Why this ANZAC Day will be different
April 23, 2020
For the first time since I can remember, I don’t know what I’ll be doing this ANZAC Day. There’s talk Australians will stand outside their houses to watch the sunrise. I like the sound of that. Whatever I end up doing, as always, I will use the day to reflect on what service means. About the meaning of sacrifice.
My family has a strong tradition of military service. My grandfather, father and uncles all served in the military. At 10 years old I knew I’d go into the forces – but only as one chapter of my life. My father, who served in Vietnam, forged a successful career in film and TV after his time in the navy. So, I had this sense that the military was a great place to learn skills you can take with you and succeed in any capacity.
With my wife Courtney, at an Accenture End of Year Ball in 2018
That’s exactly what I’ve done, bringing those skills to Accenture. In addition to the leadership skills I’m now using in my role as management consultant, one of the most important things the army taught me was resilience. I remember, during officer training, we’d been out on exercises all day in the cold and wet. When we finally finished in the early hours of the morning, I was utterly miserable. Instead of going straight to bed, I put on dry clothes and ate a biscuit – and I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of happiness! Ever since, if I am feeling stressed, I go back to that time and remember how sometimes, you only need very simple things to make you happy. I think that’s something many of us are discovering right now.
Later in my army career, I spent a year training recruits. I quickly learnt you didn’t need to be the fittest for strongest to be the most resilient. The people I remember most had an amazing ability to make do when times were really getting tough. They succeeded because of their willingness to keep going, the bond they had and their focus on the positive. To this day, their example inspires me to persevere through challenging times.
Serving as a recruit instructor in 2011 ANZAC day
It makes me realise how important it is to hold on in times of crisis. Not just for yourself but for those around you. By making the best of your situation, you will give strength to people near you in ways you don’t realise. I can’t imagine those young recruits had any idea how much their resilience inspired me.
In this extraordinary time, when many people are re-examining what’s important, I think we should use this ANZAC Day to reflect and maintain some perspective. There are people out there doing it incredibly tough right now – they’ve lost jobs, maybe a sense of purpose, and in some cases loved ones. Reflecting on how fortunate I really am amidst all of this craziness has been helping me to persevere. Sure, I miss the gym, my favourite restaurants and toilet paper in the stores, but if that’s the extent of my concerns I feel like I’m doing OK.
It’s also worth sparing a thought for the men and women in the health sector who are on a front line of their own. I am humbled by the incredible service of health professionals everywhere. They’re putting their own welfare second to the needs of others while grappling with the same challenges the rest of us are.
So, on ANZAC Day, in addition to recognising my fellow veterans, I’ll also be taking a moment to think about people on the front line of the pandemic – the medical staff who are risking their health and their lives to keep us safe. To me, they embody the ANZAC spirit of sacrifice – putting others before yourself, scared to death but doing it anyway because it’s the right thing to do.
It’s the spirit of sacrifice that’s inspired my dedication to supporting Legacy, an organisation who support the families of service personnel who didn’t come home. Join me in supporting them by donating here to help those whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice.