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Mike Bates: What my solo row record taught me about teamwork and success

Success can come in many ways, shapes and forms. But it’s not resilience, bravery or determination that ultimate dictates whether you succeed or fail, but giving the right people the right support to be the perfect team player so everyone can pull in the same direction, former covert counter-terrorism leader turned elite ultra-endurance athlete Mike Bates tells Unfiltered
Mike Bates
Mike Bates

Mike Bates is a former covert counter-terrorism operations leader, endurance athlete, entrepreneur and motivational speaker. He left a distinguished career in the UK’s Ministry of Defence after 20 years of service, then became the fastest Briton to complete a solo row of the Talker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, raising significant funds for charity. He then co-founded NXT45, an events and community-focused company established to support men through midlife, helping them lead healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives. Follow him on Instagram. Visit NXT45.com.

Mike Bates: “No one succeeds on their own”

For Mike Bates, a former covert counter-terrorism operative for the British military and an accomplished ultra-endurance athlete, the most important factor for overcoming adversity isn’t bravery, determination or resilience. It’s teamwork.

Even when he became the fastest Briton to solo row the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, completing the 3,000-mile journey from the Canary Islands to Antigua in just 46 days, he didn’t do it alone. It was a complete team effort, from months of preparation with his support crew to daily phone calls in floods of tears with his wife back home (even though before the challenge he told her he’d only check in a couple of times a week at most).

His belief in the power of communication, support and camaraderie, which he’s now channeled into a new business NXT45, an events and community company that exists to help men navigate that treacherous midlife transition to set them up for greater health and happiness for the next 45 years of their life and beyond, stems from his 20-year career in the UK’s Ministry of Defence as a covert counter-terrorism operative.

The lessons he learnt from facing Taliban insurgents in the middle of Afghanistan to riding 40ft waves in the middle of the Atlantic have cemented in Mike’s mind the urgent need to get more men talking about their doubts, insecurities and fears in the hope that doing so will not only help them avoid a midlife crisis, but ultimately start saving some of the hundreds of lives lost to suicide in the UK every year.

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