Preparation or Paranoia?

Paranoia photo

Preparation or Paranoia?

Is it better to be prepared or paranoid? Can you be over-prepared? Well, it might be more of a matter of perspective. Being paranoid can actually help you identify gaps, it's just easier to assume everyone is a threat. But, some-times being prepared is much easier to maintain than having to be paranoid and unsure that your mitigation rules and procedures will be able to stop an attack in time, or perhaps even before it can realize.

Why does this happen?

Why do we fall into a state of paranoia? Is it really paranoia when we evaluate the state of things in the world we face today? I sort of want to say that the fact we need to barricade ourselves in our own homes should probably tell us that we might be way past the point of paranoia. Of course it would be unhealthy to constantly be in that state. But, how do you move away from paranoia into a state of preparedness? Will you ever really be prepared for everything? Sure, being properly prepared can help reduce strain and stress, and direct more attention to where it is more critically needed. But then what is it you need to be prepared for? The truth is, you simply cannot always be prepared for everything, all the time. I certainly do not want to feel more stressed out on a family trip out to town than actually relaxing for a change. And if you ask any CPO, it gets tiring to be on a constant state of awareness. And although I do stress the importance of awareness, I also need to warn about the dangers of paranoia. I mean, is that six year old really planning to mug me? Or is the over dressed dude with the baseball cap and aggressive stance really just a friendly by-passer in the parking lot?

Will it make a difference?

It's never a bad idea to know what your go-to action should be with possible scenarios you might encounter. It's dangerous to assume that what we train for will be the only reality we will get to face. So, when you are certain of what is going on and what is not, you can overcome the state of paranoia and rather focus on things that require more of your attention and things you can have some form of control over. I do not want you to try and control everything. But make sure you have some form of control, like having a task covered by a team-mate or spouse or outsourcing it. Preparing a detailed risk-assessment will help identify where you need to focus on and what measures need to be trained and perfected more.

Think of it as a type of contact sport

If you want to score, you need to be on the attack. But, often you will need to defend your post as well. Proper, prior preparation will determine how quickly you neutralize the attacking team, regain control and get back on the attack. The reality is you will take some blows. But you can greatly control the outcome of those blows, with blocks and countermeasures.

This is where some of us tend to overdo it and look more like we are moving into a state of paranoia. We carry 3 sets of briefs and plan our routes in such order that we will get the opportunity to use them after we wet ourselves. And while we over plan for the most common things, we neglect to properly align ourselves to the actual threat (that was supposed to be identified with proper risk assessment) and make the one with a greater probability of realizing our main focus. Maybe I could avoid needing three pairs of briefs and identify the threat moving into position. Then I can act on it before it can realize.

Just like our contact sports, we practice different plays beforehand. And we try to stick to them rather than work things out whilst on the field. But if we only focus on our play, we potentially miss what the opposing team might be positioning us to do. So it makes sense that a lot of us tend to lean more to the side of paranoia. We need to have basic plays in our arsenal that are tested and perfected, both for defending and for attacking.

So it gets confusing, right?

It doesn't have to. The key is to identify common plays that you will need to succeed in. In boxing, for example, you might be able to use one block more effectively than another. So use that as your basis, as your go-to block. Something you can always rely on to keep you in the fight, no matter what the opponent throws at you. And perfect it. But never stop there, that specific block might be in-effective against another type of martial arts or weapon. So for that reason you need to know what type of opponent you are likely to be facing, and prepare for that. Think about the whole "never bring a knife to a gunfight" type of scenario. Whenever I get into a self-defense training type of talk with someone, I always coin what Bruce Lee taught the world: Focus on a handful of things you can master and execute with perfection, rather than try and learn every move. This eliminates the probability of your mind getting cluttered and possibly creating a delayed response, which we all know in our environment could prove fatal! Focus on, for example, five things, create the neural pathways, and hone them in. And when you need to act, your options are limited to just those five, thus reducing your reaction time. Think about the fight/flight/freeze response again.

Whenever I have no idea what to do with specific information. I pass it on to another teammate or outsource it completely. Like having someone to do some background check or research on a specific name or company etc. This might give you a better idea of what to look out for while on the task and what to pay more attention to. You do not want to be on a task and having to spend more attention on every little person and thing around you and not have much attention span left to focus on the actual threat determined by your preparation tactics (pre-determined threats). So while on the task, your mind will not need to wander all over the show and start questioning things that could have been mitigated before-hand.

