The Exciting Journey of Podcasting: From Curiosity to Global Impact.
Suicidal Drug Addict To Elite Military Commando with Ben Williams | E68 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Suicidal Drug Addict To Elite Military Commando with Ben Williams | E68".
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"Why am I at this point?" And how the hell has someone died under my watch? You can't even go and kill yourself. You can't even go and hurt yourself. You're fucking useless. And I'm beneath the surface and you can hear the thumps overhead like, and I turned around and looked at the vice and you went, "Fuckin' run now." Wow, this is the most gripping, inspiring, and twisting conversation I've ever had on this podcast ever. If you're squeamish, I'm gonna have to ask you to prepare. But even if you are, I'm begging you to follow this story. My guest grew up in a broken home, one plagued with domestic violence, with abuse, with heartbreak, and he moved to five, six, seven different schools as he stumbled through his childhood trying to find his way, trying to find out who he was, and then stumbled through his adolescence looking for purpose in life. And he was met with rejection, with pain, with confusion, with barriers. And as he spiraled into daily drug abuse, into addiction and into purposelessness, a job that he hoped would give him that sense of purpose ended in a manslaughter case. And this tragedy only caused him to spiral further. And as he reached the depths of his despair, he made that decision one day that he was going to leave his house, go for a drive and end his life. For whatever reason, and thankfully, he didn't go through with it. And by fate or luck or faith, or whatever you want to call it, whatever you believe, a short YouTube advert that popped up one day out of the blue would be the catalyst for him to pull himself out of his darkest, most desperate moment to give up drugs, to overcome his mental challenges, to brush himself off, and to pursue his childhood dreams. He went from suicidal drug addict to elite commando, developing what he calls the commando mindset, a mindset and a set of values that you can learn. But his story doesn't stop there. His time as a commando is riddled with graphic violence, with heartbreak, with being injured by the Taliban while at war. He'll describe the moments after he was blown up and turning around and seeing his friends laying there behind him in pieces, and losing some of those friends. Being discharged from the military because of his injury, grappling with PTSD, finding comfort and alcohol and addiction again, getting himself in trouble with the law, finding him himself in court, facing four years in prison, and then rebuilding himself once again. Launching an incredible coaching company and working with elite performers, Harry Kane, Gareth Southgate and the whole England team before they went off to the World Cup. And then the pandemic comes and his coaching business collapses. But in typical Ben Williams fashion, adversity doesn't dictate his outcome. Thanks to the values ingrained in his commando mindset, he bounces back to launch an incredible tech company. What a wild, emotional, gripping ride. You're about to go on. Honestly, congratulations for choosing to listen to this episode. Without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett and this is the Diaries CEO. I hope nobody is listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Ben, from doing this podcast over the last couple of years, one of the things that I've been reminded of and an idea that's been reinforced in my mind is how important all of our childhoods are in influencing what we then become.
Personal Growth And Transformation Journey
Your Childhood (03:13)
And I studied childhood psychology between the age of like 16 and 18. And it blew my mind to understand, especially in those early years, how that sort of fundamentally shapes who we then become as adults. And it's in some respects, often quite hard to shake, right? You know, that old adage of not being able to teach new dog new tricks because we learn most of our behaviors when we're young. So my first question for you is, tell me about your childhood. Tell me about that experience. How did that shape you? - Yeah, my parents had quite a rough divorce when I was around, I think, six, seven years old. And I never speak about that divorce. I never go into detail, never talk about what it was, but it wasn't nice. And we sort of didn't see dad for a while. And then the mortgage wasn't paid and Mum had to take everything on. And we had to move and we went from this lovely house to a very small house on a sort of council estate. And I think at that age, I didn't really see it too much. I just, it was part of the journey. It was part of the process. I didn't recognize her problems. I didn't recognize what was happening. It was just, our dad's gone, but probably young enough to just get on with this. And it's funny because my kids are the age now. And I think about what are they processing now? What are they going through? How are they seeing this? What do they see every angle like? And then I think as I got a little bit older and I began to understand their separation a bit more and how it was not a clean break. I felt like I was a young child who almost wanted to protect his mum. I had my younger brother that I thought I wanted to, or knew I wanted to look after and protect. And then she found a boyfriend who wasn't a father figure. And I hope you wouldn't mind me saying that as well. He was just there in the background. So when you say it wasn't a clean break, you mean there was domestic violence issues or there was? It was an aggravated separation. That's pretty much as far as I go on it. But we witness things. We witness things. And I think that stays with you quite clearly in your mind as you move through. And when we go and move and transition into this kind of new phase of our life in a new house, with a new man in the house, who wasn't really acting up as dad, it was probably the most problematic area to be mum's dad and mum. And you can actually fall out with mum because she's trying to be dad. - How are you? - And vice versa as well. And I have probably the closest relationship in my entire family's with my mum because I recognise everything she's been through. And she's an extremely resilient lady who's got herself to where she is today. But it is true. And I'm listening to your podcast and looking back on my own journey. You see every single little thing begins to affect you, I think, later down the line. Rather than what you're going through at a moment, it's all about that process. And I don't think that process happens very well when you're a child. And as I just said, it's kind of next phase, next phase, next phase. You know, then all of a sudden six, seven schools later. And you don't fit in. And I'm not the broken wing story. If you come to school and you don't know anyone, you're the kid they go and pick on. So that was part of the experience. And then you find your feet a little bit in the system. And like my sort of final school, how it's kind of my make or break moment. And I think I went more towards break. You said that when you're young, you don't really know what things mean. So you're kind of experiencing them, but you're not like consciously processing them. But they are still sitting with you and having an impact on your worldview. Then they're telling you what a relationship looks like and what a relationship with your siblings or someone else or authority looks like, for example. But you don't have that time to process it. And I think as is the case in my life, I like didn't process a lot of the stuff until I was like, 29 or like 28 or whatever. - Yeah. - And I guess that's the same view, right? - It just feels normal. I think if you've not experienced anything before, what you then go through feels normal. Well, this must be reality. This must be how we do things. And then you just kind of crack on. And I think actually it's during my military career and then been sort of immersed in what that throws at you. That I kind of describe it as like, almost the eddy, stub-ard lorry that you're just putting things in along the way. Every now and then you just stop and put things in and then you just travel at high speed and then something will happen and you bang the brakes on it and then everything comes flying forward. And that's what I kind of found over the sort of my mid 20s was, why am I thinking of this again? Why is this coming back? What's this all about? And trying to work out a way of beginning to process what I should have processed years ago. - Talk about six or seven schools. - So you were expelled or you were moved? - No, we moved a lot. - All right. - Yeah, we moved a lot. So we moved from Guilford and then up to Bed's area and went to some schools and bucks and it was just house to house. So we moved from school to school, which is difficult for a kid. And I found myself leaning more towards listening to certain music types such as heavy metal, very heavy metal actually, and dressing with it. And I think back then, early norties is, well, there's a kid in the corner with a black nail varnish on and the spiky hair and the dog collar. And he's new, let's throw exit him. - Oh, wow. - So I suppose maybe I didn't help myself as well, but that was just, it was a real strange one 'cause that's what I was into. That's, I still like that stuff now. Yeah, I felt like I wasn't accepted for liking what I liked. You know, that's how I kind of didn't fit in for a while at school. - And is that a coping mechanism? - Was the music a coping mechanism was being different in school or whatever, some form of a coping mechanism? 'Cause heavy, heavy metal is pretty emotional, darn, sometimes. - I think it is. I think it does become a coping mechanism. But I found it was the start of things. It was the start of escape. And it started with metal and then it moved to more, right, space, sinister things such as drugs. And... - I want age. - So I started smoking weed around 12. Mm. You know, I tried weed before I tried cigarette. We've got me with people I always wanted to be with or thought I always wanted to be with. And all of a sudden I was smoking with the cool kids and, well, this is all right, you know? I'm finally fitting in. But it's only 'cause you're all using weed and you're all focusing on this one thing that you're togetherness is, you're a little unit. But then, yeah, I think drugs took a little bit more of a hold of me than I expected it to. And it was weed for several years and it just got more and more weed until I started to progress into my late teens where I started to pick up on other things which is when it all gets a bit cloudier. - Going into the clouds. What age did you start experimenting or using other drugs? - So I think just to give you even more of an insight of what I was thinking is, I think because what happened between my parents and then not really having a father figure when we moved, I actually began this sort of hatred towards males. I just didn't like him. It seemed like it was the guys at school who'd pick and then I didn't have father figure and it was, am I the male? Where is the male here? And I just began this almost sort of disliking to males. And I started at school, I started to have anger management around 16 and then I was gonna ditch everything at school. I wanted to join the Marines and leave. And my mum, God bless her, was, no, you gotta stay on the path you're on, do your A levels and then move on. And then if you fancy doing it, do it then. And that then left me quite bitter 'cause I was like, I wanna go and do this. This is my destiny. I'm gonna go and join the military. And that sort of no from her was that moment when I was like, well, fuck you, I wanna do what I want, but I still stayed in school. And it was like, what's the next best option? I don't know why becoming a bouncer suddenly becomes the next best option, but I wanted to fit in and I wanted to live a more macho alpha male lifestyle. And I thought that was going through myself in the deep end and become a bouncer. And so I managed to get my SIA license, so prepped for my SIA license, which is the badge you gotta have as a bouncer. When I was about 17 and a half, the moment I turned 18, I was on the door. And very quickly learned what the real world is all about. And it didn't go very smoothly for me in the first instance of what's so ever. So to try and skip my almost youthful growth, I started injecting steroids. I started taking steroids already and then moved on to injecting and then bulked up and got angrier and a bit more difficult to be around. - You talked about wanting to be a bouncer because it would make you feel like an alpha male or whatever and it would make you feel like, why did, I'm really intrigued by that.
