As a leadership resilience coach, Stew Darling helps and guides leaders to greatness with his Lead through Life Framework, is a proven method through which anyone can find success. That success spreads through families, the workplace and peers, lifting whole environments. Stew started Officer training just six weeks after his 18th birthday – the youngest of his cohort to commission into the Royal Air Force. After moving to the Army, his military career culminated in the command of all UK Military Intelligence Training, responsible for leadership and professional training for over 10,000 students. After moving to New Zealand, Stew started a software company that, over three years, moved from a ‘good’ idea to a successful 7-figure business. But it came at a cost; the stress caused a break-down which pointed out to Stew it was not congruent with his purpose. This is when the Lead through Life Framework was solidified. Launching a book with the same name in early 2020, Stew has become a sought-after commentator on all things leadership in New Zealand and his influence is spreading across the globe as his message spreads. To buy a copy of ‘Lead through Life,’ head to: https://www.stewdarling.com/book-page Watch the video above or continue reading for the full interview transcript.
Roxanne – Hi everyone, welcome to The Phoenix Phenomenon. Where we focus on the transformative process of writing an incredible and very unique to create the book we love in the bookstores and in homes today. I’m your host and ghostwriter Roxanne McCarty O’Kane, and I’m joined here today by the incredible Stew Darling from New Zealand. So hi Steve, welcome.
Stew – Good afternoon, how are you?
Roxanne – Yeah, wonderful thanks, sunshine beautiful day.
Stew – Yeah, nice.
Roxanne – Excellent. So to give you a bit of a rundown on Stew, Stew is a leadership resilience coach who created the Lead through Life Framework. Which is a proven method through which anyone, can find success in any area of life. Now, Stew has been able to have quite a unique experience of being able to draw on any experience. So what and he has something that magically is actually called Lead through Life, which is what we’re here to talk about today. So welcome Stew, I’d love very, very much for you to fill our readers in on, on Lead through Life, and what the book is all about, what it’s meant for you.
Stew – Okay, thank you, well, Lead through Life and the book itself. The book is the culmination of, two and a half decades of working in leadership positions. And you’re the British Army which was my experience of leadership, teaches how to lead. It teaches the knowledge you need to lead soldiers, and but if you’re gonna be a leader, what you’ve actually got to do is turn that into something that you can project yourself. And that’s where leadership goes from being knowledge to understanding. And Lead through Life Framework is my understanding of leadership that is simplified, so that I can share it with everyone. And we’ve know proven that it not only works in the military environment, it also works in business, in family, in relationships, but you know, just a really simple 12 words framework that allows you to lead based on my experiences in the military and in business.
Roxanne – Wonderful, and it’s more than a how to book though, isn’t it?
Stew – It is, it’s autobiographical. I’m not gonna say it’s an autobiography, because that’s probably still in me, is autobiographical books. What I wanted to do was share some of my stories, and split the good fun stories, some of them exciting, some of them are just downright silly. But I’m more important, the point of telling my story is that I want people to reflect on their stories. I want people to reflect on how beautifully unique, every single one of us is. And those experiences that everyone has had, will guide them in their own leadership journey. So yeah, read the story, read my story, but reflect on how awesome you are, and how you can take your own learnings from your life and help other people.
Roxanne – Excellent, it’s a wonderful message and one that everyone needs to hear these days, I believe with everything that’s happening. And so I’d love to find out from you where it was, or when it was that the seed for becoming an author was first planted in your mind. And when you first thought, you know, I’ve got a bit of a book in me.
Stew – Yeah, so I mean, I’ve thought for a long, long time, there is a bit of a book in me. But because of the past that I’ve had, you know, of running covert operations and you know being in the military, I’ve never really thought there is a story that I should share. But, you know, over time, more and more people have been asking me to share my story. And then yeah, this is all Liz’s fault. My you know my hero of have a wife who is the hero of the story. And this is all her fault, because we were a personal development thing in the states just over 18 months ago. And she decided that at the end of that, she was going to write a book. And hurt me, she is a midwife, and her book was going to be carrying the picture on the front cover was be a midwife handing a baby to a new mother. And the title of the book was, “No Keep this Alive.” And no, you know she spoke to you Roxanne about your building, you’re writing the book. And in the end of decided that maybe, she wasn’t going to write the book after all. And that was the point that I went, actually, you know what, I’ll do it instead. Much it’s been years in the making, the decision to write the book was only November 2018, so just 18 months or so ago.
