Everywhere I go and talk to colleagues, even after 14 years, I get the question, how do you do that? Usually when you explain it to them it’s a “Really? Wow that is amazing”. They don’t stop to consider it has become an ingrained habit like putting on your shoes.
When at a business event, usually a networking mixer or similar, the question I get most often is “How can you help us? You’re blind, you can’t possibly know security?” And then they listen to my experience, knowledge, and presentation skills. They are impressed. Because I’m blind I can’t help them because after all I’m blind, what do I know about security. I’ve only been in the field for 34 years.
People, including close friends, don’t understand how I can do certain things that most everyone else takes for granted. Items such as:
- Clipping my finger nails without cutting my fingers off
- Cooking on the stove. And the simple idea of boiling water… and not burning down the house
- Hearing noises that others don’t
- Get around without someone guiding me
Being a security professional and being blind is not easy. No one wants to take a chance because of a few innovative, creative, and quirky ideas & attributes that don’t fit into standard practice. So, keeping with security, let me explain those things I mentioned above in a security context;
- Clipping my finger nails
When you are conducting a threat assessment on a facility, are you meticulous, careful, & attempting to see things that aren’t necessarily in front of you? Of course. Another aspect that I’m sure, you consider is that you have to account for everything that may cause an issue, no matter how remote, small, or trivial it may be. If I actually cut my finger while clipping… I staunch the blood, if there is any, before it gets worse.
Likewise with security, you try to stop an incident before it gets worse. It’s never easy to do but it must be done. It takes that meticulous, attention to detail, & being results oriented to reach your goal. Isn’t that what you do as well?
- Cooking with fire
Just like all other security issues you have to be meticulous & have proper planning to accomplish the goal. With cooking food that is scalding or molten, you have to use the pot holders and ensure the pot isn’t too heavy to move safely. If the heat comes through the holder, then you have to put it down…quickly.
With the operations of your site/department, you have to be aware of the limitations of your officers & coach them carefully so that everything turns out piping hot and not burned on, or cold. Additionally, you may have to be mentoring, and training them over and above the minimum, and your, requirements.
Sometimes you have to handle certain officers with pot holders. They need to be ‘coddled’ and empathized with for a few minutes. But if it gets too much you gotta put them down & terminate. Coddling is not something any of us like to do but… as a good manager it is something we need to do on occasion.
- Hearing Noises
Some people will say I’m psychotic or schizophrenic because I hear noises that others don’t pick up on. Allow me to burst that ballooning stereotype, my ears have always been above average and didn’t get better because I went blind. You have to pay attention. Especially to detail. Which means noises, sounds, & common items more than most.
When you’re alone in a dark warehouse at 0300 hours on a Sunday morning, your hearing becomes, and has to be, more alert. Rodents or other animals can make the same noises as criminals trying to break in or get away with materials.
Security officers must train their eyes, ears, & nose to recognize what should & shouldn’t be there, as does a blind person.
For a blind person, it is absolutely vital to pay attention to your ears and smell to keep ourselves out of danger. Sometimes you will taste a problem before actually encountering it. Items such as a person with stale cigarettes on their clothes/breath or doused in perfume.
- Getting around without a guide
Do you need a guide to get around a new place? How about your officers after a bit of on-the-job-training? Can they get around a new assignment? With a little fumbling and confusion, of course they can. So why would we be any different just because we’re blind?
We all get turn around and confused on our whereabouts on occasion. Whether it is at a new job or out on the town. Do we make it all the time alone? No. Just as you and your officers might, we get lost on occasion. And sometimes it takes us longer to acclimate to new places, especially those that are forever changing like the workplace.
How we get around in life is as much of learning skills and techniques as much as it is attitude. Our attitude has to be I will conquer this problem. Talking to most blind people you may find that attitude prevalent. If we don’t have that attitude, we will fall into the stereotype of sitting around and complaining about our lot in life.
“Seize the day and conquer it”
Robert D. Sollars, who has been blind since 2003, assists businesses and their employees to lessen their risk of workplace violence as well as other security/customer service related issues with time tested and proven ideas. You can follow him on his Facebook page, facebook.com/oneistooomany, or twitter@robertsollars2.
I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear