Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Investing In Your Education!

Habitual Learning

Most people that know me, know that I am addicted to reading and listening to educational materials. For the past 10 years I have been listening to educational programs in my car, when I am walking or just waiting for an appointment at the doctors or dentist. In fact I like it when they are running late as this gives me more time to stop and listen to some great stuff. Over the years I have had a walk-man, an iPod shuffle to an iPod touch and an iPhone. I have it on my computer and in the office, it is everywhere.  

I wasn't always a strong reader, in fact i used to have to read a book many times to be able to absorb the information but it never stopped me. I recall reading paragraph over and over again. I also remember many years ago having one of Steven Covey book and I had to read it with a Dictionary next to me as i didn't know the meaning of many words in the book so it took me months to read. Now I can read a book in a day or two.
I recall last year I had a strong desire to be by the sea so I took myself and my book to the Ocean and stood in the water reading and I was in heaven, i felt like I had the best of both worlds at my fingertips.

I have listened to some of the audios that I have more than 20 times. Jim Rohn has a seminar that was held in 2004 and I have continued to learn from him for the past 10 years. One of the great lessons he taught me was to listen to it all. Listen to Gandhi and Hitler and then make up your own mind on what you learn from them. Over the years I have built up a library of many great Philosophers to one hit wonders, as my father would call them. I read as much as I can and then decide what to take from each one and apply this to my life but only if this is aligned with my values and Goals.  

Many years ago when I was learning about NLP(neuro linguistic programming), I though I was learning too slowly and was frustrated and fearful I was never going to get it. Then one day I realised everything clicked and I found myself using this tool effectively and often unconsciously. Now I understand that I am learning as much as I can in the time that I need to and it all comes into your consciousness at the right time. One thing is for sure, we never stop learning. As Tony Robbins once said "if you aren't growing you are dying, just like a tree"

Formal Education + Self education

Formal Education is a necessity of life. If we want to progress in our Career formal skills can provide opportunities or if we need to enhance skills as technology changes and the needs of the organisation change. Just look at marketing for example, this has changed dramatically over the past 10 years and more so in the past 5 years. How marketing was done 10 years ago doesn't work today.We can reach more people in less time that 10 years ago.

Formal education such as Traineeships and Apprenticeships allow us to get a foot in the door of the industry we want to explore in our early years or even later on in life when we want a career change. These opportunities allow us to earn at the same time as learning and obtaining a Formal education in Vocational Education and Training. Self education is where we educate yourself by identifying their is something we don't know and researching how to apply this in real life.

If you look at Entrepreneurs for example you will see that they are all self educated and had very little formal education. Take a look at Richard Branson, Jim Rohn, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Henry Ford. They all dropped out of College or didn't even go to College. They have all become successful but I can assure you they certainly worked hard on their self education and surounding themselves with the right people.

Education makes you wealthy?

Recently I went to PNG to trek Kokoda and I learned that they choose one child to go to school and get an education as it is not affordable to send all children to school. Just one child out of 2 or 4 children gets an opportunity to have an education....this was a great shock and also a realisation as to how fortunate we are.  Its just normal for us all to go to school and get an education. Its normal for us to have constant access to books. Lets face it how much does a library card cost??......that's right its FREE!!

I recall reading in Richard Branson's Biography about a lady who wanted to borrow $300 to buy a sewing machine and she promised to pay him back. She was an educated Business Woman who saw an opportunity and took it with both hands. Now Richard didn't think he would see the money ever again but three years later when he visited that village again, he got the money back. They were waiting for him to return the money and thank him for his kindness. The lady had built up her business and employed a number of staff and she was thriving.

My own personal experience has been a true testament to this. When I wasn't educating myself it was costing me my future. It was costing me as a Parent and it was costing me as an Entrepreneur. When I wasn't reading, I wasn't learning, I was making mistakes and didn't have any leverage to learn from them. Once I understood what self education could do for me I never stopped reading, listening and learning.

I am currently listening to The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy, this is great self education program that also has access to some supporting documents to help you implement the learning.

and remember, knowledge is not power it is potential power.

Till next time D

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Journey to Kokoda [Part 2]

Day 5 – Brigade Hill to Bombers Camp

We were up for an 8 hour day and changed our direction slightly to end up at Bombers Camp where we would be the only trekking group to staying there for the night. We were told that swamp lands were on the agenda today, little did we know how much swamp was coming, or should I say how many hours of swamp. It was always the unknown and that was part of the journey of being in the moment and seeing some of the most beautiful scenery, sunsets and people. We are heading off to Efogi to see the last surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy and stop for lunch. I recall the last part of the walk before lunch being so very hot and I was really struggling to walk we seemed to be going up and up and up in a winding path of red dirt and heat. When we arrived at the outskirts of Efogi we all sat under a tree and cooled off. I recall seeing Francis my porter looking very tired and hot. He cooled off under the running water and then he went off to rest while the rest of us went into the village to meet the last surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy. 

