What's up guys? Sean cobra here of the live transform podcast Over the next two weeks while I launched this podcast, I'm going to be dropping one episode per day. Then I'm going to drop back to one episode per week. The first episode is an introductory episode explaining who I am, my background, my knowledge, my experience. The second episode is all about goal setting, that's going to be followed up by progress tracking, then building habits, doing the things that you enjoy doing consistency, restricting, temptation, meal preparation, accountability, crap foods, getting started and building momentum along with hierarchy of value, motivation, direction and your environment. Now if you go back and listen to each one of those topics again, they are all relevant Or optimizing your performance and your everyday life. It's not just to do with health and fitness. Yes, I am a strength conditioning coach that is my background, that is my specialization. However, I'm a coach first and foremost and I need to optimize the other 23 hours of the day so that I can get the most out of my clients for that one hour that I'm with them.
I'll also be answering some of my followers questions that have posted questions on my Q and a memes and I'm going to incorporate those answers into the pertinent episodes. Mm Yeah. Hey guys, welcome to today's episode which is all about the effect that your environment has on You were talking about both the internal environment and the external environment. You are a product of your environment, however you create your environment. The dictionary describes your environment as the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal or plant lives or operates. Today's session is all about how we can influence that environment. So we're going to be covering off on a number of things. But I'm going to start with the story of my time in Afghanistan. Then I'm going to tie that into the effect of both the internal and the external environment and how we can influence that. Then we'll discuss the difference between genetics and epi genetics, which is essentially nature versus nurture and then we'll wind up the episode answering some questions that have come in from some of my followers.
Let's get started for those who don't know me. I'm a former Australian Army soldier and I deployed to Iraq East Timor and Afghanistan. So three deployments over six years. In 2010 I deployed to Afghanistan for nine months. So I left towards the end of all three quarters of the way through 2010 and returned nine months later, halfway through 2011. Now, during that time I was deployed as a member of a four man sniper team. So it was my role as the lead scout to choose an appropriate route to negate the very real threat of an I. D. Or an ambush or something like that. I was also the combat first Aid are meaning that if any casualties came up it was my job is my responsibility to deal with them And I had to do that on a number of occasions under fire prior to deployment, There was months and months and months of lead up training where we're looking at refining all of our skills and drills so that essentially when the shit hit the fan, our training took over and I'm so grateful for my mentors, my colleagues, my team leaders, my commanders for smashing me over and over and over again on the basics.
Because those basics save lives when the shit hit the fan training took over and we just fell into the habituated patterns that we practice time and time and time again. That external environment is what set us up for being able to perform on the battlefield and under pressure when the shit hit the fan. But that's only one piece of the puzzle. We also have the internal environment and this is how we perceive the world, This is how we perceive the area that we were going to be going into and how our confidence was. If we were confident in our skills and our drills and if we could perform under pressure, I was asked in a recent interview if there was a turning point where things became real for me and I remember this vividly a few months before was scheduled to fly to Afghanistan. We conducted a fairly realistic exercise which was focused on re enacting situations that had actually happened in Afghanistan and putting the soldiers that were about to deploy under uh, you know, in those circumstances to see how they would respond.
And it was primarily focused on the first aid side of things. So, you know, there were people who had actually lost legs and limbs and things like that had amputations that we got in as role players so that they could speak about their experiences and how they dealt with it and just give us some insight into what was going through their mind when they were dealing with a traumatic injury, not just for the person treating, but potentially some of the things that we might have to go through if we find ourselves in that position, which was absolutely a reality that we all had to face one day when the temple was a little bit lower. There was a pause put on the exercise and the entire combat team was brought together and we were like, fuck something's going on here. And we were informed that there were two combat engineers and their explosive detection dog had been killed that morning. And you know, there was a lot of murmurs going through the entire group, the whole whole combat team was 4-500 people or so. Um I just remember my foreman sniper team all looking at each other and we just kind of gave this nod of acknowledgement and that meant that we had some things to discuss and we had to have those hard conversations and we actually all sat down together um after we were informed of that.
