As an infantry soldier, my purpose in life was to be a protector. To do what others wouldn’t in our country’s time of need.
My older sister lost her battle with cancer in 2011 on her 28th birthday. My family needed me now, more than my country, so Army life was put on hold.
When I left the army I had a few issues. Most of which were easy to hide and it often took a lot of reflection before I even realised there was a problem. I had been on deployments with the Army to East Timor and Afghanistan but none of my dramas were related to these deployments. I definitely didn't have PTSD. I didn’t have any highly traumatic experiences on deployment. It was only when I started researching evolutionary psychology that a lot of the issues started making sense.
Sebastian Junger's book, Tribe, hits the nail on the head for a lot of what I experienced.
There was a time when I lived, breathed, fought, ate, and shit in close quarters with a group of men who I trusted with my life. I had my tribe. The pursuit of excellence was highly regarded within our circles. Discipline, Fitness, Mental fortitude were all valued traits.
Then I went cold turkey into civilian life. I cut myself off from my tribe for the best part of 3 years. I jumped straight into a society where discipline is not needed nor encouraged. How could it be when excess is king and comfort is queen.
Warrior traits are more and more frowned upon. Teaching courage, loyalty and honour have been pushed aside to make way for safe spaces and gender neutrality.
Even pursuing excellence is no longer embraced. To win means someone had to lose and heaven forbid we let our children lose at anything.
Something had to change. I had to get back to my tribe. I had to start reconnecting with the disciplined man I used to be. I needed to reignite my pursuit of excellence.
I spent 6 years slowly learning new concepts. Mostly through books and podcasts from people like Joe Rogan, Aubrey Marcus, Wim Hof, Jordan Peterson, Tim Ferris, the list goes on. I found these people so engaging. They all have a unique ability to deliver common-sense information to people from all demographics.
I started to structure my own routine using the tools I picked up in these books and podcasts. The routine was built using unconventional fitness methods. Wholefood nutrition. Meditation. Proper sleep patterns. Constant personal growth and development, and funky bio hacks.
When I stuck to this routine I felt happy. I was ambitious again. The routine was working.
I had my falls from the wagon. I still had dark days. But whenever I got really dark, the lessons learned through meditation helped me back.
Meditation uses breathing to bring you back to centre. When your mind drifts off you catch yourself. You go back to focusing on your breathing and soon you are back in a meditative state. Over time you catch yourself quicker and quicker.
You use the same principle to centre yourself when you slip to the “dark side”. The state where everything seems hopeless. An anxious, depressive prison.
At first, if I went to the dark side I could be gone for hours, days before I realised I had drifted. The longer I was gone the harder it is to pull myself back to the light. Now, if I find myself in a negative rut I can identify quickly. I reassess my routine and tighten up where I’ve been slacking. A quick routine adjustment and I’m back on the positivity wagon.
I started putting this concept on paper. Brainstorming how I could deliver this to veterans in a way that would help them stay away from the dark side. So many veterans (and civilians) need to rediscover what it was like to be highly motivated and ambitious in life.
The first model was to buy a farm and start a veterans retreat. A place where veterans could come and learn the principles I had been practising.
I found this idea popular amongst the boys but the setup costs were too high. The idea is not currently feasible. Phase 2 I think.
I sat on the concept for a few years. Slowly adding to the program as I learned new hacks and read new research. Time was passing and the idea was getting dusty. I simply wasn't making it enough of a priority to get it going.
Unfortunately, the catalyst that got me in gear was a tragic one. In 2017, Jesse Bird aka Big Bird took his own life. A brother from the big blue 1, Birdie was one of the boys who loved talking about the idea of the farm. Every time we got on the sauce we went through the plan. We would tweak the idea and wrap up the conversation by saying “we have to stop talking about it and do it", but we never did.
After Birdie's funeral, I made the completion of this project my main priority. I looked at the idea from every possible angle and made sure the delivery method would be one that could reach the greatest number of veterans without being cripplingly expensive to run.
My ex-wife, Ana, a website and app designer, was running Drool Digital at the time with my brother Ben, a software engineer. They showed me how effective the concept could be if delivered through an app. Things started to move.
With our flagship mental health tool in development, it was time to come up with a name. We landed on a name that leaves a lot of people asking,
One of the major causes of mental health decline in life after service is Identity. As humans, we align the values of a person or organisation with their identity. We know that brand names with links to government, war, warriors, conflict, or injury, would alienate veterans who do not align with those names. Some veterans don't want to associate with the government anymore, some don't want to been seen as broken or injured because they are not, some don't want to identify with conflict, and some don't identify themselves as warriors. We wanted to build an organisation that was neutral ground. Neutral not just to veterans from different nations and conflicts, but civilians, the general public who need the tools created by our lived experience veterans to improve their lives. Switzerland is an internationally recognised nation that remains neutral through global conflict. We are Switzerland.
Like all good brand names, our brand identity has layers. Not only do we want to provide neutral ground, but we also want to encourage all humans to aim high, to put in the work and become better at life. Again, aligning with the values of Swiss 8 trains, Swiss chocolate, Swiss watches and of course, Swiss tennis players, Swiss 8 encourages you to pursue excellence.
Swiss Technologies Ltd. T/A Swiss 8 is a health promotion charity registered with the ACNC. If you would like to support us, please click the donate link above or email us to discuss partnership concepts.