50-plus Books!

This year I have set myself an aspiration to read 50 plus books. When I say 50 plus books, this is my intention:

To read at least 50 physical non-fiction books on a range of topics.

The ‘plus’ is:

Plus listen to a non-determined number of non-fiction and fiction audiobooks
Plus read a non-determined number of fiction physical books

Of the 50 non-fiction physical books, some of them will be new reads and some of them will be re-reads (books I have read before but would like to read again)

I intend to post a running tally each month of the physical books I have read plus the audiobooks I have listened to. I will name the non-fiction books and their authors, and whether it was a physical book or audiobook. For the fiction books, I will simply list the number of fiction books (if any) and whether they were a physical book or an audiobook.

So, why have I set myself this aspiration?

Right from a very young age, I have always been an avid reader. However, I have noticed in the last few years that I have been listening to more audiobooks rather than reading physical books, so this is simply a habit that I would like to get back into. I am positive there will be many benefits to doing this and I intend to post my reflections on this at the end of the year.

When I have mentioned my intention to read 50 plus books this year to others, the most common response I have received is ‘how will you find the time?’

While books vary considerably in terms of number of pages, on average spending 45 minutes per day reading, will equal one book per week. So, I am planning to read for 45 minutes to 1 hour a day. Some people have said to me that they couldn’t possibly find the time to read for 45 minutes to 1 hour a day. The interesting thing is, that we all have much more time than we realise.

There is a particular exercise that I take people through when I am conducting time management coaching or training. Every time people complete the exercise, they always come back to me with some version of ‘OMG…. I have much more time than I ever realised’. It happens Every. Single. Time.

Think of it this way; the average Netflix episode is 45 to 55 minutes long. If you spend time watching Netflix (or other television) or scrolling social media in your day, then replacing one Netflix episode with reading gives you back at least 7 hours in your week (for reading or anything else you would like to be doing).

I have a good To Be Read (TBR) list ready to go for this year, but I would love to receive recommendations on your favourite non-fiction books, and I will happily add them to my list. If you have any recommendations, feel free to email me rachel@rachelmconsulting.com.au

Working with Neurodiversity

Usually in my workshops, when participants discuss diversity, they tend to think of characteristics such as race, age, gender and sexual orientation. However, there is also diversity in how the way people’s brains work, and this is called neurodiversity.

“Neurodiversity” is used to explain the unique ways different people’s brains work. While everyone’s brain develops similarly, no two brains function just alike. Being neurodivergent simply means having a brain that works differently from the ‘average’ or “neurotypical” person.

It is believed that about 15–20 percent of the population is neurodiverse. This includes up to 10 percent of people who are diagnosed with dyslexia, 6 percent with dyspraxia, 5 percent with ADHD and 1–2 percent with autism. These figures are also believed to be an underestimate, as there are many Neurodiverse people who have not received a ‘formal’ diagnosis. This means that within any team or any meeting with 10 people, you can be fairly confident that at least 2 of them will be neurodiverse.

Sadly, I occasionally hear people focusing on the challenges they feel they experience when with working with neurodiverse people. What I like to do, is encourage people to think differently about their neurodiverse colleagues or leaders. Firstly, neurodiverse people often spend a lot of time (sometimes their whole lives) practicing and learning how to communicate, interact and process (thinking) in ways that neurotypical people do. Therefore, it is important that we occasionally take a step back from our assumptions about what certain behaviours mean and ask ourselves if there are considerations we can make, that allow us to be more inclusive and accepting of neurodiversity. For example, I have sometimes heard people express frustration that they have a disrespectful colleague. They say this colleague is disrespectful because in conversations, that colleague does not look them (or anyone) in the eye while talking. However, if you understood that people who are Autistic find it easier to listen to you, process what you are saying and self-regulate by avoiding eye contact, you would understand that they are potentially giving your more attention than your colleague who might be looking at you but thinking about something else altogether!

Secondly, neurodiverse people often look at the world from a unique perspective and can offer out-of-the-box solutions to some of our biggest problems. In fact, many of them have been responsible for some of humankind’s biggest breakthroughs.
There are too many well-known neurodiverse people to mention, but here is a list with current and historical names you may recognise:

    Albert Einstein – Autistic
    Great Thunberg – Autistic
    Bill Gates – ADHD
    Steve Jobs – Dyslexia
    Isaac Newton – Autistic
    Billie Eilish – Tourette’s Syndrome
    Emma Watson – ADHD
    Richard Branson – Dyslexia and ADHD
    Jennifer Aniston – Dyslexia
    Emily Dickinson – Autistic
    Justin Timberlake – OCD and ADD
    Michael Phelps – ADHD
    Josh Thomas – Autistic

Within our own organisations, the enhanced abilities that neurodiversity can bring include strong pattern recognition skills, analytical thinking, deep focus and enhanced memory, heightened sensory awareness, creativity and visual processing skills. Most importantly, having neurodivergent people in the workplace enables diversity of thinking. This can only enhance our opportunities for creative problem-solving and innovative ideas. Embracing neurodiversity is fundamental for ensuring we are creating an inclusive and productive workplace.

Take a Break…

The following is an excerpt from my book; Success with Less Stress: Chapter 2, Take a Break… Enjoy!

