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Simon Jeffries
A 360 Exclusive Interview

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Simon Jeffries is a Royal Marine Commando & Special Forces veteran, and now a sought-after High Performance Coach. His life story reads like a masterclass in resilience, from the demanding training grounds of the military to the unpredictable waves of civilian life. 

In this insightful interview with Tracey Duke, Simon takes us through the defining moments of his career, offering a glimpse into the trials and triumphs that have shaped him. From the gruelling tests of Special Forces training to the profound shift of re-entering civilian life, Simon shares his unique perspective on mental toughness, adaptability, and the importance of embracing life's journey. It's an invitation to view resilience through the lens of a man who has lived it in its most extreme forms.

 

Simon, let's go back to the start. What did your time serving look like for you? 

A: At 24, back in 2008, I started my journey with the Royal Marines, dedicating a year to what's known as general service. The real pivot came when I was selected for the Special Forces Communicators (SFCs) role, where as a Royal Marine, I served as the link between field operations and headquarters – a tactical signaller in the thick of it all. This then led me to the Special Boat Service in Poole, where I spent two years. 

Going deeper, I later undertook full selection to become a member of special forces.  I did three combat tours in Afghanistan and finished up with another three years with SBS. It was around eight years in total.

Let’s get into your Special Forces training, what was the most valuable lesson you learned during that intense period?

A: Special Forces training was brutal, not just physically but mentally. It strips you down to your core, revealing not just who you are but who you can become. The biggest takeaway? The power of the mind. Your body can take almost anything if your mind tells it to keep going. It's about mental fortitude, about telling yourself, "Just one more step," and then repeating that until the job's done. That lesson, the sheer will to persevere, has been invaluable.

 

Training in the jungle for selection is often cited as one of the most challenging environments. How did that experience shape or change your perspective?

A: The jungle phase during selection really strips everything back to the raw essentials. There’s a reason it’s the hardest part of selection. It’s an incredibly hard environment to function in, let alone soldier in. You're there, drenched, exhausted, and every step becomes a negotiation between your will and your resolve. That's when the clarity hits you—the goal of making it through selection, it kind of blurs into the background. What crystallises is the moment, the immediate challenge underfoot, the camaraderie. It underscored a truth for me that's as applicable in the jungle as it is in life. It’s mastering the basics, the fundamental skills and disciplines, that's what carries you through. It's about simplifying, about focusing on what's essential. In the jungle, it's navigation, kit management; in life, it's your values, your daily practices. Both scenarios demand a return to basics, because when you get those right, everything else falls into place. This philosophy of simplicity, of honing the foundational aspects of whatever you're facing, has been a guiding principle for me ever since. It's never the end goal that defines us, but the journey & steps towards it that matters. 

 

Transitioning from such a structured military life to the civilian world must have been quite a shift. How did you navigate that change?

A: So over eight years, I achieved what I had set out to do. I ticked all the boxes. Yet, as I approached my early 30s, I had to ask the question as to whether I was in it for the long haul. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do, but I knew that it was the right time to leave, trusting myself enough that I'd just figure it out along the way. This led me to a corporate role in management consultancy within the construction industry, working in Covent Garden. However, it quickly became apparent that this path wasn't for me. It didn't resonate with who I was or who I wanted to be moving forward. For the first time since before my military career, I found myself without a clear direction, facing the daunting question: "What's next?"

This uncertainty marked the beginning of a profound period for me. The conclusion I reached was that my future lay in business, specifically in online entrepreneurship, attracted by the promise of geographical freedom and the autonomy to be my own boss. Yet, the exact form it would take remained elusive. This uncertainty set me on a two-year journey of exploration, filled with trials and errors, and countless lessons learned along the way.

In this period of transition, I joined forces with John Popham, a fellow Royal Marine, and together we faced the stark reality of our situation. Our funds depleted, and personal relationships strained, we made the decision to regroup at my family's farm in Worcester. It was there, amidst the familiar backdrop of the countryside, that we decided to pivot towards something that truly mattered to us—focusing on mindset and performance. This wasn't just about making ends meet; it was about aligning our efforts with our passions.

