Adam Conlon podcast

015: Adam Conlon on performance on the frontline in warfare and disaster zones

In a gripping conversation, I spoke with Adam Conlon, a former captain in the British Army and a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan. Adam’s journey began at the prestigious Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, leading him into the Royal Artillery where he commanded teams and coordinated artillery fire on the battlefield. The interview was an enlightening exploration into the world of high-stakes leadership, training, and the psychological fortitude required in the heat of battle.

Adam vividly described the sensation of coming under fire from the Taliban, how he managed that pressure, and the role of training and camaraderie in his response. He delved into the often-overlooked aspect of decompressing after a tour and the challenges of transitioning back to civilian life.

After serving briefly in Human Resources for Her Majesty the Queen, Adam has transitioned to a leadership consultant and speaker. Intriguingly, he still contributes his skills to first-response teams aiding disaster zones. We discussed the nuances of rapid team-building, the importance of listening, and the delicate art of building rapport in crisis situations.

The interview was a humbling and emotionally rich experience that ran for 1 hour and 25 minutes. By the end, I was deeply moved and filled with gratitude for people like Adam, who dedicate their lives to serving in extreme conditions to make the world a better place.

Show notes

1:46 Adam Conlon and his background
6:23 Sandhurst, becoming a soldier, captain and leader
7:45 Leading people and making the decisions to fire artillery within the infantry
10:50 The importance of ‘fit’ in finding the right people for the right roles
13:30 Variety and being a generalist
15:15 Leading people, by developing followers – ego and vulnerability
18:00 Upping the pressure to test your skills
22:30 Being relaxed in chaos
24:00 High performance industries develop people because if they don’t the consequences are high
28:00 Nad Ali and the operations in Afghanistan
34:00 Getting on the front foot with the enemy
36:20 Response to the first rattle of fire
41:00 Humour as a pressure valve
45:35 Fight or flight is a good option, freezing is not
46:30 Decompression on the way home from a tour
51:00 Stressful heart rate response to post-tour come-down
51:47 Letting the emotion out with crying
54:45 Working for Her Majesty the Queen
58:00 Learning what he didn’t want to do
1:00:00 From tax consultant to frontline operations through sport
1:02:00 Applying skills to disaster zones
1:07:00 Operating in the Caribbean in 2017
1:08:00 Get face to face
1:10:00  Listen, empathy and trust
1:15:00 Arriving in Dominica – it was like a bomb had gone off
1:16:45 Sensing when there might be trouble – being observant when something is out of place – the absence of the normal
1:24:30 Who supports Adam, family, friends

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