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An Anchor for Grounding: The Mechanisms that Contribute to Stability and Connection in Cybersecurity Resiliency

Updated: Apr 23

When you hear the word anchor, what does it mean to you?

In many instances an anchor symbolizes stability, and connection. It encompasses people, places, routines, and many other things that keep people heading towards their goals while remaining true to their identities and values.  

In the Cybersecurity realm, organizations wholeheartedly committing to principles and processes that optimize effectiveness and impact require an anchor, which is what keeps them aligned with their mission. 

Imagine a ship in the midst of a storm. It is rocked intensely from side to side and takes in a lot of water. The crew works furiously to stay afloat, and they drop anchor. Why? Because the anchor gives them stability to ride out the waves and weather. It helps them to gain control and leverage their position to stay on course. 

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Rener Gracie’s anchor principle in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu posits that how you position your body or your opponent’s gives you control over either’s movement or immobility. Whether in offense or defense, you gain prime control. 

When I originally read this principle, one recurring thought was people. In many instances when my life turned sour or I was going through a tough time, people made a huge difference. During those stormy seas I didn't want to be seen because I didn’t want to be labeled and attached to the negative that came with the situations. But my positive anchors saw me and recognized that I was going through something. They reached out, and they helped and protected me. 

As mentioned earlier, anchors aren’t just defined as people. If you've watched my interview with Jeremiah Solven, I briefly mentioned my experience with domestic issues and how jujitsu played a big part as an anchor. Jiu jitsu gave me so much willpower, strength, and confidence to keep moving forward that it also became very difficult not to allow myself to keep falling to the depth of the ocean with that one anchor. We can’t always rely on just one anchor. Depending on the storms, a ship may need multiple anchors to keep it from being destroyed. 

Your environment at home, the places you train, any social events you attend, the community around you, and the content you consume are also anchors in your life.  What’s crucial is making sure that you're really set with the principles and core values of who you are as a person, because if that’s not clear, you will get dragged down into the ocean. You can't be effective and make an impact in your world if the principles you're following don't match what's important to you. 

Anchors can be both positive and negative. As with the ship in the storm, dropping anchor can also cause more damage or pose bigger challenges. Keep in mind that there are several factors that need to be considered before dropping anchor, such as the depth of the waters, size of the ship, direction and strength of the wind, etc.1 In a harbor with shallow waters, an anchor may keep the ship pointing in the right direction. However, in deeper sees, an anchor may drag the ship down and destroy it.  

This reminds me of a time in my career where I was really struggling with where I was at. I did not mesh very well with my boss. I questioned everything and didn’t like the environment I was in. It wasn't until one individual pointed out that the reason I was having such a tough time, was because I was working against my principles. This wasn’t who I was or preferred to operate. In essence, this job wasn’t aligned with me. It was a negative anchor. 

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So, as a cyber security professional, how can I use the anchor principle in my career?

It boils down to effective communication as a base anchor especially when working with a team. 

In one of the positions I held, one of the responsibilities involved rolling out security initiatives across a large organization to ensure protection of the software supply chain. This included sharing what my needs and target outcomes were with about 15,000 people, across different business units. Without a solid anchor, the goals of the project would not have been realized.

I had to ensure that people responded to the communications I sent out. At first, I was essentially running the project on my own, then I expanded and built a team with a few other folks. At the end of the day, I had an amazing team working with me. It really came down to the culture and camaraderie we created through shared values, vision, and effective communication.  

What did effective communication look like during this project? It was the difference between sending a request that said, “Hey, we need you to update your log statements,” versus saying “Hey, we need to meet regulation for this. We have audits coming up, and a new executive order came out. We have a new resiliency act that we must follow and apply to everything we are doing.”  

People ignore the first request, but they follow the second because you are bringing focus to the conversation. You are using communication as an anchor by bringing in additional details that really help to drive people so that they can move forward and make sure that their principles and values are aligned with those in their roles and sector.  

The people we surround ourselves with, the internal and external environments we consistently engage with including communities and work teams, as well as daily habits to manage stress such as Jiu jitsu and the books we read, are all mechanisms that contribute to stability and connection in cyber resiliency. These are both personal and environmental anchors that can either ground us or pull us down. 

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Here a couple of questions to ask yourself to determine what kind of anchors you currently have:

  1. What are your anchors? (People, daily habits, or environment)

  2. Are they positive or negative? (Do they ground you or drag you down?)

Here are a couple of questions to help you build anchors that will ground you:

  1. Who in your sector is the most grounded person you know?

  2. What do you see as their positive anchors?

  3. How do you see them dealing with negative anchors?

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