You know, obviously we were a couple of months away from deploying there and you know, we knew the areas that we were going into and we knew where we were going was fucking dodgy. So a lot of dudes have been killed there and we knew the threat was going to be higher. So we actually all sat down and had a really good conversation and and brought our awareness to the fact that, you know, we might have, we probably will have to pull the trigger. We probably will have to, you know, deal with casualties. We probably will have to, you know, face these adversities and getting firefights and things like that. So we had to have that open and honest conversation and say, you know, let's just go over there, let's do the fucking job as best we can. Doesn't really matter what the government's position is and why they're saying they're sending us over, we've got a job to do, we've got to get over there and my job is to fucking look after you boys. That's what matters most to me and I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure that that happens. But we first had to bring awareness to that and discuss the fact that there was every possibility that one or more of us might not be coming home and that made it real for us when it was real, then we had to manage and control our internal environment, which then influenced how we performed throughout the external environment.
Now, I just want to pause there and put emphasis on creating that internal environment. We can only create the correct internal environment once we have the information and we have the awareness to then make a decision, right? So we had those conversations and they were real, they were raw, they were deep. Other people on the other hand didn't have those conversations, so it wasn't real for them. You know, we had an understanding of why we were doing this training and I was lucky that I was part of a four man sniper team. So these were some of the best soldiers in the battalion and you know, being around a group of highly efficient, highly professional soldiers, we bring out the best in each other. We were constantly in the pursuit of excellence, We're always striving to become better, better at our job, better as a person, better as a soldier. So other people on the other hand didn't go through this process and we observed, you know, other other sections and combat teams and things like that that maybe weren't taking it as seriously.
And we're just going through the motions with some of their skills and drills and that internal environment that we created also influence how we perceived and how we reacted to that external environment. So that external environment, that training was where we really dug in and practice and practice and practice and did after action reviews and refined our standard operating procedures and you know, had discussions about what worked and what didn't work. And then we go out and we do it again, we'd make these little tweaks and refinements would go out and we do it again, we just do this over and over and over again. We had a fucking why we knew were going into a dodgy area. We knew that we're probably going to have firefights. We knew that we might have casualties and you know, that gave us that purpose, that gave us that direction to then make sure that we invested our fucking time, energy and effort into getting the most out of our external environment. We had a saying in the army train hard fight easy and I truly believe that the people that set themselves up in the correct mental environment, the correct mental preparation.
They created the right internal environment when the shit got hard when our fucking ass was hanging out, when we're training, when we're running on fumes, you know, we'd had fuck all sleep, we were had no food, we hadn't showered. You know, that was when we had to dig deep and it was the people that had that correct mental preparation, the right internal environment that said, why am I doing this? Why am I going through this fucking, really difficult training once we knew the why then it was it was it made everything else a lot easier, made the external, the difficulties, the adversities that we were facing. It made it much fucking easier to deal with. On the other hand, the people that didn't create the right internal environment as soon as shit got hard, as soon as they were tired, they hadn't had much sleep, they hadn't had any fucking food, they fell to pieces. And that was the difference. And as a soldier, you're looking at the people around you and you're like, well I'm going to be deploying to a fucking war zone with these people, I need to know who's going to step up when the shit hits the fan, I need to know who's not going to be reliable, you know, it's a fucking life and death situation.
So I'm really grateful for the team that I ended up deploying with. They were just fucking awesome bunch of dudes, highly professional, highly efficient. We had an awesome hierarchy. We had an awesome structure, We had awesome S. O. Ps and we had an awesome team leader and an excellent HQ element that was his contingent and they had the respect of all of the boys, We knew that we could count on them, They created that environment leading into deployment which then set us up to deal with what we had to deal with. Now we had a number of casualties. We had a few deaths, We had I. D. S. And gunshot wounds and things like that. Um but I truly believe that if we didn't have that hierarchy and we didn't have those boots on the ground, those blokes that were on that base. So I really believe that our circumstances or the circumstances in that off that combat outpost could have and would have been much worse. Now. That's an example of how the internal environment can impact the external environment.
What I'm going to do now is flip the switch and speak about how the external environment can also impact the internal environment. Prior to deploying to Afghanistan, I was part of a 12 man sniper cell and that 12 man sniper cell was split up into 34 man teams and each four man team went to the three individual valleys that we were working in and we were based at the the dodge ist area in each valley. So my four man team was based At court martial which was a combat outpost that had 30-40 Australians and probably no more than that at any one time. And our role was to um provide mentorship and liaison to the Afghani National Army that we were training. So they could essentially provide their own security for their own areas of operations in their own country. And there are a number of elements that made up our team. There was the headquarters element, there was our sniper team, there was the combat engineers, mortars, the security section, we're all infantry soldiers, they were all recon qualified dudes and they were all absolute beast in their own right.