If you want to know if you are over-prepared, ask a colleague to review some things for you. Doing this, helps you get more professional insight and, the colleague might identify some spaces you do lack in and help identify sectors you tend to overdo. Who knows, maybe that just might shed some weight from your tasking. Or perhaps it helps indicate something you might have missed initially?

When you operate in a team environment, everyone must be aligned. Why should each member plan their luggage when one or just a few more extra hands can manage and transport kits and or equipment? Or you might want to make sure you mention your concerns to the team, no matter how ridiculous it may sound. You never know how the risk that you're thinking of, is being mitigated by another member if you never ask.


Do what you are tasked to do and do it well! Only then can you improve on less-likely sectors that can be improved or perhaps cut out completely. Like having to carry a first-aid kit on your person, but you spend most of your day inside a vehicle or office space. So you can rather have a more sophisticated kit stashed at one of these locations or in the vehicle for example. I sincerely hope this was more informative than confusing, and if you feel that you still don't grasp it yet, comment below or drop me an email and I'll get back to you with more insight.

Interested to learn more? See the following links:

Principal profiling

Physical security threat assessment


Awareness training

Action plan

You need a flashlight!

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You need a flashlight!

Today I want to take some time and talk about flashlights. It's quite hard to explain the real importance of a good quality flashlight. There are so many factors to consider and just too many uses to comprehend. The important thing to know is that you cannot do without one! And no, your smart-phone is not a flashlight! A real flashlight can be so much more useful. Flashlights can range from very cheap to very expensive, so knowing exactly what you will be using it for and how reliable you need it to be, will be a few deciding factors. And as some flashlights might have more functions or durable designs, you also need to know how you will be carrying, storing and recharging, or changing batteries, as this will also have an impact on the pricing.


The history of flashlights starts in 1899 when David Missel designed the first patented flashlight. But enough history for today, if you want to learn more about the history of flashlights, then head over to Wikipedia and, or just call up Google and search on.


There are just so many uses for flashlights, so I will be missing out on a lot of them. But these are just some examples to give you an idea just how useful they are:

  • To Light Up Darkness

This one is pretty easy to figure out, you need to light up a dark alley on patrol? Flashlight! You've got a flat tire during the night? Flashlight! You need to swing open doors and hand out some ass-whooping in the middle of the night? You guessed it…Flashlight! Of course, different types of tasks will require different types of flashlights, for example, the pocket-sized flashlight you carry as part of your EDC will not be sufficient for tactical work. And, a flashlight that sticks with a magnet, and can bend and extend, will work great for working on your car, but will most likely be too weak to illuminate a bigger piece of land.

  • To temporarily blind attackers

This might sound questionable. So let me ask you, have you ever been driving during the night and a vehicle from the opposite lane hits you with it's high beams and you can barely see in front of you? Flashlights can concentrate more light on an intended spot, such as someone’s eyes. Make the light bright enough, like 300 lumens for example, which is enough to temporarily blind a human, and bam! You just created some reaction space to move in. And it’s much less of a hassle than to try and distract someone in any other way, except maybe for a nice spit in the eye….maybe some more on that later.

  • Striking tool

The famous police flashlights back in the day featured a nice elongated grip area that makes swinging it towards an attacker so much more fun, shine, and shiner! And with 4, D sized batteries in its body, it carried the weight needed for good impact. Today you get much brighter and lighter flashlights, and all sorts of shapes and sizes, even some with beveled edges or DNA collectors as some might like to call them. All the same to me, you can get very creative with swinging flashlights. And if it’s to your liking, close a fist around a smaller flashlight and go to town on that attacker's face and watch him dim down.

  • Deception

Again, one can get very creative. I for example during solo work, strap a headlamp on and a flashlight in one hand when I need to search for someone in an open field, this not only gives me more light, but creates the impression that more than 1 person is approaching, plus the headlamp is great when you need to keep your head on a swivel or search higher places, while still illuminating everything else with a widespread on the flashlight in hand. It’s hard to know how to attack someone who is behind a flashlight, so that gives you a bit more of an advantage. Then I use a normal headlamp when I need to do more intrinsic work where I need the use of both hands. And a flashlight that bends 90 degrees and clips onto your vest (like the early military flashlights) also works great.