We all had photos and just listened to the stories that his Nephew told while he briefly spoke about his experience. The Fuzzy Wuzzy is said to be 106 and he was covered in medals and very proud. I remember him grabbing my hand and shaking it. He looks very fragile but happy and proud to be able to share his experience with many generations. I had thoughts of my grandchildren and when they are at school learning about the war they will have a lovely story of their Nanna and her trip to Kokoda. It was a very special moment and a great memory to have created.
We had lunch in the village and they made dumplings, lunch was nice but I had this uneasy feeling about eating too much as I knew we had a big climb to go. I was right; it was not a good idea to eat to much as lots of the boys found it very hard going walking up Mt Bellamy with dumplings aboard. As we head off up Mt Bellamy where they use to meet to transfer the post its 2190m above sea level so you can imagine how much climbing we will do. It is said that it was the mid-point so they would meet and swap the mail over and return to deliver to the soldiers. It was the highest point on the trip and was very cool, even though you are sweating it is a cold seat and I have to say a bit of a relief.
Plans had to change slightly as the other group was going to our planned camping spot, so Bill decided to take up to his favorite place Bombers Camp. After walking for what seemed like forever we arrived at the camp to find the most picturesque place I had seem yet. It was beautifully manicured with a lovely creek flowing through. Francis set my tent up right near a flower bed and I just sat in awe and wonder at this place in the middle of nowhere. Then the news came, one of the little huts on the other side had a hot shower, yep Hot running water, all they had to do was start the fire and I would have a hot shower in private without my clothes on….I was excited. After my shower I felt a little more feminine and clean to say the least.

Day 6 - Bombers Camp to Eora Creek

Waking up at Bombers Camp was wonderful, it was so beautiful and peaceful and you could hear birds and running water. Then breakfast came and it was freshly baked Banana bread, in the jungle, like how did they do this? Without being rude or unsociable I wanted to sit outside and eat breakfast as the sun was rising and the air was so crisp. It was just stunning, there was a mist over the stream and the smell of banana bread was all consuming.
After we went to look at the bomb site and the plane propeller I decided it was time to go to the toilet before heading off for the day. I am not sure if I mentioned this before but on this trip I would have paid anything to be a boy. As they just went in the bush for the most part. Anyway every time I went to the bathroom I had to take my trusty toilet buddy Bill and he would keep a watch for me so no one walked in on me and I was safe do my business. On this particular morning I was off to the little toilet hut and as you can imagine there is no sitting, just squatting and coordinating wipes and pants so you don’t touch anything or fall in. I have just finished zipping up my pants and cleaning my hands with wipes when I go to step over the hole and the floor collapses out from under me… there is no way I am falling in the shitter!!!, so I grabbed onto the very first pole I could and the floor fell in and I am hanging on for dear life… this point I scream and Bill say “ are you ok” I stated that I am not and need help. Bill then replied “Are you decent?” and all I could say was “Does it F%#@&?& matter?’ yes I was decent, and they all came running. As you would imagine I was very shaken, but relieved that I didn’t fall in the shitter…phew!!!. They got me out and I had a bit of a gash in my leg and a hand full of splinters and some grazes on my arms……It was not one of my most graceful moments but we managed to laugh about it later on. I was cleaned up with disinfectant and bandaged up ready to trek out. The boys didn’t know whether to laugh or not, but I am sure if it was one of them they would have pissed themselves laughing in no time. I often look at the scar on my leg with pride, let’s face it no one has to know it’s from the toilet. I call it my bravery scar…
After another long day and a bit of a limp I was pumping myself with antibiotics as there was no way I am going home…I am here to finish this wound or not. We arrived at Eora Creek which was Sia’s family’s land (Trek Master) and we got the most beautiful camp spot right on the river, running with rapids and it was amazing, every camp seemed to get more beautiful than the last. I went straight into the water to clean up and get my wound clean and wrapped again. The water was like ice, it took your breath away but you loved the feeling of the water on your skin, well the parts that were exposed. We sat on a rock with a fire and at popcorn. I showed Sia how to play snap and we just enjoyed the afternoon and reflected on the journey to here. 

