Thursday, 28 April 2011

Lessons from the Past

Here in New Zealand this year the recent Easter period has coincided with Anzac Day.  Anzac Day is the day we remember those New Zealanders and Australians who lost their lives serving their country in military conflicts ranging from the Boer War to Afghanistan.

During a wet and miserable weekend I spent a lot of time watching commemorative programmes on television.  I'm not usually overtly interested in military matters but it was interesting and moving to hear the stories of famous battles and events.  One channel throughout Anzac Day featured brief bios on all the New Zealanders who had won the Victoria Cross, the Commonwealth's highest and rarest award for bravery.

What has all this got to do with work, retirement and life changes?  Well, I couldn't help but notice two things.  One was the age of many of the servicemen and women featured who had done amazing things.  Usually they were aged in their early twenties.  They had considerable responsibility placed upon them, often leading many other troops, and having to inspire their subordinates, while making life and death decisions.  Despite their hugely different personal backgrounds, most of them rose to the challenge magnificently. Secondly, almost all of them were at the outbreak of war thrust into roles that were new and foreign to them.  Very few of them had spent years learning to be a soldier, sailor or airman.  One day they were working in an office or on the farm, a few weeks later they might be on the battlefield expecting to display the basic skills of a soldier.  When their country required them to step up and acquire new skills and take on a new role they did so, however far removed it might have been from their background and past experiences.  Of course in times of civil emergency, such as earthquakes, we often see the same thing.

Doesn't it make you think how relatively easy it should be for intelligent, well educated professionals in a time of peace, who have the luxury of being able to choose their own timetable to change direction, and who can properly plan their own life-style changes - to go ahead and make those changes?

Perhaps we should be inspired by our heroes and realise that if we have to, or want to badly enough, we can measure up and win our own life battles and bring about much needed changes.

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