Thus began the inception of The Natural Edge, a venture that, while unclear at its outset, gradually took shape over six years into what it is today—a platform dedicated to enhancing the mindset and performance of business owners and leaders. It was a journey that was anything but smooth. Yet, it was this that forged the resilience and adaptability that I now share with others. It's been a rollercoaster, no doubt, but one that has ultimately led to a fulfilling new chapter, defined by growth, discovery, and the pursuit of genuine passion.

 

You've spoken about the concept of mental toughness in a way that's quite different from the traditional understanding. Could you elaborate on that?

A: Sure. The popular narrative around mental toughness tends to paint it as some kind of emotional armour, impervious to fear or pain. But that's a skewed perspective. True mental toughness isn't about the absence of vulnerability; it's about embracing it and choosing to step forward regardless. It's in that conscious decision to press on, amidst discomfort and doubt, where real resilience is forged. It's not about silencing fear, but about learning its language, understanding its cues, and using that knowledge to navigate through challenges with a clearer head and a steadier heart. That, to me, is the essence of mental toughness.

 

And what about your approach to mindset? That’s something I know you focus on.

 

In my work, I often encounter clients who seem to have every ingredient for happiness at their disposal, yet there's a palpable absence of fulfilment in their lives. Over time, I've come to realise that the missing piece isn't nestled in their external environment but lies within. The shift towards happiness and satisfaction isn't about changing where you are, but how you perceive and interact with your world. It's about internal recalibration.

Most people navigate life on autopilot, reacting to events and allowing those reactions to define them. It's a backward way of living. The key is to reverse that process — to start with a profound understanding of who you are and what you value and then let your life's path align with those truths. The problem I've noticed is that many people haven't delved deep enough to unearth the true drivers behind their thoughts, emotions, and, consequently, their actions. It's not uncommon to see individuals ensnared in cycles of worry, procrastination, or self-doubt, without a clear understanding of the root cause.

The lightbulb moment, comes when you peel back the layers of your psyche and lay bare the core beliefs and narratives driving your life script. It's only then that genuine transformation becomes possible. But understanding alone isn't enough. This is where a significant gap in mindset work lies — it's often not treated with the rigor and discipline of a skill set. Mindset, like any skill, requires practice, refinement, and application.

In essence, my approach is about empowering individuals to rewrite their internal narratives, to switch from a reactive to a proactive stance in life. It's about aligning one's daily actions with their deepest values and beliefs. This alignment, this congruence between internal convictions and external actions, is where true fulfilment is found. And remarkably, when this internal shift occurs, the external world begins to reflect that change, often without the need to alter the physical circumstances of one's life. Once honed, it has the potential to transform everything.

 

Your talks & work has inspired many. Is that the key message you want your audience to take away? The mindset shift. 

A: One of them. It’s that and the need to change the narrative around resilience. Resilience isn’t a trait you're born with; it's something you cultivate, like a muscle that strengthens with use. Life's going to throw curveballs, it's inevitable. But it's in the swing, the effort to hit them, where resilience is honed. I share my journey not as a badge of honour, but as a map for others to navigate their own trials. If people leave my talks armed with the understanding that resilience is accessible to them, they’ll have the capacity to meet life's uncertainties with a balanced mix of determination and poise.  It's about empowering each person to recognise their potential to weather storms and emerge all the better for it.

 

And what's next for you, Simon? Any new adventures on the horizon?

A. Right now, business wise, the focus is on our company - The Natural Edge.  On a personal note, I've started skateboarding, of all things. Might sound odd, at 40, but why not? It’s fun! There's something invigorating about pushing the boundaries, learning a new skill that demands focus and balance. I’m constantly finding new ways to challenge myself and this, this is fun. 

 

Lastly, if you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

A: I’d say, ease up on fixating on where you think you need to be. Life is about the here and now. Most people wander through life, letting their past dictate their identity, instead of standing firm in who they are, what they stand for and what their purpose is. Don't be most people. Know your values, let them be your compass, and let the journey shape you, not define you.

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