It never fails, it always seems like when I’m writing my monthly column for The Circuit (among the last thing I do before we close the issue), I’m overseas somewhere.
However, I’m happy to report this time it’s a little different. In fact, at this very moment, I’m sipping a Pina Colada (virgin) and staring at the ocean with the waves cresting about 10 feet from my cabana. I don’t write that to brag, but instead give a peek into an environment that’s a little different for me as I jump into the backstory.
While for decades now, I have traveled intensively on assignment, and am known to carve a day or three in for personal adventures, this is actually the first time I’ve used the words vacation and relaxation in a very long while. The reason I bring it up is that this is an industry that is tough to get into, and once there, will demand quite a bit from us. As such, we as Protectors will make work our priority, sometimes at the expense of other very important things like family, friends and just physical and mental wellbeing.
I myself am speaking from first-hand experience having throughout the years missed birthdays and other special dates for myself and others, causing disappointment, strain and aggravation. This was a cycle that repeated itself, time and again and when I finally slowed down long enough to think about it, I saw that there was no end in sight. I can recall that being the cornerstone of my position when it was time to renegotiate my contract with a major client of my firm. More money is always welcome, but a better work/life balance was what I was looking for.
Of course that may be easier said than done, particularly when you are new to the industry and need to pay all the dues you can to establish yourself. I don’t disagree with that mentality, what I do say is, always try and keep the big picture in mind. You are working to provide for self or family as well as enjoy the fruits of labor. Think of a blue collar worker with a very physical job who puts in long hours for the last 40 years and is looking forward to his retirement so that he can at that point start enjoying his life. However, what happens if, once he reaches it, he’s too old or ill to take advantage of the freedom he now possesses? This can’t be the end result of a career in which so much is required of us, yet how do we course correct, if we are already on the path?
One way is to, set the intention. I’m not saying that in a new age, spiritual sense, but rather, go into every project, every new company, every year, with an idea of what you want to get from it. It can be experience, money, or whatever floats your boat, but you should have purpose. That purpose should be the path you attempt to follow as you build your career, but we have to keep in mind that we are so much more than the job.
What are you passionate about? What would you do if you could do anything in the world? Once you have that answer in your head, ask yourself is it possible to still do that, even for free, while making a living in the protection industry? If you love drumming, why can’t you spend one night a week taking lessons?
I love photography and travel, and I’ve figured out how to follow my passions at the same time I navigate this industry and provide a high level of services to my clients. Yes, the name of the game is find work and keep it coming in, but that’s a means to an end not the end itself.
So what’s your end? When the shift concludes how do you feel? When your run concludes what will you have to show for it? Start thinking of these things now as this career is only one part of your life, and life is for living.
Keeping Your Edge: What’s the End Game?
By Elijah Shaw
Elijah Shaw is the National Director of the North American Bodyguard Association and the CEO of ICON Global, and International Executive Protection Consulting Firm. Elijah, who has been featured in international publications such as Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur, and Portfolio, runs the ICON Academy, an EP Training Program specializing in Celebrity & VIP Protection. He also currently sits on the Board of Directors of Executive Security International (ESI), the United States oldest Executive Protection Training School. His new book, An Introduction to Executive Protection & Touring: A Guide to Mastering the Business of VIP Security, hit the Amazon best sellers list, and available now.