Keeping Your Edge: Listen in Totality

“If a person shows you who they are, believe them.” 

Someone said this quote to me a long time ago and it really resonated. It was one of those things where the more I thought about what it actually meant, the more insight I gained from just those few short words. The quote itself originated from the American poet, Maya Angeolu. And while it’s very unlikely social media was on her mind, or even a thing, when she drafted it, I think it’s very fitting on how it plays into society today.

All across the world, people are using social platforms as a soapbox to stand on and display their views, popular or otherwise. While the medium was originally conceived to bring people together, these days, it seems to be responsible for widening the divisions between individuals. There are a number of reasons for this, many which speak to the dissatisfaction of the population, the manipulation by the tech corporations to generate revenue, and simple biology in the form of the release of serotonin when the “like” button is displayed.

Whatever the driving factor may be in people airing out their grievances on the Facebooks, Twitters, and Instagrams of the world, I wouldn’t have guessed early on it would be so prevalent in the Close Protection community. Don’t get me wrong, ours has always been an industry populated by Alphas. And by its very definition, the term means there will be infighting in order to establish dominance on a variety of fronts. Additionally, the economics of the profession, and the rules of supply and demand dictate that tactics, both above board and underhanded, are going to be utilized in order to gain market position and share.

However, in the past, all of this would have been done while still keeping an eye on your personal brand or reputation, whatever that may be. No one was looking to jeopardize their business opportunities by alienating and/or offending whole demographics. In the past, we might have looked at each other as business rivals, but we never sought to openly denigrate because of a person’s religion, race, political or socio-economic status. Of course, these things do happen covertly. Biases have existed since the dawn of man. However, these days, the filter has been removed and the floodgate has been opened wide.

In one breath we call ourselves, “professionals,” and in the next, we are denigrating whole groups that others, who we also call professionals, identify with. And here’s the kicker:  It doesn’t happen face to face, it happens online, with all the anonymity and “keyboard courage” the platforms promote. The same individual who will like a meme that uses an ethnic slur on their home page will also list dozens of that same ethnicity as their social media friends and not see the disconnect between the two. Don’t get me wrong, I know there is a fair amount of ribbing and hazing that goes on in group, particularly a group with such a large membership pulled from the military and law enforcement. With that said, the level of vitriol now being exhibited has far surpassed that.

It’s great to have different views, but in our profession, we have always at least tried to act impartial. Now all pretext has been thrown out the window and the lines in the sand have been drawn. The thing I would caution is that there is no coming back from some things. You may think that your words are only you blowing off steam, but if you put it on the internet, plan on it living forever. Also beware jumping on the bandwagon on a hot button topic. Most of these are hot for a reason, usually being discussed shortly after the moment of incident, and with much more conjecture than fact. It’s been proven that “engagement” on social media offers a type of high, in and of itself. But in that quest for likes and thumbs up don’t end up handicapping your career. Those posts might end up painting a picture of you that won’t hang in a museum, but instead collect dust in a pawn shop.

Keeping Your Edge: Listen in Totality 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 bestselling book, An Introduction to Executive Protection & Touring: A Guide to Mastering the Business of VIP Security, is now available as an Audiobook on all platforms. 


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