  • Signaling

Another great use for flashlights is signaling. Let’s say you’re out with the team chasing into different directions in an open field or around a block of flats and get separated, then it's a great tool to signal your position! Simply switch it on, point it to something that will help spread the light and your buddies will have less difficulty finding you. Or marking your way back by leaving a flashlight somewhere to shine and act as a personal light-house can also be useful. Or you just made a call to an ambulance alongside a highway or inside a parking lot or block of flats and switch on a flashlight to indicate where you are, just tell them to check for the flashlight. Most normal flashlights now come with strobe and S.O.S functions. So you can easily signal to someone from a distance.

Do you need one?

The answer is an absolute big NO! You need MUCH MORE than one! You need an EDC light for your pocket, purse, or man-bag. You need a work light in the trunk of your vehicle - solar rechargeable flashlights are my favorites. You need a weapons light with a strobe function if you do carry heavy metal. You need a bedside flashlight, toilet side flashlight, shower flashlight, and just as much every room you ever enter needs one! Seriously, some are just so cheap there is no excuse not to have them!


As far as legal restrictions go, there isn’t much when it comes to flashlights. You might, for example, get into trouble for shining a flashlight into a driver's eyes, or, you might be charged if you shine it into a pilot's eyes because that’s just stupid! Unless it was necessary of course. But other than that, just have some common sense and respect the privacy of other people and you should be fine. Of course, there might be some travel restrictions at airports and such, just check with the service provider you are using.


Ah, the good old trusty flashlight! In my opinion, one of the best EDC items a person can carry! And having a decent flashlight for defense and security work is of great importance. I won’t be getting into all the technical stuff here. And if you do sport a nice piece of illuminating genius utensil, keep on being the heroes of the dark, and remember to recharge!




We've all heard of this one before, and even see it all over, mostly without realizing it! But what is happening to someone who is instinctively responding to stressful situations? Some people automatically jump into a fighting stance and flip the switch from friendly to the enemy without flinching. Others shift into 5th gear and blast off faster than most modern race cars, and some even "freeze" completely and don't budge until they figure out it's time to act or already took the brunt of the blow.

What is it?

The fight/flight/freeze or acute stress response is an automatic reaction/response that takes over when a person suddenly comes under a form of distress. It could be something that causes physical pain, a mental breakdown of some sort, or a sudden rush of emotion, like being frightened, and of course from a psychological threat like having to present a very important presentation in front of people. It is a rush of hormones that are released by your body, to activate a series of reactions, which is intended to help you perform better.

The signs of stress:

It is easy to recognize, and many different signs show up when the response kicks in. Such as:

  • Increased heart rate and fast-paced breathing: Your heart rate increases and the rate of breathing increases to rush more energy and oxygen to strengthen the muscles and brain function.
  • Pale/Flushed Skin: Because blood is now flowing at increased rates through your body, you might become pale or flushed. Another bonus of this is that the clotting ability of your blood increases to help prevent blood loss in the event of injury.
  • Dilated Pupils: Dilated pupils allow for more light to enter the eyes, and that makes for better vision. Better vision helps to see incoming attacks more easily and be more vigilant of your surroundings.
  • Trembling: Trembling is normally seen as bad, but this means that your muscles are ready for action!
  • You don't seem to feel pain: Ever heard someone say they only started to feel the pain after the confrontation? It is not uncommon, and it can be of great advantage when faced with a life-or-death situation.
  • Heightened senses: Our senses are natural and under subconscious control, and under stress, they take over. Some smells might draw your attention, some colors might trigger emotions and the slightest touch on your skin can make you react.
  • Memories can fool around: Depending on the situation, you might remember things clearly, partially, or nothing at all!
  • Uncontrollable bladder: Sometimes your body wants to get rid of extra weight or unnecessary tension. That means, you might urinate yourself or worst-case scenario, find a nasty, smelly surprise waiting for you after the initial brunt of reactions.