Roxanne – Yeah, absolutely. And I know you know, having spent a bit of time with these doing that once you commit to something it’s going to happen. But I,
Stew – You know what, one of the most annoying things in writing a book called, “Lead through Life”, about leadership. When you commit to something you can’t not do it.
Roxanne – But I didn’t wanna ask you about that process because it is very different for every author and particularly, you know, as regular viewers of this show And how do you get through your story, what Leads through Life would look like, had changed throughout you know the process from going I’m gonna write a book to what was eventually on your hands when you had your launch?
Stew – Well, I think yeah, the number of titles we went through, where I think we had about half a dozen titles from the start. And then the first title was something like, not all heroes have to be super or something like that. And then we went through various situations and then went back to the simplicity of while actually is yeah, let’s call it what it is. But one of the reasons that I am, I was challenged to write the book cause I’ve written lots in the past but never really brought it all together. And you’re I’m more than, I know we’ve had this conversation with me before this Roxanne, but I’m more than happy to put my hand up and say, if it wasn’t for you, that book would probably still be in bits of paper and word documents, you know sitting all over the planet probably. Working with you to help bring that book together, and was the thing that brought the book together. And it was your experience of being able to interrogate me, week on week over three months, to bring the book to life. And that’s why I think we went through the transition from the various titles, and from being probably more autobiographical, when we first started to actually having the framework built throughout it. And so yeah, it was yeah, I mean, it was you that helped me bring it together and get it out there. And then yeah, then working with the publishers to pull it all together. I had an idea that this book would take three months to write and then by the next month, we’ll be our best seller in endemics. Was a little bit longer than that, did it?
Roxanne – It literally did, just for the record, you probably need to set aside around nine months for the whole process writing through to publication which you discovered an issue.
Stew – And then some years, and also don’t ever forget that, this is your book, and your book is your story is your responsibility. I think you’re worth it, did slip a little bit, was when I maybe lost that a little bit with you with everything else that goes on in life.
Roxanne – Yeah, absolutely now that’s great, and tell me about few personally, I mean obviously like you said you had all this experience to just go and having working with company it’s worth it and to develop who you have been working with. What the like to really hug in on and you know, shine a bit of a light on you know, perhaps even more of those memories from your child and can lead you on .
Stew – I think they don’t stop, all these years all these memories, they keep coming back and it’s not just me as little as listen to kids as well. They just pop up, and you go oh, yeah, that as well, that as well. And there came a point where we had to stop. And I mean, you’re some of the memories, I would be honest it fair to say, they were painful memories because when you read the book, you realize that, that’s not how I view the world. But I mean, yeah, there were, I don’t think we had tears when we were talking about the book, but there are certainly some times that it got. yeah, you gotta leave. You got a little bit sort of close to that, right. I’m beginning to tear up, but you to actually get the depth of that experience and then be able to put it into the book. And when I read the book back, I’ve realized the depth of some of those experience is that, you know, just because they happened to me. They were just well there yeah, that just happened. So yeah, it does give you a deeper understanding of me. And you realize the important events in your life the ones that actually shaped you.
Roxanne – Absolutely. Yeah, there were if you missed the IBO inside I’ve got to say Also now that’s wonderful and so you were there any you know for you personally going through the journey, were there any moments where you had I don’t want anyone else thinks kind of thing?
Stew – I think there were obviously some moments do you think, is it good enough and even know when all the at are wondering is it but then you just think actually, I really don’t care. But yeah, I’m hearing such amazing stories from people who’ve got to page two of the book and they’re going, oh, wow, this is amazing. The experiences that they are getting from the book underpins the fact that it was right to get on with it and do it. You look, it’s human nature to have wobbles every once in a while. But no, I mean, it was all once we committed to it, we were always going to write this book, we’re always gonna publish it. And then you know, as I say, I’m really glad that I did go through that process, because of the some of the things that people are saying about it and yeah, they’re not even people that know me.