‘Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… Including you.’ Anne Lamott

The next thing I suggest you do is take a break. Seriously?!?!?! First, I ask you to get more sleep, and now I am suggesting you need to take more breaks – just when do I get to work on my goals?

Ah, that’s the kicker – most people think that in order to achieve their goals, to be more successful or even just to manage their heavy workload, that they need to ‘push through’, work harder, spend more time ‘at the office’ etc…. Actually, the bad news is, that working through lunch, taking work home, studying all weekend, or whatever it is that you continue to focus on for extended periods of time, is actually moving your further away from your goal rather than closer to it.

You might be thinking… but I am too busy! I don’t have time to take a break! Ah, if I had a dollar for every-time someone said to me that ‘they don’t have time…’ Sorry folks, but you actually do. ‘I am too busy’ or ‘I don’t have time’ are nice, convenient and sociably acceptable excuses that we tell ourselves and others. (more about this in the chapter on productivity/time management)

Many of us wouldn’t hesitate to take a break after an hour or so of physical exercise, and most people with a regular exercise routine know the value of having a rest day as part of their schedule. But mental breaks? Most people don’t consider the mental fatigue that they are experiencing and the impact that is having on their stress levels, performance and productivity.

The fact is, the more hours you work, and particularly the more hours you work without a break, means the less you will actually achieve. If you don’t believe me, there was a study undertaken by John Pencavel of Stanford University in April 2014 on The Productivity of Working Hours that confirms this.

These days technology allows us to work from anywhere at any time. Which can be great (I love working from home). The idea is that this gives us flexibility and choices around where and when we work. 

Unfortunately, this also has a flip-side, which means many people are connected to their work (and not necessarily to their goals) every waking moment. This means they never really switch off and take a break. Naturally this continued mode of being ‘on’ is not good for stress levels and can actually reduce productivity and leave us to mentally fatigued to focus on our success goals.

While many people feel that there is an expectation that they are and can be available anytime, regretfully. for many of us, we actually create the expectation that we always accessible. Doing this ends up creating more ‘work’ and giving us less time to take a break and truly switch off. I realised I had created that expectation myself while working for a financial services organisation. In this organisation, it was not unusual for employees to be sending and responding to emails of an evening or weekend. In-fact, I can recall one night when I was sitting up with my little girl who was unwell. It was about 1230am. She was lying in the bed with me and seemed quite settled at that point so I thought I would send a couple of quick emails relating to some actions that were on my mind. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised upon sending those emails that just a minute or two later, I received some replies (and no, not out of office replies – actual replies to my emails). The fact that people were replying to me at 1230am, when they should have been asleep (we couldn’t have all had sick children keeping us up that night!) really played on my mind.

A couple of weeks later, I decided to do something really quite radical and take the weekend off. No emailing, no reading of my emails and no replying. It was harder than I thought as I had created such a habit for myself. To ensure I wasn’t tempted to do a ‘quick check’ of what had come through, I turned off the alerts on my phone. This has turned out to be one of the best actions I have ever taken. Not subconsciously listening out for the ‘pings’ of a new email has done wonders for my stress levels and truly allowed me to take genuine breaks and focus on the things that I really want to concentrate on. 

When I arrived at the office on the Monday morning, I had a few people approach me saying ‘hey, I sent you an email over the weekend. I am surprised that you didn’t respond.’ To each of them I replied with a smile on my face, ‘Actually, I decided to take the weekend off and I found I enjoyed it, so I am going to be doing that more in future.’ What do you think their responses were? Unequivocally, every single one of them looked at me and responded genuinely with ‘Good on you!’.  Every. Single. One.

The world hadn’t ended. Disaster’s weren’t looming. No one had died (think about it; unless you are working in a field that requires you to literally save lives, chances are no-one will die if you don’t reply to an email over the weekend).

The benefits of this ‘radical experiment’ turned out to be two-fold. Firstly, I started to truly relax and enjoy my weekends without thinking that I needed to check my phone for new emails. This gave me more time to focus on my success goals including spending more quality time with my daughter. Secondly, and by far the most interesting result of this, was that people stopped sending me emails on the weekend. It just didn’t happen anymore. It was at that point, I realised just how much I had created that expectation in other people around my availability.

So, taking weekends and evenings off is great, but what about taking breaks during the day? Maybe if I am not working at night anymore, I should push through during the day to be sure I get everything done, right? Ah, no.

Ignore the clickbait that tells you that we have an attention span that is less than a goldfish. From the research I have undertaken, the general consensus is that the average adult can focus their attention fully on the task at hand for at best, 20 to 40 minutes. After this amount of time, our concentration wanes and needs to be rebooted.

The breaks that you need at this time are not the ones like updating your Facebook status or checking News.com to see what is happening in the world. They are called ‘distractions’ not breaks. And honestly, I am guilty of these distractions myself. As I have been writing my book on my home PC, I have taken steps such as turning off Facebook and email alerts to ensure that as my concentration dwindles, I don’t take the easy distraction option. The best things you can do is take a break that involves either moving or refuelling (healthy food or drink). And preferably if you are going to be eating, moving to a space away from your desk to do so.