Positive stress reactions:


  • Pale Skin
  • Sweating
  • Fast Breathing
  • Watery eyes
  • Trembling / Facial Twitches “grimacing”
  • Major muscle tension
  • Dry mouth & Throat
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Faster pulse
  • Impaired vision
  • Stomach & Bladder stops functioning


  • The subconscious mind takes over “instinct”
  • A dramatic decline in conscious logical thinking
  • Loss of concentration
  • Highly tensed and emotional
  • Rapid brain function

Negative stress reactions:


  • Tunnel vision
  • Blurred vision
  • Magnified vision
  • Loss of vision


  • Selective hearing
  • Hearing is blocked or dampened


  • Heightened fear, anger, resentment & anxiety, etc.
  • Increased cultural sensitivity
  • Reaction due to social conditioning more evident


  • “Freezing” - denial
  • Defecating, urinating, and nausea
  • Fainting
  • Lack of reality perception
  • Daydreaming
  • Mental Memory Flashes
  • Distraction
  • Physical Discomfort
It is common to hear individuals boldly stating how they will react when some form of stressful event occurs, such as a sudden attack. But this is just perceived control, and it can be very dangerous. How you think you would react when not under stress, is not a clear indication of how you would most definitely react when it happens. We tend to exaggerate our abilities under normal conditions, and when suddenly met with aggression or stressors, the lack of control is visible. We can either be over aggressive in non-life-threatening situations, such as someone simply wanting to frighten you, or you might be too calm when it is necessary to be more aggressive, like when facing a life-threatening situation.

The fight/flight/freeze response is an ancient and very important reaction that automatically takes-over. But, not learning how to control it and not differentiating from life-threatening situations and non-life-threatening situations can cause it to run more continuously and unnecessarily. So it is not good to run your mind and body under a constant state of stress! Not only will you be overwhelmed and "jumpy", but you will be unable to identify a real life-threatening situation when it calls for reaction from your flight/fight/freeze response.

You need to learn more about yourself, both mentally and physically. What triggers your response, how can you minimize it and what would be a more preferable response when you are triggered to react. Is it more beneficial for you to relax completely and hand over your possessions when confronted, or will putting up a fight for your life be the sure way to react? The answer will change from situation to situation. So you need to learn more about the types of situations you might have to face.

Another way to gain more control over this natural reaction is through physical training. Fitness can decrease stress overall, by improving heart-rate, better sleep, and increasing endorphins. Also doing practical training, such as first-aid training, any form of martial arts or even regular visualization can greatly improve the way you react under stress.

It is also beneficial to maintain a good amount of social support. You might find that spending time with certain individuals or groups, such as friends, family members or your spouse reduces your stress levels. It might also help you remember why it is that you do what you do and boost your motivation and will power to tackle stressful situations.


It might not seem so significant to try and improve your stress reactions and take more control over your natural responses such as the fight/flight/freeze response. But it can certainly help shave off some very crucial seconds to your reaction time, and help your decision making when you need to think ab=nd act fast, whether you determine it is much better to run or to stand your ground. Every decision will differ from the previous, you might want to react more carefully when you are around family members as to not provoke aggressors, and you might want to react more aggressively and jump into action when you are alone or the situation calls for you to be the aggressor. Studying your own body and its natural responses are great fun and improve your skillsets indefinitely!

Interested to learn more? See the following links:

Principal profiling


Principal profiling

What is it?

A principal profile is the use of accumulated knowledge of your principal's characteristics, history, and behavioral patterns to establish a general idea of who your principal is, how he might react to certain situations and if he might be living a high/low-risk lifestyle.

Why use it?

You simply cannot design a protection detail for any principal if you do not have a good idea of who the principal is and how he/she functions. The principal profile will contribute to your threat assessment. To complete the principal profile you will need to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of digging. Information is critical for principal profiling. The principal profile is also essential to indicate what level of threat your client is at and what the nature of the threat is.

Risk factors

Each principal profile will be unique from one to the next.
There will also be varying risk factors and levels of threat from one client to the next. So for you to draw up the most applicable protection detail and contingencies,  you have to know what it is you will be facing.

It might seem odd

Some questions at the start might seem irrational or inappropriate even, but at a later stage may prove to be the key in finding out why an attack might be made on your principal and possibly even how and which type of attempt might be made, or, you might even find that your client does not need your services at all.

