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

Are security guards effective?

Are security guards effective?

Now, I am sure we've all heard the term "You get what you pay for" before, and although it could sometimes be used irrationally, for this subject it might just be justifiable. Security guards can be seen almost everywhere you go nowadays. Some look professional, some not so much, some bulky, some lean, but sadly most are ill-trained, badly paid, and under-qualified. You see one of the important aspects of crime prevention on a physical level is discipline, and working 12-hour shifts for 5 days a week, most of it on your feet and stagnant in one position, for years on end, takes a lot of discipline!

What am I blabbering about?

You see, any employee who is constantly underpaid and over-worked tends to turn unhappy and ineffective. In no other work is an unhappy employee a greater risk than in the security field! Imagine yourself making minimum wage on 12-hour shifts, most likely traveling for another hour or two to get back home, train, get updated with the latest teachings and developments in your field, and then trying to find some time for your family. Would you be happy? Would you be willing to jump into the face of danger for a client that never greets you or respects your presence?. I suspect you might say yes, and that you would do whatever it takes to support your family. This is excellent, but, you will not be able to keep this up for long. Especially not for a few years on end. yet, this is the reality these security guards face every day. And for the record, no, I'm not seeking empathy for them either, its just what it is, the truth.

So, then what makes a security guard effective?

Any security guard that aims to be effective should have the following qualities:

  • Should be vigilant
  • Should be properly trained
  • Should keep up with crime trends
  • Should keep a healthy lifestyle
  • Should be presentable
  • Should be disciplined

Normally you would hire a guard/s from a reputable security firm, this noticeably has a big impact on the quality of the guards that might end up on your premises. Unfortunately, you do not have much control over this, but you do get to choose which company to go for. It is the responsibility of the company to have their employees background checked, trained, uniformed, and properly supervised. Though companies will add profit to their services rendered, which is obvious, you should be careful of the pricing itself. Too low and it might be that the company is not paying their employees well enough or might go out of business quite quickly, Too high and it might be the same actually, as these companies tend to have fewer clients, and one or two contractual losses might again bring them to bankruptcy or having to cut corners. The best price will be the average price for services rendered in your area.

How do I choose?

When your satisfied with the risk and effectiveness of security guards and your now looking to hire a security guard/s you should take care to see that a company manages their guards well. Typically, these are good qualities of a good company:

  • Price, not too low, yet not overly expensive
  • Continuously re-trains their employees
  • Do background checks on all employees
  • Treats their employees humanely
  • Not paying their guards minimum wage
  • Offers their employees room for growth
  • If possible, have their guards working less than 12-hour shifts
  • Must have their guards trained in developing action plans for on-site work.

At the end of the day, any company should be able to explain their pricing and how they intend to keep their employees happy and well-trained. If they fail to do that, you might have to switch companies. A supervisor should be available during the hours that services are rendered and in direct contact with your management staff or yourself.


Security guards are just normal human beings trading time for income, to feed their families or whatever they might need to. I always advise my clients to treat the guards with respect and friendliness, you don't need to talk to them, but refrain from making them feel lesser than you! Respect in any form goes both ways, and an ill-treated guard will undoubtedly trade a good pay off for access to your premises. A security guard is not another tool you can use to run errands, wash your vehicle or hold the door just so you could feel special, their focus should be on making sure no one enters your premises illegally or removes equipment without permission.

The effectiveness of security guards evidently can be a 50/50 give or take. Choose them well, manage them well, and treat them properly and you get a great service, anything less than that and you might be running a bigger risk than you think. Also noteworthy is the professionalism of your security guards, they might make or break your client experience. A sloppy guard badly reflects on your company, whereas a friendly, assertive and professionally looking guard will certainly boost client experience!

Anything you might want to add or debate about the effectiveness of security guards, drop a comment below or mail me directly!