“Don’t worry about breaks every 20 minutes ruining your focus on a task. Contrary to what I might have guessed, taking regular breaks from mental tasks actually improves your creativity and productivity. Skipping breaks, on the other hand, leads to stress and fatigue.” -Tom Rath, New York Times bestselling author

Now, what about holidays and using that annual leave you have accrued? According to a 2015 Roy Morgan Research study, 28% of full-time Australian workers had more than 5 weeks’ annual leave accrued. Take a break people! I often have people say to me that they are too busy to take a holiday or even a short break. That genuinely makes me feel very sad. Thinking back to the expectations that we create, the only reason these people think they are too busy to take a holiday is because that is the story they are telling themselves. Look, how many of us work in such critical and specialised job functions or roles, where if we took a long weekend or heaven forbid a week’s holiday, that the organisation or business would completely collapse without us? Sorry, not sorry, but if you were to get hit by a bus, the organisation would somehow manage to struggle on with-out you. You are replaceable. Someone else can fill in for a day or a week. And if there is really no one else who can do your job, then some serious consideration needs to be given to either a succession planning strategy, or, if you own your own business, how you can set up processes that allow you to step away for a few days.

These days I schedule at least two actual holidays and at least one or two long weekend breaks a year. I run my own business and do not employee other people, so there is no-one to step in and do the work while I am away. My strategy? I plan the holidays in advance, book them in my calendar and then let all my clients know when I won’t be available. Rather than being detrimental to my business, I have found this to be quite the opposite. My clients know that if they want to book me, they need to get in early around the times that I am working. Naturally I have built up good professional relationships with my clients, however I have found that by being clear and honest around my availability, they will provide me with all the flexibility they can. 

In my early thirties (early to mid-career climbing years) I decided to take a year off from work altogether. I took a four-wheel drive, a boat and a tent and spent a year camping and fishing my way around Australia. What a wonderful experience that was! When the money ran out and it was time to come back to ‘the real world’. I had a twinge of concern that taking such a break early to mid-career would be detrimental to my job prospects. Of course, quite the opposite turned out to be true. Every role that I interviewed for when I returned to the workforce, I was offered a position. I ended up being able to choose which role and organisation I wanted to work in. My thoughts on why that was are around the fact that most of the interviewers were fascinated (and some admitted to being a little envious) about my year travelling. After such a great break, I was a relaxed and confident interviewee who had a whole bunch of new life experiences under my belt and felt completely comfortable in my own skin. This naturally came out in my interactions with the various hiring managers.

How Breaks will help you achieve Success with Less Stress (Benefits)

You will have the headspace to re-evaluate and refocus your goals

According to Harvard Business Review ‘When you work on a task continuously, it is easy to lose focus and get lost in the weeds. In contrast, following a brief intermission, picking up where you left off forces you to take a few seconds to think globally about what you’re ultimately trying to achieve. It’s a practice that encourages us to stay mindful of our objectives.’

Your creativity and problem solving abilities will improve

Without a doubt, many of my best ideas have come to me while I have taken a break and been out walking. I have loved just ‘going for a walk’ since I was a young adult. I have always said, ‘walking is just as good for my mind as it is for my body’. To back up my moments of ‘inspiration’ while walking, a Stanford University study found that walking increased creative inspiration by approximately 60%. Walking requires a certain amount of attention but it leaves great parts of the time open to thinking. I do believe once you get the blood flowing through the brain it does start working more creatively,” Geoff Nicholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking.

Improve your memory and learning capacity

Similar as we discussed in our Chapter on Sleep, taking a nap break during the day has been shown to improve learning, memory and increase mental alertness. Ah excuse me Rachel – that sounds very good and all, but, I can’t take naps in the office! Hmmm, maybe not or maybe you can? Many offices these days have multipurpose rooms, alcoves or small meeting rooms that you can book and take a nap for 30 minutes during your lunch break. Trust me, I have done it myself and it did wonders. But don’t just take my word for it, some famous day time nappers include; Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Sir Winston Churchill and Albert Einstein. In-fact, research undertaken by NASA revealed that a 26 minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by 54%.

Your productivity will improve

Yes, just like getting more sleep, taking breaks will actually improve your productivity. According to a study undertaken by The Muse (a career resource hub), found that the most productive people work for 52 minutes at a time, then break for 17 minutes before starting work again. The reason being that is you work in 52 minute bouts you are able to stay focused and work with intense purpose. The 17 minute break is not to be used for checking LinkedIn or other tasks. You use that time to move and refresh. Besides, your bodies were never designed to sit for 8 hours (or more!) straight.

Try these things:

Find time to switch off. Don’t check your phone for emails or messages anytime you have a ‘free’ moment. If something is critically important, the person who needs you won’t be sending an email or a text, they will call you

Please, take a lunch break. And take it away from your desk. Preferably away from your office completely. Even better, go for a walk. And even better again, go for a walk in the park

Book a holiday or even a weekend getaway. Don’t just plan it or think about it. Book it and schedule the break into your calendar

Download and use a Nap App. My favourite is Nap26 which was developed by NASA.

Emotional Intelligence Can Make Your Career


How much of an impact does Emotional Intelligence have on your career?

The research says (in a nutshell) ‘a lot!’

Decades of research has been pointing to high emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets high performers apart from their colleagues. Numerous studies of top performers in the workplace have found that 90% of these high performing individuals are also high in emotional intelligence.

