fame. Del has been involved in the Jeeping Lifestyle for longer then most of us can count. His educational and mentorship programs have helped developed warfighters in the ongoing battle to keep Public Lands Open to the Public.

  • Todd Ockert

    September 17, 2019 #1 Author

    It also goes back to “Keep your Friends close, your enemies even closer!”
    Great read


    • Del Albright

      September 17, 2019 #2 Author

      Thanks Todd, you are absolutely right. We must be at the table — or at least be supporting our groups and associations that ARE at the table(s), keeping everyone close!


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