Are you prepared to answer that call?
Very early in our training and careers, we are taught that in the Executive Protection field we must subscribe to a different way of life. The understanding of this life is vital to our personal accomplishments and elevation in the process. The “process” I speak of, is the initial interest in Executive Protection, getting the professional training needed, then getting experience and finally being a part of an exclusive group of professionals that protect the lives of others.
Unlike many other jobs in the private sector, our personal commitment must be a 24/7 commitment/mindset. In my relatively short professional career, I have seen many individuals fall by the wayside and others choose another field of employment because of the commitments and requirements needed to succeed. This is not to say that they weren’t capable, but for whatever reason, they just didn’t possess the drive and motivation needed to succeed.
Many in the Executive Protection and Bodyguard Industry have the mindset of “stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready”. This constant way of thinking will help an individual to stay prepared and mission ready on the shortest of notice. While simple in it’s phrasing, it’s the details that make up the phrase that is most important. What I’m talking about here is self-discipline, one of the most important characteristics of a bodyguard.
Readiness: willingness to do something, the state of being fully prepared for something.
Because of the nature of our industry, readiness and commitment are paramount to the success of our mission or detail as well as our own personal careers. So what does it mean to be “ready”? To me, readiness is the constant state that you operate in should you have to go from everyday life to the role of Protector in a moments notice. Whether you are employed on a full time or part time basis, situations arise when a client’s prior plans have changed or a client calls upon you to provide a protective detail on short notice. Are you prepared to leave home for a 7day detail in 6hrs? Could you go overseas at the drop of a hat?
Decision makers, whether they be agency owners or a clients handler will call upon an individual(s) that they know will be prepared to accomplish a detail shortly after reaching out to them. It’s the comfort of knowing the “readiness” status of a said individual(s) that will keep the agency viable and an individual employed time and again. When you say you’re “ready” and you indicate that to someone calling on you, you better be “ready” period. Let’s talk about a few areas of readiness that all professionals should maintain in my opinion.
- Physical Preparation is a must. In order for you to perform any protection duties, you have to have an above average physical conditioning. I’m not talking about you having to be 6’ 7” and 350lbs, (I’m far from that) however; you must take care of your physical well being on a daily basis. A workout routine should be incorporated into your daily activities for a number of reasons. The status of your physical being should be well enough to last for long hours on short notice. Keeping well enough daily to avoid colds or flu’s, you’re no good if you’re sick. Being physically fit will help keep your mind focused no matter the length of the detail. Your overall physical conditioning will also help keep you awake and sharp for long periods of time, as sleep is rare when protecting certain clients. Always know where your local clinic is should you need shots to travel on short notice. Some are not going to like this but I’ll say it anyway, Do Not Smoke and if you do, QUIT! It is not conducive in any way, shape, or form to what it is we do. Admit it or not, smoking will hamper your productivity, it will cause you to become unfocused, it smells bad, and most of all, it could stunt your reaction potential if you ever need to quickly get your client out of harms way. I know, because I used to smoke and while it is a strong addiction, that beast can be conquered.
- Know what’s going on in the world! Keeping up daily on world events is a key component to what we do. The phone may ring and you may be sent anywhere in the world, you better know if there is any form of a threat to your client by going there. Knowing the status of a city, state, or country you may be visiting, will determine some of the tactics. The potential risks in a place you and your client may visit must be reviewed or failure may be imminent.
- Always maintain current and valid travel documents and licenses. Keep them valid and on hand for a quick departure, if they are not valid, you are not valid. This has affected many in this industry and has led to highly frustrated agency owners and clients alike. If your driver’s license is not valid and you get stopped while making a hasty drive to an airport, you will not make the flight; explain that to the client. If you are dispatched to an armed detail and your weapons permit is expired, you will have to pass and worse off, explain why it’s not valid and the ripple effect is one other’s won’t want to deal with. The commitment to keeping valid instruments of travel may be chaotic and frustrating at times but the alternative is much worse.
- Always keep a “bug out bag” or “go Bag” handy at all times! The go-bag should contain the essentials to travel up to at least a week. It should contain what you require to be ‘suited for duty’ and should consist of three types of clothing; casual, business casual, and professional and its accompaniments (shirt, shoes, ties, jackets, toiletries, extra cash or credit card ETC). This bag should be with you, or very close by at all times. Should the call come where more is needed, then you can add to it.
- Hygiene You say, “but of course!” It’s something that I’m constantly aware of. I’m sure, I hope, that everyone showers every day but while that is very important there are other things. Keep yourself groomed at all times, haircut, shaved, clean nails and hands, (because you may not have the time once the phone rings), feet and shoes free of odor, (you might have to fly to a country where shoes are not allowed to be worn indoors) you don’t want to be “that guy”. Keep your clothes in presentable condition, you might have 30yrs experience, but if you can’t put a proper crease in your pants or show up looking like you rode in the cargo hold of the fight, how does that experience translate to the client?
While others may have a different list, the point is, you’re not “ready” because you took an Executive Protection course, or because you did a detail last week, you’re “ready” because you’re constantly prepared and stay that way, to be able to provide services any day, week, month or year your called. There is no better feeling than to get “the call” and you be able to say, “I’m prepared to move when you are” more importantly, you will get that call many more times because you are prepared.
By Mark Roche EPS