Have you ever wondered what it would be like to pick the brain of an Elite SAS Commander?
We recently undertook a rigorous 3-day training camp in the mountains around 2 hours from Brisbane with our team.
Here we got to do exactly that and it was an invaluable experience.
While I learned many lessons, perhaps the biggest takeaway was learning them and then having the ability to put the lesson into practice.
We started of sleeping under the stars in our swag, before climbing a 1,250m mountain and abseiling down a 30m cliff.
All under the watchful eye of our Commander.
These are the lessons that will stay with me forever
On the first night, we learned a valuable lesson - the difference between a manager and a leader.
The lesson I learned here was that you may have the word manager in your title, but it does not make you a leader.
In addition, at various times along our journey, I realised that everyone and anyone can be a leader, regardless of their title.
A leader will lead by example and have the respect of their colleagues.
They will seek feedback, advice and buy-in from team members to ensure they are all on the same page and heading toward a common goal.
Like the army, in business, a good team will have members that also have the ability to step up and take the lead at certain times when others may be out of action or under duress.
In the SAS there are only around 6 other team members in their core group.
A couple of key points here I learned very quickly, is that you are only as strong as your weakest team member in any given situation.
You will only get through by encouraging, supporting and providing an environment of positivity to progress each individual team member.
Interestingly also, you do not have to like everyone in your team, but you very much must be able to respect and trust them… with your life!
While it certainly may not be life or death in the business or sporting world, I know for a fact these key points play a huge part in any successful team.
This is how teams win premierships or businesses have huge success, by understanding these important points and then having the ability to communicate effectively.
Without trust and respect, communication and the willingness to do what it takes to go the extra mile is lost.
Some of the stories our instructor told us at our Campfire Sessions, were quite incredible, to say the least!
Perhaps the most valuable story for me was a lesson on decision-making.
A decision needed to be made around whether to blow up a potential missile site that had the potential of launching a scud missile, within the next 15 minutes.
In the desert heat and haze, it was hard to tell if it was in fact a giant missile or something else like a building.
It went right down to the wire.
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As a leader, the Commander had a huge amount of responsibility and did the following;
- Stayed calm
- Consulted his team around him, regardless of rank
- Consulted third parties for any aerial view – they could not tell either
- Prepared for the worst case – to blow up the potential site
- Had the bombers on standby, ready to strike on his command
- Delayed his decision to the final minute
In the end, as the morning progressed, the haze settled and he was finally able to distinguish it was a building rather than a missile, with less than a minute to spare.
The lessons I learned here were around how to make very important, highly impactful decisions.
Firstly, by staying calm and consulting his team and third parties he was able to gather as much information as possible.
During this process he continued to move toward a worse-case scenario and had the bombers ready to strike on his command, all the while hoping they would not be needed.
Then, by delaying his decision to the final moment and not panicking and rushing into anything, all the facts become clear and he made the right decision.
At another campfire session was on the topic of Resilience when a team member asked, how do we learn resilience?
We certainly found out the very next day how to build it, as we were faced with a 1,250m mountain to climb.
You can imagine we all slipped and fell at various times but showed resilience by getting up and rising again…. and again.
We rallied around each other and did not give up until we reached the top.
We were rewarded for our effort with an incredible view before us and it was simply breathtaking!
During hour venture out into the wilderness and up that mountain, I was alarmed at the number of times our Instructor stopped to soak in the view and claim “Wow! Would you look at that View”
It made me realise a few things.
Firstly, compared to some of the situations he had been in and some unimaginable situations and views that had faced him previously, he felt genuinely grateful to be there to experience this view.
The lesson I learned here as life is like climbing a mountain at times, so it is important to stop and appreciate how far you have come, how far your hard work has got you.
Refresh, recharge and keep moving forward.
I have always drawn many links between sports and business.
Having now spent time with an elite soldier, I also see some valuable lessons to be learned on how they approach situations.
We often make a point of doing team building and learning experiments each year, but they often lack a practical component.
Here we were able to learn about the fundamentals of teamwork, leadership, decision-making, and resilience and then put them into practice.
It was so valuable for us all and will allow us to work better as a team and more importantly for the people that trust us with the investment decisions.
I know I certainly felt grateful to be able to spend time with these men, who put their lives on the line for us.
It certainly gives life some perspective.
I cannot recommend the TAG team enough.