As well as having you know, other guys, other attachments with their own skills and assets and capabilities that they brought to the team and down to a soldier. Every single boot on the ground was highly professional and capable and reliable in doing their job. And that made a massive difference to our collective mindset. Yes, it obviously affected our individual mindset. I knew what the three dudes in my sniper team were capable of and I knew that I could trust them. I knew that I could rely on them and you know, that also picks me up so I didn't want to let them down either. Um but the collective of the 30 to 40 soldiers on that base. The minds of the collective mindset was fucking amazing. Everyone was confident in not only their own abilities but the blokes either side of them and those in support roles as well. So that made a massive impact on how we're able to influence our internal environment when you're comfortable when you trust the external environment, then that also gives you peace of mind and allows you to control your internal environment.
Another thing that made this really special group to be a part of was our boss. Our leader now piers is a tall lanky dude and an unassuming soldier. If you pass him on the street, you never think that he was such a bad our soldier. But his strength were, his leadership style and the trust that he in placed into every single person that was under his command. An example of this is when we had a patrol, we knew we were going out, we would go into the command post and the leaders of each individual element would go into the command post and pez would say, right, this is what we're doing. This is the intent of this patrol. This is what I want to achieve. How are we going to do that? And then he'd go around the, go around the command post and each individual element, the snipers, mortars, engineers, security section, et cetera. They would all have their own input. They would all contribute to the plan and then pairs would go, yep sweet, I'm happy with that. Back in at whatever time let's go through a full set of orders.
And this allowed the leaders of each individual element to go back to their specific teams and give warning orders and basically give a layout of where we're going, what we're going to do and what needed to be carried in order to achieve the mission. And this instilled confidence in every single team and gave them ownership for what they were contributing to the overall task and this trust in the individual teams as subject matter experts in their own fields created a profound effect. It showed that the boss had confidence and trust in each one of these individual elements and that allowed the individual elements to then put trust back onto the boss because we were a team, we had to work together. So as snipers for example, we were really fucking good at being snipers. We knew what had to be done. We knew what our strengths and weaknesses were, same as the security section or the recon soldiers. They knew what their role was, They knew what they could provide. Likewise for all the mormon and all the individual elements they had, they understood what their strengths and weaknesses were, which allowed the boss to have a look at the big picture and manage and guide how the task was evolving.
This trust and respect created an amazing team environment which essentially allowed us to use a decentralized command. Um so basically when something happened, everyone knew what their role was. Everyone knew what their drills were and people would take the initiative and not have to wait for the boss's orders. Everyone knew what was on the line, Everyone knew what they needed to do and the boss trusted each individual element to make the right call on the ground and that had a fucking massive impact on our mindset, our attitude and how we approached our work. We all didn't want to do anything wrong, We didn't want to let anyone else down. We always wanted to be the best, We always wanted to make the right decisions and that external environment that the boss had created by showing trust in his individual teams created a great internal environment which then impacted the external environment again. And how we performed, Our brain receives input from the external environment via our five senses. Once we receive this information there now internal environment determines and processes what we then do with that information and some of that information is going to be processed in different ways.
But this comes down to experiences, this comes down to habituated patterns, this comes down to training and conditioning and once we've processed the input then we create a response which is output or our action. So essentially your internal and external environment are interrelated. We received this information from the external environment, we process it via the internal environment and then we express that back to the external environment. So this is how we perceive the world, We look at things through filters and if we understand this then it's much easier to comprehend that when we can control one portion either our external environment or our internal environment then we can influence the output and the outcomes of whatever is happening in our lives. So our training and our conditioning that we under talk prior to deploying put us in a good environment, put us in a good internal environment along with the fact that our boss had trust in respect in every single person within the team and particularly the team leaders and the subject matter experts to be able to do our jobs and rely on us for to make the right decision on the ground.
