In computing, a break point is defined as an intentional stopping or pausing place in a program, put in for troubleshooting purposes. Ollie says, “In special forces, we’re so highly trained that we know when a beak point is approaching and that we need to pause and ‘debug’. That’s when we take a couple of deep breaths to lower the cortisol levels, which in turn gives us greater focus. We call that ‘recalibration’”. In fact, there’s a special forces mantra:
Breathe. Recalibrate. Deliver. That’s the special forces way of regaining control of a situation that might be spiraling off in a dangerous situation.
What’s preventing you from breaking gout of the cycle?
Everyone feels negativity and fear. It’s these negative emotions that keep us alive since the dawn of time. The downside however is we’re living in the repeat cycle of yesterday, allowing our minds to become tailored to a survival pattern. We’re doing the same today as we did yesterday and every day before that, because that’s what kept us alive until now.
That’s the exact reason why it’s so difficult to break out of the norm. Even if someone does manage to do so, their brains say “No, thesis too scary, thesis too difficult, you need to get back into your survival routine, your comfort zone.”
Living life in a comfort zone feels like living your life in a trench. There’s water up to your knees and rats running around your ankles and you might feel miserable as hell. But soon as you pluck up your courage to stick your head over the top, bullets start firing and you feel like getting back in.
Who’s preventing you from breaking out of the cycle?
Often, it’s your close friends and family members that advise you not to indulge in your wildest dreams. It’s in their instincts to keep you secure and point you to the safeness and sameness. Thank them for that but there’s nothing worse than letting someone so close to you extinguish your burning desires. After all, they the people whose opinions you respect the most.
As a solider, you don’t get to choose when a battle stop. You have no idea when it’s going to end, unlike a marathon or a rugby match. But the worst thing you can do is stand still. Special forces are looking for comrades who stand up when things go wrong, not stand down. They’re looking for people who don’t just reach the target but push through it while understanding the end won’t come when they want it to, and the cycle might continue.
Are you harnessing the power of visualization?
“Visualizing has long been a key part of my thought process, whether it was beers with my mates after special forces selection or cocktails on a beach with the missus after a particularly grueling mission.”, says Ollie. “I’m aware that people will be skeptical, but I actually believe that if I put enough effort into visualizing something, it will happen.”
However, visualization isn’t voodoo. It’s not simply a case of saying “I want to be a millionaire” over and over again, and seeing the money flood in. It’s about paining a picture of how that money will improve your life, which improves your state of mind, which in turn makes you want to pursue your dream even more.
Are you learning to constantly shift between two mental states?
Being humble and grounded is an important trait for everyone including special forces soldiers. Most of the time, special forces operate under the radar. It’s not about hitting a target, smashing the place up and posting it on Facebook or Instagram. But in some missions, special forces are like a heard of wild horses. Together they create a solid unit, working as a team. And a good team will either rally around any remaining egoists and help to change them or they’ll ostracize them. It’s almost like a natural selection.
Are you under the impression that superheroes exist in real life?
“I thought special forces were superheroes, created on another planet and flown in on a spaceship or cut from quarries. And people still say to me ‘You guys are cut from a different cloth.’ We’re not!”
Special forces are simply normal blokes who happen to have done extraordinary things. They have a greater understanding of their own limitations than most people. They understand that boundaries are things they create themselves and that they’re not imposed by some outside force. But one thing they’re not is the alpha male or hard-nosed killer with no feelings.
Are you regularly bottling things up, thinking you will embarrass yourself?
Until recently, soldiers felt embarrassed to share their feelings and problems. Because they though it was only them who was affected. When you think you’re the only one, you become very isolated and insular. You might even los your friends because you don’t think they’ll understand you and you’ll understand them.
This is changing, however. Soldiers are eventually opening up, thanks to a few who have the courage to talk about their stories in public. But there are still plenty hiding in the dark, struggling and not coping well with their stories.
“During my time in the military and on the circuit, there was nobody to speak to, no outlet for any negative thoughts. Even if there had been anybody to speak to, I don’t think I would have taken the opportunity.”, says Ollie. “No one wants to put their hand up and say they’re weak. So, I was programmed not to admit to anything or even feel the need to. And if anyone else did, I’m sorry to say the had the piss taken out of them and it was turned into a joke.”
Are you not investing enough in sharing your craft?
A lot of the suffering that war veterans go through is caused by the loss of brotherhood. A solider suddenly without his mates is like an animal suddenly separated form its pack. One minute you were a fighting machine and suddenly you’re not, and you don’t even know why you’re getting out of the bed in the morning. But that’s just when the problem starts.
Unless you find a new purpose quickly, you start spiraling downwards. Many soldiers think the grass will be greener on the other side. But just because you were part of one of the finest fighting forces in the world doesn’t mean people in civilian life will immediately realize what you have to offer.
“Discipline and loyalty are massive assets, but so many companies fail to see it, while the veterans themselves seem to take those qualities for granted and think that they’re nothing special.”, says Ollie. To compound the problem, many soldiers lack confidence. They’re not used to talking about their abilities because in the military, they’re not going to get a reaction. They’re too humble for their own good. They sit back and think “Surely someone will recognize what I’ve got to offer eventually.” And so, they wait and wait and wait and their phone never rings. Lack of confidence and complacency are a destructive marriage indeed.
“Even the toughest can be fragile. We all have our break points. But that doesn’t mean we’ll break. And you might even find a silver lining.” – Ollie Ollerton