Resilience is the process of properly adapting in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress (and whether it's physical, emotional, psychological, or mental, we all know how much Executive Protection agents are being hammered with stress). Simply put, it refers to one's ability to "bounce back" during, or after, difficult experiences. But it's also all about growing and learning from these experiences.
Resilience can be conceptualized in two ways:
1) Psychological resilience: This refers to an individual's ability to cope with, and properly handle a crisis, mentally and emotionally, and return to pre-crisis status quickly. It involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions that can be learned and developed by anyone.
2) Physical resilience: This refers to the body's ability to adapt to challenges, recover from injuries or illness, and deal with physical hardship. Both types of resilience are critical for executive protection agents for maintaining their overall health and well-being. The key is to develop coping strategies that work best for you and your team, regularly review them, know when and where to apply them and adapt them as necessary.
Building resilience: This often involves developing emotional intelligence, maintaining a positive outlook, staying connected with social networks, seeking professional help when needed, and taking care of one's physical health. Specifically, there are some iron-clad foundational steps to securing resilience.
Physical Fitness: Ensure you're maintaining your physical health through regular exercise, good nutrition, and ample rest. This will help you better handle stress and stay alert during long and demanding shifts. Eating healthy will improve your recuperation and longevity during prolonged details and travel. Regular physical activity can help to reduce fatigue, promote alertness and concentration, and enhance overall cognitive function. Even if you are constantly traveling, there are ways you can stay current with your physical fitness by using simple bodyweight exercises in your hotel room. And most hotels have some type of fitness room that will provide some good options.
Mental Health: It's very important to pay attention to mental health. EP agents may face a lot of stress and must always be on high alert. Reaction time is critical and a mind or soul that is exhausted or run down will not produce good decision-making skills or quick thought processes. And always remember, if there is a need to see a professional, do it. We've all been there and there is absolutely no shame in seeking help. Reminds us of the ancient Greek saying ‘’A healthy mind within a healthy body’’.
Rest and Recovery: Regular downtime is essential for resilience. It allows the body and mind to recover from stress. This includes getting plenty of sleep, as well as scheduling regular time off work. At some point, it's different for all of us, no one can pay you enough for your own time and mental well-being. Make sure to set aside enough "Me time". Trust me, it's well worth it!
Training and Skills Development: Always stay up to date with the latest threat development, knowledge, and techniques in executive protection. What is the cutting-edge tech or the new equipment/training that will make your tasks much more efficient providing better use of your time? This will give you confidence in your abilities to handle any situation, and in turn, build resilience. Make sure to also regularly run through scenarios and drills to maintain your skills. Repetitive training produces muscle memory. The same goes for mental processes. The more you mentally run through drills, possibilities, and "what if" scenarios, the stronger and quicker your decision-making becomes.
Cultivate Strong Relationships: Building strong relationships with your team members can provide a solid support network, which is crucial in times of high stress or crisis. Understanding each other's strengths and weaknesses can enhance the team's collective resilience. At the end of the day, have in mind, you all work for the same client and the goal is the same, keep him/her and the team safe. Learn to lean on each other. You have each other for strength. The support of your fellow team members makes an enormous difference.
Emotional Intelligence: Understand and manage your own emotions and develop empathy towards others. How do I feel about them? How do they feel about me? How does my behavior affect them and vice-versa. This will help in dealing with high-pressure situations and interacting with your client, their family, staff, vendors, and your own teammates.
Plan and Prepare: The more prepared you are for a crisis, the better you'll be able to respond. Stress erupts from a lack of plans, procedures, and protocols. What you know, prepare for, and train with regularly becomes second nature, smooth and easy. Regularly review and update emergency response plans, and always have a backup plan in place. If/when changes or alterations occur, train with the new additions until they become an unconscious habit. After all, the foundation of our Craft is solely based upon, and absolutely relies on, planning and preparation for the professional execution of operations to prevent unpleasant events and untimely tragedies.