Now that obviously affected our external environment once we're on the ground, however, with training, you can only replicate the conditions so far. So once we got on the ground, were actually in country for two weeks and we did a few partner patrols with the battalion that was there before us, the battle group that was there prior to us and they've done a heap of really good work in the area. They had one of their guys killed unfortunately. Um, but they did a heap of good work in the area. So the Taliban were fighting hard to regain the initiative and get back to, you know, owning and operating in the space. So once they got on the Tunic, we did a solo patrol and we had intelligence that there was 20 Pakistani Taliban in the area that had come in to fight to take back control of that area of operations. And we actually ran into them at the start of our patrol. They were coming out of the mosque as we were patrolling past. Now, they looked completely different to most of the other, all of the other fighting age males in the area.
So we fucking knew it was them. Um but there was nothing we could do about it because they didn't have any weapons or communications equipment or anything like that. So unfortunately that was our rules of engagement, but we literally looked him in the eye, shook their hands. We obviously searched them and um you know, tried to find any incriminating evidence or anything like that, but essentially they didn't have anything. So we looked him in the eye and shook their hands and they fucked off and we continue patrolling and we knew that it was going to be kicking off later on. So we continued our patrol and set off to conduct a coordinate search of a particular quality complex where we had intelligence that they were casing weapons and ammunition and things like that and our sniper team was conducting a satellite patrol which was keeping an eye out for anyone keeping eyes on the main body of the engineers that were conducting the search and things like that. We got word over the radio that the search had been completed and it was our role to push out and break out of the green zone. Now as we were patrolling out of that area, the atmospheric started deteriorating and people were coming out and grabbing their goats and Children and shit like that and we're like oh fuck something's going down here like this is not good.
So we pulled into a little bit of cover and anyway, we we basically got ambushed and my team leader was shot and we had to do whatever was necessary to get out of that situation. So we returned fire we got ourselves into a firefight and as the as the incoming fire was dying down I moved over to my team leader who had been shot, dragged him into cover and then started patching him up, had to administer I. V. Fluids. And by that stage the rest of the main body had caught up with us and we had the medic with us who then took over the first aid responsibilities. Um from there we went up onto the high ground and found an over watch position where we can provide battlefield commentary and um direct fire support if needed to our boss whilst they continued the fight. So we've been in location for roughly 30 minutes or so on this high ground where we were observing looking for targets to engage and passing information to the boss and one of the boys just swept a little bit dirt aside and he looked at us with fucking big wide eyes and was like holy fuck I think we're sitting on top of an I.
D. And luckily it didn't go off otherwise it would have taken out the rest of our four man team. So one of the boys was already on a chopper and we only had three boys left. Now we didn't know what was happening with our team leader shame us. He had a gaping hole in his leg that we tried to patch up as best we could before we put on, put him on the helicopter and we didn't know if he's going to live or die or lose a limb or anything like that, you know? And then we sat on top of a fucking I. D. That luckily enough didn't go off. Now we got back to base, did an after action review and obviously everyone was shaken up and, you know, had these thoughts going through our minds and you know, our fucking team in particular had almost been killed twice that day. Within you know, an hour of two incidences. Now, the next day we had to go out on patrol again, it was our job, we had to make sure that we own the space and restrict freedom of movement to the taliban. So the next day we geared up, we stepped out on patrol and as we were, as we finished the patrol, we were heading back to base and a shot rang out and around landed between a heap of the boys and you know, we fucking hit the deck and tried to observe where the incoming fire was coming from.
And myself and one of my mates were sitting on top of Ridgeline and trying to observe where the shot come from. We're, you know, we're using our binoculars were scanning, we're observing, looking for targets. And uh the taliban had actually moved up some a re entrant in in some dead ground and come up on top of a feature and fucking lit us up. A burst of machine gun fire came between right between my mate and I uh and I was like, dude, what are you shooting at? And he's like, that wasn't me, I was like fuck, break contact. So we got up and we hooked it and I started lobbying some high explosive grenades and you know, kind of got the better of the situation. And uh once we got back to base, I was like, fuck man, that was a close call and one of the boys is like, which one of you guys commando rolled out of the way. And I was like, yeah, that was me. And he goes, man, those fucking rounds literally missed you by inches, man, you're so lucky. Now those situations obviously had an impact on my internal environment and I was like, holy fuck, this is going to be a long deployment at that stage, were only supposed to be there for eight months, but this was two weeks into an eight month deployment, which ended up turning into a nine month deployment.
