Know Your Limits

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Know Your Limits

If you agree to lift 110 lbs, and you already know you can lift 150 lbs, there is a reasonable expectation of success.  If you are then asked to lift 200 lbs – you know your chance of success is well, slim.

Often we, as the Graymen, are assumed to be superhuman.  Also far be it from us to dispel the rumor – thus we try to leap buildings in a single bound.

Limits on what we do are not a sign of weakness but a sign of wisdom.  Wisdom is knowing what we can do, what we cannot do and knowing which is which.

Thus, the first part of this is to understand that we do have limits!

We have physical limits, limits to how strong we are, how long we can work effectively without sleep, how well we can function without water and proper nutrition.  While we wish to leap buildings in a single bound, they out to be small buildings and only after a good nights rest and fair amount of building leaping training

We have mental limits, limits on what we know and how much we can do.  When we approach these limits the brain reacts in many different ways.  One of those ways is the brain reacts under stress is it will ignore every input but what might be right in front of us.  The familiar tunnel vision when under stress.  The other is to not recall, at the moment, how your momentary activities fits into an overall plan – you become lost in the moment.

We have social and family limits that are both reasonable and unreasonable.  It is reasonable that your family wants you to be around – at least that is our hope.  It is also unreasonable that the issue of your being away so much has to be raised while you are away working you butt off.

We have financial limits on how long we can go without pay or between pay intervals and what can be invested in gear.  No everyone can have all of the toys and gear – however if you have a good team structure, one person can have their specialty and another person a different specialty and the gear and the skills can be spread about the team.  Similar to when 5 people go hiking, not all need to have a stove, by reducing redundancy one reduces weight, cost and waste – same in Executive Protection.

We have BS limits that get hit when an airline looses your luggage, lies to you about it, you get lied to by your charge or local support team, and someone always has a problem that is a now a major event and up in your face.  Much like golf balls – easy to carry two or three or ten, but thirty it becomes more difficult to keep a hold of the golf balls and still be able to function.  The same is true with BS events – or as I call them upsets.  Sometimes you just got to stop, mentally regroup, and ditch the golf balls or upsets.

We have communication limits based upon time zones, languages, and limits on gear etc.  We have to plan for disruptions but when they occur they are most annoying.

We all have knowledge limits – we cannot know it all, and those who seem to know it all, know less than I could have ever imagined.  It is OK not to have an answer. It is not OK to BS your way through the situation.  Stop and ask, if it is directions, etiquette questions, car repair, and visas – it does not matter – stop and ask. This is not a profession where you Fake It until you Make It.

We have so many more limits; I am limited in my ability to describe them all.  But with all our challenges and limits as Graymen, in the field dealing with our limits and challenges I am often reminded of the Serenity prayer…

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.


This Executive Protection article was written or edited by Barron James Shortt, theExecutive Director of the IBA.

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