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October 2014




Are You Boxed In?

"There is no great genius without a mixture of madness."

… Aristotle (384BC – 322BC) Greek Philosopher

Think outside the square! How many times have you heard people say that? I know I have heard more times than I care to remember. There seems little doubt that innovation is one of the most prized qualities for many people and organisations, yet it is probably one of the most elusive.

Visit The HubThink of the people in history who have been truly innovative. People like Albert Einstein, Walt Disney and Steve Jobs. People who changed the way we look at the world and opened our eyes to new possibilities. In the context of the billions of people who have lived on the planet, they are few and far between. And these people didn't think outside the square, they didn't seem to have a square.

Why do some people think so radically differently to the rest? After all, most human beings are able to see possibilities when we look for them. Maybe the answer lies in something else. Maybe the challenge to be innovative may be less about our capacity to see new possibilities and more about our inability to escape the square. So what is the square?

It seems to me that the square is what we already believe we know to be true. It is our answers to life. We may be able to articulate that truth or it may lay deeply hidden in our basic assumptions about life. With that in mind, the square may be visible or invisible to us. This is a useful distinction. When we can see the square, we can see beyond. When we cannot see it, we are trapped and do not know it. Even when we can see the boundaries of the square, it is often hard to look beyond them.

One of the keys to escaping the square lies in a simple stance. Do we always demand answers or are we prepared to live in the question? Throughout our life, we have been constantly taught to give the answer. At school, we were not graded on how great were our questions but how well we were able to answer other people's questions in the way they wanted. At work, we were told to not come to the boss with problems but with solutions. Throughout life, many of us have been rewarded for responding in the right way. We seek to employ people who work the same way and who fit in with the rest of us. We talk about the desire for embracing differences, then do little about it particularly in regard to people who do not think the same as us.

Another key to escaping the square relates to understanding the difference between what is true and what is our opinion of something or someone. All too often people hold their opinion as fact. In doing so, they put themselves into a situation where they see their opinions as immutable and create a square that is even more difficult to transcend.

If we wish to be more innovative, it is important to be more willing to embrace the idea of living in the question and the uncertainty that goes with it. It can also be valuable to explore our basic assumptions and be willing to admit that our opinions are just that - opinions. Ultimately, we can seek to be better prepared to see the square in which we live and allow ourselves to live beyond it.

We invite you to explore more in the articles section of our web site.


Spreading the Ontological Word

One of our goals at Talking About is to share the ontological approach with the world. If you enjoy our newsletter, you may also find value in the one that I regularly read produced by master ontological coach Aboodi Shabi.

Aboodi, who works out of the UK, provides some insightful thoughts into various aspects of life his newsletter. For example, in his last issue he looked at the impact on learning of our inability to say that we are incompetent.

If you are interested in further stimulating your thinking then I invite you to have a look. You can find his blog at http://www.aboodishabi.com/ or sign up for his newsletter at by clicking here.

Play Create Elevate

Some thoughts from Jacqui Chaplin

"We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do."

... Mother Teresa (1910 – 1997) Roman Catholic Religious Sister 

The Kindness of Strangers

I am not sure whether it’s the culture of those who live in the country to help a person out or not. For those of you who read last month’s article, Network of Support Back In The News, you’ll know my car broke down recently, in the middle of nowhere (metaphorically speaking).

After I had called for Roadside Assistance, during the first hour of waiting for the mechanic, two people stopped to ask if I was OK and whether I needed any help. Between my assumptions about what was wrong with the car and their mechanical aptitude, their offers were more about checking I was OK or offering me a lift to the nearest town. As you may know you have to stay with your car to wait for Roadside Assistance.

What was interesting, upon reflection, was how delighted and supported I felt when some stopped just to check I had everything as under control as possible.  And that I did not, until the time of writing, think about the multiplicity of people who passed me by in the same hour without stopping.  Maybe they didn’t notice my bonnet up. Maybe they were having one of the worst days of their life. Maybe they assumed I’d already called for assistance and there was nothing more they could do to help. Maybe they didn’t care about the stranger and her broken down car.