The desire to be an alpha male (13:06)
That thought, where did the desire come from to be considered an alpha male? Whether in your own mind or to external, to other people. - So I think it part of it is the fitting in. Why can't you fit in? Around that time, lock stock was quite old, but snatch and certain other films were out, which they were almost in the limelight. It seemed like that way of life seemed to be normal. Not normal, but what you should aspire to be. Like aspirational. - Yeah, aspirational, like gangster. And I watched a bit too much of that. You know, I read Lenny McLean's book from Roy Shores, Burke and thought, oh, you got to be hard to fit in this world. But I take that moment where there's basically months that no, you're not joining the Marines till you're 18 or at least do your A levels. When we did sort of begin to have every fortnight weekend with Dad again, the Marines museum is somewhere where they used to take us. We also went to the parachute regiment and to the Imperial War Museum here. You used to just take us around these military museums for some reason. I remember being a young sort of nine year old in utter awe as well, looking at these pictures of these really incredible people I thought because this is what inspired me. I thought, I want to be a Marine. And you know, it's back as sort of nine years old, 10 years old. And then when it's kind of many years later when you suddenly almost pluck up the courage to be like, let's do this. It's a no. Turns you're quite bitter and quite angry. Why not? This is what I've always wanted to do. And it does feel like that. Someone suddenly puts a blocker in the way of what you've always wanted to do. Your sense of purpose. Yeah, that can make you think in rather negative ways. And that for me was when it was, well, what else can I do? This, is it this alpha male thing? You know, is that what a Marine is? Is what's the closest to that then? And where can I fit in? And that's kind of what led me to the path of, I'll go where everyone seems to respect, you know, I'm not going to sneak into the nightclubs. Like we used to do by putting our socks over our trainers at 17 to get in. I'm going to work on it. And those kids that have always taken the mic, those kids that have always thrown your thing at me are going to respect me. And there I was. 18 years old on the door. Two questions. The first is, what did your dad do professionally? And was your desire to be macho in any way influenced by wanting to also be accepted by him at all? I would want to say yes. But I think I'll say no, I, I don't know where it came from. I don't know where it came from. My second point was there is a stigma in society that bounces have power complexes. And what you've described there sounds like a power complex. Yeah. And it's this, this thinking that mum was dad and there was no other male in the house apart from her boyfriend who didn't really, really be dad to us. So do I need to be dad? Do I need to be the alpha here? And the older I got and the more I was on the, on the door and the bigger I was getting. And I was working five nights a week, you know, this was my full time job. And you were getting feedback and validation from women. Yeah. And you know, you get into the, you get into the fights, you get better at it, you get more switched onto it, you get more aggressive with it. And all of a sudden that validation comes in, you think, yeah, well, maybe this is my purpose. Maybe I am supposed to be here. And you don't see the animal you're becoming, even at that age, you can be 20 years on the door or you can do it within a couple of years. If you start doing it every night and becoming almost laser focused on being there for the violence, you're an animal. It's like the frog in the frying pan gradually being cooked and doesn't realize. It's a good way of putting it. Yeah. It's particularly intriguing to me. I've actually never talked about this, but one of the people closest to me in the world followed almost an identical path. And they went through school, I think in my view, lacking validation, probably in the top four people closest to me in my life, lacking validation, they then started using steroids at 17, 18 years old. I found the steroids in their drawer and then they went and became a bouncer. And they were doing it for, they told me for the attention from girls on one hand, but then also because I think it did something for their self-esteem. And this person is the single smartest person I know in the world, but getting that validation from being a tough guy on a door and injecting steroids and going to the gym and eventually he even started doing some fighting, like you have sea fighting stuff, I think was filling a hole. In your story though, I read about an incident when you were a bouncer, that kind of changed everything for you. Yeah, I remember we had a neighbor, a little Irish lady, she was lovely, she's still with us. She's still with us. And I think she knew the underworld better than I did from where she was from. And I remember saying, she said to me, she literally sat me down, she not, when she found out I was joining, I thought I was going to work on the door. She came and knocked on a house and sat me down, no one was in as well. And she was like, you don't know what you're getting yourself into. That's like, I'll do that. Strangely, as a young male, and you may have fixed experiences yourself, when someone says you can't do something or you don't know what you're doing, you're very quickly like, I know exactly what I'm doing. I've watched all the films, I've read all the books, I know how to do some sort of kick, I'll be fine.
An incident that changed my life forever (18:55)
And she's like, you don't know what you're getting yourself into. Okay. So she was right. There was an incident which happened at one of the nightclubs in Milton Keynes, where it was around 3 a.m. And I was leaving the venue as literature. I was signing off at three, and the rest of the team of signing off at 3.30. And I was literally about to hand my radio in. And there was just like this massive screen down the radio. And we had a door team, I think of around 15. It was a big nightclub, and it was still pretty packed for this time. And yeah, there was just this sort of screen down the radio. And then you heard black, black. And that was like, so you had code red, which was like it's kicked off, code black is like we've lost control. And you just kept hearing black, black down the mic. And I was with a friend of mine, another one of the doorman, and we were literally like, what should we do? And just chuck the radio, and ran to where it was. And we ran down the fire exit. It's in the escape building. I don't know if you know the escape building in Milton Keynes. It's just like a maze. You go through one exit, and you're just in a maze of concrete tunnels. And we were running down the stairs and then sort of around the corner. And as we were running towards coming in the back of this part of the nightclub, the doors just bonburst open. And everyone just fell through. It was like a dam of bounces and people scrapping. And it was just carnage. There was just people fighting all over the place and couldn't even work out what was going on. And then I recognised this massive guy who earlier that evening had just been a pain. And he gave me a massive kiss on the lips and everything and ruffled my hair when I had some. And was really patronising towards me and just, he put me in my place. That's what he was doing. And they were fighting. And it was inevitable they were going to kick off on this evening and they did. And I just remember seeing his arm dangling as they were trying to force him to the ground. There was about three of the other lads and big guys. And then there was brother and then two of the people fighting in this area of the team. And I just grabbed his arm and he was just like flailing me around. And I was just slapping into the wall and then back on. And then we all hit the floor. And there was this almost like crunch sound. But no one thought anything of it because he just, he went almost even stronger. And I just had this arm. I was like lying there thinking, this is, he's really trying to get up here. This is going to get out of control. And you could hear his brother screaming down the corridor who's a big lad himself. And we were probably on the floor, probably about a minute trying to sedue him. You know, calm down, calm down. And his face was facing back across me. And it was just staring at the wall. And then I noticed some sort of pooling underneath his head. And it just didn't look right. The blood itself was not a nosebleed. It was purply. And I just said to one of the lads, I was like, I don't fucking think he's well. And everyone literally just massive breath came off him. And he was still lying there, didn't get up. And then one of the balances was a fireman. And I was like, rolling over and then began trying to resuscitate him, but to no avail. And he passed away there and there on spot. Remember standing there, watching it all unfold, suddenly going from this big alpha male, we're here to fight to what the fuck has just happened. And then they close a club and they nicked everyone. And then we were on a man's sort of charge for about a year as they tried to determine what had happened. He'd lost his life, you know. As a man had come into a nightclub, whether he was a pain or not had lost his life. And worse than that, five kids had lost their dad through an act of violence, through actually no one's fault. He fell and the way everyone landed on him and fortunately broke a bone in his neck, which caused him to go away. And it was put down as an accidental death. There was no malice in it. There's guys trying to defend themselves. And the court recognised that. And I'm glad of that as well, because things like that don't always get recognised. And people all do get in trouble for defending themselves. But for me, it was a serious point in my life where I thought, wow, we're not in deep here. We're fucking way past deep. Which became quite a hard thing to deal with. And then you lose your job. And by that point, I was already using cocaine and steroids. And you're trying to keep up this addiction. And all of a sudden it comes in a scape. And then you can't afford the steroids. You see yourself get skinnier. And it's, what do I need to do? I just do more coke. Coke's are expensive and smoking more and more weed. And I just became extremely lost. You know, I was clean in school toilets at one point, because that was the only job I could get, was to be a cleaner. And for me, I felt like I was very much lying on rock bottom. You lose your sense of purpose at that point, right? Like you lose your sense of orientation. And this, I've, you know, in writing my book and in doing tons of studying over the last two years, I've really grown to understand the importance of, especially men having a sense of purpose and orientation. And as I did some reading about why the life expectancy has dropped over the last two years in the UK and the US, I think I've mentioned this before, the data suggests that it's because of opioid addiction. And then you say why people getting more addicted to opioids and the data suggests because men specifically are losing their sense of purpose. And I think Jordan Peterson is the one that says, there's a purposelessness epidemic sweeping the world, which is why the life expectancy has started to decline. And it sounds exactly like that. When I read that in your stream, as you've said it then, sounds like one of the worst things that can happen to someone, a man or a woman is they lose their sense of, as I say in my book, their sense of like chaos, because that chaos and that having stuff to strive for and aim for seems to be our stability. How bad did it get for you at that time in terms of drug use and your mindset? So I've written about it quite openly in my book. I was using it on Tuesday mornings. You know, my mum's bare bedroom using Coke. Right. And it got really bad. It got really bad to sort daily use. Always. That was it. That was all that the focus of the day. Would you like get cleaning work done or or if I wasn't doing that, just be like, I'll soon my mate. I literally had two mates, which I did it with. And I'd just wait for them to finish work and then we'd go and pick up and then we're going to sit in my course until midnight. It sat there. It's looking at stars, thinking it's a chill sesh, really just fucking wasted my time. And it was on one of those very lonely days where I just sort of thought, I don't even know who I am. And actually I have a girlfriend at the time who's now my wife. You want to meet a resilient woman. My wife has put up with me for so many years. I've got a lovely family. And yet here I am sat with like half pulled blinds, shit everywhere in my room. No purpose. Don't know where I'm going in life. Taking drugs. Why? Like I'm from a nice background. Why am I at this point? And how the hell has someone died under my watch? How has this even happened? And for me, that kind of was a moment of I was to give up. So I took the I took the course, which I shared with my brother. And I just went for a drive and I had it in my head. This sort of ambition that I was just going to go and drive off something or drive into something or go and do something stupid. And trying to skate what I thought was this internal pain. It never happened. It never prevailed and never did it. I actually ended up back at home after losing track of time, sat there, feeling sorry for myself. Oh, you can't even do that. You can't even go and kill yourself. Can't even go hurt yourself. You're fucking useless. Which, lo and behold, is when I sort of flipped on YouTube, the old clunky version and that advert appeared and I thought, I don't know if it's fate. I don't know if this is some sort of sign from above. What if I was as the advert for the raw Marines? The Marine. Yeah. And it just came up. It was an old advert and it was just there. It just appeared as one of the videos that I should watch. And it was a young lad. And I reckon he must have been about the age I was at the time. I sort of 19, 20, I think it was at a time. Still quite loose on my time into that one.
