Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mr Earthmover.

Many years ago, in the prime of his working life, my friend and his wife decided that farming was not the way they wanted to end their lives and so sold the farm and decided to do something else. Initially they decided to buy a caravan and work there way around Australia for a few years. This soon wore a bit thin and they returned to their hometown and pondered his next career move.

Being a little mechanical minded and loving big toys, he decided that there was a market for a single operator business using an excavator and later a small Bobcat. At the time there was none and so he decided he could both fill the market and make a good living from it. He thought it a great idea but others at the time thought he was crazy!

However he was right and he was soon successful. So much so that others also moved into this new opportunity soon flooding the market place. So, rather than entering into a price war with them, he simply up-sized his plant and filled the empty opportunity notch at the next level, in the same business, whilst still maintaining his sole operator business status.

Now, many years later he is still at it and as busy as ever with no shortage of call back work.

Mr Earthmover was able to make a successful career change, using both his past experience of using farm equipment, along with his love for machinery and an eye for a future opportunity. When he decided to change careers, he took a risk by going into business for himself in a newish field. Yet, he was prepared to take chances and set the agenda, and when others followed, was prepared to adapt again and look for new opportunities rather than fight over ever diminishing old opportunities. Hence he is still in business and flourishing while others aren’t so fortunate.

What about you? Are you looking for new opportunities or stuck in a rut? Do you fight for an ever-diminishing market, or seek for new ones? In other words, ”Do you embrace the future or hoard the past?”

Monday, July 30, 2007

San Remo Aquarium.

While at San Remo recently, I walked out onto the Jetty and came back alongside the San Remo Aquarium. Well at least that’s what it claimed to be, but it is now just a fish and chip shop.

Oh yes there is still a large Aquarium in the window but it had a large sign saying the fish tank were empty due to Stage 4 Water restrictions there.

Despite the fact that that I think that was an easy excuse to explain that that part of the business has closed down, I thought that even if true, it shows a certain lack of thinking at the pre-planning stage. A simple case of not using what is readily available and using a more expensive base material.

This now empty aquarium stands no further than 30 to 40 metres from the water’s edge right on the land end of the pier at San Remo. Water a plenty for the taking!

Sure it is salt water and therefore any fish put in it would have to be of the salt-water kind. And even if they wanted to display tropical fish (not native to the Cold Victorian waters), they only have to add a heater or two to get the required temperature. (Talking of tropical Fish, I need to check mine again after our break away.)

The thing is that if the people at San Remo Aquarium really wanted fish in their tank in a time of drought, there at the Jetty they would always have no real problems in getting it fresh whenever they wanted it. Simply by using what is freely and readily available locally (sea Water) and maybe a little of extra muscle (Carrying the water from the pier) and perhaps some outside help (a Heater). With a combination of that and maybe one or two others, they could still have as many fish as their aquarium could healthily hold.

But what about us? Do we too sometimes fail because we try too hard? Do we try the expensive when the common is at hand? Do we really try in the first place, but simply “give it a shot” and then use the first excuse at hand to walk away? Sometimes in the past I too have done this! Which I guess is what makes me much more careful now. And to a large degree that is what all of us should do. Be careful first! By all means try new things and try your dreams but do more due diligence first and take more care to start with and consider all the options and even prepare for the possible problems that may occur before they occur.

So in conclusion, how is your Aquarium going? Empty or full? Or like mine, in need of topping up today? Take care. Walter

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rocky Way.

Walking along the uneven and often pointy stones introduced to the San Remo foreshore to slowdown the erosion of the foreshore, was neither too difficult or easy. It was certainly achievable but one had to keep ones eyes sharp for stones that could/would move under your weight. Despite that I mostly made good time and passage. I say mostly as at one stage I made one misstep that had me hopping, and I do mean literally. I obviously made a miscalculation or miss-step and suddenly I was off and running. Well I had to do something to try and reclaim my balance again! No! I didn’t count them but reckon I took 15 to 20 steps before I could control my balance and come to a safe stop and regain my composure.

That one simple easy miss-step caused me to lose control and direction over everything I was doing and staying upright was my only concern. How often is this mirrored in real LIFE?

How often have we started off confidently in a new direction, or even an old one, taking into account, even if only cursory, the prevailing conditions, changing and adjusting as we go in minor degree and mostly succeeding as we go, when suddenly a major misstep occurs from a minor or common procedure and we lose balance and direction and just struggle to maintain our basic survival? What do we do then?

