Mental Strength Through Military Training

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Executive leadership training via ex-special forces is everywhere right now. Top executives around the world are signing up themselves and their teams for the insight and clarity gleaned only from intense military training. Do a quick search and you’ll find articles everywhere from Forbes to Outside magazine.

Advertising industry experts NABS sponsored an incredible session with John Allison, a 24-year British Army veteran, whose experience includes a few little things (!) such as bomb disposal, counter-terrorist search and intelligence. John not only came to the Shutterstock Stage with that background, but the extra bonus of resource handouts for the audience. This, I was soon to find out, was part of the lesson itself.

John, referring to being in Bagdad, says, “I was there, part of a team, trying to workout who was building the bombs, how to deal with the bombs, and make areas safe. So, it was very high threat, it was high tempo, we were working, regularly, to 2-3 in the morning…” in order to get information to the rest of the team. John immediately sets up the understanding of, not only a strong work ethic, but the need to get in and do the job until it’s done with a team. He even says with levity after the above anecdote, “So I certainly know what it’s like to be preparing for a pitch…” He ends with his last tour in Pakistan, “We never sent our people out anywhere on deployment without training them first.”

Training, training, training. When in a high-stress, highly volatile, or high risk situation, it’s all about an individual’s or a team’s interpretation of how they can deal with it. Better training, means a better understanding of a situation and an the interpretation of being able to come up with options and solutions.

Testing that training and running through scenarios with your team, like the military does during “Pre-deployment training” builds confidence, or as John says, “Knowledge dispels fear.”

John also runs through different breathing techniques, such as those he’s used in yoga and “box breathing,” to apply to stressful situations in the workplace. These are all on the resource handouts as well. He talked the audience through proper posture, breathing in through the nose and counting inhale/exhale times for stress relief. This coupled with keeping the body physically healthy, and doing physical activity with your team builds confidence that translates back to the workplace.

Who could possibly have better leadership and team building skills than advanced military? John’s session brought his training to an applicable level for all advertising and marketing groups to use to build stronger teams.

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