My turning point - joining the Royal Marines (28:24)
And he goes to his going to the endurance course, which is one of the commando tests and one of the four commando tests. And the endurance courses are two mile bogs, tunnels. Just just just a muddy hell. That's the kind of where I'm very good at muddy hell. Yeah. And then a four mile run back to camp. And to get to that point, you have to have done the 32 weeks of training. And that's the first test. And I remember watching it and he's running through wood. Woodbrie is where it is would be common. He's running stops. So would you stop here? And then it goes again and he goes through the tunnel. Would you stop here? And then they have this obstacle and they're called the sheep dip. And the sheep dips about three meters long and it's fully submerged. And you have no control. What happens is someone will put you under, they'll force you through and then someone else is the other side and they have to pull you out. You can't swim. You just go through like a torpedo. And it's a bit dramatic, but this kid goes under the water and he gets his trousers stuck on some jagged bit of metal and he's like hanging out for breath. And then it's going, if reezers, would you stop here? And then it freezes again and it does it again. Does it like two or three times? And then it says, if yes, don't even bother filling out form. And then the next cutscene is him with his greenberry at night. On a speedboat walk off shore raiding craft, just going along. No music, just this weird sort of tone. It was like a. And then it goes. 99.9% need not apply. And that for me took me back to that young child in the Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth, who was looking at the pictures of old guys of mustaches in the Falklands and the earlier racks, people who had become something. And I thought, what else have I got to lose? What else have I got to lose here? Then to just go and do it. And that week was a turning point. So you applied? Yeah. I can tell how much that particular video influenced you. Because you can describe it. I mean, it must have been decades, right? Since you saw that and you can describe it in such graphic detail. I still watch it now. Oh, really? I still watch it now only because it just. It reminds me of that sort of transition in my life, that courage. You know, I always thought that I had a lot of courage. I think a lot of men do. They, what is courage to us? What, what is courage? And it was something that I thought. I could establish or find on the door or in like a violent world and be that alpha male. We're actually courage. Now I look back over my years. I look back and think courage was the ability to go downstairs. You know, after sitting there for hours, shall I, shall I, shall I, shall I, shall I, go mum? You know, you said, no, thinking of doing it. And she went, I ain't fuck for that. Because I've done my eight levels and I think she'd grown tired of me. Yeah. And I was like, what? And it was like, this just acknowledgement that, yes, please go and do that. Because we can see what's happening here and you're ruining your life and you're only just about realizing it. And I was like the last to the party and realizing I was the one ruining my life. And the other hard part was, you know, my girlfriend who had been with some for some time. Who had been through all of this up to this point. I'm now leaving her to go on this journey and become a war marine. And I think that was for me the hardest part to build that courage up and say, can I go and do this? And she was like, yeah, I support you with whatever you want to go and do. And that was it. It was literally, I described it in my book like a couple of days later, I literally just threw, I had a pack of Coke in the house and just threw it in the, in the toilet and flushed it and didn't flush. I was like, oh, that was a dramatic thing. Because I thought it was a big piece. It's like, oh, yeah. And I was like, oh, shit, we're going to put that. Admittedly, I kept smoking weed for a little bit because it was my progression off everything. But, you know, the steroids were done partly because I couldn't afford it, but you immediately begin to learn about what being fit means. And I remember this moment I am. I didn't, I didn't really have too much physical training kit. I just had the odd sort of football shirt and horrible jogging bottoms lying around. And it was, I don't know if you've seen it. I think it was a Sean Penn run, run fat boy run. At the moment when he steps out the doorway for his first training run, for his marathon and he's all over weight and he's like stretching off and he's really crap or kick. Yeah. And I, I felt like that guy and I stood at the doorway off my house. I was like, I'm going to go for a run. Let's see what happens here. You're nice. Yeah. But it was this, it was like the weather we have now and it was just this hit a fresh air and running and the endorphins and the exercise feeling like it was purifying me. I thought, this is what it feels like. This is, is this what success feels like? Is this what progression feels like? Is this what it feels like? And that was that week alone of just feeling myself getting slightly fitter and healthier. You know, simple things are tidying up my room. I was making myself homemade meals like lasagnas and pastas because it was carby and it felt like that's the right thing to do. Um, and then I began to, to start the application process and yeah, it's about a year's process of fitness tests, medicals, um, well, I was thinking of psychometric tests and stuff like that. And then you go down and you do this three day course before you start training, you have to go and do a potential or Marines course, which is what I can only describe as a three day beast and where they just make you cry for three days and see who survives it. And, um, I got food poisoning the night before. Oh, yeah. I literally threw the eye of a needle and out the mouth and I was like, oh, I'm in a shit state, real shit state, like a corpse in my bedroom. And, uh, I remember my mom's saying again, she's like, why don't you get and see if they'll move it? Like in that mumsie way. Yeah. Let's ask the Marines if they'll move it, man. I just thought I've just got to go and I went down and I was last on every test, but I managed to scrape the times, but I couldn't put my hand up and be like, well, Phil poorly. Two, three days into becoming a real Marine. It wouldn't have gone down well. Um, but I passed and that for me was just this incredible moment of I've just managed to kick my bad drug at it habits. I think I've overcome some sort of suicidal tendencies here to now be passing a course that's going to give me the ticket to begin training with one of the world's most elite and respected regiments. And that I didn't need anyone else around me for that one to say, well done or that validation. That was a look in the mirror and go. Nice one. How did it feel when you got that? Like, was that a letter or an email or? It was literally there on the spot, you know, do the last day of the three day course and then they go, are you passed or they go your ship? You failed off you go and I had this letter which said, which said you passed you, you'll hear from your careers office soon. You also get given this T-shirt. I cringe when I think about it now, but this T-shirt says potential Royal Marines commando on the bat. Yeah. When I see people wearing them now, I'm like, and I put this T-shirt on and I was on the train just like, hold it and it was freezing and I'm traveling through. I actually came back through London because I was living in Milton Keynes at the time. And so I was on the tube just like that. No, I'm just a T-shirt. Yeah, but I was so proud of it and I trained in that T-shirt every day. And, and then, yeah, I got my letter in the post saying you'll be starting on this date. Get yourself ready. This is your kit list. This is what you're going to need. And that date came round. But your mum was proud, right? Yeah. Yeah, she was really proud. I think my girlfriend was a bit confused and a bit, there he goes off on the journey. What happens to me now, which is why I work so hard now. So, which I'll come on to later, but, you know, being, I've been sat on that train for day one of training and going from Milton Keynes and I went up to Birmingham and then I caught the Birmingham all the way down to Exeter. I remember looking at people on the train behind sort of newspapers and that those glum sort of MP3 playing faces with the listening to their music, looking out the window in sort of cheap suits and, you know, tapping away on laptops. And I thought, I wonder if these people are happy. I wonder if these people are on the journey I'm about to go on. And that train riding itself was extremely fulfilling. And then the Royal Marines training centre has got its own train line, which is super scary to turn up to. And then, yeah, I pulled up sort of five hours later and there's the first instructor awaiting you and you walk through the gates, you carry on all your kit, quite bewildered, but I remember thinking I've arrived. It's crazy that you went from being, I almost have this vision in my head of this young man who was looking around for something and finding nothing in terms of his purpose and then obviously going within himself and using, you know, cocaine and other substances to try and take to try and escape. And then suddenly it's like this north star just becomes illuminated in the distance. And it's this what sense of orientation and direction and purpose for your life. And that seems to be what, you know, changed, changed everything. Obviously it takes a ton of resolve because, you know, the way you've described it sounded, I've got to be honest, even though you had these challenges along the way between like the moment when you decide that you saw that YouTube video to when you actually showed up at the training camp, but it's tough for a lot of people to to even see the north star and then pursue it. And especially when they're holding the baggage of like addiction. And I find that pretty miraculous. I'm like, a lot of people wouldn't be able to do even that part going from addiction and suicidal ideation to putting on those shorts and going for that run. I feel like that's the biggest mountain to climb, right? Like, yeah, that was, I think that was part of the rush for me was actually just arriving at the camp. And I'd watched a documentary by Chris Terrell, Commander on the front line. And it followed a troop through Commander training, which was quite, it wasn't an old grainy one. It was, you know, a year or so before I was going to go there and I just obsessively watched this. And at the time, Afghan had just kicked off as well. And so they were getting combat footage of what is happening out there right now, a mix of this training. And I remember watching this thinking, I'm going to be there soon. I'm going to be there. I'm going to be there. And it took, you know, it's a year's worth of sort of preparation. And then I remember standing in the foundation block, which is where you spent your first two weeks with 60 guys I've never met before. All of us have shaved heads or just look bewildered and a little bit worried about what's next. And I remember looking around thinking, this is the room they film that first episode in. I'm in it. Wow. And you do think like what legends have walked through here, what heroes have come through, everyone comes to that door over there. And I think even that itself was a real moment of pride. Like I really enjoyed the first few weeks of training. And then it got quite hard. And then I suddenly realised, all right, yeah, it's got a long course and this is going to take a lot of resolve, as you say, but, you know, those, even those initial first few days of just excitement and looking around and just being surrounded by excellence, you know, the values of written on the wall, your corporal is your troops are just your captain, they wear the greenberry pride and they're stood there immaculately dressed. I'm going to become you one day. I'm in, we're having this conversation today, but something happened in my life yesterday, in fact.