It is this next step that is often the most important and will often have a major effect on deciding our future successes or failure.

Do we, stop altogether and just stay there forever, or just till we have regrouped and regained our balance?

Do we continue on Blindly, or do we continue on in a slightly different manner?

Do we finish that particular journey, as best we can to either complete success or at least to an acceptable, if not completely satisfactory conclusion?

Do we continue on or do we move on to a new adventure?

In my life I have done all of the above at various times in my various endeavours. No one way is right all of the time. The trick is in thinking about all the options before you proceed any further.

How are things in your life journey so Far? If great, fine and terrific, but what steps do you need to think of now, to maintain this great progress?

If not so great or even disastrous, what do you need to consider before attempting to either move on or move out to something different? I’ve had some failures in my life, but I consider them also as some of the most valuable learning times I have ever had. Failure happens even to the best, so don’t be embarrassed by so-called apparent failure. Look at those times as extra special learning times and benefit from them. Don’t ignore or hide from them but learn from them.

Learn from them and regain your balance and move on again, whether that is in the same direction or a completely different one. Just think about it thoroughly first. Consider all the options and chose the best one for you at that time.

Have a nice day! Walter

Saturday, July 28, 2007

San Remo Beach.

On our way to the holiday house where we were to stay whilst at Cowes, we stopped on the Sam Remo side of the bridge to Philip Island and I went for a walk from the Jetty around the point towards the back beach. It has changed a lot since the last time I made that attempt. Obviously there has been a lot of erosion of the sand dunes as lots of big rocks have been deposited along the tide line of the beach with some wooden step accesses to the beach at various places.

When I was walking there it was close to high tide so walking along the rocks, although not impossible, was not easy, so I anticipated just walking along to one of theses wooden step accesses and upon using it to escape from the beach and rocks, find my way back to Main Street through a back street or two.

Well the first two I tried, led back to the back of a Caravan park but both were blocked off and escape could not be made using either of them. I decided then not to try further on, but to back- track the way I came, to the car. Much closer to the start was another walkway offering a short cut but it too led to a dead end. This time, in an old car park, now blocked off with a giant heap of these stones now being uses to hold up the shoreline.

All these still functioning access stairways offered hope of access or escape from the beach but were ultimately useless. In fact, worse than useless, as they offered hope and expectation of a way to escape the beach and rocks. An expectation of a way out that led to dead ends and thus time and energy were wasted just trying to use them.

Yes all offered the hope of escape or a short cut away from the rocks on the beach but that hope was misleading and false.

Oh yes at one time it was a genuine hope and help but now that hope was not only false but possibly dangerous if it had have been an emergency. These supposed accesses should either be completely removed or else properly signed at the beach-end as being out of commission temporarily.

But what about us? Are there things in our own lives that we once did that although once effective and useful now offer false hope or expectations to others around us. Do we need to remove some things now no longer operating in our lives and perhaps put up a few new current and relevant signs? I’m still thinking about it so, over to you: Walter

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Going Away Again, Be Back Soon.

We are off again today for 14 days and not expecting to be near a computer till we get back on the 29th of July. So see you then. Walter

Going Back To Places.

As you know by now, I finished my previous job at the end of June and am in the middle of a month’s break, before starting the new job in August. The first 10 days of our break was spent about 460 kms away interstate at a place called Wagga Wagga, where I first served as an Associate Pastor some 19 years ago. After that, we came back home for a medical assessment of previous ongoing Physiotherapy treatment of a back/nerve problem yesterday.

Now, today, we are heading to the beach at Philip Island. Yes I know it is crazy going to the beach in the middle of winter but we have got the use of a house there close to the beach, at an unbelievable cheap rate, so we are taking it up. Besides we will be using it as staging ground to visit various other familiar places nearby.

Philip Island is connected to the mainland by a long bridge at a place called San Remo in the Gippsland district about an hour or so’s drive from our part of Melbourne. One of my Aunts lived in nearby Wonthaggi and owned a holiday block at San Remo and so from my earliest memories we used to camp at this block in San Remo between Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Right up until the block its large shed and old bus that served as a communal bedroom, was sold. Later we stayed at her house in Wonthaggi. Later again, my wife and I even had our Honeymoon in Wonthaggi and have visited it and Philip Island a few times in the past, as recently as last year. Last year, we did nothing but rest, but this year we are taking two weeks and plan to revisit many of the old familiar places of my youthful memories.

