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More Lessons from the Construction - Of Stadium Australia...Sydney's Olympic Stadium
By Alan Patching   Printer Friendly Version

Most of us have probably, at one time or another, fallen into the trap of spending too much time responding to the pressures of work and spending too little time with our families and on ourselves.

From my experience on Stadium Australia, I've found that it's just as easy to develop an attitude imbalance in other important areas as it is to get our life values distorted. As the CEO of the entity that owns the stadium, much of my time over the past couple of years has been spent dealing with high flyers from the various organizations involved.

It's easy, in such circumstances, to lose sight of just how important to the success of our projects are some of the people who, in the scheme of things, might be considered small players. In the latter months of the project I had reinforced some important life lessons.

Just before Christmas last year, the Sydney temperatures reached the high nineties, with high humidity. It was time for the top layer of the running track to be laid. A bitumen sub-base was to be the working surface for a team of specialist track layers from Italy. It absorbed and radiated the heat producing a sweltering working environment.

Despite this, the team elected to get the job completed prior to Christmas. I enjoyed watching our Italian friends as they applied adhesive with sweeping trowel strokes, and rolled out the track material with practiced ease. Swift slashes of a razor sharp blade quickly converted rifle straight rolls of rubber material to curves with joints that were virtually invisible.

I asked the team why they enjoyed this job so much. The gist of the reply was stunning. "We realize that athletes are working hard to compete at the Olympic Games and other events. If we do our job well, they have a better chance of achieving their dream, and we can quietly share in their success. And, we work fast because we want to be home with our families for Christmas."

Now here was a group who followed their passion while keeping their life values clearly in focus.

On the evening of the first event, I was preparing for a short presentation in the official suite, where several government and private sector leaders, including our Australian Prime Minister, were present. While strolling across the arena, I noticed one of the turf laying team, putting the final touches to the joints at the edge of the field where the natural grass meets the synthetic grass over run.

"Still at it?" I quipped.

"Can't have any of our million dollar footballers sprain an ankle, can we?" he replied with a broad grin on his face.

This guy was working overtime to ensure the safety of a player who would probably earn as much in a month as he would in a year. At that moment, surely he was the most important person on the project.

That evening, I spoke from prepared notes but from the heart. I simply stated that our magnificent stadium exists because 6,000 people from over 60 ethnic backgrounds, all now proud Australians, pulled together to create a venue in which athletes would have the very best chances of achieving their dreams, and in doing so they surely achieved one of their own.

I thank these people from the important life lessons they reinforced for me. Nobody, regardless of position or wealth, is more important than any other person on the planet. Real importance lies not so much in what one does as in the attitude with which one practices one's craft. Regardless of work pressures, time for family and self, time to appreciate the results of one's effort, should always remain a priority. And, finally, our work takes on so much extra importance when we can see in it an element of doing something worthwhile for another human being.

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