How to find that purpose (40:38)
So this is, I think, why I'm really dwelling on this point of like how you go from the YouTube video to putting on that pretty ugly gear that you found. And then going for the runners, I've got a very good friend of mine who I know won't mind me saying this because we talk about it openly, who is going through tough times at the moment. He sounds very, very similar to the guy that you described, who was having those negative thoughts and was looking for purpose in life. And I'm almost searching for the advice to give him. I think that's why I'm asking you the question. Because he is that guy that sat in his car looking up at the sky, wondering what's the point in living. What is it that takes you from that place to putting the shorts on and saying, you know what, I'm going to do something for me for once. I'm going to help myself. No one else is going to get me out of this situation but me. That bit there feels like the hardest mountain to climb. Mm. I guess for you, it was that sense of purpose and prestige and that was, you know, this had been your childhood dream or like. There's also this quote I sometimes ponder on, which is change happens when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of making a change. Like when life becomes sucked so much that it would be, it would suck less to go and be beasted. Yeah. Yeah. You've got to want something. That's what I. Looking back, having learned everything along the way. It was the desire to want something. What is it I want? Um, and it wasn't the validation of being a tough guy at all. It was to be part of my dream. You know, and you think back to that nine year old, he'd almost made his mind up on the spot there that he's going to join the Marines and that kind of got taken away and then I took it away from myself anyway. Um, and I think almost further away it gets, it becomes less tangible. So when the incident at the nightclub happens and you find yourself becoming wrapped around the wrong axle completely, I think it's getting further away. I'm losing control. I haven't got it. I'm losing that thing I want to that, that finally that day of something that reminds you to go, remember what you want to go. Fuck it. I'm going to go and do it. And do you know what I found? I know a lot of people like this. I still have a few of them. My close friendship group. Um, and I've worked with a lot of people like this as well. Where it's actually the courage to go and do it. Somewhere in your friend's head, he'll be thinking something that I want to. You may look at you. Yeah, but you're successful. It's easy for you to say it. Look how well you live in the dream. Fuck you. You can't give me advice and you're like, Oh, dude, come on. Switch on in there somewhere is something he wants in there. Somewhere is a desire in there is a child who had an ambition for doing something. And the older we get what I found with my experience, it feels like it gets slightly further away and that gap gets bigger. And all of a sudden you've got to take a bigger step or a bigger leap. If you have that ability to go, no, I do have the courage with it. That that gap closes and it takes steps. It takes baby steps and people think it's overnight. You know, you may have found this. Oh, you're an overnight success. Uh, it's like 10 years worth of hard work. You know, Messi says it took 15 years to become an overnight success. That's because deep down in the shadows, those people which are fighting it every day, the addiction, the difficulty, the desire to go out on the piss with our friends in the normal world to do the drugs, to eat unhealthy food, whatever it is, is, is that fight right there to go? Yes or no? Shall I follow the easy option or should I follow the hard option? And sometimes the hard option isn't the challenge. Sometimes the hard options, the courage you have to build within yourself to take the steps, you know that. Um, is there anything that I could have said to you when you were in that point in your life, when you were doing the drugs and having suicidal ideation? If I was your friend, is there anything that I could have said to you that would have helped you get out of it? Because as friends and family members, we're always trying to change the help, right? And I sometimes doubt the power of a mate turn into and being like, pull your shit together, you know? It strangely happened to me. So, uh, I won't mention his name because he's doing sneaky, beaky things these days, but there's a close friend of mine. So sneaky, beaky, you know, peering from curtains, working for special forces and doing things like that. Not perfect. No, no, no, no, no. Yeah, can't do that one again. No, it's not perfect. Um, that's why I won't mention his name. Uh, a friend of mine was within this lifestyle I was with him and, um, he decided to join the Marines and he got out of what we were embroiled in. And I remember bringing him like, what's it like? What's it like, you know, sort of inquisitive about it? And he just said, come and do it. And for me, that was like this guy didn't like it was someone within my life who actually had come away from what we'd all been doing and plucked up the courage to go and do it. And it wasn't some millionaire entrepreneur. It wasn't my mom. It wasn't my dad. It wasn't a really senior Marine. It was a friend who was probably about 15 weeks ahead of me on the process, who's not even made it himself and is still going through the hardest parts of training to say, come and do it, come and give it a go. You've got this. And that was almost that not validation, but that boost to be like, yeah. All right. Because that's a relatable role model. Yeah, he's just like you. Yeah, it's someone I know it, but it's so real. It's so hang on. He was with us 15 minutes ago. I know him. I bring him and I'm like, wow, OK, I'm going to I'm going to follow in your way. Couldn't have which in turn becomes quite intimidating because you're sort of social groups looking at it going, well, the Marines is really hard to get in. Now two of them are there. One of them is guaranteed to fail. Aren't they surely? And I'm looking at him going, oh, he's stronger and tougher than I am. Is it me and that sort of creeps in every now and then? But it was that role model to have. Since I was, as you were saying that I was thinking that people will now look at you after being in the Marines for, you know, almost 10 years, 10 years, 10 years. They'll see that that Marine a decade in. They'll see Ben and they'll think, oh, God, I can't. I can't do that. He's, you know, looking big, strong man. He's disciplined. He's got this mindset. There'll be a kid sat in his bedroom, glancing at that YouTube video of the, you know, the Marines advert thing. And then looking over at Ben and thinking, oh, no, I'm not, I'm not Ben. He's all polished. And it is funny that it sometimes takes a relatable role model to be the bridge where you go, do you know what? There's a guy that's halfway through the journey who I know and I'm like him and he's not special or smart or whatever or rich. And that can, that's the, the bridge that I'm going to use to get in there myself. It's one of the things when I do the podcast and when I talk about my story, I always want to let people know that the guy you see now that can talk and that can do this business stuff and no social media was like an idiot who like got kicked out of school, can't spell still, can't do maths. Well, it's just like you. But as you say, maybe the defining thing was courage. And that courage came from just a delusional belief that I could. This is what I talk. This is what I wanted to write my book, "Commando Mindset," because I wanted to get people thinking that a commando mindset is a particular way of thinking within our world. You know, to have 100% of the commando mindset, you have to become a commander, you have to go through a process and join up. But everyone has to get themselves to the gate. And I've become quite interested in the getting to the gate part to start. And who doesn't get to the gate? You know, the biggest critics never stand on the start line with you. There was the ones in the stand giving it the bigger, aren't they? It's those on the start line who get to the gate. Now I got to the gate and I was really proud to get into the gate, you know, how cringe worthy, but potential rule means commando. Yes, at least not my potential rule means commando instead of a potential civilian, which I don't want to be for now. I want to go and live and enjoy the world in different parts of it. Some new one go to holiday on, but I wanted to go and see it. And that, that for me was a really interesting point. And, you know, fast forward, many years later, I managed to get the prestigious job of going back to the command and training center as an instructor and get to see those people get to the start line and see them go on their journey and listen to their stories. You know, you're a bit of a tough guy over at times, but listen to their stories and hear them say that they had drug problems and this happened within their family and, or this person lived on the street for this long. But now you're in my world and I'm going to try and take you from what you were and turn you into something that we need you to be, but you have the ability to be as well. And that process seen them go from civilian to commando. And that's really empowering because I get to stand there on the last day of training when they finally do it and you can finally call a mate when, you know, it's a bit hard up to that point, but it's like, good effort, mate. And you have a beer from you tell them a little bit about your story. They go, wow, I thought you were like this sort of thing. Yeah. I'm a difficult decade. Just. Yeah. Yeah. That's it. Yeah. Yeah. Pretty much. But instead they realize you're a human. What is the commando mindset? Are there principles to it?
What the commando mindset? (50:14)
What's the philosophy? You know, you talk about it being something that we can all sort of reflect on in our own lives and we can all have that commando mindset, I guess, in the home or in work. What other what is the commando mindset? And we have an ethos that was the sort of thing that first jumped out at me when I got there and we have values and the values is pretty much what makes us courage, determination, excellent self-discipline, integrity, cheerfulness and humility. And these words, they're very human words, aren't they? They're very, you could put that in almost any walk of life. And I think people can acknowledge it and go, "Oh, courage, excellent. I'll have a bit of that." Integrity is the biggest one. We say integrity in the Marines is your virginity. You can only lose it once. And so when you have that way of thinking and you have that ethos amongst your peer group and your leadership group, you know, most of the time, what's coming out of people's mouths is true. And that whether that's moral courage to say, we're the same rank and you've got to stop swearing and this and you've got to take your hands out your pocket. And, you know, that set an example for people who are below us to even, you know, being able to say that to a senior commander, like, "Oh, should we have rounds in our pockets right now, sir?" But it's this ethos within us that enables a particular way of thinking. And it's when you're in the most extreme circumstances when bullets are coming at you, I remember my first ever combat engagement. I was, we were in a quite a large patrol of 12. And we'd flown into an air in the green zone and told the Taliban are here. You're just going to have to go and find them, which is like finding needle and haystack sometimes. And we were on the ground for about four hours. And we always take an interpreter with us and they have a radio that intercepts Taliban frequencies so they can actually hear what the Taliban are saying. And it was the first time, I think, I heard the Taliban as well. You hear these voices and it's quite squiggly over the net. You can't really hear it properly, but you just think, "That's our foes. That's our shit. They can see us as well." Where are they? And they said, "We can see him. We can see him. They're heading towards the melon now. They're heading towards the melons." Was their code word for IED, improvised explosive device, a homemade bomb. "For the Taliban are saying across the radio that they can see you." So they're talking to one another saying they can see us and that we're heading towards the bomb they planted. And you start thinking, "Well, maybe they're trying to egg us on. Maybe it's not real." We went into this farmer's compound and we stayed in there for about half an hour to gain our breath and have some water and then they came back on. They said, "They've gone in person." They said his name as well. "They've gone in his compound. We'll pay him a visit later. We'll get him on the way out." So you're looking at the poor farmer thinking you're getting a knock on a door that you don't need. But also we're in the safety of this small compound that we're going to step out back into the open soon and they're going to see us. And we stepped out of the open and straight away, you can see them again. Again, you kind of are they trying to pull our bluff because they know we can hear them. They know we listen to them and you kind of take it sometimes with a pinch of salt but you have to take it seriously. But then we had assets in the sky which was a drone saying that it can see fighting males coming towards us all carrying weapons and then moving down this street. And that was like, "Okay, this is actually real." And we hadn't been hit by this point in the tour. And this was about to get very, very real. And your whole everything changes. You know, the adrenaline's quite, the adrenaline's high but it's controlled. You've got control and you think, "I know how to deal with this. Stay focused." And we came up to a ditch which there was, it's almost like a T-junction ditch where one met another and then to cross it, it was probably about four foot deep and then you had to pull one another out of it and you get onto a track and then there was a wall and the track sort of went left and right from us. And about three of us got out the ditch, got onto the track and then just a hail of bullets came flying down the track and they all spout off the wall and off the floor and off the trees around us. And what you're taught to do when you're shot at, you'll talk to do something called RTR which is return fire, whether that's from the hip shoulder, whatever, just spray in the direction, take cover, return accurate fire, RTR, I, nose dived into the ditch. Don't blame you. Yeah, like quickly as well and just completely flopped into the water. My kit's probably wearing about 100 pounds so I've just gone straight to the bottom of the ditch and I'm beneath the surface and you can hear the thumps overhead like split second your underwater, split second but it's long enough to go, ah that wasn't the right thing to do. I've just done everything against what I do in training and what I've been taught to do. You panicked right? Yeah massively like oh shit, someone's shooting at us, what do we do? Jumping the ditch, that seems to be like the cleverest thing to do and jumped in ditch and I remember this thought coming through my head going all you fucked up big time there, get out of the ditch and I in that second came up out of the water and noticed everyone had done the same thing so I was like right Mark dodged that one and the way we were looking was down the track so everyone's sort of looking across each other down down the ditch and down the track and there was one person still on the track returning fire on his own stood up. Literally you couldn't make it up it looked like that sort of call a duty image where he's just firing away on the track and it was our commander, Vicy and he just looked over all of us in the ditch and went check your fucking flashes and that is this internal system which just goes like that because your flashes are what you wear on your shoulder and it says the words "rormerings commando" and