Back to school (and NOT the flight variety!)

Just over a week ago I found myself back at school, Nambour Christian College (NCC), staring back at my old teachers and taking in the all too familiar surroundings that had been a core part of my life for 13 years, it was almost like I hadn’t left.

Returning back to school was such a strange feeling, but to be there by choice was an interesting turn of events. Not to say that I hated school, but at times it was safe to say that I would have preferred to be in a plane soaring 500ft above the beautiful beaches of the Sunshine Coast.

Fortunately I would be in and out in a matter of hours, but this visit to NCC was one that I had been anticipating since launching Wings Around the World (WATW), it was the chance to speak with young people who not that long ago were my peers and who, like me, have a head full of dreams and aspirations.

Like anything you always feel more comfortable when things are familiar, so I found it a little ironic that I was more at ease speaking to an audience of students I had known before I graduated about stepping out of your comfort zone to achieve your dreams. Hopefully this would be the first of many youth audiences I would have the privilege to share my message with.

The basis of making every challenge a reality is the need to set goals, so I centered my chat with years 10 and 11 to think about setting mid to long term goals. There is nothing new or earth shattering about setting goals, but students often have this consistently drilled into them at school by teachers, and so I’m confident that I aptly showed them the real world application of goal setting, and hopefully it resonated with the students I spoke to.

While WATW is the perfect example of using goals to achieve a plan, it’s also a representation of how the best thought out plans (or so we would like to think – there’s always room for improvement!) can be tested by unexpected developments. In those scenarios it’s important to have a good team, be adaptable and remember that it’s those setbacks that are the foundations to success…

…It’s not so different to the challenges faced in the classroom.

But it isn’t just my own experiences that have taught me these lessons. Look back through history and some of the most respected names faced career-defining setbacks. There were 27 publishers who rejected Dr Seuss’s first book; Henry Ford declared bankruptcy on five occasions before the Ford Motor Company found first gear. The challenge in life isn’t finding the perfect plan, it’s having the tenacity coupled with a strong dose of humility to embrace and learn from your setbacks. There will be detractors along the way, but with the willingness and right team, high goals can be achieved – sometimes it just takes a little belief.

So I talked to these young adults who are much like me. Inherently we are all the same, but it’s how we approach our goals and subsequent challenges that will define our differences. Taking a dream and planning how to achieve it is the first step. Finding the right team, and a few positive supporters is the next step; the power of communal success is phenomenal.

In school, like in a world record flight challenge, the strongest people recognize that goals can only be achieved with the right planning, the right team/support network and the right attitude.

I’m pleased to say that I walked away feeling like I had done my part. My story struck a chord with the audience, if the scheduled question time was anything to go by. What was meant to be a few minutes soon extended to 20 minutes and more questions than I could keep up with!

Importantly, this wasn’t just about me telling my story so far. This opportunity was a learning experience for me just as much as it was the students, especially during question time. I hope this is the first of many chances I get to communicate my message with school students.

– Lachie