Another fascinating finding is that people with a high degree of emotional intelligence make more money (quite a bit more money actually) at an average of $39,385 more per year than people with a low degree of emotional intelligence. The link between emotional intelligence and salary is so direct that every EQ point increase in emotional intelligence adds $1,765 to an annual salary. These findings have been found to be true for people in all industries, at all job levels, in every region of the world.

Interestingly, a recent Career Builder Survey covering over 2600 Hiring Managers and Human Resource Managers found:

  • 71% value emotional intelligence over an employee’s IQ
  • 75% more likely to promote an employee with high emotional intelligence
  • 59% would pass up a candidate with high IQ but low emotional intelligence

So, with that in mind, you might be asking yourself; what exactly is emotional intelligence and what does it look like?

There are a range of definitions, but one I like is the GENOS definition which states:

Emotional intelligence is the ability to; perceive, understand, express, reason with, and, manage emotions within oneself and others.

Importantly, when applied at work, emotional intelligence is about how intelligently you use emotions to get positive results.

There are a range of models and frameworks which articulate the range of emotionally intelligent competencies, however when you read through the scientific literature, they can all be covered by the following:

1. Noticing and understanding emotions in oneself.

This involves the ability to understand one’s deep emotions and to be able to express them naturally. A person with high ability in this area will be better than most people in sensing and acknowledging his or her emotions.

2. Noticing and understanding emotions in others.

This relates to the ability to perceive and understand emotions in other people. A person with high ability in this area will be better than most people at noticing and understanding other people’s emotions.

3. Effective regulation of emotion in oneself.

This involves the ability to effectively deal with one’s own emotions. A person with high capability in this aspect will be better than most people in preventing his or her emotions from automatically influencing his behaviour. For instance, when a person with high emotion regulation skills experiences anger, he will be able to manage the anger in such a way that he does not say or do anything that he may regret.

4. Using emotions to facilitate performance.

This relates to the ability to make use of emotions by directing them toward constructive activities and personal performance. A person who is highly capable in this aspect is able to encourage him- or herself to continuously do better. He or she is able to direct his or her emotions in positive and productive directions

Emotionally intelligent competencies are elements of human behaviour that are different from your intellect. From all the research to date, there is no known connection between IQ and emotional intelligence. What this means, is that you cannot predict emotional intelligence based on how smart someone is.

Intelligence is your ability to learn, and regardless of how many facts and figures you learn, your IQ is the same at age 15 as it is at age 50. Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, is a flexible set of skills that can be acquired and improved with practice. Although some people are naturally more emotionally intelligent than others, anyone can develop a high level of emotional intelligence if they want to.

How Emotionally Intelligent are you? Your future boss wants to know

Recently I was interviewed by Future Amp, on the role of Emotional Intelligence in our careers. This is their article:

“Anyone can be angry, that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.”


According to experts, the above quote sums up the power of Emotional Intelligence (EI), a universal, age-old human skill that often goes unnoticed.

But increasingly, EI is surfacing as a skill we all need to purposefully cultivate to enable future success in both our personal lives and professional careers. In fact, in order to successfully gain employment and work effectively in diverse teams both in person and remotely, we all need to know how to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them. To do this, we need EI skills to better understand, empathise and negotiate with people around us.

But how do you develop emotional intelligence? And what is it?

Rachel Moore, an EI Practitioner, Trainer and Author, says research shows that our emotional intelligence begins to develop in childhood and continues into our adult years, and that everyone has the ability to improve their emotional intelligence.

“Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, understand, express, reason with and manage emotions within oneself and others. When applied in our careers, emotional intelligence is about how intelligently you use emotions to get positive results – for both yourself and others,” she says.

Justine Lomas, Programs Coordinator and PhD Candidate in the Emotional Intelligence Research Unit at Swinburne University, agrees, but says EI is more than just a set of skills to do with emotions.

“These skills relate to identifying, using and managing emotions. It sounds simple when you think of it like that, but emotions are part of everything we do in life,” she says.

“Emotional intelligence skills include identifying emotions and expressing them accurately, understanding emotions of others, using emotions to solve problems and make decisions, adapting emotions from moment to moment – and controlling our strong emotions.

“Our research in schools shows that emotional intelligence is an important determinant of a range of life outcomes including scholastic success, healthy relationships, leadership, mental health, resilience, well-being and life satisfaction.”

EI is the new IQ

While IQ, short for intelligence quotient, has historically been an identifiable and widely used measure of a person’s professional qualifications and employability profile, increasingly EI is overtaking IQ as the key skill required in the rapidly evolving modern workforce.

“Without a doubt, EI has overtaken IQ as a measure of success. This has been recognised for some time now, and first became a focus area in employment with the release of Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence, Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, which was first published in 1995,” Rachel says.

The World Economic Forum currently has Emotional Intelligence listed in the Top 10 critical career skills for our time, and a 2012 Career Builder Survey covering 2600 Human Resource and Hiring Managers found that:

 71% value an employee’s EI over IQ

75% are more likely to promote an employee with high EI

59% would pass up a candidate with high IQ but low EI

 “Workplaces have become aware of the importance of EI in the last 20 years and I think that the focus on EI in this context is increasing,” Justine says.

 “IQ is an important predictor of a person’s capacity to master the basic skills of a particular job, but that simply isn’t enough these days.

