Ken Jones is a former soldier who served with the Parachute Regiment, Royal Marine Commandos and SAS. He is the Director of The Fan Dance Race and Special Forces Events company, an author, speaker and avid outdoorsman and mountaineer. He is also a keen chess player and racing cyclist. Ken divides his time between Lucca, Italy, Elan Valley, Wales and San Diego, California.
On 5th January 2003 Ken was caught in a devastating avalanche as he climbed in the frozen wilderness of Romania’s Transylvanian Alps. Flung from a cliff, he regained consciousness to find himself shrouded in darkness, separated from his supplies, suffering from over exposure in the sub-zero temperatures and in horrendous pain from a broken leg and shattered pelvis. Heavily frostbitten and bleeding internally, Ken dragged himself to safety over three agonising days, testing the very limits of human endurance, only to discover his true ordeal had yet to begin.
His book Darkness Descending has been hailed as an astonishing story of survival, yet there are many elements to his account that elevate it above much of the survivalist or “man vs nature” fare. His regular references to his military training (both physical and mental) and how this helped save his life on several occasions are fascinating. Best of all is his humility and how he candidly highlights all the fear and doubts he had on his journey and how he overcame the dangers and challenges that he faced. Ken also talks about the strength of mind and the power of team work that allowed him to make a full recovery and walk again when so many medical professionals said it would be impossible to. Ken proved them wrong by not only walking again but participating in sport at the highest level.
You need no special knowledge of mountain climbing or Special Forces to understand the many inspirational messages to be found in the telling of this powerful human drama. His story is after all about the triumph of the human spirit, the immense instinct to survive and the innate strength we have within us to succeed.
The appeal of Ken as a speaker is that he tells his inspirational story in an unassuming, articulate and often humorous style. He generally refrains from offering analogies between his exploits and the jobs of the people in the audience, preferring that they draw their own conclusions from the multitude of key messages that make up his story. The overriding feeling is one of total amazement and that no matter how hard things may get, there is a way to not only come through it, but to achieve even greater goals.
Ken is able to do a certain amount of fine tuning, but it would be difficult to, for example, make the talk all about team work. You will find his presentation deals with many issues that are invaluable in just about every event, certainly in the business world as well as the lives of every individual.
Ken deals with:
- * Excellence
- * Courage/ determination
- * Self-Belief
- * Respect
- * Humility
- * Team (One team)
- * Safety
- * Planning
- * Strategy
- * Goal setting
- * Leadership
- * Responsibility
- * Motivation and our ability to achieve beyond what we thought was possible
The general theme of Ken’s presentations typically focus on moving forward through adversity and flourishing when coming out of the other side, no matter what the odds. While the backbone of each talk is centred upon the Romania ordeal and recovery period in which he was unable to walk for two years, he makes occasional references to his service within the SAS, and relates to these experiences by sharing some insights into how the above listed values/qualities served him whilst both operating as a Special Forces soldier and surviving in extreme circumstances. The parallels of how these can be applied in business and day to day life will be clear and accessible to the listener without making direct or clichéd reference.
The foundation blocks of the message Ken shares is built around his enduring ethos of humility, loyalty and the unrelenting pursuit of excellence. He holds the view that humility is the foundation of all other virtues and attached to this is learning real lessons garnered through real experiences. Ken strongly believes that you can’t pursue excellence or overcome new challenges or adversity unless you are open minded to change, adaptation and learning, able to think outside the box, use the resources at your disposal and have a committed team with a shared goal. In any crisis you have to be present in every way, shape and form to take responsibility for our own actions. As an individual we have to do this to be responsible for our own destiny and as part of a team we have a duty of professional pride and respect to our team-mates.
Ken’s story explores what it is to find true courage and emphasises upon the importance of the four/five man patrol (one team), the unit upon which the original SAS was founded and still thrives to this day. Attached to this Ken also touches on SAS SOP (Standard Operating Procedures), the strategic safety measures employed by Special Forces units and how his training and many of these drills and SOPs’ proved their worth in his dramatic self-rescue and beyond.
Adversities come from everywhere, in the professional world as well as in one’s personal life, and Ken demonstrates how the values he learnt in the SAS and during his self-rescue became guidelines for life outside of the military and climbing world. Ken summaries how he was able to use adversity as a springboard to move forward and accomplish even greater things. In passing the message of what happened to him, the listener will be able to reflect on what is truly valuable and perhaps be in a better position to be able to transfer some of Ken’s insights to their own professional and personal lives.
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