I’ve always been a rebel.
I wasn’t very successful at school which these days I put down to preferring an exploratory approach to learning. So back then school and its authoritarian approach was anathema to my style of learning and being. It wasn’t long before my dysfunctional home life got worse and so I escaped – by climbing out of a bedroom window – and running off to pursue adventure.
My first job was as a double glazing sales rep. This was a stop gap to me joining the army. Not because I liked the idea of the military as I was opposed to war, but I needed somewhere to sleep and eat.
I thrived in the military but that was only because the hierarchy believed I was potential officer material. I enjoyed the routine and believe it not, bulling boots was an excellent form of therapy and a flow-state inducing activity, subjects I would pursue later in life.
The other reason I thrived was because I engineered it so that I could be away from the barracks and out in the wilderness. My first posting was to the Far-East which I had secured by blackmailing my commanding officer in training.
I explained in a meeting with him that I would leave if he didn’t approve my request, because by some extraordinary faux-pas, they’d forgotten to get me to sign the dotted line when transferring regiments. So basically, I had completed basic training and was presented with the prize for ‘fittest recruit’ by the then HRH Prince Charles… As a civilian.
Knowing he had been outmanoeuvred, the CO agreed to my request.
I wanted to be posted to Hong Kong because I was, at the time, fascinated in learning all I could about martial arts. In Hong Kong I learnt different forms and styles, but focussed on Muay Thai.
My instructor was a South African friend call Paulo Tocha. He worked nightclub doors by night but trained and pursued acting by day. He eventually became the first foreigner to win the title of ‘Champion of China’. He often used me as a sparring partner. I was the only soldier who had promised to spar with him that actually turned up to the back street gym, above a fish shop in Kowloon. I trained in boxing by day with the army and worked on my Muay Thai at night with Paulo.
To gain enough money to travel as a lead walker and climber on an expedition to the Himalayas, I moonlighted as a doorman when I was based at camp. The rest of the time I was either on exercise in other countries or on the Chinese border. We would capture people trying to escape China and even sometimes go into no-mans land on the border, to rescue them before the Chinese military caught the poor souls attempting to escape to a better life. I was often tempted to let them go.
I was ear marked to return to the UK to re-sit a commissions board… Or so they thought.
I used this knowledge to engineer that I spent as much of the time on courses as I could. I was allowed to apply for selection into the Recce platoon, much to the chagrin of my current platoon sergeant. This led to me spending two months in Brunei. Firstly, completing a long-range patrolling course with the SAS and learning how to survive in the jungle with the Iban hunter-gatherer community. Then advising and guiding an infantry platoon commander who was fresh out of Sandhurst.
Although I was nearing the end of my three years, this experience of training with the SAS appealed to my need for autonomy, agency and egalitarian values. So, years later I would go back into the military, attempt selection and experience life as a Sabre trained member of the Special Air Service. Just to see if I could but also because I was doing a lot of security work and it looked good on my CV when networking.
But even in the SAS, there came a point when I considered whether to make it a long-term career path or leave. An argument with a Staff sergeant decided this for me, especially when he said “You need to stop thinking you do Murphy” …. That was never going to happen.
A BSc in Environmental studies and outdoor pursuits.
I entered university as a mature student and paid my way by starting a door security business. Studying during the week and cycling forty miles at weekends to go train security teams, bouncers and bodyguards, working late into the night.
The degree course shifted my perspective.
I realised that the military is often used as an extension of the oil and wealthy elite world.
I cherished the values and virtues of the warrior tradition as protectors, I help veterans with mental health issues where I can, but capitalism has twisted reality, aided and abetted by media propaganda. We truly live in a delusional, matrix-like world which dupes the unsuspecting.
This often means the soldiers are defending the rich against the already downtrodden. There is profit in war and Machiavellian bureaucrats use divide-and-conquer within countries to secure control of their natural resources. When soldiers are injured in battle, being commodities, they are externalised onto society and forgotten about by the rich and infamous that profited from their sacrifice.
Mostly, they’re inadvertent mercenaries tricked into believing they’re fighting the good fight. Realising this I began to understand hierarchy and Oiltech elites have also used capitalism to turn ordinary people and the planet into exploitable commodities. Bureaucrats utilise corporate language to disguise what they’re doing.
In this tech-driven capitalist world, everybody is a widget and technology will disguise the brutality of what’s happening in reality. As we get wiser to the human costs of war, ‘entrepreneurs’ are making robots and drones to kill the ‘others’ who will be transformed from mothers, fathers and children into terrorists and units by bureaucratic politico tech-speak. Remember austerity? Remember WWII?
It was entrepreneurs that built the ‘gas chambers’ and they made them soundproof so the soldiers were hidden from the horrors of what they were doing. They were not killing women and children, they were killing ‘Jews’ or ‘processing units’.
