The Protector's Credo

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THE PROTECTOR’S CREDO - HOW TO EAT THE BEAR AND NOT ALLOW THE BEAR TO EAT YOU (Submitted by Lieutenant Thomas A. Taylor - Retired) You end your career as a protector the same way you begin, standing in Supply with all your gear in a cardboard box. As I look back over thirty-four years as a protector (30 with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and 4 with Gavin de Becker and Associates), certain truths are abundantly clear. I have learned the most in my career from observing others, and then looki
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  THE PROTECTOR’S CREDO - HOW TO EAT THE BEAR AND NOT ALLOW THE BEAR TO EAT YOU -  (Submitted by Lieutenant Thomas A. Taylor - Retired)You end your career as a protector the same way you begin, standing in Supply with allyour gear in a cardboard box. As I look back over thirty-four years as a protector (30with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and 4 with Gavin de Becker and Associates),certain truths are abundantly clear. I have learned the most in my career from observingothers, and then looking in the mirror of self-evaluation to see how I measured up. Somedays I liked my reflection and some days I didn’t. The following rules are not intended tobe “preachy” or present a pie-in-the-sky, feel-good approach to life. They are intended asa “how to reach excellence in a competitive world” set of guidelines that I have found tohold true through the test of time. They are a mirror of self-evaluation, reflecting whatBaltasar Gracian, a 16 th century Spanish priest, described as “the person you are or theone you ought to be ... a politics for governing oneself.” Many of these lessons werelearned the hard way. As the popular saying goes, “Some days you eat the bear, andsome days the bear eats you.”There are those who choose to get ahead by other means, some successfully, most not.However, the reputations these individuals leave behind are seldom very inspirational.You don’t hear people proudly proclaim, “I want to brown-nose my way up to the top,”or “I reached my position by cutting the throats of anyone who got in my way.” Wisdomis defined as an understanding of what is true, right, or lasting. Everyone regrets pastindiscretions and wish they could “do something over” in their lives. The way tominimize or avoid such regrets is to never commit the wrong to begin with, and this isbest accomplished by heeding the wisdom of those who have already learned the lesson.In a way, it’s like getting the answers to life’s test before the exam is given!If you’ve never had the pleasure of hiring people and the anguish of firing people, thenpay close attention. If you hope to ever reach that level, following these rules should getyou there. If your goal is to complete a long and distinguished career, leaving behind alegacy as a “heroic model,” then put a copy of this article in your planner, highlight yourfavorite parts, and read it at least once each week before you go to work. RULE #1: For those readers who are still in the early (unspoiled?) years of their career,the rule that should be your first order of business: Choose a heroic model. It’s beenwritten that Alexander the Great wept at the tomb of Achilles, not because his hero wasdead, but because he had not yet reached Achilles’ level of greatness. In his brilliantbook  The Art of Worldly Wisdom , Gracian refers to these role models as “living texts of renown” and advises, “Let each person choose the first in his field, not so much to followhim as to surpass them.” (Just to make sure we’re on the same page, Dirty Harry was nota “heroic model”).  RULE #2: One of my former bosses used to tell all new employees on their first day inthe division, “If you lie, you leave. I will not tolerate people who don’t tell me the truth.”Industrialist Andrew Carnegie noted that “all honor’s wounds are self- inflicted.” Forprotectors, there are few characteristics that are more important than integrity. I haveseen more careers fizzle and die from lies agents told than from acts they committed. Onthe many promotional interview boards on which I’ve served, candidates almost alwayslisted the worst leadership quality as someone who would stab you in the back or lie toyou. The Greek poet Pindar had it right and weighs in with the next rule:  Forge thy tongue on an anvil of truth and what flies up, though it be but a spark, shall haveweight . Being an effective protector means cloaking the identity, schedule, and personaltraits of the principal from the curious or hostile eyes of the outsider. The onlypermissible time to stray from the truth is when it supports the integrity of    the mission .On a recent protective mission to Europe, a curious