What is 'Situational Awareness' and why should it matter to you?

During the Korean War US pilots shot down their Korean and Chinese counterparts at a 10:1 ratio despite flying the F-86, an aircraft technically inferior to their rivals' Soviet-made Mig-15. While the quality of pilot training contributed to this combat advantage it couldn't account for the size of the ratio as both sides had elite pilots. 

Eventually the 'secret' was discovered: the bubble canopy of the F-86 provided a distinct advantage to the US pilot over the constrained view offered by the Mig-15 canopy in detecting enemy aircraft. Despite being technically inferior this quirk in the design of the F-86 gave its pilots greater 'situational awareness' — the ability to see the surrounding environment better, detect threats a split second earlier and act before rivals did — giving them a significant competitive advantage. 

There is a strong correlation between situational awareness and performance: seeing your environment better enables you to detect opportunities and threats earlier and move quicker. It's the equivalent of being able to look before you leap. 
Situational Awareness