My 10 rules on aging in Executive Protection.
Many of us at some point in our life may ask our self if we are just getting too old. Trust me I have thought about it a time or two. In Executive Protection there is a time we may have to react. Am I fast enough? Will I be strong enough? Do I still got it? Or the statement that kills us: "I'm too old for that $h!t (Pardon my french). Well the truth is, skateboarding and parkour may be out of my future plans. I have looked in the rear view mirror at my younger self and yes I've had the wishes. I wish I was 20 again, 30 again, hell even 40 again. In my life I have experienced a lot; physically, mentally, and emotionally. Some days I don't even know how I lived this long based on my younger self. BUT, I did and here I am. I'm still working in the field I love and around people I respect. Still learning and still enduring. I will discuss the hard skills and soft skills, both necessary and both different at my age. Here are my 10 personal rules.
1) Get up and do something
In Executive Protection the hours change drastically depending on the details you are working. You don't necessarily go into the office and work a 9 to 5 job. Some days you might not work. So I pick a time and I set my alarm and that is when my day starts. I find something to do. I might be conducting a pre-advance for an upcoming detail, studying for an upcoming test, getting suits dry cleaned, getting a haircut, or writing an article like I am doing now. Get up and do something. Your success is in your hands and you are NEVER too old to get up and do something, but you will get old fast, with many regrets, if you do nothing.
When I was a young Marine, exercising was not optional. Nope it was in fact mandatory. When I was a young police recruit exercising was again mandatory. I actually loved running. Today not so much but I am not void of exercise. You won't find me grunting at the gym or answering the question "how much can you bench?" Kettlebells and Sandbags oddly seem fun to me. Punching bags also seems fun to me and yes I was faster in my younger more invincible years. I believe keeping the blood pumping will keep your life going. Don't get me wrong I still get aches and pains that I would have gawked at as a younger self but in Executive Protection it's important to not only look professional but to make sure you don't pass out walking up the stairs. Make sure you exercise.
3) Read and study something
Most of my training involving Executive Protection has been done in my latter years. Many certifications I have received I recently received. I have numerous educational books on the topic of Executive Protection, and let me tell you there are lots of sub-topics in that field as well. Not all books I read are on that topic. There are self-development books on leadership or accountability and also biographical books on the same topics. General Jim Mattis has a quote: "By reading, you learn through others' experiences, generally, a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men." You are never too old to read, study, or learn.
4) Learn Self-Defense
I am not going to discuss which art is better, yada, yada because as you get older not only is it a perishable skill, but some of the techniques are harder to do. As a young, lanky student of martial arts, I kicked high. I am lucky to kick to your hip these days. However, I'd rather kick and break your knee than kick to the head any day at this age. My former coach and mentor Bill "Superfoot" Wallace has a saying: "You might not be faster, you might not be stronger, all you have to do is be sneakier." My boys and I currently do Jiu Jitsu together. At age 17 and 15 they are a handful. I really need to be sneaky with them as their techniques are getting better and they are much quicker. When grappling or boxing with 20 and 30 year old studs it gets enlightening really fast. I am hear to tell you as an Executive Protection Agent learn some sort of self-defense. I'm not asking you to spar or get in the ring, although it does help in understanding the dynamics of a fight, but I think it will help develop confidence and you will have a back-up plan if that is ever needed.
5) Spend some time on the range
In Executive Protection we hope that we never need to use a firearm because that indicates a really bad day. It is another perishable skill we need to hone regularly. As we get older sometimes our eyes start going bad and shooting becomes a tad bit more tedious. Again this is not a discussion on what is the more quality range time. On an outdoor range you are more likely to practice movement and shooting. More tactical and combat type shooting. You can do exercises and then shooting with an elevated heart rate. Indoor shooting you can work on the basics and fundamentals of shooting; sight picture, sight alignment, breathing control, trigger squeeze, or the more practical, realistic, and instinctive point shooting. For me it is also a type of therapy. Age is not a factor.
6) Network and make connections
Rule one was get up and do something. This really is a perfect something. Take the time either by personal visit, e-mail, phone call, or social media to make connections. Go to a place in the area you want to work and visit some place new. Pass out business cards. Do some people watching. Go to a business networking event. Meet people, share resumes, and have a good time. We call this Soft skills, skills that you should spend most of your Executive Protection career sharpening.
7) Let the past be the past
I bet we all have regrets in our life. Things we wish we could have changed. Maybe things we wish we would have done or completed. I know I do, but carrying that emotional baggage will make you age faster, it will stop your goals, and ultimately prevent any success you wish to have. Do not live in the past. I have found myself living there occasionally. Be a forward thinker. The past has already happened, nothing you can do about it, but you can do something about the future. So live in the now but make arrangements for the future to be a bunch of better nows.
8) Don't get involved in grudges
Focus on You. I have worked in toxic work environments. In the industry I currently work in there are grudges. In fact there are people willing to cut your throat and watch you fail. Focus on you and your success and do not let someone else ruin that for you. In today's society people are full of vile hatred towards one another. In Executive Protection you can not afford to buy in to people's hatred, grudges, or opinions of one another. All opinions should be based on one's own assessment. If validated, cut them from your life and move on. Find the people you trust and respect the most. They will support your success. Nothing emotionally drains you more than a negative environment, so cut ties and move on.
9) Wisdom is an art based on experience
This and #10 are my golden rules. There is no substitute for experience. This is the great equalizer for the aging. What makes experience great is that my experiences are different than yours. You can learn from me and I can learn from you and after that's done we are now more experienced. Any heartbreak you've had is now part of your wisdom. Any failures or successes are part of your wisdom. Schools, training, jobs, people- Yep that's right they go into your wisdom tool bag. Sure I might have been able to do different and more physical things as a young man but now that I am older or you are older it is our job to share our knowledge and wisdom to people either younger or newer to our profession.
10) Be humble
Ernest Hemingway has a quote that resonates with me; "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." Every rule that I have mentioned are my rules and my thoughts but humility applies to every one of them. Every championship you have won, every success, every degree, there have been others that have assisted along the way. We should never forget that. We have met the person that claims they are confident but actually they are arrogant. The person who is always boasting how good they are or how tough they are. To them it is a self-esteem issue in which they feel that they need to assert that arrogance to be accepted. How about the one that has truly done amazing things but you wouldn't have known that had you not read about it or heard about it from others. Bruce Lee once said: "Showing off is the fool's idea of glory." So be humble, listen, and learn.
These clearly are my rules. They help me get up in the morning and look forward to tomorrow. If it motivates others then it's a success. I wish you much success and future endeavors in whatever it is you wish to do. -Stay safe and be vigilant.