Employers want people on their team who can work well with others, foster a positive and collaborative work environment, be adaptive, think creatively, communicate well, manage stress, stay positive under pressure and be a leader.

All of these things depend on your EI and it is what will make a candidate stand out above others who have the same educational qualifications.”

How do you upskill in EI?

The good news is that EI can be learned. The first step in that learning is making the decision to continue developing and improving your EI as a lifelong learning commitment.

“EI is most definitely a learnable skill. I strongly believe that everyone can, and everyone should spend time developing their emotional intelligence. That being said, it is a lifelong practice. One does not simply achieve a plateau of emotional intelligence and remain there,” Rachel says.

Justine suggests the best way to improve your EI is to start by observing others, asking for feedback about your own behaviours, and exercising greater self-awareness by reflecting on your emotional experiences and how they shape your thoughts and actions.

Future Amp’s Top 5 Tips for Upskilling in EI

LANGUAGE: Start by extending your emotional vocabulary. Emotions give us important information about our experience of the world around us, and when we only have a few emotions in our repertoire, it’s like seeing the world in black and white instead of colour. Grab a piece of paper and a marker and brainstorm a list of all the feelings and emotions you can think of.

LIST: Group list into 10 Basic Emotions – Happiness, Sadness, Anger, Anticipation, Fear, Loneliness, Jealousy, Disgust, Surprise, Trust.

STUDY: Choose a new emotion each week to look out for in yourself and others. When you recognise it, think about the meaning and consequences it has for you, and those around you, as it shows up in your personal or professional situations.

MESSAGES: Learn more about the messages emotions give you. All emotions have a purpose – even the ones that don’t feel so nice, like jealousy, anger or fear! So pay special attention to the purpose or message each emotion might send, and try to recognise patterns or how the emotion plays out in you. Is it constructive? Destructive? Short-lived? Long-lasting?

OBSERVE: Observe others who you think effectively regulate and manage emotions. How do they appear to deal with their moods and emotions? Ask yourself if any of their coping or emotional regulation strategies would be useful to you.

Reference: https://www.futureamp.co/blog/how-emotionally-intelligent-are-you-your-future-boss-wants-to-know

Supporting Remote Workers


In 2020, things have changed. For the most part, the work we do, the way we work, and where we work has changed suddenly and unexpectedly. Many people are now working remotely, and this was not something that they had planned for or had access to previously. As you would expect, some people are loving remote working and some people are not enjoying it at all.  
One of the biggest changes that has occurred in this new environment has been the removal of incidental communication. This incidental communication in the usual workplace includes asking your colleague who sits near you a quick question, catching up with a colleague in the lunchroom, having a hallway conversation which sparks an idea or solution to a problem or simply asking someone how their day is going while you get your coffee,…
With the removal of this incidental communication, intentional communication is needed more than ever. When your team were working together in the same office, fortnightly team meetings and one on one meetings with a manager would have been fine. When working remotely from home, if people are only communicating meaningfully with their team or colleagues once a fortnight, the feeling of isolation is going to become even greater. People need connection, and in this new world of remote work, even the strongest introverts are starting to wonder if maybe they like people after all…. 😊
So what needs to change? Well, in a nutshell, communication in this new environment needs to be intentional, frequent, and face to face (virtually) as often as possible. I would recommend short daily team meetings (such as 15 minutes) and quick one on one check-ins with direct reports if possible. Naturally, if you have a really large team, a daily check-in with every team member is not going to be practicable, so consider your own context and adjust accordingly.
I have been truly amazed by the innovation and proactive problem solving undertaken by so many people in the last few months. People have shown resilience, flexibility, and adaptability and are taking on new challenges with gusto. However, the impact of the lack of incidental communication might be going unnoticed by some, so remember; for everyone’s health and wellbeing; Social Distancing is good, Social Isolation is not.

2020 Resilience


Without a doubt, (and not surprisingly) the most common request I have received in recent months has been for programs to help with Resilience and Stress Management. In 2020, the world of work has changed significantly, and we need to ensure that we are adapting to it and looking after ourselves and the people we work with.

The road to enhanced resilience is certainly paved with adversity. It is a misconception to think that resilient people are happy and positive all of the time. The reality is that the most resilient individuals have experienced a great deal of difficulty or trauma and worked through it. Examples that come to mind for me are usually; Nelson Mandela, Rosie Batty and Malala Yousafzai. However, my personal favourite is Ernest Shackleton.

If you don’t know Shackleton’s story, I genuinely think it is one of the most incredible stories ever told. In a nutshell, he wanted to be the first to cross Antarctica on foot. Within weeks of arriving, his ship was crushed. There was no contact with the outside world. This was 1914, so no satellite phones! Incredibly, it took nearly two years, however he ensured that everyone in his crew got home safe and well. It is truly the most remarkable story. In the most challenging of circumstances, he was able to keep everyone engaged, safe and focused. I often hear from people who express frustration with having to work with limited resources. Well, for Shackleton and his crew this was a serious lack of resources over an extended period of time such as limited food, insufficient clothing and inadequate shelter in below freezing conditions!

