Longevity in Executive Protection

Longevity in EP Means Playing the Long Game in Health & Wellness

Hippocrates said, “healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”

No matter what you’re healing from, it takes time. However, to take an opportunity to do something for your well-being does not.

As a newcomer to the industry, I had huge eyes when it came to EP. Everything was exciting and new. Nothing seemed to matter but trying to get seen by agency owners and progressing along—all in the hopes of one day being among the best in the business.

I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to protect people that had important or extraordinary lives while being recognized as a professional. So off I went like a herd of turtles (things are slow at first). I had no clue what I wanted to obtain but knew that it was going to be what I made of it. All I needed was an opportunity.

I turned nothing down. I worked for peanuts just because I wanted to build a resume, no matter the client. But despite that ambition and drive, one thing that I never had as a priority was health and wellness. This changed for me when I became a full-time specialist.

One of the things that isn’t emphasized or taught in close protection courses in our industry is attention to our health. Ironically though, your career is absolutely dependent on you having good health. Your longevity in the high-paced life of executive protection will be determined by how you treat your physical and mental wellness. Indeed, the word “life” applies because being in the upper tiers of protection is a “lifestyle” that involves a gruelling pace. It is constant, non-stop, and physically demanding. It’s also mentally gruelling and tests your mental fortitude on a minute-by-minute basis. Personal downtime in EP can be virtually non-existent when you’re working with certain clients. It can involve 18+ hour days where you are planning, preparing, scheduling, and setting meetings not just for today but for tomorrow as well. If you don’t have your wellness finely tuned, it could be the beginning of the end.

Why focus on physical health? There’s the obvious: you look out of shape. Things are progressing swiftly in this protection arena, and there are new and innovative ways of personal attacks. Our potential adversaries are not made up of one physical type. The clientele we work for are increasingly in better shape. And some take their health very seriously. If they run, you run. If the bike, you bike. If the boat or swim, then you boat or swim. You get the picture. If you can’t honestly keep up, you have work to do.

With that said, it’s time for some hard truths that may not be easy to hear, but I say it for good reason: If you smoke, quit. You smell. If you drink too much, stop. It can affect your reaction time. And while these are obvious, what can’t be seen is the internal damage being done, which can lead to a medical emergency while actively on a detail. You must incorporate a workout routine into your daily life. Notice that I didn’t say when in your day. That’s up to you to figure in, but you need to incorporate one. This may be when your client is asleep. Or any other time you are relieved from duty. Take those small chances because they are rare. You owe it to yourself and your client to be in the best physical shape you can be. They rely on that. And at the end of the day, they pay for that.

Also, strive to eat as well as you can. Being on the road can mean a lot of quick bites. Try and make them count. Try to avoid heavy foods, as they will weigh you down for hours. Eat healthier items when you can. They’re also more frequent around healthier clients, so more accessible and acceptable if you’re eating around them. With clients demanding more and tighter deadlines, you have to ensure a healthy diet. Again, I didn’t say when you will do this, just that you have to do it.

Mentally, you must take time to disconnect. The pace that a full-time specialist must keep is exhausting over time. You have to know how to maintain not only a clear mind but a healthy one. Hundreds of actions and decisions are made by a CP daily, and a busy detail with a lot of moving parts could produce thousands of actions. You must condition your mind to meet those goals. I see it a lot on social media. I get the calls from specialists with fleeting hope for their EP careers, including making poor decisions on social media to the point where they can’t find work any longer.

Mentally, they can’t find the endurance to sustain the constant demand to create a safe environment for their client(s), and they wind up with a shortened career. Take time off. Disconnect from EP. Decompress and unwind. It is as necessary as drinking water. Our minds and brain cannot be in overdrive constantly. They must rest in order to fulfil the needs of a busy client. When decisions must be made, you’ll call on your brain to defend you and your client, so keep it in good health.  

There are those that will work hard and enjoy the fruits of their labor and those that will fade away. The industry as a whole, in my opinion, is getting better. But more needs to be done. We must individually take measures to ensure our longevity and pass those traits down to the next generation of specialists.  

Longevity in EP Means Playing the Long Game in Health & Wellness

By Mark Roche

Mark Roche is a US-based, full-time Executive Protection Specialist who works full time with a HNW family. He is also a FAA Licensed Drone Pilot, specializing in EP related uses, and a graduate of multiple close protection programs 

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