In a earlier blog, “Going Back to People,” I mentioned that I am usually a people person rather than a places person, but I think all of us, every now and then just need to get away from our normality and go back to a familiar place and just stop and smell, no not the roses, but here, the salt air. again.

I thoughourly enjoyed the past 10 days with our friends, and even wished it could have been longer but I am also really looking forward to revisiting old memories again and drawing on them for fresh strength and insight.

Do you have a place where you can go and just relax and refresh yourself again? If so make the use of it as much as you can and rejuvenate yourself. Take care and I will catch you in a fortnight. Walter

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mr Pie-Man.

I have a Riddle rhyme for you along the lines of “Peter Piper picked a peck of Pickled Peppers.”

“If Mr Pieman baked a heap of various pies every day,

How many pies would Mr Pie-man have baked over 30 years?”

Not even he knows but that is how long my friend the Pie-man has been baking pies for his own Business, either in partnership with his brother or like now as sole owner.

These days with just 3 bakers in the backroom and only working 6 days a week they still churn out daily 60 to 80 dozen for there own shop sales. Until a few years back they were also selling wholesale and had 9 bakers in the backroom and working 7 days a week.

Now you would, well I would think that after that length of time the last thing he would want to see on Holidays is another pie. Not so!

When he goes on holidays he seeks out other pie/Bake shops and samples their wares, always on the lookout for new ideas and tastes. A few years back when we visited him, he had even come across a Spaghetti pie. No I never tried it and these days it is no longer on the menu, however he was game to try something new, are we so minded too?

That is one of the reasons he has stayed in business so long. He is always prepared to improve his product line, trying new ideas where appropriate, keeping those that work and discarding those that don’t, but always open to change if and when necessary.

What about you and me? In my previous blog I indicated that I am not always keen to do that and sometimes pay the price for it. What about you?

Do you love what you are doing and always eager to seek out new ideas, sometimes even discarding them before putting into action but always after assessing them first, like Mr Pieman? Or are you like me, and need to be dragged kicking and screaming almost, into not just the future, but also even the present? If so what can we do about it? As I wrote recently to a friend it is easy to talk about something but often hard to start, as we often don’t know the first step. So what are the first steps to improving yourself?

Basically it is about finding out what really motivates you, like Mr Pieman and His pies, and then doing your apprenticeship so to speak. He didn’t just one day decide to go into business for himself. No! He did his time as an Apprentice Baker then worked for two or 3 others for a few years gaining experience to go with his knowledge and then when going into business for himself, kept himself open to new ideas and improvements and now 30 some years down the track he is still going and even going better than ever.

Are we prepared to put the time and effort into the things we do? Or are we after instant results, and when they don’t come, walk away or worse stay at it but with no interest or enthusiasm? I know now where I stand and am doing something about it, even though it means walking away from one thing and going back to another. What are your thoughts on your present situation? Are you happy with it or do you realize something needs to change? If so find that first step and take it, but don’t rush the journey. Take the appropriate time and measures and enjoy the trip. Walter

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Learn to use what you have …

I am at not, I repeat not, heart a technophile. Never was and probably never will be. This is not to say I don’t use technology, just that I put off learning how to unless I absolutely have too. Although we were only overseas for a little over 12 years it seems that those 12 years were ones of momentous change in Australia, which totally bypassed us in Umtata.

So much so that when we came back and in 2003 I bought a car which had Cruise control in I never knew how to use it. No one told me how and I never bothered to find out figuring it was some lazy technology that I could get a long without. However today, on the way back from Wagga Wagga I learnt a lesson about learning to properly use what I have or else pay the penalty.

Yeah! That’s right I got a speeding ticket, genuinely not noticing at that time that I was well over the limit. Earlier I had knowingly, but not intentionally been over the limit before realizing it and slowing down again. But this time I got caught.

And to rub salt into the wound, basically the first words the Police women said after telling me why she pulled me over, was, “Do you have Cruise control in the car?” And when told yes she said, ”Then I suggest you use it when you pull out of here”. She was actually quite nice and when I said I genuinely didn’t know how, she said her Partner would show me how after she had finished writing out the ticket. Which he did and so now I know how to use the cruise control in my car, but it was an expensive way to find out how, wasn’t it?