street person asked a protective agent,“Are you a bodyguard?” “No,” the agent lied. The street person pointed to the agent’searpiece. “Bluetooth,” the agent lied again. The street person nodded, satisfied withanswer. By lying to the outsider, the agent maintained the integrity of his mission. RULE #3: Winston Churchill delivered the shortest and most brilliant graduation speechin history at Harrow School in 1941. He approached the microphone, looked out at thestudents, and forcefully stated, “  Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never- in nothing great and small - large and petty - Never give in except to convictions of  honor and good sense .” With that, he turned and sat down. Persistence is a commontrait shared by all successful people. Everyone suffers setbacks in their careers. Themost successful people believe that when one door slams shut in your face, listencarefully, and you will hear another one open. An ancient Japanese proverb expressed itin these simple terms: Fall seven times, stand up eight. RULE #4: The story is told that Winston Lord worked on a report for his boss, Secretaryof State Henry Kissinger, for four days. After leaving it with Kissinger, Lord got thereport back with a note attached, asking, “Is this the best you can do?” Lord went aboutrewriting the report until it was perfect, and gave it back to Kissinger. Again it wasreturned with the same note attached. Frustrated, Lord again polished his work. When itwas returned a third time with the same question, Lord marched into Kissinger’s officeand exclaimed, “Damn it, yes, it’s the best I can do!” Kissinger smiled and responded,“Fine, then I guess I’ll read it this time.” Throughout your career, challenge yourself daily with the question,  Is this the best I can do?   RULE #5: The words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow serve as the next benchmark:  He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce. There are those who will try to lead you away from the path of integrity andcommitment. They will jabber like a flock of parrots at your sense of mission and try tomake themselves look better by pointing out your flaws and weaknesses, or remindingyou of your past mistakes. Plato noted that “evil people look for people’s faults, ignoringtheir good qualities, just as flies look for rotten parts of the body, ignoring thewholesome.” Stay the course, follow your path, and don’t be dissuaded by their criticismand grousing. People yearn for strong leadership, and in the end they will follow and  respect you. RULE #6: The Greek poet Euripides warned, Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make angry . The worst mistakes, poorest decisions, and biggest gaffs that we makeduring our careers are often hatched in the sweltering heat of anger. Statistically, theyaccount for only a minute fraction of the decisions and actions that we take. Most of usare not angry people, but we all become frustrated and lose our temper from time to time.People of good conscience can close their eyes and relive these moments as vividly as if they are ground glass under their eyelids. The story is told of a martial arts student whogot angry with his instructor and lashed out with an insult. The instructor stopped thelesson, and told the student to accompany him outside. When they were in the back yard,the instructor handed the student a hammer and nail and told him to drive the nail into atree. When the student complied, the instructor said, “Now pull the nail back out.” Thestudent pried the nail from the wood. The instructor then said, “Now pull the hole out.”Angry words are like nails we drive into others, and even though we can apologize later,the hole from their injury will always remain. RULE #7: Horace proclaimed, Seize the day! These words are the bugle call of theenthusiast, people who appreciate their purpose and talents. A number of years ago, Itraveled to the east coast on a protective assignment. An officer with a large lawenforcement agency was assigned to assist me. He was a young, enthusiastic officer whoonly had a couple of year’s experience. At the completion of the assignment, the rookieinsisted on taking me by his headquarters building to meet his lieutenant. As we enteredthe building, the rookie asked the veteran desk sergeant if the lieutenant was available.The sergeant placed a finger to his lips and said, “Shhh.” He then hooked his thumbtoward the lieutenant’s office, and there we saw the lieutenant was sound asleep at hisdesk. I’ve never forgotten the look of embarrassment and disgust on the face of therookie as he stammered, “Sorry ... it doesn’t look like a good time to bother him.” I feltlike striding in and flipping the old bird’s desk over, but resisted the temptation. I left,vowing that I