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Learning Life’s Lessons

Alison Knowles, Creator of the Ollie Model, tells a story about a man with a ruck sack full of other people's problems ...

Once upon a time there was a man with a ruck sack.

He spent his time wondering round the world cleaning up after his friends and family – picking up all their problems and worries and putting them in his ruck sack so that people around him did not trip over them of get contaminated by them. It was hard work but he loved the adoration he got for doing it. Everyone saying what a lovely guy he was – how caring – how selfless….

The man felt good because he was carry the baggage so those he loved did not have too, and they liked him for it.   He did this all his life – his short life because carrying all that weight and contamination was hard work and put extra strain on his body.  Physically from the weight and emotionally from the contamination seeping out of his ruck sack.   It was too much and one day his body gave up.

God said to him “why have you been carrying everyone else’s baggage all your life?”

“Well,” said the man, “so those I love are free to be all they can be and get all they can from life.”

“Ah,” said God, “yes life is about living and learning and if you get it right you get to stay here for eternity and rest.  But all those you have carried baggage for will not be able to stay here.  They will have to go back without you because all that baggage your carrying is life lessons and when you hid those lessons in your ruck sack no one learned anything.  So they must go back and go through those lessons again.  So you have not really helped them”.

“Ah,” said the man, “but as I did this thing with a good heart, I take it I can stay here now and rest?”

“No,” said God, “you were so busy and so consumed trying to carry others baggage,you forgot to deal with your own, or rather so you could avoid dealing with your own.”

“But I am happy.  I don’t have any baggage. I have had a happy life,” Said the man.

“Really,” said God, “put that ruck sack down.  How happy are you without the sack of other people’s problems to hide behind?”

The man suddenly felt very naked, very vulnerable, and a little lost.

“Back you go,” said God.

Ali Knowles, Ollie Coach

Ali is the creator of the Ollie model, author of the Ollie and his Super Powers series of books and co-founder of Subconquest.  Ali has an infectious passion for making a difference to people’s lives and has a natural affinity for working with children.  Ali is all about empowering you, young and old, to be all you can be. 

To get in contact with Ali, email

To find out more about Ollie and his Super Powers and how to become an Ollie Coach go to

Caroline Chipper

Caroline Chipper


Co founder of Subconquest Ltd, that trades as Ollie and his Super Powers. My many years of commercial experience is being put to good use managing the business side of Ollie, including working with our Ollie Coaches, and managing our contracts. In everything we do its about making a difference to those we work with. To find out more go to