Former UK Special Services soldier Ollie Ollerton – best-known for presenting Channel 4’s tough military survival series, SAS: Who Dares Wins – certainly knows a thing or two about challenges.
He nearly died as a child after being mauled by a chimpanzee, has come under fire in war zones around the world during his military career, and in private has struggled in the past with drink and depression.
Courageously he’s battled through, and is now an inspirational motivational speaker and has partnered with Vauxhall to offer advice on how to keep calm and carry on when challenged mentally and physically.
“‘Keep calm and carry on’ is integral to operating in the Special Forces. You are taught that in moments when a situation is trying to dictate what you do, the only way to deal with that is to stay calm and carry on,” he explains.
Here are his six steps for doing just that…
“When you’re in a stressful situation, whether that’s driving along an unfamiliar road in the pouring rain or enduring a tense meeting at work, it’s important to concentrate,” says Ollerton. “It can be easy to miss small details and nuances but, by remaining as focused as you can on the task at hand, you’re far more likely to feel calm and in control.”
“Life is all about new experiences and challenges, but when they appear from out of the blue, it can be our natural instinct to avoid them,” he warns. “Our minds have a tendency to assume the worst-case scenario in a challenging situation, but instead remain calm and keep as rational as you can, reminding yourself of the most likely (positive) outcomes.”
“We’re all guilty of not considering instructions carefully, leading to a flat pack furniture disaster or having to make a quick U-turn to avoid a 20-mile detour,” he says with a smile. “This can be attributed to stress, which can cause people to zone out external inputs. To ensure the best possible chance of success, take the time to really tune in and absorb information which will help you understand instructions and minimise stress.”
“Our minds are incredibly powerful but, when working against us, can present huge challenges,” says Ollerton. “Self-doubt has a habit of creeping in when you least need it but, if you start something convinced you won’t be able to do it, chances are you won’t.”
His advice is to ignore the roadblocks your mind puts in your way, break down a big task into chunks so it feels more manageable, and remember to take pride in your achievements and progress, no matter how small.
“We rarely get everything right the first time but, without failing at least some of the time, we won’t benefit from crucial learning experiences,” he insists. “If something doesn’t work the first time, it’s an opportunity for us to unleash our creativity and explore new and different ways of overcoming a challenge.”
Failures, he points out, force us to stand back and re-evaluate what we could have done differently, equipping us with powerful insights which will help us succeed next time.
“Centre your thinking and regulate your breathing to a calm and steady pattern,” he advises. “This will help decrease your heart rate and stress levels, helping you to keep calm and carry on.”