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Who is Leading through Life

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Meet Stew

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Inspirational Speaker, Author, and Virtual CEO; Stew Darling is a decorated, retired British Army Lieutenant Colonel and successful business entrepreneur. 

He shaped a career leading covert military operations all over the globe and now leads businesses to success.  Whether from the luxury of an office or in the harsh, unforgiving environments of Bosnia, Iraq or Afghanistan his leadership was not learned in the lecture theatre but the theatre of war, and latterly of business.   

Great leadership is not a science, it is an art.  An art that is learned but seldom mastered.  From strategic leadership to leadership in combat, Stew has honed his skills and now shares how anyone can become a leader using his Lead through Life Framework. 

Along with a full military career Stew has utilised the Lead through Life Framework as a father, husband and as an employee; evidence that it works at any level.


With over two decades of leadership and mentoring learning in often dangerous environments along with a deep understanding of leadership in the corporate arena Stew now coaches and mentors students, online and 1:1 from across a variety of backgrounds and countries.

"Stew has been invaluable in helping me reach my personal and professional goals, through his focussed and committed approach. I can highly recommend his skills and experience as a mentor. "

Sarah Davy

"Not only did Stew coach me in Leadership skills, he developed my confidence which really helped during training – Lead through Life!!” "

Hamish MacLennan

"I've loved the Lead through Life coaching sessions. I feel a lot more confident and assured in running a business and managing family life. So thank you so much!"

CEO Pencarrow Cabins

"We engaged the services of Stew to speak to our team at our annual planning session. Stew's ability to clearly and effectively deliver his message and connect to our team whilst also challenging their thinking and perceptions was invaluable. Our entire team was totally engaged in the process and everyone gained useful tools that they could then implement in their roles. We then had Stew present to our clients at our monthly workshop session and again, his clear and insightful views and strong presentation skills were valuable to everyone who attended. Stew conveys a strong sense of integrity and his passion for helping people to achieve their goals and potential is infectious. We look forward to working with Stew again in the future and would highly recommend his Lead through Life Framework to anyone wishing to improve their performance and create accountability in their work and personal lives."

Sue Irons

"When I met Stew, I was certain my dream of working in the film industry was never going to happen; I had given up all hope. Within the first 3 months of mentoring I had taken small steps to help me break into the film industry. I started off assisting film producers in Wellington and now am producing my own films for the not-for profit sector. During my mentoring time, Stew assisted me in building my confidence and gaining promotion which lead me to moving into a new role; always focused to getting into the film industry fulltime – I started a job with Screen Wellington. While focusing on the Lead through Life Framework, Stew was always available to assist me to achieve more; always proactive to my needs he mentored me in negotiating, interviewing skills and techniques to manage any challenge (how ever big). His techniques and mentoring come from vast experience in military and business, all of which have made him a great mentor and one that has supported me all the way. "

Alex Glasspool

Our Values

"The man who stands for nothing will fall for anything" — Malcolm X. Values are important because they help us to grow and develop. They help us to create the future we want to experience and the experience we want you to feel as a part of the Lead through Life community. Our decisions are a reflection of our values and beliefs, and they are always directed towards a specific purpose. When we use our values to make decisions, we make a deliberate choice to focus on what is important to us. When values are shared, they build internal cohesion in a group.

This S*&% is too serious to this S*&% to seriously
— GOC 3 (UK) DIV in Suuthern Iraq

The Lead through Life Framework fully embraces the idea; leadership is serious but that shouldn’t mean its not fun.  All interactions with us has an element of silliness.

When you’re brave, you empower others around you to be brave.
— Anon

Too often we think about bravery as confronting the big gnarly challenges in life.  Bravery is also doing the little things and getting started.  80 Summers would not exist without bravery and we are here to help you get the little things done and get moving.

There’s always one more thing you can do to increase your odds of success
— Lt Gen Hal Moore CO 7 Cavalry (Ia Drang Valley)

There is no point in getting started if you are not going to continue.  Success lies in the ability to keep going, even when it is tough and no one seems to care.  While you build your tenacity to Lead through Life; we are here for you. 

Enthusiasm moves the world
— Arthur Balfour

Find your why and the enthusiasm will flow.  Ever noticed that sometimes time drags and other times it goes by so fast.  Living with enthusiasm causes time to fly.  Any time you spend with us or in any of our programmes you will see and feel enthusiasm.


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