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Four values of leadership from the heroes of Kokoda

Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice:
The four values of leadership, as learned by the heroes of Kokoda.

Battling steep inclines and unforgiving declines, humid weather and heavy loads – it begins to sound like moving house.

But 120 kilometres of jungle, mud and threatening valleys that is the Kokoda Trail, became a battleground that held the freedom of Australia.

Since becoming major sponsors of the Anne Frank Exhibition in Australia, Two Men and a Truck has explored Australia’s role in World War II and we’ve found some incredibly powerful stories.

Here we interviewed Mosman resident Tim James, Chief of Staff to the Minister for Fair Trading, who took on the 10-day challenge in Papua New Guinea.

“The Japanese saw it as Tim Jamestheir right and their destiny to win the Pacific and the Asian region and indeed they had made great advances,” he said.

“The Japanese saw their pathway to Australia as through Papua New Guinea.  Therefore Kokoda became an essential theatre of war and one that meant so very much to the defense of Australia.”

Tim was inspired by NSW Member of the Legislative Assembly Charlie Lynn who has walked the Kokoda Trail 64 times and leads an organisation that takes Australians on the journey to learn about the crucial battleground that spared Australia from Japanese invasion.

“[Charlie] has always described it as a leadership laboratory that really brings out the very best in people,” Tim said.

“It was on the back of Charlie’s recommendation that I thought yes I’m going to embrace this challenge, take myself out of my comfort zone and seek to walk the Kokoda trail.”

Tim, who admitted he wasn’t an “outdoorsy, hiking, camping kind of guy” conceded that Kokoda was a huge challenge, involving five months of intense fitness training.

But he said his commitment to walking the trail paled into insignificance compared to the sacrifice that the Australian soldiers made there in 1942.

“Those 3000 men saved our nation. They saved our way of life, our freedom, our democracy,\” he said.

“Everything that we enjoy today perhaps would not be here but for their heroics and the courage and their sacrifice and their endurance.”

According to Tim, the best way to describe the campaign and the experience of walking Kokoda Trail is through the four values inscribed on the of the memorials at Isurava, along the trail.

Those four values are Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice.

Watch the video to find out the importance of these values in a historical sense, and as a contemporary outlook on leadership.

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