With a 15-year coveted Army career under her belt, decorated retired Army Major Matina Jewell’s bio could easily write itself into a Hollywood script.
It’s a jaw-dropping story of near-misses, military failures, heartbreaking loss and the pain and redemption of rebuilding a shattered life. But of all of Matina’s astonishing traits – and there are many – it’s her ability to draw a life lesson from every precarious situation she has ever faced, that makes her especially intriguing.
“Whenever I was posted somewhere new, I had to work so much harder than my male colleagues to earn the trust and respect of my team,” she recalls in the latest episode of ‘Finding Fearless with marie claire’ podcast. “I hated this at the time, but I look back now and say that was a gift. Trust and respect is something you do have to earn as a leader. It’s not something you should expect and just sit behind a role or a rank.”
Similarly, when she found out from watching a CNN news report that her entire team was killed in an airstrike, there was a lesson learnt about the need for leaders to take the time to communicate – especially in the middle of crises.
“In times of crisis in our lives, we often focus on operations and just getting in and fixing things, but it’s communication with our team members that is key,” she says. “I had never felt lonelier than at that time and so removed from the people I had been working for. No-one had even tried to contact me to get this information to me.
“It’s in these situations where we see those incredible charismatic leaders stand up. Look at the New Zealand Prime Minister [Jacinda Ardern] and her ability to show raw empathy and listening skills. That’s a skillset that needs to be encouraged in all leaders and we should all take the time to learn.”
On being told the road she was travelling on while in charge of a military envoy was about to be bombed: “The biggest problem in every situation – whether it’s in the military or in the corporate world – is when people become immobilised by fear. In order to live fearlessly we have to accept there is fear, but to have the courage to push through and have a crack anyway. When we do this, we will always surprise ourselves at what we can achieve.”
Matina’s insights are unique, uplifting and inspiring. And she has so many of them, which is why she is now one of Australia’s leading thinkers on leadership.
This episode is for anyone who is wondering how to make change in their life, thinking of trying something new or if you simply want to be inspired by someone who has overcome some major life hurdles to find their own purpose. Matina is awesome.
Listen above for her incredible story or on the podcast platform of your choice.