We caught up with the ex-special forces TV star to discuss the power of the mind and body in training and in life. Listen up
Ant Middleton is blazing a trail for modern men. He is fiercely masculine, but unlike many who struggle with outdated stereotypes, he is totally in control of his mind, too. He embraces his weaknesses and does not fear fear, and it’s these qualities that have rightfully made him a role model for many.
His is a fusion on mental and physical strength that has taken years to master in the military, plus it’s doubtful that your 9-5 routine of work and gym will put you in quite such precarious positions, but that’s not to say you can’t learn from him. Here, with his recently released new book The Fear Bubble, the lead man of SAS: Who Dares Wins reveals the mindset, and provides the tactical takeaways, that can put you on the path to victory, no matter the challenge.
You are always challenging yourself in demanding climates, be it climbing Mount Everest or being stranded at sea. How do you channel your survival instinct effectively?
I have learnt how to channel my survival instinct over many, many years. Having spent so long in the army (from the age of 16) this comes through years of practice, and without it, I wouldn’t of got to where I have in life. It’s all about recognising a situation and harnessing your emotions, whether it’s fear or excitement, and using it to your advantage in a positive way, rather than letting emotions overtake you.
Do you have any mental strategies to best overcome the challenges that you face?
I tend to view the world as black or white. There is no in-between for me so when I approach a challenge, I do it in exactly the same way. I work out what the challenge is and the best way to approach it and then go for it, without letting emotion get in the way. This allows me to focus on the task at hand and complete it to the best of my ability with the tools I have.
The power of fear is the main theme throughout your new book. What is going through your mind when you are in extreme, potentially terrifying, situations?
You can either let fear get the better of you or make it work for you. I work hard to harness the emotion of fear and use it to my advantage. When I am in an extreme situation, the only thing going through my mind is the route that I need to take to get out of the situation in the safest and quickest way possible.
How have you trained the voice in your head to harness the power of fear and turn it into a positive force?
It’s all about listening to your instinct and trusting that you have the tools and knowledge to overcome any challenge. But more than that, you cannot be afraid of failure. Ultimately, these learnings will help you to better yourself and tackle future challenges in life.
What’s one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt from writing this book and reflecting on all your experiences that you think other people can benefit from?
One of the most powerful lessons you can learn is to be completely honest with yourself. Once you do this, you can understand your strengths and weaknesses fully, and use them to tackle any situation. People can be hesitant when it comes to true transparency. They can be afraid of understanding their weaknesses, however these weaknesses are what make you stronger. You just need to learn to accept them and improve them.
You have now taken this approach into Mind Over Muscle workshops: what advice would you give to people to achieve their goals and challenges in daily life?
I have loved taking my Mind Over Muscle day camps and tours across the country. Meeting everyone has been so inspirational. My one piece of advice would be to always take that one extra step – go 1% further, in whatever you are doing. If you can do this, you will learn and grow, allowing yourself to become a better version of yourself and ultimately, push you that one step closer to achieving your goals
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your career to date?
Honestly, I have learnt so much throughout both my military and media career, it would be near to impossible to pinpoint one thing. I am always growing and working on myself and I do this by absorbing all the information around me, whether that is in my personal life or in my career. There is no such thing as the perfect person but you can strive to get as close to that as possible each day.
We could not talk to you Ant without mentioning fitness. What was the most brutal workout you had to face in special forces training?
There really were some truly brutal workouts during my training days. I have pretty much done it all and they have all been difficult in their own right – it’s up to you how much effort and exertion you want to put in. I think no matter what the workout or challenge is, it’s about having and sustaining that positive mindset. My motto is Mind Over Muscle and I truly do believe that if your mind is strong, then your body will follow – this has allowed me to push through the most brutal of tests!
- Listen to your instincts and act on your gut. To be successful in extreme situations there is no room for grey areas, you need to pick a solution and commit.
- Make fear work for you. Realise that it is an emotion that you can control and then you can harness it and turn it into a positive that can improve performance.
- Be transparent with yourself. Admit your weaknesses and you can then improve on them to make yourself better and more effective in any situation.
- Go 1% further. That might be an extra rep in the gym. It might be an extra KM on a run. Either way, you’ll prove to your mind that your body can do more.
- There is no such thing as the perfect person. Don’t worry about making mistakes; it’s taking positive steps to do better that matters most.