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A Lesson From Life
By Alan Patching   Printer Friendly Version

In about 500 days from the time you read this article, the eyes of the world will turn to Sydney, Australia, as the elite athletes of the world compete for gold at the 2000 Olympic Games. People the world over will watch in wonder at the outstanding teamwork and the excellence of individual performance demonstrated in sporting venues the equal of the best in the world.

I can say with authority that the champions who compete in the Games of the coming Olympiad will not be the first champions of the Olympic venues, and neither will those who compete in the Games lead up events. The first champions are the 35,000 people who gave of their skills and talents to construct the outstanding venues in which the Games will be contested.

The authority I refer to evolves from my personal involvement with just one of these venues; Stadium Australia, the Olympic Stadium; the largest Olympic Stadium ever built; a Stadium that will hold 110,000 people for the Games. I am privileged to be the Chief Executive Officer of the Stadium's owning organization and also the Project Director of this fantastic building. The Stadium is now completed and drawing record crowds to major events held there. The success of these early events tops off one of the greatest learning experiences of my career.

I learned that corporate politics is alive and well and far from extinction. Unfortunately! I learned that the power of vested interests continues to drive actions and decisions as it has for centuries passed and no doubt will for future centuries.

More importantly, I learned what can be achieved when human beings pull together with a common vision that is larger than any objectives outlined in contracts and responsibility schedules. I learned what can be achieved when people go about their work with a good dash of soul added to their skill and experience.

On this extraordinary project, 6,000 people from 60 different ethnic backgrounds, all now proud Australians, toiled with a common vision borne of being involved with something very special. These people were not just going to work each day or simply building yet another major project. These people were building part of our country's history, they were involved in a task that would give pride to their families for generations to come.

During the construction of Stadium Australia, I learned more about the concept of corporate vision than I ever have from the numerous texts I have studied on the subject. Above all, I learned that it is not something that can be imposed by senior management on their employees. Rather, it is something that enters the picture when a group of people realize that they can achieve some of what Carl Priebrum calls their personal Images of Achievement in performing with excellence in their work environment.

I hope that in this story there is a message of benefit to your organization.

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