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Hard-won lessons

This month an Army officer-turned TV personality talks getting things done and keeping life interesting...

Name: Dick Strawbridge
Age: 57
Dates of service: 1978-2000
Cap badge: Royal Signals
Standout operations: Deployed to Northern Ireland to command 30 Signal Regiment, working on communications and anti-terrorism. Rapid response tasks got the Serviceman into the habit of solving problems, he says, as well as doing things quickly and well – skills that would prove important for his first TV job on Scrapheap Challenge.
Current status: The former lieutenant colonel lives in France, where he is restoring a five-floor, 45-room chateau complete with moat, walled garden and woodland. His attempt to create a fairytale lifestyle for his family has been captured on Channel 4’s Escape to the Chateau.


TOO MANY OFFICERS GO IN WORRYING ABOUT THEIR CAREER WHEN THEIR FOCUS SHOULD BE ON LEARNING THEIR TRADE AND GETTING STUCK IN.
It’s very important to understand this otherwise you can be a real pain in the arse. As an officer you are there for the soldiers.

THE ARMY TAUGHT ME TO DEAL WITH PEOPLE – TO COMMUNICATE AND SELL IDEAS.
That set me up for a career in industry and television. You are taught to interact with human beings. Even when the proverbial hits the fan, I love to smile and have a giggle.

SOLDIERS KNOW WHAT IT IS TO WORK HARD AND GET THINGS DONE.
That attitude has held me in good stead and I live by the four-letter mantra “JFDI”. With the chateau I know others are thinking “how stupid”, but I know I can do it.

UNDERSTAND THAT INDIVIDUALS YOU WORK WITH IN THE FORCES ARE
SPECIAL.

Sometimes people can be a pain but the bonds that you form won’t be found anywhere else.

NEVER FORGET THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VALUE AND COST.
For example, the value of having a piper is so much more than the cost to a Scots regiment.

DON’T BE CONSTRAINED BY THE FEAR OF WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN WHEN MAKING DECISIONS.
For me, that could have been leaving the British Army or leaving industry, or even leaving Britain for France, but fear is no reason not to do something. Just get on with it, no matter what the task is.

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