would never allow myself to be discovered slumped over my desk, likethose mechanical people in the Duracell commercial after their batteries have run dry. Inother words, seize the day or get out of the way! RULE #8: The great philosopher Epicurus provides the next lesson:  Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. Appreciation for what we have and for thecontributions of others is a quality that is rarer than a cold piece of sushi. Some peopleseem to be consumed by their jealousy of others. They take every promotion, specialassignment, overtime check, and piece of new equipment that is handed to someone elseas if there were a great conspiracy to deprive them of it. Let’s face it: All things are notequal and never will be. To expect otherwise is to invite disappointment. Sometimes inlife you get an ocean view room, sometimes the garden view. Learn to appreciate bothviews. It is man’s nature to envy. An ancient Chinese proverb puts it this way:  Man’sheart is never satisfied; the snake would swallow the elephant  . RULE #9: We live in a litigious society. Spill a cup of hot coffee on yourself? No  problem, sue McDonald’s. Tire blow out, while you’re doing ninety? Goodrich has deeppockets. Supervisor hurt your feelings? Drag the bum into court. Most people agree thatthings are way out of hand. That brings us to the next rule, courtesy of the great writerHerman Melville: Mishaps are like knives that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the handle or the blade. Throughout your career, good things will happen toyou and bad things will happen to you. Many of the bad things will be the result of yourown mistakes or poor judgment. There isn’t a protector alive who hasn’t gotten a bumdeal once or twice in his or her career, or worked for a tyrannical supervisor. Whenyou’re overwhelmed with self-pity at how mistreated you are, refer to Rules 5, 6, and 8. RULE #10: That brings us to the last rule, again taken from ancient Japanese wisdom:    If  he   works for you, you work for him . If you ever find yourself in a position of management, and basking in the glow of a successful operation, step aside and allow therays to shine on those below you. Since Biblical times, a basic lesson of conduct hasbeen the Golden Rule, though it wasn’t given that title until recent history. The ShogunScrolls were written by a Japanese scholar in 1195, and were meant to provide leadershipadvice to those who governed the realm. One entry warns, “When a man hasaccomplished his goals it is easy for him to slip into the morass of three deadly attitudes:arrogance, conceit, and false pride.” Nearly 2500 years ago, a student of the venerableConfucius asked whether there was one word, which might serve as a rule of practice forall one’s life. Confucius replied, “Is not reciprocity such a word? What you do not wantdone to yourself, do not do to others. What a man dislikes in his superiors, let him notdisplay in his treatment of his inferiors.”The astute reader will note that nowhere in these ten rules are the directives “never makea mistake,” or “always be perfect.” These are bars over which no one can leap, andstandards that will doom you to fail. Most people don’t expect it of themselves. Why,then, are we surprised when others fail to meet the standard? This is different fromhaving a  passion for perfection. Striving for mistake-free missions is the goal of everyeffective protector and assures that the principal will come back for more. Some readers,no doubt, will conclude, “These rules are good, but  …” A German proverb describes“BUT” as a fence over which few will jump. In Star Wars parlance, when LukeSkywalker balks at a difficult task and says, “I’ll try,” Yoda admonishes him: “There isno Try . There is only  Do .” It is an attitude of determination and success. As a grizzledold veteran, giving protective missions the same effort at fifty-five as I did when I wastwenty-one, I offer the same advice to all of the Agent Skywalkers out there. Every rulelisted above is a personal choice. They can’t be mandated. You have to choose to followthis path or choose not to follow it. It's up to you.Benjamin Franklin stated in his autobiography that his journey for self-perfection beganwhen he was a youth. He wrote down thirteen principles of ideal conduct in his journal,and chose one maxim each week to improve upon. Franklin’s code of conduct containedsuch axioms as “resolve to perform what you ought, perform without fail what youresolve.” He recorded all of his actions in which he excelled or failed in each chosendimension. Through this continuous process of self-appraisal and correction, his goalwas to die having lived a good life. An ongoing, honest  self-appraisal of your own
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