SPUR OF THE MOMENT DECISION

A life-changing lesson I learnt in 1970 was that spur of the moment decisions make life interesting and rewarding.
It was Christmas Eve. I had been living in Canberra for three months, having migrated there from Brisbane at the age of 20, together with thousands of other people of similar age in response to a major recruitment drive to entice people from all over Australia to join the Commonwealth Public Service.
About lunch time my boss asked why I wasn’t going home for Christmas. The idea hadn’t crossed my mind as I had only arrived in October. He pointed out that by taking a couple of days leave I could have the week off from Christmas to New Year. His suggestion started me thinking, “I could hitch-hike to Hervey Bay today and then fly back on New Years Day.”
Without giving myself time to rationalise the wisdom of the idea any further, I got on the phone to ANSETT or TAA (the two domestic airlines at the time) and enquired about the cost of a flight from Maryborough to Canberra. It was $38.60, so I made the booking and by 4pm I was standing on Northbourne Avenue with my thumb out.
Hitch-hiking was a fairly acceptable practice in those days. My first lift came along within half an hour and I can’t recall having to wait much longer than that for any of the subsequent lifts. I think there were about six altogether. I can still remember some of the more colourful characters I met on this little adventure. Perhaps the most entertaining encounter happened at about 2am in Newcastle. An FC Holden station wagon (about 1958-60 model), with four young guys who looked like they had just come from the Woodstock music festival, pulled up beside me. One was wearing a Bob Dylan style hat.

They told me how they had just bought the car for fifty bucks and included in the deal was a four gallon drum of sump oil. We stopped every few hundred kms to top up the engine with a coke bottle full of this “black syrup”. This regular servicing kept the machine going and they got me all the way to the outskirts of Brisbane around mid morning the next day.
By about 10pm Christmas Day, I arrived at Hervey Bay where my family were having their annual holiday. The emotional impact of my unexpected arrival made the whole exercise worthwhile.
Four weeks later, I commenced National Service with recruit training in Wagga. The following Christmas Day I was in Vietnam, so I was pleased that I had made that particular spur of the moment decision on this occasion. Looking back I can see that it prepared me for some of the more adventurous chapters of life which were to follow.

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Spur of the moment decisions

SPUR OF THE MOMENT DECISIONS

A life-changing lesson I learnt in 1970 was that spur of the moment decisions make life interesting and rewarding.

It was Christmas Eve. I had been living in Canberra for three months, having migrated there from Brisbane at the age of 20, together with thousands of other people of similar age in response to a major recruitment drive to entice people from all over Australia to join the Commonwealth Public Service.

About lunch time my boss asked why I wasn’t going home for Christmas. The idea hadn’t crossed my mind as I had only arrived in October. He pointed out that by taking a couple of days leave I could have the week off from Christmas to New Year. His suggestion started me thinking, “I could hitch-hike to Hervey Bay today and then fly back on New Years Day.”

Without giving myself time to rationalise the wisdom of the idea any further, I got on the phone to ANSETT or TAA (the two domestic airlines at the time) and enquired about the cost of a flight from Maryborough to Canberra. It was $38.60, so I made the booking and by 4pm I was standing on Northbourne Avenue with my thumb out.

Hitch-hiking was a fairly acceptable practice in those days. My first lift came along within half an hour and I can’t recall having to wait much longer than that for any of the subsequent lifts. I think there were about six altogether. I can still remember some of the more colourful characters I met on this little adventure. Perhaps the most entertaining encounter happened at about 2am in Newcastle. An FC Holden station wagon (about 1958-60 model), with four young guys who looked like they had just come from the Woodstock music festival, pulled up beside me. One was wearing a Bob Dylan style hat.

They told me how they had just bought the car for fifty bucks and included in the deal was a four gallon drum of sump oil. We stopped every few hundred kms to top up the engine with a coke bottle full of this “black syrup”.  This regular servicing kept the machine going and they got me all the way to the outskirts of Brisbane around mid morning the next day.