Roxanne – Yeah, that’s great. Well, they will know you a lot better once I finish the last. As the businessmen were you always looking at it as well as you know, another element or another extension you always
Stew – Yeah absolutely, Lead through Life is, your Lead through Life is the book Lead through Life is my one to one coaching program. It’s my online course, it’s the work I do with with businesses. And so you know, this is just one of the strands of the business. You know, it wasn’t just right, here’s my book, and I get on with the rest of life, it really is, even in the fashion brand of the company. And, you know, we your Lead through Life is me. That’s one of the things I’ve come to recognize through this. And it’s just a part of getting my message out there.
Roxanne – Awesome, now that’s great. And that I was gonna ask you that too. Like how like did writing a book and going through this process that helped you to solidify some areas of your business well going on?
Stew – Yeah, very much. So, yeah maybe not so much the writing of the book but getting it in your when arrived in my hands. I went, wow, this is the book and then you read through it and you go, wow, right. Okay, this message is so, and then when you start getting the feedback. It just gives you a confidence that, when other people say to me over the last few weeks, that I’m a completely different person to the person who met for coffee two months ago. And that’s because I’m actually really just comfortable in me now. Because all of my secrets, some of my secrets are in this book. So yeah, there’s no fear about sharing who I am. Because all you’re gonna do is pick up a copy of the book. And it’s your too often in life, we choose not to be ourselves, because we don’t want to lose friends and acquaintances. Well, you know actually if you choose to be yourself, you end up with the right friends and acquaintances, and that’s something I’m really comfortable with, and that’s come for through this process.
Roxanne – That’s awesome, all right. And since you know even in the lead up to the launch of your book, you’ve been, you know, out there doing a lot of workshop, you’ve been I know there is aspect of offline moment. But where do you see, you being able to take the book to next? I know you’re already getting a lot of media interviews and a lot of interest from people who were again did know about ambition.
Stew – Probably book two is already in my head. And yeah, I think Liz had grand designs of locking me in a room for the four months or the four weeks that New Zealand is in lockdown. And I would come out with book two written, so I’m not finished writing yet. But you we had and we booked Lead through Life live form May And that had to be postponed, because obviously with events going on at the moment, we knew we can’t put 350 people in a room. And so that’s now we booked for October, and that’s yeah, that’s really Lead through Life live is it’s about the Lead through Life Framework. But it’s also about where my learning has gone from the almost the end of the book to where we are now. And we’re helping people understand that you know, we all do have an important part to play in the world. And what’s your story? What’s your message? And how can we live better? How can we interact better? How can we live smarter? How can we live fitter, and more healthy? All of that, that’s what Lead through Life is doing, that’s what I do with my one to one clients. That’s what I’m doing with your ever increasing the bigger businesses that are reaching out for assistance. And the great thing about that is, there was always an idea that there would be an element of Lead through Life that would be not for profit, where we could choose who we wanted to work with. And by having bigger clients, it gives me leverage to actually do that. And that just is expands the scope of Lead through Life. So next step is continue working with a whole bunch of fascinating, lovely people, but also then grow it into the live events that never make it to New Zealand.
Roxanne – Yeah, that’s it. And what I loved about your definition of leadership is that quite often people pigeon whole leadership as leaders and the elected leaders who are leading the country. But, you know the household and, you know, all those different dynamics as well, which I found really awesome with working with you. So, that messages now coming out into there, it was for your book?
Stew – Yeah, I mean, I think it’s always surprised me that people seem to think that our business leaders that our government leaders, there are, you know, this leader of the sales leaders, there’s, no, there are leaders don’t try and make something simple, complex. And you just keep it simple, and we understand that why people where some leaders decide to make it complex because that’s the power play. But that’s an ego play that’s a very, very old fashioned sort of leadership. Where the industrially or leadership, we’re all leaders. So don’t tell me that you’re a business leader or you’re leader in the education system or whatever you choose. Just say I’m a leader, and allow other people to recognize that they are leaders. And you’re, we’re all leaders in our own right. All leadership is, is an extension of being a good human being. Well, that really simplifies it and tells us that we’re all leaders. So yeah, let’s not try and create power and ego place. let’s recognize the leadership is about service and we can all go out there and do it. We all are going out there and doing it.
Roxanne – Absolutely, and I feel like now more than ever, we need to be enacting that don’t we? With you know, to make to bring us a little all out of this fall again into a better place.
