Ness Knight is a World Record Setting Adventurer, Explorer, Conservationist, Survivalist, Author & TV Presenter with a penchant for the world’s most dangerous, extreme and remote locations. For over a decade Ness has led expeditions through jungles, deserts, big 5 savannahs and through high altitude mountains.
She has solo crossed the oldest desert in the world with temperatures peaking at 50 degrees C, lost consciousness from heat exhaustion 200 yards from a fresh lion kill, been shot at, traversed remote jungle with no possibility of extraction, kayaked down uncharted white water river with debilitating infections and viruses, survived off of grubs, bugs and tadpoles for days, experienced the dangerous frontlines of the war on rhino poaching, been hunted by hyena, survived seven days in the Taiwan jungle with only the clothes on her back and a machete in hand, studied ancient survival skills with the oldest peoples on Earth, the San Bushmen, run 15 marathons in 15 days, led hard-hitting investigative filming into criminal syndicates in Southern Africa, and cycled across Bolivia with no money.
99% of us are operating at a 40% performance capacity on a daily basis. Our evolutionary instincts to 'pull back' kick in long before our tank is actually empty, because we are wired to conserve energy; we are wired for primitive survival. At the heart of cracking this perceived limit is resilience.
Ness talks through the science and practicalities of rewiring our brains to tap into that unexplored 60% of extra performance capacity, to become part of that 1% of people operating at the next level. Discipline, breaking through pain thresholds (including mental ones) and visualisation are some of the areas cover in this topic.
An explorer and survivalist, film-maker and illicit wildlife trade investigator, Ness, is known for her extreme expeditions through challenging and pressured environments. Her talks are peppered with humour and hair-raising anecdotes.
With a penchant for the world’s most dangerous, unusual and remote locations, her talk delves into the most inspiring tales from journeys to the heart of the Amazon jungle, the frontlines on the war on poaching in Africa, a solo crossing to the desolate and unforgiving Namib desert and a world first swim, all of which have tested her mind and body to their limits.
Ness unveils her most powerful life lessons on decision making under pressure, taking calculated risks in extreme conditions, and recovering from failures to succeed in even greater ventures.
But this does not happen alone. At the core of every remote and major expedition has been the team, it's dynamics, personalities and its ability to perform when facing challenges. Ness’ talk takes a deep dive into how to navigate the complexities that come with this. Making a world class team is a formula that needs crafting, careful attention, and isn’t always immediately obvious.
She regularly leads and motivates teams in pressurised environments, designing the ultimate team building exercises, and giving motivational speeches that inspire teamwork.
When it comes to high performance leadership you have to leave your ego at the table. Lead your team by knowing where you need to draw talent and strengths from.
Ness dives into the topic, explaining that a great leader isn’t the person who pretends to know all, as we cannot know all. A leader is someone who is highly skilled at seeing dynamics, gaps, motivation, the long game and how to pull a well thought out team around them that will, ultimately, get things done.
A part of this is understanding each team member's motivations, challenges and personal goals in order to get the best from them.
“Nothing will kill you faster than complacency” is something Ness has always known when it comes to expeditions. But so, too, is it true for any major project.
Ness has succeeded in endeavours that most thought were impossible, and accredits much of this to the planning and execution of strategies both prior to and during the expeditions. Coming to the table with a comprehensive plan is just half the story. Because no plan survives first contact. Most of us are tripped up by this in the execution stages. Ness walks her audiences through the critical 'stop, assess, recalibrate and execute' process that she implements on the daily during expeditions to ensure success.
Ness is currently filming in Africa, investigating the illicit rhino horn trade, capturing the human stories behind anti-poaching rangers, poachers, kingpins, informers, smugglers and end users. The next stage of the documentary will see her undertaking a 6 week, armed anti-poaching training course in South Africa (where Ness was born) in order to be allowed on the frontlines of the war on poaching alongside veteran rangers.
Ness has worked on conservation projects around the world, including southern Africa, South America, Central America and Europe.
Extreme expeditions comes with extreme risk. Ness is no stranger to this. Moving the needle towards surviving vs perishing can usually be found in understanding the difference between foolish risk and calculated risk, and making sound decisions as to which you are entering into under high pressure scenarios.
We often need to take risks in order to achieve the seemingly impossible. Ness peels back the layers of this process, and showcases how to enforce a team-wide mentality of 'stop, recalibrate, adapt and execute' for successful high-risk management in any environment.
Ness delves into what it takes to push through mental, physical and emotional glass ceilings with anecdotes from her expeditions to the far flung corners of planet Earth. She explains how many paths exist within the course to achieving extraordinary goals. But that if you decide on something, then you must dismiss all possibility of becoming a deserter of your own ambitions.
Ness' solo journeys have been crucial for her own development, too. There is no-one else to rely on except yourself in a life and death environment. You are forced to trust your own decisions and instincts. You cannot lean on others to pull you up, fix you up, or lead you. This is where she learned the importance of true grit and discipline. Master an understanding of yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, under a multitude of scenarios and you will begin to break ahead in your own growth curve.
There is one thing that 99% of us all suffer - the fear of failure. It prevents most of us from even getting to the start lines of our goals and dreams, let alone pushing through to success, but Ness talks through how she has come to understand that every failure, every traumatic event, is in fact a crucial opportunity for intense levelling up of mindset and hard skills.
There is no innovation - no progress - without a willingness to fail.
Ness covers the crucial topics of holding your composure under pressure, laser focusing concentration, goal-setting, adaptability, prioritisation, finding long-term drive and emotion management.