So you can imagine what my mindset was like, I was like, fuck, this is going to be a rough deployment, if this is what it's going to be like for the entire time? And I struggled to get to sleep. I struggled to manage my mind because I had all these what ifs going through my head and it was probably about two weeks where I was really struggling to get to sleep and I was constantly replaying those circumstances and running these what if scenarios in my mind and it really affected my ability to sleep, which meant that I was waking up tired, I was waking up fatigue, which ironically affected my ability to perform and make good decisions on the ground, which then increased the likelihood of those scenarios that was running in my head of actually happening. So once I realized that I realized that I had to manage my mind, I had to start putting some processes in place that was going to allow me to kind of chill out the central nervous system and allow me to get some fucking sleep because it was ruining me. The fear and anxiety were real and my worst nightmare was not that I would step on an id and lose a leg or copper round to the chest or something like that, it was that as the lead scout, I would make a mistake and I would miss something and the bloke behind me would take the brunt of the explosion or copper around in the chest or something like that and I knew that if I didn't fucking manage my mind, then I potentially would have had somebody else's life on my conscience for the rest of my life.
So what I started doing was just simply counting my breaths every night before I went to bed, Some nights were harder than others. And sometimes I would kind of get lost in my own thoughts and start playing these. What if scenarios again? But once I just focus on the breath it allowed me to kind of bring my mind internally and not focus on the external things because I realized that there were so many things in the external environment that I couldn't manage, I couldn't control. So all I could do was manage my internal environment and that's simply started with being present, focusing on my breath and that allowed me to get some restful sleep and that allowed me to be able to be at my best and be able to perform at my best. And once I made that change, it made a huge difference to my ability to get to sleep and make good decisions on the ground. I changed my mindset, I changed my attitude and over time, you know, I realized that we were in control, this was our fucking turf, We were going to go out there and we were going to do whatever we could, whatever was necessary to maintain security of that area.
And once I change that mindset, it really helped me be at ease and you know, be on the front foot to be able to set up my internal environment to impact my external environment, That external environment had not changed. What had changed was my internal environment, which then changed my perception. And once I changed my perception I realized that we were in control. We were going to fight on our terms. I had to make the decisions to choose an appropriate route. I had to keep my eyes keen and my ears keen for any threat that came up and you know potentially negate that threat as needed. And once I stopped looking at my roles and responsibilities as an obligation and rather look at them as an opportunity. Then it made a huge difference with our ability to dominate the ground and provide the security to the local population. If I had said that I wasn't afraid of dying or making a mistake that could potentially result in the death or the casualty of one of my teammates, then I'd be lying.
But I've accepted it once I was at ease with the fact that the next step I talk could be my last on two legs or the next breath that I talk could be my last. It became a battle of the mind. And I was going to do absolutely everything in my power to choose an appropriate route that would negate the threat of an I. D. Or an ambush or put ourselves in a position to catch a taliban off guard and identify and eliminate those threats before they became threats. It was only a couple of years ago that I was talking to one of my good mates who was also in Afghanistan at the same time he discharged from the army is now a yoga teacher and I was telling him that story about how I couldn't get to sleep and that I was just simply using my breathing to get to sleep to change my mindset. And he stopped me mid sentence and he was like dude you've been meditating for years, use didn't know it because I saw how much of an impact some breathwork would have on my mindset, especially when the stakes are so high. I have now implemented some breath work into my daily routine and that just kind of helps me chill out, calm down and put myself in a good head space to prepare for the day ahead.
And this also allows me to get to sleep. Now I'm going to go through a full episode on mindfulness and meditation but think about it like this mindfulness meditation doesn't fucking mean that you need to sit cross legged and chant ohm shanti shanti for an hour that might simply be sitting on the beach with your toes in the sand and the sun on your face listening to the waves roll in. That is simply being present. Anxiety is negative thinking, focused on the future that hasn't happened yet. Depression on the other hand is negative thinking, focused on the past and dwelling on mistakes and things that you should have or could have potentially done. Different. Mindfulness is being present. It's being in the here and the now and understanding that the past is the past and you can't change it and knowing that the next decisions you make, what's going to shape your future. So the biggest takeaway from this episode is that both your internal and external environment are interrelated. They both affect each other Now, this is obviously a weird time that we're in right now with quarantine and lockdown and sickness or throughout the world ah and you can't control the external environment when you have no control over the external environment.