By about 10pm Christmas Day, I arrived at Hervey Bay where my family were having their annual holiday. The emotional impact of my unexpected arrival made the whole exercise worthwhile.

Four weeks later, I commenced National Service with recruit training in Wagga. The following Christmas Day I was in Vietnam, so I was pleased that I had made that particular spur of the moment decision on this occasion. Looking back I can see that it prepared me for some of the more adventurous chapters of life which were to follow.

 

 

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FATHER – SON RELATIONSHIPS

There are few things I find more uplifting than observing great quality father-son relationships.
I recently attended the memorial service for an old friend. Part of the eulogy, which was compiled by his daughter, included the following words which she recalled from her father’s reflections on his childhood experiences with his own father.

“Mum and Dad were wonderful parents, something we took for granted at the time. We never went cold or hungry in the wonderful house that Dad built.

My Dad was and still is my hero. To ensure we had what we needed, he worked as a baker (which was his trade) at night and, with as little as three hours sleep, went to work in the Railways Blacksmith Shop as the ‘blacksmith striker’. This involved swinging a large sledgehammer all day. On the weekends, he would set up to 80 rabbit traps and sell the rabbits. How he managed to maintain this effort over many years is still a wonder to me.

From when I was about the age of four, Dad would take me to the bake house with him, where he used to set me up on the flour stack to sleep. I remember on many occasions watching him through sleepy eyes firing up the huge wood oven, mixing the dough and the baking the bread.

He took me trapping with him, taught me bush craft and how to shoot with his 22 calibre Mauser rifle.

He was prepared to do all these things to ensure that Mum and us kids had what we needed.”

As I listened, with tears rolling down my cheeks, I thought about how effectively youth crime, domestic violence, and general family dysfunction could be reduced in Australia, if more boys grew up experiencing this quality of love, role modeling and mentoring from their fathers.
I am very thankful for the one I was privileged to have.

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THE BEST GARBAGE COLLECTOR

THE BEST GARBAGE COLLECTOR
Occasionally during a brief encounter I have with someone whom I’ll probably never see again, I hear a statement that I want to hold on to.
Last week my wife and I attended a function to launch a new line of products for my daughter’s fashion business. At one stage during the proceedings, I walked outside to get some fresh air and got into a conversation with a young guy who had been involved in preparing a group of girls to model the clothes and perform a dance routine. In the middle of the conversation he said, “I LOVE WHAT I DO”, referring to his career in dancing and teaching dancing.

He then went on to tell me how he wasn’t sure how his father would feel about him embarking on a career path like this, but was greatly encouraged by his father’s response which was something like, “It doesn’t matter to me what you do, but whatever you do, BE THE BEST AT IT YOU CAN BE. Even if you wanted to be a garbage collector, be the best garbage collector you can be.”

He reminded me of the following passage I read in Bear Grylls’ book A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR LIFE:
“Ask yourself what you would do if you didn’t need the money. Ask yourself what really excites you. Ask what would inspire you to keep going long after most people would quit. Find those answers and therein lies your dream. We all have our personal Everest, and if we follow its calling, then that is when life truly becomes an adventure. ”

The ultimate career is one that pays you the income you need, and also combines your passions with your gifts/skills/talents/natural abilities.

This is not always possible when raising a family and your highest priority has to be providing a home and education, and meeting every expense associated with family life. However there will always be a way to exercise a passion at some level without having access to huge amounts of finance and resources (perhaps in a totally voluntary capacity for the time being).

We may have to wait until the dust settles after children have grown up and mortgages are more under control or paid out before it is possible to transition a higher allocation of time and resources to our passions. I am thankful that, at the age of 65, I have eventually arrived at that particular chapter of life, and am still fit and healthy enough to focus more on the activities which fit into the description of dreams in the above quoted extract. A couple of these include: a strategy which I have been planning for supporting troubled youth; and teaching refugees to swim.

