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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality Style Elite Performance with an Edge, 13 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Elite!: The Secret to Exceptional Leadership and Performance (Paperback)
Ably pulled together by Simon Acland, this debut book by a former member of the SAS, Floyd Woodrow, who won a DCM in Iraq, builds on the experience of an individual who has not only walked but, as Roger Lewis writes (in the foreword to the book), `fought the talk'. As Sheffield-born Bernard Hogan-Howe (the Metropolitan Police Commissioner) confirms, this is a mirror image of Floyd - insightful, imaginative, and inspirational. We can all achieve excellence in our chosen field, Floyd proposes in the final chapter.

This book illustrates, without bombarding us with a bonanza of buzzwords, how he has performed this in more than one field. The message is elegant, perceptive as well as pragmatic about elite leadership and performance - `you can too'.

But you have to be prepared to pay the price, have your North Star and put in the hard yards to balance optimism with realism. Let me acknowledge my bias. I first met Floyd he was fresh out of the SAS and a wide-ranging conversation, the first of many dialogues, ensued. When I bought the book at the end of the amazing launch event it was a highlight to discover my name in the acknowledgements. It has been a reciprocal relationship. What I learned from Floyd's counsel in the context of my ground-zero start point cis a Chrysalis Project in its own right.

Can this contemporary gladiator and former amateur boxer entertain, educate, and deliver a knockout performance in print as well as he does in person? The answer is an unequivocal `yes'. The book blends storytelling with wisdom, incisive prompts, and clarion calls to action to take you out of your comfort zone or what I call the comfortably numb zone. It's reality-style self-improvement with an elite edge and no self-promotion or abuse of the SAS cachet attached.

It's Yorkshire, plain-speaking, and integrity grounded in incredible international experiences, escapades, and adventures you might watch films about. If you want to understand how to remain focussed under pressure, this is the man. That comes across through the book and in person where he can switch from being instinctive to intellectual as well as intimate, all in the same sentence. What was also evident and is central to this book is learning and tips on how to cope with pressure. To paraphrase Clausewitz, `The calm leader is at peace with fear, danger, and confusion. The calm leader can sort through this array of conditions and apply his mental talent in any situation.' This is what Floyd exudes in real life, and how he has achieved this is covered in the book.

Andy Flower, England Cricket Coach who, has also been under pressure in his life, commends the book and has no hesitation in describing Floyd as a game-changer. But let me add too, through his tactical questioning and empathy, Floyd is a life-changer, and so is the book if approached with full-on commitment. Most important is the value the sophisticated simplicity and disarming humour of his story-telling and reflection brings. This is an action book, not an academic book, from an action man. If you want to change, then complete your wheel of life. It's common sense, as Floyd advises us, but you must at times stick to your guns, be true to yourself, and step into the pressure zone.

This book, like the man himself, is a one-off. It's one to be read and reread. Floyd typifies the ethos of the SAS as an `original' who lives up to the motto `who dares wins' as well as the personal mantra `who cares wins'. This is complemented by the dash of ruthlessness needed by all winners. He does not in person or in print waste time on pretending to be something he is not.

When I first met Floyd, I enquired what he wanted to do in his post-military career. He told me he was content to push his knowledge base in a different area and see how good he could be. He wanted to apply all his learning and development strategies from different high-pressure environments to get the best of the military and non-military worlds', he emphasized. This book is a tribute to that self-determination. The last question I asked at our first meeting was about the benefits of knowing yourself. `I like to become more self-aware and push the boundaries of my talent,' he replied. `You are able to understand you. What makes you tick. You understand when you are in difficulty. So you know that in difficult situations you can go and trust yourself.' For me it is very important', he underlined. `The more you understand about yourself, the more you can be centred and minimise external distraction because they are external, you analyse them, you take them in for what they are', he emphasized. `It's about maximising luck,' he added. `The training that you don't have means that you need more luck and eventually you won't get that luck. And I create my own luck ... And how I look at it,' his parting shot, was said with a ringing finality,' is that nobody gets in my head but me.'

That is until now. Buy, enjoy, and savour the book.
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