Life Lessons from the Lands Down Under

What experiences are you shutting out because you “know” you won’t like them? Food you don’t try, people you don’t get to know, places you never visit. Keeping an open mind is much harder than we think

A few years ago I spent November (yep, the entire month) in Australia and New Zealand. It was the trip of a lifetime, and like all great journeys, it taught me many things.

Lesson One—turn pain into gain.
I’d been talking about going to Australia forever, but kept putting it off. It was so far, so expensive, etc. But about a year ago, I had what I thought was a good relationship go up in flames. There I was, having a pity party—bummed about being 41 and single, wah, wah. Well, you can sit around and have a pity party or you can do something big. I chose something big and booked the trip to Australia.

Turn your pain into gain, life is what you make it.

Lesson Two—get over your fear and excuses.
I had got awfully good at explaining why I couldn’t take the trip. Foremost among my excuses was I couldn’t leave my business for a month. Here’s a message for all of us—the world goes right on without us. I did the best I could to let my clients know what was happening, set the auto responder on my e-mail and headed out. Did I lose a few opportunities? Maybe. Did my business collapse? Heck no! And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather hear a speaker who was taking risks and having adventures than one who only plays it safe.

If there is something in your life that you want, you have to get over your own fear and excuses first. What excuses have you been making?

Lesson Three—give up your illusions of control.
Type As of the world, this is for you! We try so hard to make sure that everything goes right (right being of course, how WE want it to go) and cause ourselves a whole bunch of stress in the process. I find travelling particularly stressful because so many things are out of my control. I worry about missing connections, losing luggage, getting lost, etc. But for my trip to the Lands Down Under, I let go of all that.

I signed up for a group tour and the tour company handled everything. I went to the airport when our guide took us and knew if I missed the flight, we all would and the trip would be adjusted. I turned over all control (which I never really have anyway) to our tour guide and had a great time. I thought giving up control would really bother me, but it wound up being a great relief – making the vacation even better.

Lesson Four—Don’t be so judgmental!
One of the downsides of group travel is, well, you’re with a group. I’m used to solo travel; doing what I want when I want to do it. You can’t do this when you’re on a group tour—you go where the group goes when the group goes. One of the first stops I was less than thrilled by was a visit to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Museum in Alice Springs. All I could think was—”BORING!! Can’t we go check out something cool??” But I had no choice, so I trudged in.

I soon was fascinated—a short video actually brought me to tears! The RFDS exists because of the vast red center of Australia—the Outback. It’s a huge area (Australia is about the same size as the US and most of the people are clustered near the coast) with vast, vast, vast stretches of nothing. I mean nothing. There are a few people out there, however, and from time to time they need medical care. So they radio the RFDS and the Docs jump on a plane and fly out. It’s pretty amazing and to see the grateful people and the caring Doctors in the video was truly heartwarming. And the service is funded by public donations. Wow—the things we take for granted.

You think I would have learned my lesson and been open to the sites on the trip (after all, the tour company travels down under on a regular basis—they might know a little more than I do about this part of the world!). But no—when it came time to drag me away from my loves (art museums and shopping) to see glow worm caves, I was again less than enthusiastic. I mean, caves are dark and damp and clammy and worms are, well, worms! But I was with the group. So we tromped down into the cave and got on a boat in the pitch blackness. Our guides pushed off and we were floating in cool, damp, darkness and my clothes were getting wet, and I was SO not into it. Then I looked up. The roof of the cave was covered in millions of tiny blue-white lights—like a galaxy packed with stars (the glow worms!). It was breathtaking and amazing. A site I will never forget.

What experiences are you shutting out because you “know” you won’t like them? Food you don’t try, people you don’t get to know, places you never visit. Keeping an open mind is much harder than we think.

Lesson Five—Don’t become a sheep.
There are many more sheep in New Zealand than people (4 million people, 48 million sheep!). I think there are more sheep than people here too—more people who would rather follow the herd than be themselves. I can think of no other reason why we care what Britney Spears is doing or watch something called “Dancing with the Stars.” I was the only person on the tour who ventured away from the group. I spent one day in fascination at the Old Melbourne Gaol (Jail) staring at death masks and the gallows where Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly was hung. I went to museums and saw Aboriginal art and had a fantastic day on my own.

Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you. Only you know what really speaks to your heart and what really brings you joy—but you have to be brave enough to 1.) discover it and 2.) pursue it. Stop watching Dancing with the Stars and look at the real stars in the glorious night sky or put on your own dancing shoes.

Life is short—live it!

Denise Ryan, MBA, is a Certified Speaking Professional, a designation of excellence held by less than 10% of all professional speakers.  She is a blogger  Her website is where you can see more articles and sign up for a free newsletter.  Article Source:

Author: SOT


2 thoughts on “Life Lessons from the Lands Down Under”

  1. Hello Susan, what a great lesson is this post! It does shows that with determination and courage you can transform a sad event into something colorful and get the good things out of it instead of focusing on the bad ones, I have always thought the same way, get rid of bad and use the good ones to make you feel better, I have seen your twins and they are beatifull and going to Austrlia is one of my dreams, I will be going one day, is just setting my mind to it and find the means to accomplish that tought, anyway, thank you for the post, real good one, Andres Luna.

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