everything those three words mean is related to the ethos, related to our values, related to those 32 weeks training, related to every person that's died for those flashes and we're all hiding and he doesn't need to say get out the ditch, come on on the track or anything like that he just screams "check your fucking flashes" and that's your reminder to go "or wanting to switch on and be a marine here" as opposed to hide cowardly in the ditch and then we got out and you get into the fight and that's what the mindset, the mindset isn't necessary just down to skill and ability it's that ability to tap into what your program to do what your DNA is what your value system is have courage have excellence have determination all these things that were just words up to that point have true meaning for you to get into the fight whether you lose your life in the moment or not you're there to do a job and that's what it looks like and those values as you described them go back to that list again courage one of them was joyful not a joyfulness cheerfulness in the face of adversity why is that so important that's the one that struck me the most I was like that sounds like smiling if you don't laugh at it or laugh at you and I can't I've lost count the amount of times where I've been soaked in mud I'm absolutely hanging out and you know a dominoes pizza and being at home and going "miss" and you look over to the right and all you can see through this is muddy faces is teeth someone else looking back at you and you just go and you giggle and you know this is shit isn't it yeah let's get on with it because if you don't laugh at situations that get tough it is going to laugh at you and the moment it starts to laugh at you you're going to begin to suffer now it's not in the case of when people lose lives you're stood over there going "ah I'm gonna giggle" but it is those moments of extreme warfare where rounds are pinging off the wall in front of you and you look at one another and go "fuck you know that was close wasn't it?" and you have the ability to laugh at situations maybe other people wouldn't laugh at cheerfulness in the face of adversity is is what we all need I've been saying it to people all last year in this year you know this is shit what we're going through but if you don't smile in some way or another and find that sort of courage to have a bit of morale within yourself it's going to laugh at you that's where your mental health starts to take a knock that's where you start to have that sort of negative downward spiral and that was something I never had before the marines the ability to laugh at difficulty and the marines encourages it out of you what are the other words again so cheerfulness courage determination determination excellence books me about excellence why that's important because I know them from the I've got to be honest I feel like I've watched every documentary ever on like the SAS and the marines and the other special forces across different countries I got subsessed you know when I was younger and one of the things that you see in training is this obsession with the the suit you know your uniform being clean and your gun being clean and things being in order and it seems like from my outside perspective they're like training excellence and organization into is that is that why they use the word excellence in your clashes um you can never achieve perfection everyone looks at the military is in they're perfect everything shiny everything's ironed everything's clean but it's not perfect if you if you think you've got perfection you've hit arrogance or you've let your standards down because excellence is that ability to continuously keep striving towards something my corporal and training said if you do not know point one percent better every day at least you're heading in the right direction and his way of looking at that was you could have the worst day ever you could fail every test but if you do something extra that day that just boost that not point one percent at least you're making a little bit of a more positive impact on that day than maybe yesterday you can always strive and that word excellence is is embellished in that it's the ability to say I can never achieve perfection but as long as I strive to do my best effort that's what excellence really means that the the ability to strive to put in your maximum effort on everything you do you could be the slowest guy in the troop and not be able to keep up with everyone but if you are hanging out always you set to my recruits I don't want to see you just giving me the face for the sake of it I want to see your face that you are fully inserted in the locker then I know you're giving me the best effort because they're striving for excellence they're striving to just be the best they can be do we do enough of that we do in the military and that perfection doesn't exist you can't aim for perfection you have to aim for something a little bit more tangible you have to aim for something that does exist and what does exist is the ability to keep doing it at high standard how do you in our culture at the moment there's a narrative emerging which is like at least you did your bet you know there's a kind of a fluffy soft sort you hate it I can see it in your face yeah it's kind of like fluffy soft it's okay that you're not that good at least you know take rest well you know good is a good good is fine which
Why “its taking part that counts” doesn’t work (01:01:10)
is kind of infiltrating our culture in a very PC almost in my opinion toxic way if I post this on Instagram as I've said before I'll get like canceled because people that sense of like doing less than your best and being negative seems to be comforting for people in a way that keeps their self-esteem in ego smothered with cotton wool so that they don't have to take personal responsibility I can see you're very pissed off good good go ahead yeah the podcast is over my lad took part in so I have a boy Zach he's seven and I have Leila who's three going on 18 and he won a race in sports day and I was like the marine dad on the edge and they're like God Zach how about you got this and he's flying down and he's miles ahead of everyone else I was like yes and he crosses the line I'm like yeah and he comes running over and he's got this massive grin on his face and he's got a big sticker winner and there's another sticker next to it participator and I looked at it and instantly in my head I twigged and I thought rip it off all right okay good other handed out then ones are they and he went oh I'm going to use over the moon move like my wife and I were like well don't mate it's amazing and he went why did everyone else get sticker and he was pissed off and I was like and I could I can almost hear the parents around me I could hear there is turn towards me like oh how's his parent going to approach this one and I did think in my head I was like shall I go down there well it's good that everyone had to go and everyone took part and then this kind of the stoic commando went fuck that I went listen no one else should have got another badge right you're the one who weren't that that's the reason you've got that winners badge don't worry about that participation matter what I want you to always strive just do your best every time and you can win the race like he did today don't worry about everyone else and he was like yeah but why do and it kind of the conversation went off in child language sure um but why do they get sticker they dad and like kind of looking around again at the parents I don't know I've not worked this one out yeah but I did I wanted to let him know that there was that parent in me there's almost those two voices to go go along with it because other people are listening and this is now the new cultural thing to do of just praise effort and sorry praise taking part over anything else or let my son you know one of the marines values his integrity I'll let them know what I truly think of it I don't agree that they're handing out those stickers mate you won you won the race and you deserve that one makes you do that every time and he likes that people will listen to that and they'll think some people might think oh you're toxic that's yeah pushy parents and you're training your kid to you know he'll end up like Michael Jackson changing the color risk and whatever like but if we look at the importance of purpose and forward motion and orientation I think that removing accomplishment removing north stars and just saying nothing's a north star and everything's a north star is actually really really dangerous because then if we don't have things to strive for if there's no winner if there's no accomplishment if there's no mountaintops and again we lose orientation and that for me is where people get depressed and have opioid addictions and then they end up killing themselves or you know whatever else and it's also it's also maintaining the standard for not what I expect of my child I want him to put the effort in if if he doesn't want to put the effort in he won't put the effort in and he will either go through a process in life like I did or he won't and he may look at my life lessons and others around him go oh we're not going to do that I'm going to do this I run a business you've run a business if your staff or employees sorry turned up I'm like I'm just here to you know get paid and nine to five hit five and I'll go home you know that turning up attitude what what does that do for the culture that business you know you have too many of those people within your environment your business is a car crash waiting to happen you know it is the people within it all your friendship group your friendship group oh just you know yeah I'll just turn up you know the just turning up attitude is what we're encouraging when we say well done everyone for taking part in this race today you know I personally think you you reward the top two and and the one who's putting in maximum effort who came in last give him or her something as well you know well done that's a good effort we had another cake yeah I did want to say you said it for a private car um I don't care about me cancer at this point yeah you're not cancer on my app so but it's it is that it's if we almost reward this participation now that's all you get rewarded as the winner gets as much as the loser gets and everyone in between gets rewarded this participation we are encouraging this just turn up just all you have to do is just turn up and you get praise you win you know it's what Simon Sinek talks about this kind of entitlement where does it come from well you just turn up you know get everything everyone else gets anyway no like you and I people have had to work hard fight hard the reason the green beret is so well respected is so because it's so fucking hard to achieve the moment they drop the standard you know it's not going to be the value that it is at the moment maybe that will happen maybe society will push it through I know training was very different to when I actually took recruits through training you know I have seen that difference in culture society is having an impact on that we are rewarding people for just turning up simply just turning up and that to me is it's not it we're not breathing this Michael Jordan attitude we just want you to come and give your best effort the excellence turn up and strive don't just turn up and tick boxes that's a big thing that I took away from the military is do not tick boxes you know you can get your report we were always encouraged with our reports to be way better on it you know don't just you know well done you've done everything you need to do in these couple of months it's good effort you've done all this and this that's what we look for it's funny because people just have a state of mind in the kind of soft fluffy cultural narrative that's kind of breaking through especially on like social media I think is designed to try and protect your mental health but I think that the argument we're saying is it actually has the adverse effect because it takes away that sense of like striving and accomplishment which is so clearly important for people to live fulfilled lives and it goes back to the point I made about you know chaos being stability stability being chaos if if even in my industry there was no competition there was no podium there was no nothing to aim for my life would descend into some form of like probably some form of depression because I would have no there would be a purpose and although you know the mountaintop or the podium actually isn't the moment of purpose the journey is like the striving the training the whatever it's important to have it there and I'm glad we had that conversation because I think a lot of people don't melons you mentioned the word melons earlier on the Taliban talking about they planted their melons I heard that it was in fact one of those melons one of those iEDs that took you out of the military yeah it was the catalyst for sort of end of my career um I've got something really exciting to share with you last week as many of you might have seen in the press it was announced that I would be joining the board of fuel and for you guys that know me well and know how much I drink fuel and how much it's been a key part of my life and running my business and staying healthy well know why this is exciting to me because it's a product that I absolutely love and the reason why they sponsored the podcast in the first place was because when I knew that I was going to be bringing it back and investing in the you know the production of the podcast and the team I wanted a partner who I could talk about authentically without having to bullshit you and heal is that partner so I reached out to heal and said listen I'm starting my podcast um up again and I'd love you to be the sponsor of it and so as I've got closer and closer to Julian some of you all know he actually came onto this podcast and he will be coming back on in the future um we realized that there was a lot professionally we could do together and upon leaving social chain I got a ton of offers to join boards to join companies to be an advisor consultant you can imagine what my inbox looked like immediately after the announcement and I said no to everything I'm a firm believer in rejecting good and the hold out for great and when Julian had the conversation with me I said yes to joining he was bored in less than a second I knew what he was going to end the sentence with so I said yes before he ended it and um I've started working with the team now on products on their comms on the wider business on the brand everything and it's amazing I absolutely love it so what started as a little podcast sponsorship what started as a conversation with a remarkable entrepreneur in Julian has now become a more formalized relationship and I'm a board member of fuel and I think it's important to be honest with you about that because when you hear me talking about it now you know that I'm actually in the building so yeah just wanted to share that with all of you back to the podcast you mentioned the word melons earlier on the Taliban talking about they'd planted their melons I heard that it was in fact one of those melons one of those iEDs that took you out of the military yeah it was the catalyst for the sort of end of my career um yeah we we were deployed on an operation around three or four weeks before the end of this particular tour in 2011 um and yeah it was called the hornets nest it
The thing that ended my time in the Military (01:10:53)