Up to this point I had been a rebel without a clue, convinced mostly that I wasn’t very intelligent. I later realised I just learn differently than the way the education system is designed. I was recently accused of being a polymath by a polymath coach. Perhaps I am an accidental polymath due to life’s circumstances but since that time, I’ve continued to learn across a wide breath of subjects and being ‘polymathic’ found the connections between the subjects, amalgamating them all into a complex but unified understanding of the world.
It was when I began studying the fields of personal development, therapy, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), philosophy, psychology and coaching that I realised I have a talent for helping people unlock their potential. I began supporting people who had suffered trauma from accidents on horses, but then moved into helping entrepreneurs, leaders and teams, as I had operated in high performing teams and had developed and led them internationally, to prevent terrorism.
But something I noticed in myself is that when you set goals, then set off with lots of positive mental attitude, even with super-human effort; timing, ecology and serendipity still play the major roles in your success.
Sure, chance favours the brave, who dares wins and all that, but not often. Mostly, success of entrepreneurs is around 1in 400 from start-up to selling. The majority flounder in what entrepreneur guru Daniel Priestley calls, ‘The Wilderness’ which is just a really stressful place to live.
The personal development industry became an arm of capitalism and hierarchy i.e., if you’re not winning, it’s because you’re not ‘doing’ it harder, faster or competitively enough. Out came ‘The Secret’ to hammer home that you’re to blame if you are suffering.
I looked at my own situation and reflected on my past. If you put a mountain in front of me, I would climb it and furthermore carry you on my shoulders, if you needed me too. I knew this from experience not ideology.
But when it came to goal setting, setting up businesses or applying for jobs I struggled. I didn’t fit and when self-employed, I was banging my head against institutions that were built upon European funding which usurped smaller players with original ideas from getting a look in. These monsters engulfed the industry.
In the institutional world, you get hired for the job of teaching by paying them to qualify you in old-world industrial revolution, linear logic. Even though I had been coaching, mentoring and facilitating since before they existed as businesses, if I applied to be a coach with them – since they had secured all the work – they told me I had to pay them to play.
As a result of this, I have a distrust of hierarchy, elitism, institutions, false dichotomies and the simplistic personal development field and looked to develop models of decision-making, coaching and facilitating which encapsulate the complexity and the requirement of systems thinking within the natural world.
For instance, I developed a model of eco-coaching nearly two decades ago. Now top business schools are charging a fortune to learn about it and more and more ‘institutions will try to encompass, control and profit from what should be an inclusive and accessible philosophy in the ambiguous and transformational times we’re navigating right now. We need change fast, we’ve no longer the luxury of studying slowly, we’ve got to operate like Special Forces. Learn fast, take leaps of faith and adapt as we go.
And to top it all, they fail to really understand the real nature and benefit of eco-coaching is.
Yes, it can include being outdoors, using the natural world as a metaphor and ‘walking and talking’ in nature. But it is more than that. It is adding back into decision-making what our egalitarian hunter-gatherer ancestors did, which is to include an ecology-check.
I’ve taken an ancient wisdom that accepts the complexity of relationships and systemic impacts within the natural world and developed a simple model to gain more insight into the present situation, and where we might go next.
That’s how complexity is navigated, with simple rules and tools. As Leonardo da Vinci espoused:
‘Simplicity is the greatest sophistication’
Furthermore, I’m making it open source as we need the rebels, mavericks and change agents who’re collaborating in small teams to be able to learn how to be make ecological decisions, be creatively brilliant and collaborate powerfully so they can sense and feel their way forward.
‘Creative collaboration’ is the opposite leadership style of ‘Compete and Control’. The industrial, technology and capitalist revolutions are based on ‘Compete and control’ and we’ve been stuck there for far too long.
Small groups of people are discovering pathways into a brave new world.
A world which is sustainable, socially just and a soul-satisfying place to live and work in balance with each other and the natural world. Just as our hunter-gatherer ancestors did for 200,000 years before some bloke got his hands on some agrarian tech around 12,000 years ago when we regressed back to dominance-behaviour, just like our ancient ape ancestors.
Coaching and facilitating are not mysterious ‘dark arts’ which should remain inaccessible to the many.
We’ve been doing it for thousands of years and it is very much a part of our everyday conversations. Let’s stop with the barriers to entry, the increasing BS associated with ‘institutions’ and get back to being creatively collaborative so we can solve our present challenges before it’s too late.
I’m now a rebel with a cause.
If you want to learn the tools of eco-leadership such as eco-coaching and ecological decisioning, I run one day workshop retreats by the side of Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire.
I teach people who’re interested in learning how to lead in a more human and ecological way, how to make ecological decisions, facilitate inclusive group-meetings and eco-coach each other. A qualification doesn’t make you a better leader or coach, commitment to a practice does.
Or I can travel to you if there is a group who are interested as there will be less pollution on travelling.
It’s useful for anybody but especially coaches, facilitators, leaders and the mavericks, rebels and misfits who’re challenging the status-quo. If you want to know more connect with me on LinkedIn or below and I’ll send you more information.