You must manage the internal environment. In the coming weeks. I'm going to be bringing you some tools and techniques to help you do that. I'll be presenting a 10 part miniseries on the principles of Swiss. It's Swiss say it is a veteran owned a charity that helps people schedule in and structure the important things of their lives. I'm an ambassador for those guys. So please make sure you go and check them out. Excellent initiative that are doing great things in the veteran first responder and mental health space throughout Australia and hopefully going to start taking on the world as well. I hope you guys thoroughly enjoyed this episode and got some takeaway and actionable tips from this uh to cap off the episode. I do want to give testament to the boys that I worked with on court martial in Afghanistan. They were one of if not the best team environment that I've ever been involved with. So at any one time there was only about 30 to 40 Australian soldiers on this base and the battle group consisted of roughly 1200 to 1500 soldiers.
So from this small base there were some high accolades awarded after the war. In the Australia day honours and awards list. Our boss Pez was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal which is awarded for distinguished leadership in action. Our medic robber was awarded the commendation for distinguished service, which is awarded for distinguished performance of duties in war like operations. And I was awarded the commendation for gallantry, which is award to military personnel for acts of gallantry in action. And my counterpart tamps, he was awarded the commendation for gallantry two years earlier actions under fire in Afghanistan when one of his mates was killed. So I just want to give a big ups to all the boys that I served with in marshall. I fucking love you guys Miss you all hope you're all doing well. I couldn't think of better blokes to have beside me on the ground and cover my back. So I'm sure I'm saying this on behalf of Pez and robbo as well is that I accepted that award on behalf of fucking everyone on that base.
So thank you guys very much. Never Above you, never below you. Always beside you brothers by choice before I wind up the episode, I want to give a big shout out to the entire sniper sell for being such fucking professional soldiers and being amazing and what they do and constantly pushing each other to strive for excellence and always chasing better uh Mark leading from the front, who was the head of the sniper sold then our team Shamus, Tamps and rob and then Bills came in, took over as team leader. Once Shamus was hit uh tamps uh mate, you're a fucking stud. Your ability to keep your composure under all circumstances was extremely admirable and you know it was, it was you're my fucking rock man. Um I looked at you when the shit hit the fan and you lead by example, so I appreciate your mentor shipmate except for that one time that you threaten to kick me off the hill. Kay's team K bobby, binky and Gus, You guys are fucking legends.
Hope you guys are all doing well. And a special mention Moscow to dan's Team dan Aves, robbo and Rollo dan was awarded the commendation for distinguished Service and AIDS was awarded the medal for gallantry to provide context and give an example of the caliber of blokes that I work with and the environment that I was surrounded by uh in 2011 we got back from Afghanistan 2012 there was the Australia Day and Queen's birthday honours and awards list and out of a total roughly 1500 people in our battle group. There were 12 citations awarded and three of those citations. Three of those awards were given to our 12 man sniper teams. So that's just an example of how your environment can either bring out the best in you or it can sabotage you. So I'm really grateful for getting the opportunity to be surrounded by such highly regarded and highly professional soldiers, not only really fucking good soldiers, but really good dudes as well.
Everyone was all about bringing each other up. There was none of this shooting down shit. There was no tall poppy syndrome, which you know, you typically find in other areas and other sections and things like that. Everyone was all about, Hey man, let's bring everyone up together, Let's all work together. Let's all strive for better, let's all chase excellence together and I fucking appreciate that. And that rounds out the episode. I apologize for not getting into the genetic epigenetic nature versus nurture. However, I will touch on this in another episode. I just kind of got on a little bit of a role there and went off on a little bit of a tangent and decided to roll with it. So thanks for bearing with me guys, I'll see you in the next episode, which is going to be a Q and a session. If you enjoy the content that I'm bringing to you guys, please help me spread the message and Life Save, share and subscribe and pass this off to your friends, your family, anyone that's relevant in your life, that it could potentially help. And please make sure you leave a five star rating and review Much Love Guys please.