It’s no understatement to say that the last few years have been a lesson in survival for dentists. The pandemic has brought untold challenges for individuals in the industry, meaning that many have had to reassess the way they work, their focuses and their hopes for the future.
It is partially the resilience of dentists that inspired the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) to invite Colin Maclachlan to provide the opening address at this year’s highly anticipated BACD 18th Annual Conference.
Star of Channel Four’s drama SAS: Who Dares Wins and featured on Channel 5’s Secrets of the SAS, Colin Maclachlan has over 25 years of security and risk-related experience. With a long and colourful history of coping under extreme stress, Colin is the perfect example of how to survive under pressure: “I was invited by the BACD to deliver the opening address at the conference because I have a number of close friends in dentistry and know what a difficult time it has been for individuals in this field over the last couple of years.
“I lecture widely on themes such as leadership, resilience and keeping a positive mindset, and these seemed like perfect messages to open the show with as they are all really relevant to professionals, especially in an industry that has had to overcome challenge after challenge.”
When asked what he wanted those listening to his session to learn, he responded, “I want delegates to get a feel for the competencies that anyone can harness and encourage them to utilise this inner strength and resilience to drive forward their business and their personal lives.”
No stranger to this mindset himself, Colin has a history of navigating high-stress situations – experiences that have shaped his present mindset and that have taught him the value of keeping cool under pressure. First joining the army in 1989, he served for nine years in the Royal Scots and passed selection first time at the age of just 23 to join the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment (22 SAS). During his time there, he was involved in a number of high profile and daring missions, many of which were quite literally life or death situations. In fact, Colin is one of few individuals in the world who has been involved in hostage negotiations, hostage rescue and been a hostage himself.
One such situation was when his regiment was sent to hunt down the West Side Boys (a West African guerrilla gang) in Sierra Leone who were holding five British soldiers hostage. Nicknamed “Operation Certain Death”, this daring mission was a success, and the SAS recce team secured the building where the hostages were being held, neutralised gang members before the main assault and wiped out the terrorist threat.
In the same year (2000), Colin was the first sniper on the scene when a hijacked Afghan flight landed in London – kickstarting a four-day stand-off – the longest hostage siege to occur in the UK to date. Only four years after this tense situation, Colin was taken hostage himself in Basra – a chilling experience that involved being blindfolded and stripped naked, a gun held to his head and even a mock execution. He only survived because his captors wanted to film his suffering for a propaganda video – luckily giving British troops the time to intervene and perform another daring rescue.
So, how do these adventures relate to dentistry?
In Colin’s words, it’s all about applying perspective to any given situation, and utilising the resilience inside yourself in order to make it through life’s challenges, “I think perspective is important in any situation. We’ve all had a ‘bad day’, but how bad was it really? When we reflect on our lives, we are far more fortunate than we think, and this positive mindset can make a massive difference.
“Dentistry can be a lonely life. You are self-employed, might be trying to run a business on your own and have to work within a high-stress, confined space. Self-motivation is key, and to conquer the pressure of this unique working situation, I believe dentists can utilise a number of techniques and tools that veterans and our armed forces use in order to overcome life’s hurdles.”
Since his time in the SAS, Colin has embraced a number of unique opportunities. As well as doing security consultancy for the Saudi Royal Family and a host of A-list celebrities, he has also dedicated time to study, earning a First Class MA in History from Edinburgh University and an MLitt in Terrorism from St. Andrews University. Now, he has branched into TV, books, radio and videogames and also works with a number of charities, including being an ambassador for the Lee Rigby Foundation, Pilgrim Bandits and the NSPCC. He recently founded his own charity – Who Dares Cares – that aims to support armed forces veterans who are suffering from stress.
If anything, Colin is the perfect person to understand the strain that dental professionals have been under and an excellent choice to motivate and inspire delegates at this year’s BACD Annual Conference. Be sure to register your place online today
The BACD 18th Annual Conference 2022 will take place November 10-12, 2022, at ICC Wales, Newport.
Please visit www.bacd.com for details and to register.