Sometimes unexpected events come out of the blue, that change things for us overnight. COVID has certainly done this for many people. For many people, things changed dramatically and quickly with little or no warning at all. As a leader, Shackleton had a strong and clear vision, which he had to change in the instant that his ship was crushed and sank. He stepped away from his personal goal of crossing Antarctica and instead focused on getting every one of his crew home safely. Like Shackleton (though hopefully in less dangerous circumstances) sometimes we have to let go of a vision for our life, work and family and recognise that there are things that may change which are outside of our influence. When this happens (because this is life and it will happen), focusing on what we can influence is vital.

Remember: ‘While we cannot control the pandemic and all that it brings, most of us actually do have a tremendous sphere of control. We CAN control who we are and what we want to stand for in the face of it. We can control what we read and what we share. We can control how we listen to and support the people around us.’

Everyone is resilient, albeit to differing degrees based on life experiences. Resilience is not fixed and we can all enhance our ability to not only adapt, but to thrive, and just as importantly, to look after others when life throws us a curve ball.

In the words of Charles Darwin: ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change’. 


Working from Home


Supporting the DiSC Styles

In what has been a very uncertain and new time for many of us, we are have been facing an environment where a number of us are working from home and many of our teams are working remotely. However, this does not have to mean the end of teamwork and great communication.
Many of you have undertaken DiSC training with me in the past, and you may be curious to understand how your style and the style of your team members will influence what working from home may be like.
Each of the styles is listed below along with productivity tips to help you and your team. I hope you enjoy this and find it useful.

D Style – Dominance (I prefer to call the D style Drivers): 


  • Need for Action will mean they need to know things are getting done.
  • Willing to take risks and like the freedom to make their own choices.
  • Willing to speak up about issues so you don’t have to worry about them sitting on problems while you can’t see them.
  • May struggle to have patience for the change and transition period where productivity could dip.

Tips to work productively from home:

  • Set new challenges for them to work towards, this will be a great time for them to learn and finesse new skills.
  • Provide clear guidelines and expectations of what they can and cannot do, and the results that are expected of them. That way they have a sense of autonomy, but you both know where the line is and when they need to reach out for advice/consideration.
  • Create healthy competitions and targets to motivate and drive your D-Style employees. This can even be in the form of fun, inter-team challenges such as the most clients contacted in a day, opportunities raised etc.-use your imagination!
  • Always reward their successes with recognition of a job well done and provide them with the reward of a new task to demonstrate the value you place on them.
  • Make sure they are clear on the team goals and the importance of these, so that they do not get too caught up in their own tasks and forget the importance of collective results.

i Style – Influence:


  • Their need for Collaboration and enjoyment of social settings will mean this is a tough situation for them, working remotely, as they prefer regular interaction to feel engaged and remain most productive in the team.
  • The i-Style does not like predictability so try to pose this as a new and positive experience. Harness their enthusiasm for the benefit of the team in maintaining an upbeat attitude.

Tips to work productively from home:

  • Check in regularly to ensure they are staying motivated and also as a way to engage socially with their staff.
  • Set up video conferencing to enable more interactive conversations and embrace their enthusiasm, the team will appreciate this during uncertain times.
  • Always set new goals for i-Style staff to work towards to continue their momentum and enthusiasm.
  • Don’t forget, lots of praise for a job well done! Public recognition is typically embraced by the i-Style so a team email probably won’t go astray!
  • i-Styles love socialising so use this desire for networking to task them with engaging your customers and clients-unleash their social abilities which will benefit your clients and staff!
  • Make sure you set clear guidelines for work as their enthusiasm may initially cover up a lack of clarity, and they may be prone to lose track of final goals.

S Style – Steadiness:


  • This may be a tricky time for those who place a high priority on Stability, as the disruption to routine will require adjustment.
  • They have a need for the approval of others so regular check ins, clear communication and ongoing support are musts!
  • The S-Style has a tendency to hold back their opinions, so managers should make sure they are directly asking for feedback and clarity, otherwise it may not be given freely.
  • May work effectively alone but over time could struggle with the lack of personal connection, as S-Style people do place more importance on being warm and outgoing.

Tips to work productively from home:

  • Maintain open lines of communication.
  • Set up regular check-ins and provide constructive feedback or confirmation of their good work. Alternatively, if they are struggling, clearly outline why/ how this is happening and how you will work to help them change this.
  • Ensure they are properly set up to work from home as the sooner they find a new routine, the sooner they will feel a sense of stability.
  • Provide clear step-by-step instructions and ask questions to make sure they understand tasks.
  • Avoid rushing them to complete tasks and instead set clear, agreed upon deadlines. On the other hand, if they are not getting the job done, then you should address this in a clear manner and be firm about your expectations.
  • Offer sincere praise for any job well done, but unlike the i-style, one-to-one or private praise is typically more appreciated, they don’t want the limelight.
  • Provide long-term, overarching goals to satisfy their comfort with working steadily towards a goal, show them how they fit into the bigger picture.
  • The S-Style will be great at supporting their co-workers during this time and providing a supportive environment, similarly, they will appreciate the same from others!

C Style – Conscientiousness 


  • The C-Style prefers working independently and so will most likely thrive working from home, provided they have the information required to do so effectively.
  • C-Styles like to ensure streamlined processes so if you are unsure about setting new policies and guidelines for working from home, feel free to reach out for their thoughts.