What about you? What technology do you have available to you that for whatever reason you have not bothered to find out how to use it for your advantage and protection, whether physically or financially? So the word of wisdom I bring you from my 10-day break away is to: “Learn to use that which is available to you now or pay the penalty”. Which, whether sooner or later, you will! Walter

Monday, July 2, 2007

Going Away, Back Soon.

We are off today for 10 days and not expecting to be near a computer till we get back on the 12th so see you then. Walter

Going Back to People.

I finished my previous job last Friday and today is the beginning of a month’s break, before starting the new job in August. The first 10 days of our break will be spent about 5 or 6 hours away (depends how slow I drive) interstate at a place called Wagga Wagga, where I first served as an Associate Pastor some 19 years ago. Although there are only 3 or 4 still there of the people we knew at the church then, there are still a couple of dozen we know still in the district.

Although we spent over 12 months there and got to know the place well, it is not the place that we are re-visiting but the people. I have noticed over the years, and after many moves that although there are a few places that stand out in one’s memory, it is more often the people and not the place that attracts. (There are exceptions and soon I will have a blog on one of those areas.)

When we were there in 88, Wagga Wagga was touted as the largest in-land City in New South Wales; and. as such was the regional centre of a large rural farming area. It is a large well-presented City, with a large well-provided shopping Mecca for those more than 100 kms away. It has its own botanical Garden, with its own major Camellia Garden section and a miniature train and even a mini Zoo. So all in all, apart from the weather (very hot in Summer & very cold in Winter) it is not at all a bad place to live. If you have to live in NSW that is!!!

However for us here, the connection is the people and not the place. Since we left in early 89, we have been back there a few times (probably half a dozen over the time) and it is always the people and not the place that calls us back. That is not to say that we don’t enjoy revisiting some of the old places again and either marvelling or cringing at the changes. Just that it is the people that attract us again and again.

What about you? Are you largely a places person or a people’s person? Would you be happy alone on a deserted Island? Or do you still need people but wonder why they avoid you? If so it might pay to just stop for a while and examine how you treat other people. Instead of complaining why so and so hasn’t visited you, ask yourself how many times you have visited them in the same time line under discussion. If the count is in your favour, then you have a good augment, but if the number is even just neutral, then you my friend, are as much at fault as the other person. So, if this blog encourages you to think of somebody you haven’t seen or heard from for some time, make the effort to renew the contact, even if initially it is only a letter or phone call. This time it really is, all up to you to make the first move. Will you?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Going Away.

I finished my present job at the end of last week and having a month’s break, before starting the new job in August. I deliberately planned for being away for the whole of this month, not so much because I wanted to get away from home, but because I knew that if I stayed home, I would not get a real rest.

Despite the fact that there is plenty to do around the house, that is not why I want to get away from it. In truth I would love the freedom and opportunity to just potter around the house for a month doing the odd jobs that need doing. No that is not the problem.

The thing is that I have learnt from past experience that when people find that you are home, they want you to do things for them and you actually work harder running around after them than if you were still at work. It is sad to say but sometimes one simply has to walk away from things completely and get away for a while, just to get some quiet time for yourself.

This is not a new concept either, nor unique to me. In the Bible, in Mark chapter 6 verse 31, Jesus says to his Disciples, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” Of course it goes on to say that it didn’t work and that Thousands also followed them, but somehow I don’t think I am going to have that problem, do you?

However the point I am trying to make is that all of us need to have a break from time to time and that break needs to be truly that, to be effective. A break from what we are doing and a chance to rest. Not stopping one task to do another.

Now we are actually very fortunate to be able to take a month off now, and again very fortunate to have two friends willing to put us up no charge for all that time. But one doesn’t always get that long a break. I am taking a month now, as I suspect it could be a while before I get another real chance for a proper rest.

But what about you? When was the last time you had a real rest? Even for a week? Even a weekend away? Maybe you to need to get completely away from home for a spell to do so. Fortunately we can leave our home and the two dogs in the capable hands of our children, but however you do it, do your best to get away every now and them for some genuine “you only” time. You really will benefit form it and so will others, when you come back refreshed and recharged. So where are you going and when? For us it is Wagga Wagga first and then Philip Island and its Penguins: Walter