Stew – I, you know, one of the things that I mean, I look at this period that we’re in at the moment as a great opportunity. And look, I mean, I don’t get me wrong, I understand that those people who are in the thick of it, have got family members who have got the virus or your or are some of the workers that are really digging out to support beating this. But for the rest of us, what an awesome opportunity, when did we last have such a long time to spend with our families? When did we last have the opportunity to not have to travel to work? And not have to spend time on your own in the car or in public transport? We’ve had an opportunity to learn, we’ve an opportunity to educate ourselves even more. And the saddest thing I think that could come out of this, is that we go back to the old normal. Let’s not do that, let’s all stand up and lead ourselves into that new place. And I’ve been calling it in the last week, that undiscovered country, just to pretend that I used to read Shakespeare. That undiscovered country that is the future, well, you’re let’s take time to reflect on the stuff that we didn’t like, before all this started, and what we want to become. And if all of us just grew a tiny little bit during this period of uncertainty, what an amazing place the undiscovered country could be. And that’s all done through leadership.
Roxanne – Absolutely, now, I love that. That’s great, when it’s a bottle
Stew – Yeah book too.
Roxanne – Awesome, okay, and so yeah, being at the other end of your book launch, having your book out there in the world and you know, it’s available . Perhaps you know, I thought of I wanna write a book, maybe I’ll get started. What would be your advice to them to get to take action, like you did?
Stew – Yeah, do it. Yeah, it really but that’s my attitude to life, do it. And if you don’t know how to do it, find someone who does and figure it out. We live in an age where we’ve got information at our fingertips. We’ve got technology that allows us to talk, across the globe instantaneously. So if you’ve got an idea for a book, then get on with it, because your story and your challenges that you’re going to tell in your book, they are the stepping off point for someone else. That someone else doesn’t have to go through all of the same pitfalls and mistakes that you’ve made in life or your whatever you’re gonna write about. Because you are the stepping stone that gets them on to greatness. So treat it as service to fellow human beings, you’ve got a responsibility to tell your story. So get out there and do it. And if you’re not sure how to do it, or if you don’t think you can write, find someone like you to help you, find a ghostwriter, and go right like, can you help me, please? And you did. And yeah, I mean, I realized that when you asked me to write a few bits and pieces to start the book I thought actually I can’t do this. But you know, you were the catalyst. So you’re get out there and write your book, or find someone to help you write that book because the world needs more normal people to tell their stories. Because if we wrote telling our stories, then we get away from the fact that it’s only the famous is only the the athletes, is only the actors and actresses out there that get to tell those stories. We’ve all got stories to tell, and some of those stories are even more important to the world that we live in. So write the book and engage in the process, enjoy the process. And as I say, if you do it for as an active service, what’s not to enjoy?
Roxanne – Yeah, absolutely. And I love your point about that, too is that you know, at the end of the day, and one thing I’ve learned from interviewing a number of, you know, celebrities over the years is that at the end of the day, they are just people prepared to step up and tell this, so we’ve got to give more people the confidence to feel that they can do it too.
Stew – Completely, yeah. And I think you’re those people do actually see themselves as just people they’re doing their job. Sometimes we look at them and think, wow, no, they’re actually just people doing a job just like you and me.
Roxanne – Yeah, absolutely, excellent. Okay, and so how long are people who are listening and watching. How can they get hold of Lead through Life, and answer to, embody all of these amazing principles?
Stew – Okay, well, the easiest way to do is go to my website www.stewdarling.com. And there’s a drop down, that will serve as a pop up, and then you just buy the book, if you prefer to listen to it. It’s available on audio, which I think is it through Amazon. And then if you prefer Kindles, I’ve even got the ebook as well. But I’m a great fan of books and actually being able to thumb through the pages to go to the website, and yeah, you can buy the book there. And there’s also a whole lot of other great free stuff that I am that I post that you get from the website as well.
Roxanne – Excellent, all right, and stay posted cause it sounds like book two might be out in the next little bit.
Stew – You know what the framework looks like already, so now we just have to fill up the words.
Roxanne – Awesome, you make it sound so easy.
Stew – You help me.
Roxanne – All right, thanks so much for your time Stew, and for sharing your journey with us today.
Stew – No, thanks a lot for taking the time to talk.
Roxanne – Not a worry, I’m always happy to talk, you know that. All right, thanks Stew.
Stew – Thanks.