Tips to work productively from home:

  • Provide them with as much factual information and detail as possible so that they are clear on tasks and expectations.
  • Minimise micromanaging by setting scheduled check ins and sticking to them.
  • Set clear deadlines so that they do not spend too long obsessing over single projects or tasks, trying to get them perfect. On a similar note, avoid rushing them to complete tasks as they will feel pressured and stressed by this.
  • Ensure that you are asking for their opinions that they may not express openly and that there are no underlying feelings of discontent that may cause them to become resentful and reduce productivity.
  • Provide specific feedback and praise on tasks well done, in a private setting. This will be more meaningful than generic compliments which may be perceived as empty.
  • Reward them by asking for their input and providing them with opportunities to manage tasks autonomously.
  • Ensure they are aware of team goals as well as their own so that they do not loose perspective since they may be less likely to check in regularly with coworkers.

Tips for all styles:

  • Create a daily routine.
  • Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise in daily.
  • Create a dedicated workspace so that you can concentrate during work and switch off afterwards. Don’t work from bed and ensure your set up is comfortable for extended periods of time.
  • Make to-do lists and regularly check in with your team.
  • Stay focused, maybe have some music in the background but leave the TV off!
  • Ensure some level of social interaction, Zoom calls with co-workers are great, or call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while.
  • Get comfy for the day, if you do your best work in active wear that’s fine, others may like the routine of getting dressed and doing their hair/ makeup to feel ready for work.
  • Do what works for you! Everyone is different and we all need to respect those differences, tune into what you need to be most effective, and give yourself every chance to be productive.

The Voice in Your Head…


I want to talk with you about that voice in your head. You know the one, it’s always there. The one that reminds you that you ‘cannot’ do something, or that you have never been any good at something else… It reminds you that; ‘I can’t sing, I can’t dance, I can’t lose weight, I am useless at maths, I have a terrible sense of direction’, and so it goes…

Our brain is quite incredible. We tell ourselves stories all the time and our brain accepts these stories as true or fact, until or unless, we tell it otherwise. Mostly we do not even recognise that we are telling ourselves these stories. The thing is, these stories can be holding us back from achieving our potential or being able to do the things we really would like to be doing.

To this end, we end up creating our own versions of ‘reality’.

But what is reality, really?

In any given moment, reality can be changed because reality is based on the observer or individual. We know that through the varying accounts of eyewitnesses provided at any given crime scene. Five different witnesses can mean five different accounts of what did or did not happen. Our reality is merely our brain’s understanding of the world, which is based on our own and individual experiences, beliefs and self-talk. 

Think about this: it is said that on average we verbalise about 16,000 words a day and that we have anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. Now think about all those thoughts. How many of those do you think are factual, and how many of them are really assumptions, judgements or stories we are telling ourselves. Just think about that for a moment.

To add to our assumptions, judgements and stories, all of these thoughts are interlaced with complex emotions. Some are positive and helpful, such as: ‘I’ve worked hard on this report and will ace the presentation at today’s Board Meeting’. Others are negative and less helpful, such as: ‘She doesn’t like me, I am useless at data analysis, why am I always the one who (insert your own, why does this always happen to me here)?’

It is important to recognise that we can change that perspective at any moment. One of my all-time favourite TED Talks is The Happy Secret to Better Work, by Shawn Achor. In that talk, he says: ‘We’re finding it’s not necessarily reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.’

Let me give you an example of when I saw this in action. It is an example that most people will relate too, as many people have a strong aversion to the idea of speaking in public.

I had a colleague approach me once and ask ‘who was the worst-case scenario I had ever worked with, in terms of a person not being able to speak in public, and who then went on to become a public speaker.’ I laughed and said ‘well, that would have been me’. I then went on to explain my story to her. Up until my mid-twenties, the mere thought of speaking to a group of people terrified me. If I had to speak to a group, I would physically sweat and shake and my voice would stammer so much, I could barely get words out. It was awful. I can still see the looks on people’s faces, which tended to be more horror than pity. I couldn’t even sit with a group of people at a table and contribute to a conversation. Fortunately for me, I recognised that this wasn’t helping me at all, and (long story short), I attended a public speaking program and learned how to speak in public.

It certainly wasn’t easy and the only way to learn how to do speak in public is to actually speak in public. However, I then went on (a very short time after that) to start a career that required me to speak in front of groups of people every single day and I loved it and continue to love it. In fact, I couldn’t have had the career I have had and all the wonderful experiences I have enjoyed without having learned to speak in public.

Having said that, my story is not the example I want to highlight in this article. Rather it is my colleague’s story of when she approached me and what followed. After I gave her a brief overview of my own story, she said to me. ‘I know that in order to progress in my career I need to learn how to speak in public.’ She then went on to say in a very strong and certain voice, ‘However, I will never be able to speak in public’.

I stopped her right there. Can you see what she was doing? Did you hear what she said? Every time she thought to herself or said out loud ‘I will never be able to speak in public’ her mind replied ‘OK’. She was giving herself permission to not even try, because she ‘knew’ she would never be able to do it.

I asked her to simply change what she was telling herself. Instead of saying ‘I will never be able to speak in public’ I suggested she say, ‘I am not comfortable speaking in public yet’. That simple rewording, and in particular, adding ‘yet’, can be very powerful. It tells your mind that this thing (you used to say you could never do) is now a possibility and maybe you will be able to do it in the future.

