I think it’s no secret that I love our industry, the business is rewarding on so many different levels. While not easy, with the proper preparation, education, and window of opportunity, it can take you around the world and back again.
With that said, there is one thing that drives me up the wall — it’s the demographic of “know-it-alls” that have to prove Executive Protection superiority by criticizing and critiquing any and everything that comes across their radar. I call these men (and women) Armchair Quarterbacks.
Now many have heard the term before, however, my definition is slightly different. One might categorize the Armchair Quarterback as someone who comments on a job but has never done it before. The mental image conjured is an overweight guy sitting on the couch screaming loudly at how lousy the sports team is playing and telling all who are in earshot what they should be doing to win. However, the irony is that it’s pretty apparent that this guy hasn’t played the game in decades, if ever, and certainly not on a professional level. This guy is all bluster, and usually, his commentary comes in a condescending manner, because, of course, he could do it better.
My take is that in the Close Protection industry, our Armchair Quarterbacks are oftentimes doing the business on multiple levels to varying degrees of success, but instead of enjoying that success and motivating and inspiring others, they spend a noticeable degree of time criticizing every play someone else makes. They do this even though they have no influence on the outcome of the event, and in each and every situation they let you know how it should have been done and of course how they would have done it better. This to me is the same as the guy on the couch with the giant bowl of popcorn and the six-pack of beer yelling at the screen. –It accomplishes little.
The inexperienced Armchair QB’s are one thing, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do, “usually I put these individuals in the “fake it to make it” category. They are blustering for the audience, and usually, their preferred method of expression is via social media. The internet is an amazing tool and can give you the same amount of “liquid courage” that a 6-pack can. They figure no one call tell they are on the novice end of the spectrum if they criticize another Agent for an error (real or imagined) particularly if it goes with the court of popular opinion that social media message boards are rife with. “That agent should not be with that client, he’s looking in the wrong direction.” Never mind that photos and even videos are a “snapshot in time” and things are not always what they appear.
More annoying, or rather disheartening to me is the senior level Protection Specialist, who always has commentary on what this person or that person is doing wrong. This individual almost always “leads with the resume,” meaning they inevitably start of the conversation with telling you how long they have been in the business and what they have seen and done. While those might be facts, the fact that they need to be repeated over and over, (in many instances to the same people), means that the focus of the conversation really doesn’t have much to do with the other person’s success or failure, but with the need to show that no matter what, they could do it so much better. Instead of beer and popcorn on the couch, I envision this person with a fine glass of wine and a juicy steak watching their big screen TV and shaking their head, “wrong, wrong, wrong, in my 20 years of Executive Protection work, I would have done this…”
Sometimes it’s just plain braggadocio, designed to make them look better by crapping on someone else. Then, of course, there is the segment that does it because directly or indirectly they are trying to sell something. Don’t get me wrong, as a practitioner of the craft, and a training provider, I’m a big advocate of Whitepapers, and I believe some of the greatest lessons can be learned by the observation and analysis of mistakes. I just want us to be honest with ourselves, what’s our intent when we criticize, is it to make someone else better, or just to announce to the world that we are better, and use someone else’s error to help us shine a little brighter?
Keeping Your Edge: Armchair Quarterbacks
By: Elijah Shaw
Elijah Shaw is the CEO of Icon Services Corporation and The National Director of the North American Bodyguard Association