What should it tell me?

Your principal profile should be able to draw a picture of one of the following scenarios:
1) A threat has been made towards your principal because of who he/she is.
2) A threat has been made towards your principal for who he/she represents.
3) A threat has been made towards your principal for what he/she represents.

Should I just go with the info my principal provides?

A principal may neglect to mention key factors when you run solely on his/her discretion and believe everything he/she says without running your investigation. You can easily find yourself in an unwanted and potentially career-damaging position when you are ill-informed or unprepared for a scenario.

Consider the 7 P's

1) People - The principal and closest relatives, friends, and business partners.  We must get to know on a professional level, the people that our principal comes into contact with every day or constantly. Clients are related to many people in lots of different ways. Either by blood, marriage, friendship, business, leisure, casually or intimately. Relationships can be a cause of many a problem.
2) Places - Places the principal and close relatives frequently visit. Where people are born, where children go to school, where they work, spend holidays, live, dine, and play, are all important things to know when assembling the principal profile.
3) Personality - Of the principal. The personality of your principal can draw different types of attention. Depending on the type of personality your principal has, it can draw unwanted attention, obsessive, and potentially dangerous persons. Especially some more adamant business people can have strong personalities that might aggravate others.
4) Prejudices - Prejudices are pretty simple. Many people develop prejudices from a very young age, past down from previous generations, and others form prejudices through personal experience. But they are real, and they can cause problems. You need to be aware of your principal's prejudices and ready to de-escalate any situation that can occur because of it. Also knowing the prejudices of potential attackers will help in identifying how and why an attack might occur. There are different types of prejudices, such as Culture, Race, Religion, Sex, Age, Controversy, Class, and even Nationality to mention a few.
5) Personal history - The history of your principal can provide crucial information that will help establish the profile of your principal. It might also help establish a picture of who might be posing a threat to your principal. You should look at the following, and any other things you might think of that is important to your principal.
- Schooling / Education / Qualifications
- Careers / Positions held
- Full name and title / Know name / Aliases
- Family members (current and previous) / Children
- Honors / Distinctions / Achievements
- Place of residence (Current and previous, family members) / Place of birth
- Medical history / Allergies / Medications / Blood group
- Marital status / Previous spouse
- Nationalities (previous and current)
- Languages
- Military service
- Political history
- Convictions
6) Political/religious views - This one cannot be missed or neglected. A person's political standing can make others unhappy. This could trigger an attack unknowingly or cause colleagues to act violently. You need to know what is the principal's political standing and is he/she an active member of a political party, and whether he will participate in political events.
The principal's religious believes and virtues will indefinitely cause some sort of unwanted result at one point or another. Knowing what your principal's religious standing is and how he/she was raised, will help to establish protocols and responses. You should be able to anticipate unwanted attention and work around them.
7) Private lifestyle - A principal's private lifestyle can expose him/her to various threats and situations. Some things are very confidential and you need to be aware that a protection officer might have to know things about the principal that can and will cause great damage to the principal's reputation. If you are uncomfortable with any of the principal's private lifestyle choices, it is best to move on to another project. But the more we know about the principal, the better we can prepare ourselves for unwanted scenarios. Think of some of the following questions:
- Does your principal work long hours? Is it from home or late hours at the office?
- Does your principal commit adultery?
- Does your principal like to visit clubs or other institutions? Does he/she like to entertain friends at home? or does he/she prefer to spend time alone with family?
- Is your principal an outdoors person, or a sportsman/woman?
- Does your client participate in more risky hobbies/sports such as racing or fighting?
- Does your principal prefer to drive his/her vehicles or utilize a chauffeur?
- Does your principal like to travel a lot or internationally?
- Does your principal enjoy a high-profile lifestyle and flaunt possessions/assets?
- Is he/she a substance abuser?
- Is your principal a workaholic?
You can get creative with the questions and learn to ask more specific things as time goes on.
After drawing up your principal profile you should be able to see key traits in your principal's personality and be able to identify if he/she is either a High-risk, Medium-risk, or Low-risk profile and use it to help formulate contingency plans. You will also be able to identify what type of people and organizations might want to threaten your principal and identify if they have the necessary motivation to follow through with the threat.
Read more one prejudices @
Learn more about different personality traits @