I was so proud of my colleague. Not only did she take my suggestion on board, but three weeks later she came to see me and told me that she had enrolled in Toastmasters (an organisation that teaches public speaking skills). Naturally, she was still very nervous about public speaking and told me that she planned to attend a few meetings and give herself permission to get up and speak when she felt ready.

Notice the ‘when’ rather than ‘if’? It was less than a month later that she came to see me and excitedly told me that she had spoken to the group at her meeting the night before. Honestly, I could not have been happier for her. In less than two months, she had gone from someone who ‘would never’ be able to speak in public, to someone who had spoken in public and would go on to learn to become very comfortable with it and end up enjoying it.

So think for a moment. What are the stories you are telling yourself? Are you: not creative, can’t dance, can’t sing, terrible at maths, no good at sport? Maybe it is time to change the story you are telling yourself and possibly even change your life 🙂

Death by Meetings?

For those of you that work in any sort of business environment, how much do you love meetings?

Ok, ok, I can almost hear the groans and see the eye rolls 😊

Recently I took the opportunity to see Patrick Lencioni speak live in Melbourne. If you do not know who he is; Patrick is an American writer of books on business management, particularly in relation to team management. He is best known as the author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, a popular business fable that explores work team dynamics and offers solutions to help teams perform better. I use his model quite regularly in my programs which is why I wanted to hear him speak in person, however it was what he said about meetings that really grabbed my attention and changed my perspective.

Most people will talk about meetings in a manner that suggests they feel they have too many of them and they are not an effective use of their time. Some people will say that they spend so much time in meetings that they don’t have time to get their real work done, or that if they didn’t have to spend so much time in meetings, then they would actually be able to enjoy their job. The sad thing is that this has really become quite socially acceptable and many people will be nodding in agreement as a colleague laments the meetings they attend.

This is what Patrick said; complaining about meetings, particularly if you are a leader is actually quite ironic. It would be like a surgeon saying, as he wheeled someone into the operating theatre, ‘You know, I would love this job if I didn’t have to operate on all these people’.

Think about what it means in an organisation to be a leader. Where do Leaders do their leading? Is it from their office or from behind their computers? (Sadly, I do see Leaders who try to do that…… you can imagine how successful they are – not). No, Leaders lead when they are with their people….and in organisations, Leaders are with their people in meetings.

Meetings are where you lead. So, in a nutshell, this is where you do your job. 

The thing about meetings is that meetings themselves are not inherently bad, it is the way we are conducting them that is the issue. If you listen to Patrick talk about the issues with meetings, he explains what most meetings lack; Context and Conflict.


With context, there can be two issues; either trying to fit too many different topics into one meeting or holding meetings without a clear purpose. I remember attending a meeting as an external stakeholder, to learn more about the team. For about 45 minutes or so the team chatted and talked in general terms about things that were going on. There seemed to be no agenda for the meeting or specific outcome to be achieved. At the end of the meeting I asked a couple of participants, ‘why do you have this meeting?’ They looked at me with genuine confusion and said they didn’t know why. It turned out that they had been having a Monday morning meeting at 0900 every Monday for more than 10 years and yet they didn’t know why!

If this is happening in your team or organisation, perhaps you might like to try something along the lines of what Google and One Drive did and cancel all ongoing or recurring meetings from everyone’s diary for a month. This can really help people work out which meetings they need to have and which they don’t.


There is so much to say about encouraging conflict or tension in meetings, but to cover it all, this article would become an essay. So, I do suggest reading Patrick Lencioni’s book; Death by Meetings or watching one of his many talks available on YouTube.

Think about the meetings you attend. Now be honest, what are people really doing in these meetings?  What are you doing in these meetings? Some people may be engaged and participating, but you will notice many who are reading and responding to emails, texting on their phones or planning their day or evening.  

What we need to be doing is creating an environment that engages people emotionally, and enables discussion and debate, so they actually want to fully participate.

“When a group of intelligent people come together to talk about issues that matter, it is both natural and productive for disagreement to occur. Resolving those issues is what makes a meeting productive, engaging, even fun.”  Patrick Lencioni

A simple change you might like to make is how you open your meetings. Think about this; if I were to ask you, what is the most important part of a movie, what would you say? Some people will say the ending or the climax, however the most important part of a movie is the first ten minutes. That is because, it is in the first ten minutes that we decide if we like the movie or not. If the first ten minutes of a movie doesn’t grab our attention, we tend to think this movie is boring, and then we don’t end up watching it or we don’t really engage with it. We do other things while it is playing ‘in the background’.

Think about the first ten minutes of your meetings. Are you giving people a reason to care about the meeting or are you sending a signal that this is going to be boring? Picture this, it’s 3pm, you are starting to feel the afternoon slump, and you are called into a 2 hour budgeting meeting that opens with; John, could you give us an overview of last years numbers…. Or Sarah, could you read the minutes from the last meeting…… yawn….

What is the actual purpose of the meeting? If it is to set this year’s budget and allocate funds, then that is what is going to engage the participants in healthy discussion and debate, and not reviewing the numbers or reading the minutes (both of which could have been passed on in other ways). Try starting with, ‘Ok, the decisions that we make in the next 2 hours are going to impact everything we do for the next 12 months. It will impact team/division/organisational resources and the ability for us and our team members to do their jobs.’

Much more engaging and now you have my attention.