was just an area I'd had that before yeah it's not it's not nice when you commanders say you're heading into the hornets nest and when they follow that up we're going to go and hit the nest okay all right good luck I'll see you okay so I'll see you postcards now um but it the idea was to go in and disrupt the Taliban in an area they thought they were untouchable within and we knew it was going to be heavily contested and they had the civilians on hand there they they had it all um and it was really deep in the green zone as well which I think this is sort of end of August beginning of September so the crops are at seven eight foot um the tree lines are sort of every hundred meters and the trees are very high it's just a really difficult place to operate in it's like a jungle in a desert and then we landed on the americans gave us a lifting in the morning jocks onto target and within about four or five hours we'd had um five guys taken out the game already by a grenade which came into the compound and just detonated at their feet taken out of the game yeah so injured and put back on stretches and put straight back on the helicopters um we then took a tap well we started receiving a tap from three different angles um so they were firing us from the where we get my bearings right northwest and south um and they were firing us from two different angles from a distance to distract us from an attack which was coming in from this third angle which was to sneak up to the gate and try and get into the compound so we were sort of really trying to fend off and and this came sort of every half an hour it would just pick up and then it drop off and move scrapping all day it got to the point that if you weren't on the roof fighting you were trying to get your head down to get some sleep and then ready yourself to go up and things would explode and you'd wait wait for a scream or wait for something and then the firing was starting like everyone's right just carrying out it was just the most surreal situation um and we ended up fighting with the enemy pretty much all day that day and then we needed to push a patrol out in the morning and that morning that morning just had this weird feeling about it you know the day before five guys had been blown up by a grenade and you know covered in frag um it had some injured civilians come in it was just just quite a chaotic day the Taliban had got right up close to the gates and we've managed to push them back and kill a few and it just kind of leaves you the feeling next day thinking oh we've got another six days of this seven-day operation or another six days of this um you know that first day we're there it got that bad that mortified was getting called in over us landing literally 50 meters in front of the compound to stop them advancing on our position and that's frightening that's you know you're close to that sort of hand-hand combat and um the next day I remember waking up thinking oh I didn't have a great night's sleep you don't really get good night's sleep out there and this really weird thing happened I was sort of messing around with the some ornaments which were on a shelf you know just like being a nosy sort of Brit having to look around this compound and I ended up flicking this sort of like weird dish thing it had a car battery like just a half a car battery in it and I poured it and it had all the acid and it and it leaked onto my head and then onto my face and then onto my body I was like oh my battery acid on me and I even said to myself oh I was a bad omen for the day isn't it um and there was just these like weird tiny little events that happened and I think they only seem weird now because I look back and like because it was an incident and um one of uh one of the marines darlow luke he um we usually rotate on patrol so on one patrol he would go at the front or second from the front because of the weapons we carried um I carried a light machine gun which is um you know it's between the we have two machine guns we have the gpmg and then we have the lmg and the lmg is slightly smaller and I had the lmg and so you go that second person to cover the first person who's a rifleman who is literally of a metal detector looking for the bombs so you're there on their shoulder and you work as a pair and it was actually my turn to go in the middle of the patrol and it was luke's turn to go up to the front and neither position really is any skin off your nose I was like do you want to swap today and he's like nah stay where I am I was like yeah I'll go of jordan up the front and we came out the compound and literally straight away into a ditch and into a cornfield and we kind of navigated our way through the cornfield and the idea was to get up to this village was which was probably about 200 meters from our sort of um base I suppose you could call it an octopi compound um and we just wanted to get in there and talk to some of the locals and see what the problem is with the taliban and where they are and see what intelligence we can get out of them and I was a jordan at the front and with us was um a dog handler and we had the dog handler because they sniffed the bombs and we came to the edge of the cornfield and there was just no one around call it atmospherics so positive atmospherics of women and children out in the streets farmers in the fields you know normal life pattern of life happening there was no one nothing like literally you had the tumbleweed going down the street um and I looked over my shoulder and you could feel it we call it spidey sensors it's when you know your skin in your hair so that starts to stand up on your neck and you could just sense it after yesterday's fighting no villages around they're here taliban are here it's just where are they um I looked over my shoulder and vice he was behind me in my command room just like yeah push out a track let's go and we came out onto the track and began walking up towards where we needed to be very slow pace you know you're checking for these bombs in the ground and a tractor appeared in front of us probably about 20 minutes 20 meters to our front and this this farmer just looked at us and he must have just seen load of marines suddenly stood there in the street and just we were like "dresh you know stop" and he just like floored the tractor as much as he could it kind of just chugged off and he disappeared and it just it just all felt a bit weird and we got nearer to this um we literally got come up to his crossroads and myself Jordan and the dog handler were on top of the crossroads now or just just slightly just before Jordan was on it and I was just slightly back from it and these two guys walked around the corner dressed in full black trainers on which is a massive indicator for taliban they used to wear trainers where most of the people just wore flip flops and these trainers for obvious reasons getting around quicker and they were just stood there as you are to me in front of us and it was like "fuck now" and you couldn't do anything like they're not armed they're just stood there looking at you and they're as wide-eyed as you are and you think this is taliban and then they just bolted literally just ran straight from us as we're like "stop I stop" and they ran to our right behind us a short wall but into the field and you could hear him like traveling through the field like the snapping of the corn and everything and "why the fuck are they just running to the field why didn't they run down the track or just stop" and all this is starting to go in your head and I turned around and looked at vise and you went "fuckin run now" and we started to run and we we must take in two three steps and the wall next to us just obliterated and this this plume just covered us all like I've never heard anything that loud and I've been around a few loud things but it was so close and I remember this something hit me in the back of the head which my helmet must have deflected and then something went through my leg and I just felt like this almighty pain in my leg and but I was still stood there and I don't mean that heroically like shrugged off a bomb it was just the shock of it everything just went through you all the rubble um all the um frag, fragmentation to the shards and metal just just went through your bags helmet everything and the pain in my leg was enough for me to like scream out and agony and then drop to the floor and the way I dropped I actually ended up sitting on my foot so my injured leg had come back under me and I had this right leg out the front I smile because it was mildly amusing when I look back on it but all this you know your ears are ringing you can't hear it you just hear that sort of muffled thudding sound um you can smell the cord eye you can smell horrible things you know when you come to terms what happens next I remember looking down thinking oh it's fucking me and I was screaming I've lost my leg I've lost my leg because I just I was concussed I had the pain here I couldn't see it there's lots of smoke and dust everywhere I've fucking I've lost my leg and I had this moment sat literally must be 30 seconds long sat there on the floor thinking oh my god I've lost my fucking leg where is it for a start um and then it was like this weird sensation of like my foot trying to come back round underneath me and then I was like oh fucking sat on it and sat on my foot I sat on my foot and I did look down and there was blood all down my legs but my foot was there my leg was there it was all intact and you check other bits which are quite required for a man and I was like yeah all right it's all there and you do have those really surreal moments it's a real thing where people check themselves and I was like fuck but then it really then you realize you're on patrol and there's other people on that patrol and there's 12 of us out on the ground right now and that thing which just happened was very very close and it was almost at the moment I turned around that the the orange dusty smoke was clearing that everyone was just lying on the floor three of which were just out cold completely and it was just this stark realization like fuck we've been hit hard there and the wall had this little small wall which obviously the devices hid behind you know you quite quickly know what's happened as they planted a device behind the wall which is facing the path and they've run into the field at the end of a wire and just connected the battery and it's detonated on our patrol and what it is is called directional fragmentation so it sprays across the patrol instead of coming up from under the ground and everyone had been hit everyone and behind me was my corporal visey out blood coming from his neck blood everywhere where kit weapons closed just ripped to pieces and you just think fuck and there's no one else around like it's just you guys on the track and most of them are lying unconscious on the floor and I started think I thought to myself I've got to get to visey so I started crawling I was in utter agony as well I just knew I had to get to him and as I was getting near I could see that he'd been struck in the neck and it was doing as you would see on casualty coming out at an angle and I'd been in these moments before I've been around people which lost legs have been there for people which have been injured but there was people left and right you know there was your team were there on this occasion everyone's just fucking out cold and as I was just getting to visey a marine came sprinting up the track from right at the bottom and just jumped onto his neck like with his knee literally jumped onto his neck and just lent into him and he started shouting at me going get your fucking kit out now get your kit out and so I started fiddling around for my medical kit and what we were trying to get out was this single hem clot which is like a bandage but it's basically stuff it into a wound and it expands and I needed to get my hen clot out but you have to throw it so this technique that you take it out throw it over your shoulder so it doesn't get caught in the dust and you have to keep it over your back so you can then put it in but you're not packing all the shit in around them and he's like get your fucking hen clot out now and he's now obviously removed his knee from his neck and he's got his fingers in the wound and he's trying to hold on and I remember looking at it thinking he's trying to hold onto his artery there and he's trying to pinch his artery going stop fucking looking start putting it in there I was trying to do it and he grabbed it off me and I'll do it hold that and then you're there like I'm holding it literally pinching it together going don't go don't go don't go and then the medic came up from the back and barged me out of the way and started treating him on the spot and all I could do was just hold his hand and just like pray for your kids stay for your kids stay with us stay with us and this sort of 45 minutes flash by and we were on the helicopters and we were back at Camp Bastion and they were going through triage and I don't know miraculously they're still with us today. Vyse lost his leg in that moment as well which is unfortunate. Darlow who I was meant to swap with took fragmentation through the temple and is now disabled because of it but he's still with us and is still great fun to be around still with marina heart definitely and a few other lads taking it in the throat all over the bodies and you kind of we meet up every now and then you know not so much now but we meet up we call it the bangerversary and you look at these kind of reprobates which is still just got scars all over him and you share the stories and you take the piss out of one another and Vyse always says to me is like you were crying when I was dying weren't you I was like yeah fucking what but it's it's a part of that journey you know and it was a real intense moment but um we signed the dotted lines we put ourselves in that position and that's what happens in war but at some point you decide but you can leave where you were discharged medically yeah it was um I was discharged because of my hearing and it was something I'd hid from that day I knew my hearing had been affected but the way the sort of hearing test work in the military you can kind of flag it you press every three seconds and it'll it'll look roughly like you can hear it and I could never hear properly in my left ear and they changed the test several years later and I got caught out trying to flag it and the doctor was like what are you doing? I was like I'm hearing test you and yeah stop doing the three second rule all right do it properly and did it properly and then it was like you can't hear any left ear can you I was like I can hear something you then let's have a chat and yeah we sort of that was the ball rolling between being a lead military to leaving the forces not easy to leave as they say life change is very different yeah I've st. aim for that's what I decided it's the moment they told me I think I'd been up through enough stuff up to that point to go okay this is what happens now adversity strikes you got to work out how to get through it I had a I had this ability to coach people like that's what I did with my young Marines and then when I worked with the rehabilitation troops as well I thought I could do something outside here and fortunately as I was sort of in my year of discharged Gareth Southgate brought his motley crew down to meet us at the command of training center and I got to meet some pretty cool characters within the England football team before they went to
Falling back into my old ways (01:26:35)
