I recently made a joke, that one day I was going to write a book on career success in Protection and I was going to call it “Don’t be weird”.
Now, this was a little tongue in cheek, but there is some value to the idea and one day I still might.
However, in the meantime, I will offer this up. If you want to have even moderate growth in your Protection career you cannot be perceived as weird. This is both inside your team, latterly across your organization and outside the industry.
You see many of your superiors have likely gotten to where they are in their career because they are not weird or are at least good at hiding it. As well, and probably more importantly you have to hide your weirdness from non Protection people. It’s doesn’t matter if their in your organization or not, if you’re weird it will show worse to everyday people. And many of these people will have a direct or indirect say in your career. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but one day they might.
So what does weird look like. Well first let me say that weird isn’t a bad thing as most of the folks I know who are weird are actually very passionate protectors. A lot of them are also extremely intelligent, especially on the subject of protection, threats and risk management. I might even be viewed by some as being a little weird. Unfortunately, the language used in the industry doesn’t always translate to business or other non Protection focused sectors.
In my opinion and observation here’s what comes off as weird to an outsider. And let’s be clear, I think I am personally guilty of all or at least many of these. Especially in the early days of my career.
1. Continuous threat and risk talk
This generally takes the form of always talking about the worst-case scenarios.
2. Over focus on Protection
It’s great to think about protection solutions but having an overly heavy focus can make you appear as if you are unrealistic or disconnected from reality.
3. Overemphasis on equipment
When I first started in protection I thought it was equipment that made me good at what I did. I had the full-on Batman starter kit utility belt for a long time. As well, as a soldier, it also took me a while to evolve out of a geardo mindset. In reality, it is your software, not your hardware that makes you a professional. So having an overemphasis on equipment can make you come off like an amateur to those in the industry and a geardo weirdo to those outside the protection industry.
Another common problem that is in line with equipment is improper or Tacticool Attire. Today’s protector does not need to look like an extra on SWAT or the latest Navy Seal show. The units or organizations that require that equipment and attire have very specific needs and a requirement for the gear and clothing that create the look. They also have very extensive budgets with policies regarding wear and use. Most protectors in the western world do not require that level of equipment or attire. Without the need, budget for quality or structured guidance, dressing to be tacticool will have the exact opposite effect you are likely trying to achieve. This applies both on duty and off. If you look like a khaki commando or dressed up for the ball in your 5.11 tuxedo you’re likely going to come off as weird. I would suggest that weird is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve if you’re hoping for some career growth.
5. Gun stuff
I like firearms very much. They are a useful tool when you need to put an end to lethal violence quickly. However, not everyone shares this opinion and it is likely not the required tool for every situation or even most problems. With that in mind if every second suggestion you have involves more firepower you are not likely to get the attention you are looking for. This also applies to your social media accounts and resume. Both of these will be viewed by many people that will give you formal or informal references for your next interview. All weapons have a specific purpose and they may or may not need to be a part of your capabilities. But drawing too much attention to your gun stuff in any form is going to make you come off as weird to true professionals and those on the outside of protection.
At the end of the day, despite all your efforts your career growth potential in protection is going to be based on your efforts but someone else’s decision. It doesn’t matter if it’s an internal promotion, lateral transfer or external application; another person is going to decide if you get the job or not. If your objective is to grow your career then you need to be above and beyond the competition. Being weird in the eyes of decision-makers is not going to help your situation.
Let’s be clear here. This is not a shot or a jab at anyone that might exhibit what I’m talking about here. This is just me sharing my experiences and observations of what works and what doesn’t. I know I was guilty of many of these early on in my career. I am sharing this info with you so that we can all be better and have greater success. What you do with that is up to you.