Allergic to Average

Allergic to Average

by Penua Hila-Cook

Penua Hila-Cook is the Program Officer for The Voice Inc. based in Lae. In 2016, as a response to the student boycotts and general atmosphere felt by students, a session was developed to assist students in the Leadership Development Program (LDP) to regenerate energy as students returned to classes and get them into a more positive frame of mind and thinking space.


At the start of 2017, I was amazed at the number of messages we received from students, thanking us for putting together a couple of sessions at the back end of 2016 on habits that could help them score better grades. The sessions were titled “Allergic to Average” – or A2A as we commonly refer to it now – after a video by African-American motivational speaker and minister, Eric Thomas. Thomas coined the term for one of his weekly TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday) TV shows. In it he speaks with a passion and a unique, no nonsense kick about being great by getting the small things right.

By attending workshops and sessions I learnt a lot and was able to do well in school and also in my own personal life… Without knowing, my life has impacted other people in a positive way and that really matters.

Edrin Karagu, HECAS Recipient – 2nd Year Surveying

Several participants our Leadership Development Program (LDP) really took the principles presented from A2A and put them into practice. Their stories are absolutely amazing!

The sessions really helped. I can still remember the part about being faithful over few, grinding on the little stuff and cutting out the things that were taking me away from my dreams. Applying what I learnt in the sessions helped me go from a self-sponsored student in 2016 to getting back on HECAS in 2017.

Justin Kapia, HECAS Recipient – 4th   Year Accounting

Personally, I knew the sessions were going to assist the students academically; I just didn’t expect it to have such a profound impact on everyone. Today, we all strive to operate on a level where everyone is doing great things by mastering the small steps – keeping the office tidy, getting rid of the trash, submitting our time sheets on time, and just being aware of the power of the smaller contributions we make every minute.

After attending the Allergic to Average session, I realized that there are no shortcuts to success and you can only make it through hard work and determination. Putting the lessons from A2A into practice, I was able to regain my HECAS scholarship and also receive the Archers Leadership Scholarship.

Len Awinup, 4th Year Computer Science; Archers Scholar

Being allergic to average is fast becoming a culture in the study habits of the students. Most of the students now say that on average they attend more classes now than before attending the sessions. Others say the way they view ‘success’ has shifted considerably from big results to small habits that reap results consistently over time.

The Allergic to Average session that I attended before the exams helped me to improve my planning and management skills which immensely contribute to maintaining my TESAS Scholarship in 2017.

Alumita Chan, Top Student – 3rd Year Building

However, none of this would have been possible without the reading and learning culture within TVI. The staff are always on the up – reading new books, seeking new mentors and learning from great leaders. By being constantly alert to picking up the latest and best practices, the staff was able to put together an effective session that was simple to understand, practical and effective.

Principles and pointers learned from books like ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson, ‘Working Smarter Not Harder’ by Jack Collis and Charles Duhigg’s ‘The Power of Habits’ as well as teachings from Thomas, John C. Maxwell, late Dr Myles Munroe and Tony Robbins enabled the staff to provide much needed support to the students in the LDP at a critical time in their studies. As the age-old adage goes, ‘You cannot give what you don’t have’.


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