the World Cup and that's where I realized that this command and mindset thing can actually be transitioned and help people way away from the military how do I do this but between that gap of leaving and you know starting your next sort of chapter I was reading that you had you suffer with PTSD and you were you know I because it would be a concealable that someone would then fall back into the old patterns right like losing your purpose again and then like using your sense of orientation and was that a I think I had that relapse or I know I had that relapse actually not long after Afghanistan and I think the sort of trauma you go through the way you may handle it and what you've seen and all these things it's it's hard to get your head around it is really hard especially when you come home so quickly it's like bang explosion you're back in the UK I remember being at Queen Elizabeth hospital up in Birmingham and it'd been 36 hours since we triggered or since Taliban triggered the device on us you know literally two days ago we're fighting them coming up to our doorway and then I was sending this sort of crisp white sheet bed white sheet bed looking out over Birmingham my mum came in you know this woman who I admire so much and I didn't want to speak to her I was like I don't want to speak to you I want to speak to you I want to speak to you I want to speak to anyone leave me alone because I was still in Afghan and I genuinely think even to this day a part of me still stayed there and I could never get my head around that so when I when I you know rehabbed and I was fit and I could go back to the unit I would drink a fight I ended up getting court marshalled and I was suddenly spiraling back to wards that bend before the raw Marines you know using that violent way of being and taking a substance to sort of numb the pain which in this case was drink and again it was this uh back at square one done this career all right I've just I've just fought for my country and now I've got to go and stand in front of the judge which ironically was over in incident now I was defending someone else for when someone pulled a knife out you know it was just it kind of felt like I really I'm actually trying to do something good here and I'm getting punished for it but that's maybe the naive way of looking at it but it it was a difficult moment I had to begin to process what happened in afghan and it's it was just another moment of processing as we can almost coming back to is how we process stuff and afghan was tough you know we lost people we we lost lives we lost people lost limbs a lot of people lost limbs there was this constant battle in your head because of the iED threat you can never see them so you would walk out on the ground and think I wonder where i'm gonna put my foot today and that that's like seven hours long every day that that has its toll on you like constantly looking like that everywhere you go I remember when my then fiancee we moved into the flat together I was really mad at her for the way she stacked the bean cupboards I was like what the fuck aren't they facing the same way for and she was like why are you being like this because then when you go to say because you've got nothing for that because they just fucking do it and now that's me still like packing my kit regimentally at the end of my bed what if we get attacked we need to be good to go and it's it's so hard to they call it decompression it's so hard to decompress from that and you feel so pimp and I remember coming back thinking no one respects us like it seemed like the civilian world didn't care the London riots were happening you know I can't even get it right on our own shores let alone trying to help other people out and you just felt forgotten and it wasn't you who felt forgotten you felt the lives had been forgotten and everything which isn't the case you know I meet so many people now it's like well that's amazing to me thank you so much for what you've done for the country and you get to this humble point now we're like yeah thanks I signed the dotted line I'm so pleased you appreciate it but back then it was this kind of bitterness of why don't you care I've just done this why don't you care and it took me about a year to get through that and I look back now and think I think that's actually quite natural for a lot of the Marines that they went through and soldiers and then I got that turning point of picking up my leadership courses to then go and work with recruits and that was it for me I was like even though I was dodging and weaving the hearing tests I thought I get to invest something back now and I get to make the next breed of Marines comes through and that became your new sense of purpose right that was yeah it was such a valuable thing for me to do um we ended up moving the fan well my wife moved down pregnant we had Zack down there we made a life and I really felt like it was just it was just brilliant to be part of their journey and see them progress and that's what the purpose became it was seeing people go from A to B and being part of their journey to say I believe in you you need to believe in yourself and you see them progress and even that comes to the England football team's like you can do this if you put your mind to and they got that close yeah they did get very close let's talk about that then so where does Gareth Southgate and you ending up sort of working with the England football team just before they went off to Russia yeah Russia yeah yeah um they came they came down to get a taste of our world that's how it's literally put and the idea that they would come down and be immersed in some activities that we do they do some of
Working with the England football team (01:31:54)
our assault courses but they'd also be introduced to the mindset that's what Gareth wanted to do most and he wanted to introduce them to our values again that was a really important part of that whole trip was to know what courage looks like what does excellence looks like self-discipline humility integrity all those words and um it was it was very surreal you know I felt like a goody kid most of the time you know knowing that they're in the buses they're almost at the training era we were we were up in one of the woods that we training and there was me and four other corporals five other corporals in our sergeant and you could see the bus turning up and we were like oh they're coming literally like we were like that like they're coming when they yeah that was it yeah Taffas troop sergeant was like when they come over that wall don't forget that you got to put it all on though boys all right and we were like yeah Roger I know what it's Taffa laughing and then Harry Kane appeared first and we were like I'm sorry like staring him down and then I just remember Taffa sergeant just went why are you staring at Kane and just started bellowing at him and he's get on your kit then and then we all jumped in and we're like go on then Southgate start moving and um it was brilliant you've thrown that for a little while but actually they're there to understand you and that's not actually who we are um I was you know surreal moment one o'clock in the morning drinking or sharing a cup of tea with Harry over a little fire talking about what it's like to score in front of 80,000 people was it like to wheel away and you turned into a fanboy massively and even when I was asking I was like oh don't ask the question but you know what he answered it in a way that it wasn't to the fans it wasn't to the press he genuinely answered it which I you could hear it he was like there's nothing like it you know the way he just expressed it and sort of you can see him staring at the floor a bit as he's saying it as he's thinking about those moments yeah he's visualizing and so yeah that was amazing and but then he asked you he's like you know what's warfare like um and it again that sort of stumps you a little bit like wow the England captain's just asked me what it's like in afghan you have this conversation and it was just so normal it got that normal that I started moaning to him about holiday prices because I just paid for the family to go to Lanzarote and I was like hey in holiday prices through the roof at the moment I just paid three grand to Lanzarote and then I'm thinking he's just got that from Dubai he's probably just done all these things but he was so humble with it and it was a really genuine organic conversation and we found out with a lot of the guys and girls which came you know they they bought the whole set up with them Kit Man to Gareth Southgate and everyone in between and they just wanted to see our world and see what values mean when you're going to different things you know when you're in the mud and water it's very easy to be in that position and feel like oh this is shit but when someone's going this is what courage looks like this is what this looks like this was what this looks like you know it helps frame it in a different way and it helps show you what your ability is what you can do what what that meaning of that word is and that was something that we kind of encouraged them to take to the World Cup and I think they did I think they did and there's been a lot of praise around it as well so yeah they did well would have been awesome I've read one of your podcasts or your interviews or whatever where you said had they beaten I think it was Croatia wasn't it you were set to go on PS Morgan's show the next day and explain it exactly how you helped them get there personally but then they lost we had a folk literally yeah so I'm cheering going come on England we're made after this come on that's kind of a single good yeah it appears a hard time but it didn't happen but hey you know later I think it was January 19 I went and did the keynote for Gareth at the football writers awards at the Savoy and I did mention and I know a lot of people phrased it but there was an element of pride to be part of that journey and say you know they didn't bring the trophy home but they definitely bought football home and I think it's really unfortunate that we didn't have it this year you know the last year so much never it was meant to be last year wasn't it 2020 it was yeah some was yeah yeah some of 2020 euros yeah so but it I thought I thought it brought the nation a little bit closer personally you the other thing I was intrigued by was I read this I think it's a RA sort of strategy per se which um you've adopted to help you deal with difficult situations could you could you explain that a little bit yeah so ARA was almost kind of made up on the spot when I was trying to think of some things to deliver to people and and I've written aRA's quite a focus within my book because we all encounter adversity we all encounter challenge and one of the biggest things I've noticed with myself and then when you look at it objectively with other people when people encounter adversity
Your ARA strategy (01:36:46)
there's almost that fight flight or freeze mode people go into there so I'm gonna take this on or I'm gonna bail out on hiding the ditch or I'm just gonna stand there and there's a lot of research around most of us actually freeze we just do they're not to do um and for me going through a lot of experiences you know where I really go back to is when we lost our first person in battle we lost Eno and we lost Eno within five minutes of a 24 hour operation we literally ran off the back of the heli-cottors at sort of 4 30 in the morning we were going to take a village and heli-cottors went troop across in the ditch to get into the village stepped on an ida blew him up and he was gone um and he died there and then on the spot and two of the other guys were injured severely with him as well and you just I've used it a lot within football I call it three-nil down within one minute and it's that moment of wow we're on the ropes already we've only just started this thing we're on the ropes how do we deal with it what what do we do and I remember you know these incredible emotions go through you when someone gets killed you know you feel anger you feel rage you feel you want to cry you do you want to just take a knee and look at the floor and go I can't believe he's dead let's mourn it right now but you've got 16 17 quite hungry Taliban on the other side of the wall who want to kill you as well and the worst thing you can ever do is is go into a village or an area such as that emotionally charged if you go in emotionally charged you're going to make cataclysmic errors that could be that you're so um sad or overwhelmed that you're not concentrating you missed that person in the corner they then take you or someone else out or you go in there angry and when you go in there angry you make serious mistakes and you don't have to look far and oppressed to see that happen and that happened on our tour and that emotion gets in the way of dealing with the situation and what I like to do more frame is thinking with clarity it's so hard to think with clarity during adversity and that's why I spent quite a bit of time thinking well what is a quick framework we can just jump to what have I used an ARA simply stands for accept remove adapt the moment something happens then on the spot it's happened and then it's instantly gone so someone dying on the spot in combat is there's nothing you can do about it there's nothing you can do about it the most effective thing you can do is be it your highest standard strive for excellence get up on that roof and do what you need to do to the people which have hurt your camera that's that's how you should be personate what is still the strategic operational part of what we're doing here and the the except part is very difficult for a lot of people to do it's very and I still struggle with it now myself but actually having that little framework to go ARA okay this isn't good how do I accept the situation is happened or happening how can I process it and without dwelling on blame or exactly or you know or bitterness is another one like say your business is shut down because of covid you're angry at Boris Johnson you're angry at everybody and you dwell on that so that's the the first headliz as you say accepting which is set tough tough but it's a mindset you know this isn't for me this is not something we should shy away from you know the moment you say it's tough does that then allow people to go well i'm not doing it then just i'll just turn up sympathy can sometimes show up as well too much sympathy maybe a victimhood the accept is it's happened what is the next move what is the next thing i need to do um we lost almost all of our work with our business last year we we were working in talks and coaching and doing workshops overnight gone like i could have sat there which i did for about half a day going oh what the fuck where's that all gone but you can't how long do you sit there doing that for before you just start to take a spiral down or where do you actually go right what can i actually do with this where can i make a decision we could become so emotionally wrapped up in covid as well the pandemic alone like i've expressed a hell of a lot of empathy and sympathy to everyone i work with saying this is probably one of the toughest things we've all been through collectively in a long time but literally playing stuck in the mud for real you know we're grounded and it does become quite an emotional place doesn't it people losing jobs things going wrong but part of a our a is this remove emotion is not become emotionless like not asking you to be emotionless it's for me in combat it happens you got to deal with it then and then remove the emotion get the anger and the sadness out the way do you know what we'll do we'll deal with that later you know we've got to deal with that correctly as well this is where some people make the mistake of bottling up i'm going to come back to that later but i need to get on with my job and that part is that adapt part okay how do we adapt to this situation how do we adapt to loss of life there what was his role not who is he as a human what was his role what do we need to do to fill that role for now while we're here um i was telling you about that time when we're having to use mortar fire as almost a curtain uh as the Taliban were trying to come out from that final operation the person calling in that mortar fire was visey my commander and he's not a morteman he is not trained on the radio to do that the day before when we lost those five guys we were by at grenade one of them was the morteman and he was the one who needs to call that stuff in we didn't have him you have to learn to adapt and we could sit around and say oh we've lost our morteman we're fucked now or we can go right he's gone let's not cloud our judgment let's think with some clarity and get the emotion out the way okay how do we adapt to this situation and i've had so many people which is really genuinely humbling because i kind of didn't make it up i just wanted to put a little bit of an acronym on what i use and give it to other people and i have so many people getting touched saying a r a because it's a simple process maybe in the morning you know when you stub your toe stub your toes like the quickest like oh you just want to go bonsai on the table don't you but you just go stop i've stubbed my toe yeah it does hurt i need to be a little bit less emotional with this table and now i need to adapt the fact that my toe is facing in a different direction so we all look at the table now but it is it is something you know something just happens and you have to be able to go all right that's happened how do i remove the unwanted emotion i call it unwanted emotion what's the bit that's going to get in your way if you're making the right decision the um the sadness whatever's there and then you have to adapt i always think that the first l you take and when i say l i mean loss the first l you take is often involuntary nothing you could do whatever the second l you take is often voluntary so like the pandemic happens wasn't your fault we get that but then you dwell on it so much and you refuse to adapt and you you become a victim of circumstance you become bitter and blaming and you don't adapt as you say which was your choice and that leads to another l which is your business goes bankrupt and so i always think like the first i always say that's like you don't have to take the l twice the first l is you know involuntary the second one is your choice and that's i think the similar sentiment to the importance of like getting rid of that unwanted emotion focusing on the task at hand finding that calm within your within the chaos and being proactive and as you said as the sort of military values being cheerful because that is uh optimism is a very important uh emotion to experience times of real chaos you have to believe that there is a way out um and that's super interesting i i when i was reading to your story as well they more recently i read about i think you touched on this earlier this joy that you've now found in running during the pandemic yeah yeah tell me about that i don't look at as well do i just saw training in march as well and i've been training all year so i thought that was really interesting you mentioned earlier that getting out and feeling the air and the north
