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The Secrets Of Military Resilience, With Former SAS Commanding Officer Ben Pronk (#104)

How to improve your resilience & leadership skills using tactics Ben has acquired from 24-years in the military

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Military Resilience Secrets, With Former SAS Commanding Officer Ben Pronk (#104) | My Home Vitality

Introduction to guest:

Since then, he has continued as a student, teacher and practitioner of resilience, including through his 24-year army career.

The majority of this time was in the SAS, and involved multiple deployments to Timor Leste, Iraq and Afghanistan – where he was awarded a Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for leadership in combat – before finishing as commanding officer.

In 2018, Ben co-founded Mettle Global, a premium consultancy that delivers resilience solutions to clients globally.

He is an adjunct faculty member at the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales, where he delivers leadership programs within Australia’s top-ranked MBA program. Ben has an MBA and a Master in Defence Studies, and is also director of VGI Partners, the co-host of the Unforgiving60 podcast, a proud husband and the father of two children.

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More from Ben:

Key quotes and takeaways from the show:

The best organisations combine excellent leadership, teamwork, individual resilience, strategy and the ability to operate in a crisis.

A weak team that is led well will often achieve a more successful outcome than a strong team with poor leadership.

Authenticity is key. Really effective leaders are comfortable in themselves, they know who they are, they are okay with vulnerability and they don’t need to know all the answers. Understand your personality, your values and where you get your energy.

Introverts can be outstanding leaders.

“Understanding who you are is not a cop-out for not getting better at stuff.”

Leaders eat last.

If you want to get better at anything, run experiments and reflect on the results. Use journaling as a reflective process.

“There is no effort without error and shortcoming.” – Theodore Roosevelt.

The fundamental nature of war is immutable. The characteristics or form of war typical in any particular age might change, but the essential nature of war could not. – Carl von Clausewitz. The nature of leadership doesn’t change but its character can.

Path-goal leading: Set the goal, then clear the path.

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs.

When it comes to leadership, theory is necessary but not sufficient.

Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism.

Conscientiousness holds a strong correlation to leadership effectiveness.

Extroverts tend to emerge as leaders quicker but, over the long term, there is no difference between introverts and extroverts regarding leadership effectiveness.

The Halo Effect impacts initial perceptions when people interact. This is also true of leadership.

Meditation is strength training for your brain.

Wim Hof/Brian McKenzie style breathwork for 10 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of breath-based meditation.

“Try to make decisions that are NOT irreversible.”

Research complex adaptive systems theory.

The best plan is a plan that can change.

“Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” – Mike Tyson.

Tying your identity to your career is dangerous.

You can get a long way if you can talk well and you’re relatively physically fit.

“Get active in your own rescue.” – Marcus Aurelius.

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Show notes:

  • 00:00:00 – Resilience training.
  • 00:00:47 – The best podcast in the world.
  • 00:01:44 – Russia invading Ukraine.
  • 00:08:34 – Resilience.
  • 00:10:31 – How businesses can improve.
  • 00:11:48 – Authentic leadership.
  • 00:14:44 – Life in the army.
  • 00:17:37 – What is NOT resilience.
  • 00:19:51 – Tactics for improving self-awareness & leadership.
  • 00:22:20 – Ben’s journaling process.
  • 00:23:48 – Is leadership leadership?
  • 00:27:44 – Lessons from the military (SAS).
  • 00:32:00 – Life after the military.
  • 00:38:41 – Are leaders born?
  • 00:40:59 – Ben’s training regime.
  • 00:44:11 – Ben’s meditation practice.
  • 00:45:19 – How to make decisions.
  • 00:51:05 – An unknown recommendation.
  • 00:52:30 – Being present.
  • 00:55:01 – An unknown truth.
  • 00:57:23 – This has blown Ben’s mind!
  • 00:58:38 – Advice to a younger person.
  • 01:00:38 – A quote to live by.
  • 01:01:22 – Where to find Ben.
  • 01:02:25 – Military leadership.
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