Business lessons from Kokoda
I knew I would learn a lot about myself from walking Kokoda but I never expected the friendships and the lessons that I got and continue to get from the experience.
Second day in, one of our group died in front of us, so quick, so unexpected and so young.. that was a life changing experience to be part of. With Chris dying before our eyes it made me realise that life is short and what am I doing to ensure I am getting the most from my life?
I know I need to get a better balance to my life… my business is not the be all and end all. I need to do some things for me as part of the journey. I need to do some things for others too.
I feel good that I have done my dreams list and I think I really need to concentrate on getting the things done on the list that are the most important to me first, because you really don’t know what is round the corner. I would hate to die before I experienced what it was like to own a Fiat Dino Spider 2.4 and to have kids.
I learnt the importance of mateship. When the chips are down or the going gets tough you rely on your mates to be there to help you, to encourage you and to make sure you are staying hydrated. It is so important to invest time in nurturing relationships so you will be the one who will be there to help out your mates should they ever need it. I am glad that Tanya and I could help comfort Darren at a time he needed it most. Sometimes life seems so surreal.
We have a bond with our fellow trekker that is hard to explain. We have suffered the same hardships, experiences and fun times. We also had a sense of what it was like for the diggers who had been in these parts all those years before.
It was your mate that was there who really were like family to you… and you fought for them like they were your family. I can’t help but wonder is this the ‘edge’ the Australians had over the Japanese in the war?
I found the Kokoda track is an analogy for business. There are many ups and downs, highs and lows, there are hills that you seem to walk up forever, never getting to the top, and just when you think you can’t continue on this way, you find the drive and you make it. What a feeling.
You have people around you that are there to help you out, carrying things for you just like suppliers, they are the people you rely on to get the job done, there is no way you could make it without their help. But they have to be offering you the right type of help, I know sometimes in business there are people who are suppost to be helping you that are not in fact helping. It would be like having a porter who you were carrying!
There are things that happen unexpectedly that no matter how much planning, testing and preparation you do, they just happen. They are challenges that have no reason for appearing but challenge our thinking and question our reasoning for doing things. Finishing the track is like achieving a business goal you have set for yourself… you have outlined exactly in your mind what it is you want to achieve, you do the work that is required to set you up for the goal and then you start on the tasks you need to do each day in order to make it to the end. The end is in site and you are in pain… it is so easy to just stop and stay where you are, not making it to the end, a lot of people would give in at this stage. I realised that with enough mental strength and enough encouragement from the people around you, you can achieve anything. Making it into Kokoda was the most amazing feeling. Kids running out yelling, Welcome to Kokoda…. Welcome to Kokoda…. a priceless moment and that is what it feels like to achieve a goal.
I believe that there is more out there than that can be explained. I know that in the emotion of the dawn service on Anzac Aay in Menari there were fire flies buzzing around over the gully near where we were standing. It was almost like they represented the spirits of the men that had died on the track, remembering the day with us. As the last post was being played and the dawn was breaking they started to fade. I didn’t see any fire flies again until we were walking into Kokoda. We had been walking for 13 hours and the pressure on my feet was extremely painful and had been for the last 6 hours! I was talking to anyone who would listen about anything to keep my mind off the pain. I didn’t think the pain in my feet could get any worse and believe it or not, there was comfort in that! I was really starting to dig in deep to my mental side to keep on trekking though the now darkness when I saw the fire flies again. Was this encouragement to keep on going? I took it as a sign and said over and over to myself what I am going through is nothing compared to what had been endured on this track before me. You do find the strength and keep on going, the goal becomes the most important thing in the world and in the end you almost have tunnel vision on succeeding.
I felt incredibly liberated while on the track as I didn’t take my phone, not that it would have worked anyway and I didn’t even wear a watch. I literally lost track of time and even what day it was. But you know what, it really didn’t matter!
I often wonder if we over complicate our lives. We get so hung up on keeping up with others that it is easy to loose track of what is really important to us. We really start to worry what others think of us and we hold onto little things. I learnt life is too short to be worried about these things.
We can’t forget what it is to dream. What can we do with our life? What difference can we make to someone?, to a group of people?. The men that fought for what we enjoy today, the men whos’ lives were cut short by war, I wonder if they had the chance to really dream? Did they dream that they could make a difference to the next generation? did they have any level of understanding of the impact they made? to their family and to the people who retrace the steps that they took. Sometimes I don’t think we are tough enough anymore, we are soft, it is so easy to give up, someone else will take over from where we left off.
There are always two sides to things and we get the chance to decide on what we will focus on. The negative or the positive. I have realised that I have the chance to make a decision, therefore I will endeavour to focus on the positive side, things will happen for a reason, the unexpected will occur and that is something that I will deal with when it happens. I know that there will be challenges like Kokoda that will pop up from time to time and I know that with enough planning, support and mateship, anything is possible.
Yours in Design