The joy of running (01:45:24)
ends and yeah i um i was never a great runner in the marines really no i was more the one who put the big backpack on and just be able to plot on um your son could give you some tips yeah that's who i are trained with now um i just i i really i like the idea of just it sounds so forest gump but just running there's i have no reason to run i i think during the pandemic i found it a nice bit of an escape you know we're locked inside all the time uh you're on zoom call after zoom call the kids are downstairs and um you just need that moment to yourself and and i just love being out there running i just it's interesting my business partner and um his wife asked me the other week she's like why why do you run i don't know you know it's not be pondering so i think maybe i'm a little bit better prepped to ask your question um but it was i use this word escape loosely because i think i've used the word i i've escaped before in the past through drink and drugs and the more sinister things escape now is actually just to be with myself for a while and i find that and and you would have found this on your own business journey is it's so full on all the time it's just someone wants you for something your phone pings or you know i'm i use social media i don't have the biggest following but i i use social media because it's part of what i have to do you know promoting a book and things like that i don't really want to be on it i actually kind of like my reserved lifestyle but i have to give you something to show you what i do i shall listen into i think as jake talked about on your podcast this morning and it was really interesting it pricked my ears i've got to think about it but running is i don't have my social media on when i run i'll if i need to i'll record a video it's be like oh i'm out running um and post maybe some times but i just like being out there i like feeling a bit of the pain in the shins and in the feet and i like running further than other people do not for time but that idea of what my court was said to me in training not point one percent better every day i i really enjoy just striving for that excellence and i have found since leaving the military it's really difficult to feel like you're constantly striving for excellence it seems like there's more challenges there than there is success to be honest it's like one thing after the other i would have done this within the business i would say oh that's good oh something else come along which is difficult to deal with now is it brilliant um but for me being out running is that ability to escape i live in a wonderful part in the south west you you know that area very well up onto dark more up onto the south west coast um you just just incredible places to be and take the dog out running and i actually found in probably the last year or so it's an incredible space to think and i run back and i actually picked my post pace up at the end because i cannot forget that yeah you end up running back home and getting through the door and you're like what about this with this yeah that might work but it's um it's just a place to be free you know and i'm not real a gym bunny i don't really i go to the gym i kind of walk around it look at a few things do the odd pull up and then go home um i love being out on the road and i love being out on the muddy trails as well slipping around getting wet getting muddy it's just fulfilling isn't it i think when i was in the military that was all the time and now it's not when i left when i when i got bin from the military my last final day i came home i laid on the floor and it sounds i say that about social media i don't really like using it but there's this there's almost like tradition in the modern military now that when you leave you post like your favorite pictures of your career and then a post um and you acknowledge the lads and then and then you post it out and i was right in my post and i was picking the photos and i was blubbing i was just like crying on the floor but to myself and i and i kept it in for so long i didn't think i was going to do this and then i was just in utter tears because it was just this excitement that i was going on to this new phase of my life but also that's it now i'm never going to do that again and that made me who i am today and i lied on the floor and i think part of the tears was i'm never going to go mountain training again i'm never going to go out to the states and go in the Mojave desert again i'm never i'm never going to go to afghan again i know it's difficult as it was it's an adventure and then crying crying crying and my wife kicked my foot which is actually literally hoovering next to me he was like you're going to get up and i was like look at her and we had this little moment together and i kind of like gave it all on the plate and then i went and booked mario from desafs yeah of course you did because i thought i've got to have something i've got to have a challenge which will uh fulfill that so now you're running this business lupin what is a lupin doing you i'm guessing you've really felt the pain of running a business and and starting a business because it's a startup right during the pandemic what is lupin doing and how's that process been so so what will help me explain lupin even more is probably stepping back into the marines for the first time when i put my hand up and said i don't think i'm that well at the moment i think there's something that might be wrong and bottling it up for so long you know come back from operations keeping it all inside guilt
Your business (01:50:40)
you know two ids which went off behind me injured people and you carry that with you and so you feel like you can't talk out and there's that stigma of don't talk just keep walking forward and i remember that moment of thinking everyone around me looks really strong and tough and they just seem to be shrugging it off they're like yeah we did afghan crack on come on then lads and i'm inside i'm like ah i don't feel too good at the moment and it things happen and as i said i got in trouble and and things didn't go to plan and then finally i put my hand up to one of the lads and said i think i've got issues here and he went yeah same here i have as well what you've been seeing what you've been hearing and it was like whoa just instantly like you're not you're not alone and you feel this as well and like having this big conversation a couple of beers doesn't always help but a couple of beers for us at that moment was like oh what are you do you feel weak and all these things and um that forever has stuck with me you know marines one of our values is integrity and integrity means to be able to go i don't feel too good today it doesn't mean you're not going to your job but if you have an awareness of how i'm feeling you know maybe you can back me a bit more or you can help me a bit more and that's going to come back i'll help you out which was where it began with how can we show it better and that's all it was was let's make looping something that just asks someone in the morning how they are they respond on the platform they already use so slack teams integration it records that data pushes it through to the dashboard you then log into your dashboard you see your graph of how you've been recently compared to last week as well and then you get to see the close people within your team as well not the organization you can see every team in the organization if you want to but you only get to see the people within your team and even within our own workforce and also with our alpha and beta testing people are reaching out to other people because they see their amber and it's i did one this morning one of our team's amber straight on the phone you're right yeah i just had a long night with a kid's last night i'm okay i just need a coffee but all she wanted was that question of all good yeah and it's yeah i'm okay and then on the odd occasion we get i'm not feeling too good to say take today off them and that person's going to be more productive next week we can't bend over for it we know that in a business world people have to be in stress states we have to be under high pressure other times we don't but it's how more transparent can we be and i think what the pandemics actually show in us is we can embrace this mmm sounds amazing and even in a run an organization with many hundreds of people being able to see sort of an early warning sign yeah for situations developing call it the pulse is that what you call it yeah would have been super super valuable you think about it from a business perspective you stand a chance of losing good people because you weren't aware that they were potentially on a bit of a downward spiral in terms of morale yeah and losing good people cost you a ton of money sounds amazing and it sounds like a very long way from afghanistan do you know what i mean going into tech as tech is a beast in itself it's a whole nother well i've worked in tech in in serensisco and stuff and it's a whole nother language and culture and philosophy and stuff so to go from you know your early years to to bouncer to afghanistan to you know helping the england team to now working in tech is one hell of a journey in a short amount of time so incredibly impressive you've lived many lives in your in the one that you've experienced and i actually was thinking as you were telling the stories today how honored i am that someone like you listens to my podcast i was like i need to listen to your fucking podcast you're i hit a low moment last year when we dropped investment we took these overheads like we went from like through what is it three each so about six grand a month overheads to suddenly thousands and thousands of pounds because we've got team in an office and we're looking at our reserves going outside two months worth and we got four months and we were getting no after no after no because everyone just shut up didn't they know i wanted to invest because protecting your money and i listened to yours and dan marry surtas to just take inspiration and with i don't know this world well enough and you guys do and i was listening to it going done it they've done it they can do it i can do it right okay and low fucking moments crying into my wife's arms going why have i done this i've put the house at risk is it risk this is shit it's better be worth it but i want to make it happen i want to see a change out there i want to see a change in business i want to see your businesses being more open it's not about raising the money it's about fighting to raise that money so i can make that happen and we raised the money seven days before missing payroll we raised half a million just over half a million and it's listening to your stories it's listening to others was the moment for me when i'm like just keep going just listen to the ones this morning i was thinking about this struggle that you guys were talking about and i was like sometimes struggle is good yeah it gets you to dig deep and sits in the trenches and i've been in the trenches and we've now been through the trenches and yeah it's inspiring you know when i got the nod last week i was like oh god there's a massive compliment i think i you know i've learned a ton from speaking to you today i know you produce content yourself you've got your book which is awesome so i just wanted to say thank you because it's been one a hell of a conversation and i think this when i reflect on it this is really the reason why i started this podcast was to hear these stories and the just the diversity in struggle and overcoming and persisting and purpose and reinventing yourself is the reason this podcast exists and you exemplify all of that so thank you so much for your time today ben and you know you said it was a high-moment future come on this podcast but i feel that going the opposite way and i really really mean that i really mean that because you're an incredibly impressive guy thank you people ask me for book recommendations all the time and i finally got one for you it's a book called happy sexy millionaire which is authored by me and i spent the last almost two years in jungles around the world in costarica in indonesia in solitude writing this book it's the most important thing i've ever created and there's this crazy thing when you write a book because you spend so much time pouring your heart and soul into it and everything you know and all of the revelations you've had in your life and then there's this barrier which is that people have to buy the thing in order for them to get that thing that means so much to you i wish that wasn't the case it's just the way the industry is and in order to get that distribution and to get it on shelves you need a publisher so please please please please if you can if you've ever liked anything i've ever produced this podcast my instagrams anything i've ever said read this book there was no ghost writer i wrote every single word myself there's some real surprises in there it's an honest sometimes hilarious incredibly vulnerable hopefully valuable recount of my life my journey everything i've learned across across the way and really the answer to being fulfilled to being happy and to achieving success it is the most important important thing i've ever created so i implore you to go to amazon now or wherever you get your books and get that pre-order and everybody that pre-orders the book because pre-orders in this crazy publishing industry count as way more than just a normal sale if you get that pre-order i'm going to put you into a group with everybody that's pre-ordered it and i'm going to send you some exclusive stuff so the first things i'm going to do is a series of voice notes which i think are um are going to be pretty powerful i'm going to give you access to some tickets which nobody else will have and i'm going to do everything i can to thank you for for giving me that sort of nine quid of your money or whatever whatever it is happy sexy millionaire you can pre-order it everywhere now and if you do get that pre-order please do DM me because i'd love to thank you myself