The important thing is that we don’t take our dreams to the grave, (better late than never) because many people can benefit from them. The world needs us to exercise our passions, make our dreams become reality, and BE THE BEST THAT WE CAN BE at whatever we choose to do.

Bob Helyar

http://www.answers4life.com.au

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Potential of Mentoring

Power of Mentoring
Last week I resigned from my position in the Queensland State Government to end a 29 year career in various positions. At the age of nearly 65, I decided to make the move to pursue some dreams which have been growing in me for some time. There is one in particular I’ll share as a blog post, as it has some relation to previous items.
In August 2013 I attended a public Crime Prevention Seminar at a campus of one of the local universities. As I listened to the various presentations about the diverse range of crimes regularly occurring in our city, I made the assumption that many teenage offenders would be from family situations where there is an absence of strong adult role models. That assumption led to thoughts about the potential of mentoring to turn the situation around.
The next day I contacted a friend who is the CEO of one of the local non-government organisations which provides a variety of youth support services. I asked her if she knew of any youth mentoring services in the area. One of her team emailed me the following day with details of an organisation which recruits and trains mentors to support multicultural youth at risk. I put my hand up and subsequently spent most of my Saturday mornings last year providing some encouragement and guidance to a young guy from Afghanistan.
It was an extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience for a number of reasons, including being introduced to many of the great qualities of Afghan culture. However, the greatest benefit for me was developing an increasing belief that mentoring would have to be one of the most cost effective, untapped resources in the nation to impact positively on the future of many young people who are at risk of entering adulthood with limited aspirations, and easily influenced to follow unproductive, self-destructive paths (including criminal activity and developing potentially addictive habits).
So, the goal of my dream is to establish an effective platform from which I can encourage/inspire/motivate 100,000 Australians to each informally mentor one young person who is struggling with thoughts of hopelessness, worthlessness and powerlessness. I know this sounds unrealistically ambitious, but as the old saying goes, “If you aim for the stars, you will have a chance of reaching the moon”, (or something like that). Already I can visualise how it could be achieved. 100,000 is less than 1% of Australia’s working age population.
The more I think about it, the more ideas keep emerging. By sharing the dream, I’m making myself accountable to embrace it. There is a difference between feeling strongly about something and being passionate about it. Passion compels you to take action.
I will look forward to being able to provide an update of significant progress in six months. Hold me to it!
I would welcome information from anyone about the effectiveness of youth mentoring programs across the globe.
Cheers
Bob Helyar

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THE CHINS AND DIPS CLUB

27 December 2014 – today I woke up with an idea to start a youth club called “The Chins and Dips Club”. It has evolved out of an accumulation of thoughts I’ve been entertaining over the past year.

In my previous blog (November 2014) I mentioned a personal dream to be involved in raising up an army of mentors who have a heart to see troubled youth rise above their circumstances and embrace big dreams.

The thoughts I woke up with this morning are about a strategy to implement that dream.

The idea is to start a club which has an overall focus on bringing young guys together to encourage each other to embrace healthy living, aim for goals which are greater than they have previously considered possible in all areas of life, and visualise themselves achieving those goals.

The plan is to start with a basic set of physical exercises that have the potential to significantly transform their muscle and strength development, so that they will experience the power of disciplined commitment that can then transfer to other areas of life.

Here is an outline of what has come to mind so far, and how the concept would look.

1. Youth of all levels of physical development and self confidence would be invited to join the club.

2. Three basic exercises (chin ups, pull ups and dips) will be used to enable members to make significant achievements in their muscle and strength development. They are body weight exercises which require very simple, inexpensive equipment which can easily be set up in back yards or garages. The exercises can be modified with various degrees of partial support, so that anyone can establish a comfortable starting point.