Day 7 – Eora Creek to Isurava Memorial site

Leaving Eora Creek was sad as it was such a beautiful place and so hidden in between mountains, you could hide there forever. As we crossed the first river we head straight up the side of another mountain. By this stage of the trip I am getting a little slower and wearier each day. I still feel very positive and have energy to keep going but I know I am a little slower. As usual I headed out first with a couple of general porters and Francis. I remember Francis telling me about things we see along the way and I always told his when I could hear the Owls early in the morning. When we set out Sia was with us and he said to me “No falls and No tears today Donna” I said that sounds like a great plan but I can’t promise anything other than to do my best. I feel like I am savoring every moment as I know we are nearing the end of the journey and part of me doesn’t want it to end.
Arriving at Alola village after a big walk up a massive hill (again) their was a shower on the hill with the most amazing view for what seemed like forever across the mountains. It was cool water and very refreshing. I walked into the village about 10 minutes ahead of the rest and the kids all greeted me. I think I ate three bananas before anyone arrived. The little girl in the photo just loved me taking pictures of her and showing her.
We had a very early lunch at Alola village and were taken up the hill to a museum which was filled with memorabilia from the war, there were guns and grenades and ammunition
Just prior to arriving at Isurava we saw some memorial plaques off one of the Bissett brothers and listened to the stories of their bravery and the few hours together before Tom dies in his brothers arms.  We also hear the story of Surgeons rock where they assessed the soldiers and performed amputation’s to save the soldiers’ lives. It was very confronting to hear what really happens at certain points along the trip.
Walking into Isurava was a great feeling and a big relief. This was definitely a milestone on the journey and we arrived early in the afternoon which gave us time to relax and clean up. We went down to the memorial site with the other group of Kokoda Spirit trekkers and had a service. It was so emotional to hear the stories and sing with the other group. We heard poetry and acknowledged the fallen soldiers. Rueben sang and played the guitar and then all the porters sang their national Anthem and we sang the Australian National Anthem.
All the boys found beers and cigarettes, what an eventful night of singing. No stars in this group I can assure you!!!
After the service we went back to the camp site and I was asked if I would lay a wreath on behalf of all the trekkers. I felt so honoured to be given the opportunity and it is a moment I will never forget. The next morning was 4am start for the main service and then we were staying for the second service. This is where we got to meet and shake the hand of 4 amazing soldiers who were part of the 39th Battalion.  These men played an enormous role in the war and defending Kokoda. This was one of those moments where you watch these men in admiration and wonder, how they did what they did and survived both physically and mentally. 

Day 8 – Isurava to Hoi

After all the formalities it was back to plodding one step at a time. I often remembered along the trek what Jock taught me and that was to plod, never stop just slow down and keep plodding, one foot in front of the other and at times one foot next to the other. I recall plodding along and feeling very smug. I felt like I had done it, I have done the Kokoda trek…., now realistically I knew I was still a day away but something inside me knew I was going to make it. We were heading off to Deniki for lunch before stopping at Hoi for our last night. As I was walking I was feeling great. It was mostly downhill so I was going pretty quickly and walked passed a running stream and then SPLAT…….I fell flat on my face, almost smashed my face into a rock. I had my arms hit the rocks. And I literally went down like a bag of shit. I remember one of the boys coming up to me later and said “that fall was a 10! We had lunch at Deniki and then 40 minutes to Hoi and that meant a wash in the river and a restful afternoon. We were also promised a feast, what a feast we had, great food, stories and thanking all the Porters and guides and especially the cook.

Day 9 – Hoi to Kokoda

Up before the crack of dawn and its still dark and we are getting ready for our short walk into Kokoda. We are all excited and relieved that we are really at the end, we made it! The walk is like a stroll it was a little scary in the dark as we never trekked out in the dark this entire trip. But we had a plane to catch and for the boys they had beers to drink.
We walked through Kokoda Village and it was a very different feel to being out in the villages. It was almost like being back at Port Moresby, which was not nice at all. Our plane arrived as soon as we got to the Airstrip and half of the group were off to the Airport. What was scary is how close the planes fly next to each other in what seems like a race. I recall saying to Bill "I didn’t just survive Kokoda to die in a plane crash"…lol
Back at the Hotel and it was 9.50am and the bar wasn’t open for another 10 minutes. We all smelt really bad and by 10.30 we were eating Burgers and Chips and drinking beer, yes including me.
Even after 3 months I am still in awe and wonder about this entire journey, the experiences and the total determination I had to succeed. I remember getting our certificates and we all reflected on the trip and some of the boys told me they were not sure I was going to make it but I just kept going. I know inside me I would never have given up and I was determined to make it to the end, even if I had to crawl.

I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Porters who kept us safe and also to Kokoda Spirit for an experience of a lifetime. Thank you Francis for your care and concern for my safety each and every step i made. I would not have been able to do this without my Francis, he had my back. 

If you have Kokoda on your Bucket list make sure you do it or you may just wonder for the rest of your life what if ?????