3. Every new member will be congratulated by all existing members for taking the step to join, no matter how limited his physical strength or level of self confidence is at the time of joining. He will be encouraged by all members to commence a process of strength development, and will be honoured for each step of development he achieves, no matter how small it may be.

4. An important rule is that no one will ever make humiliating, or devaluing comments about the level of development of another member.

5. Youth of all cultural backgrounds, race and religion will be welcome and respected.

Here are some of the outcomes I hope to see.

1. Youth mentoring youth to achieve personal development.

2. Youth taking a firm stand against bullying, and instead welcoming the opportunity to encourage and support others who lack self esteem and confidence.

3. Youth developing a passion for physical, mental and spiritual health.

4. Youth overcoming self-limiting mindsets.

5. Youth identifying the power of disciplined commitment to achieve rewarding results in their physical development, which will then motivate them to apply the same level of commitment to other areas of life (education, careers, relationships etc).

6. Youth developing strong bonds of friendship, feeling confident that they can rely on others to support and encourage them when they are struggling with any area of life.

7. Youth developing respect for others of all cultures, races and religions.

8. Youth actively participating in group discussions, where individuals are excited about sharing their personal development experiences.

Part of my motivation to do this comes from my own experiences of seeing myself as a very skinny, weak looking teenager fifty years ago, and the awareness now of how that impacted negatively on my overall self esteem, and general belief in my physical and sporting ability.

So, what is the next step?

As one of my young mates would say, “THEN LET’S DO IT.”

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Give and it will be given to you

Last year I signed up with an organisation which recruits and trains mentors to support young people from multicultural backgrounds, some of whom came to Australia as unaccompanied minors.

I made a commitment to be linked with a young man from Afghanistan for a year, with the plan of investing some positive influence and encouragement into his life. What I didn’t realise at the time was how much I would receive from the arrangement.

Here are some of the priceless benefits that have come my way through my involvement in the mentoring program.

1. A strong, lasting friendship. We seemed to bond and find plenty of common ground from our initial introduction, and have enjoyed each other’s company ever since. We’ve had a lot of fun and laughs, and done some mad things like jumping of a 6 meter cliff into an old quarry full of water. Amidst all this there have been plenty of deep and meaningful discussions about many aspects of life, and we’ve shared our dreams and challenges.
2. Powerful cultural experience. He and his friends have introduced me to many of the great qualities of Afghan culture, which led me to read a couple of books on the subject, and to keep informed of the political developments impacting on the Hazara people group in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
3. Inspiration. Through being associated with a young man who has demonstrated amazing courage and determination in response to challenges in life, which are beyond the imagination of most Australians, I am personally challenged to more carefully analyse my own priorities and my responses to comparatively smaller disappointments.
4. Insight. I’ve grown in the belief that there is enormous potential power in mentoring to make a positive impact on the lives of young people who are struggling with any aspect of life.
5. A collection of ideas. I’ve come up with an increasing accumulation of ideas from my experience over the past year, for effective mentoring. For example, the mentoring role needs to be as non-clinical as possible. It should be more of an enjoyable, inspiring, supportive friend relationship which makes the statement: “I believe in you; I care about you; I enjoy spending time with you; I welcome the opportunity to support and encourage you to rise up to levels beyond what you have been able to visualise for yourself.” Also, in the ideal mentoring relationship, both mentor and mentee should find plenty to laugh about, and have the freedom to express any emotions without embarrassment.
6. Passion. I have a strong dream growing in me to be involved in raising up an army of mentors who have a heart to see troubled youth rise above their circumstances and embrace big dreams.

There is a verse in the New Testament which says, “Give and it will be give to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6: 38)

The reality of that verse has certainly been reinforced for me through this mentoring experience.
Although my friend frequently thanks me for the encouragement I have given him, I feel that I have received far more than I have given.

To my young friend who has travelled the journey with me, I would say, “Thanks mate for a great year. I look forward to keeping in touch and hearing about your progress from here on.”

Bob Helyar

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