Again, I had the opportunity to notice the difference that the resilience building strategies I preach and practice supported my ability to wait calmly. After the advised wait time was up I called to check I was still on the list. I was. But after 65 minutes I was told that due to a particularly busy day I would have to wait another 240 minutes. That’s 4 hours to save you doing the maths! It was already 4.30pm and I did not fancy being 30 centimetres off the Pyrenees Highway in a black car in the dark, hoping they didn’t push that wait out even further.

Fortunately, there was one more caring stranger, called Brian, who took the time to pull over. This time the universe conspired for good. I’d worked out what the problem was and that a strong hand and a Philips head screw driver were all that were needed to re-attach the wayward hose. My appropriately equipped rescuer undertook the repairs required and saved me from an interminably long and potentially unsafe situation.  In parting I said to Brian that I hoped he didn’t mind me being forward, being a stranger and having just met but, I loved him!  You should’ve seen his eyes light up!

So here’s the mind health link… what would your life be like if the occasional stranger, when noticing your difficulty or distress, offered to help you? And, what could our society and the human race be like if when noticing a stranger in difficulty or distress we offered a little unexpected human kindness? It can be as simple as asking, “Are you OK?”


Play Create Elevate also offers your organisation the opportunity to hear first-hand, from a lived experience perspective about the signs and symptoms of mood disorders, how to give and get help and how to build and sustain resilience. PwC have released a report that says for every dollar spent in creating mentally healthy workplaces that an ROI of at least $2.30 is possible… What are you waiting for?  It’s time to speak openly and comfortably about mind health matters!

We invite you to read Jacqui's blog here

You can visit the Play Create Elevate website here

More on PCE next month!

Hey, did you know?

"But I Feel Good" Radio Show

Radio Show

Did you know that since November 2013, Jacqui has been hosting a weekly radio show called ‘But I Feel Good’ …talking about pink elephants and black dogs.

The show is dedicated to speaking openly and comfortably about the ‘black dog’ of mood disorders from a lived experience perspective and the ‘pink elephant’ strategies and practices that build emotional resilience and inner fortitude.

It covers a range of topics related to mind health and plays a great mix of music in between interviews with subject matter experts and related content.

The show goes live to air, streaming on www.MAINfm.net so it can be heard AROUND THE WORLD every Monday from 1-3pm AET. Its official broadcast base is 94.9 MAIN FM which extends across the Mt Alexander Shire in Victoria on the wireless.

On demand episodes are also available at www.jacquichaplin.com.

The Monthly Diversion

Given our topic this month, here are some people whom it seemd would amount to nothing

Abraham Lincoln - Former US president Abraham Lincoln first went into politics at the age of 23 when he campaigned for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly and failed. He then opened a general store which failed after only a few months.

Robert M Pirsig - His well known book ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ was rejected by 121 publishers. Since finally being published in 1974 it has gone on to sell millions of copies in 27 languages.

Michael Jordan - The most famous name in basketball was actually cut from his high school basketball team.

John Wayne - Before his successful acting career he was rejected from the United States Naval Academy.

Steven Spielberg - This household name dropped out of high school and applied to attend film school three times but was unsuccessful due to his C grade average.

Beethoven - His music teacher once told him that he was a hopeless composer.

Henry Ford - The Ford Motor Co was Henry Ford’s third business, the first two didn’t work out.

Winston Churchill - This former British Prime Minister did poorly in school and had a speech impediment in his early years.

Walt Disney - He was fired by the editor of a newspaper for lacking in ideas.

Soichiro Honda - The founder of Honda was turned down for an engineering job by Toyota after World War Two.

Charles Darwin - His father told him he would amount to nothing and would be a disgrace to himself and his family.

Albert Einstein - He learned to speak at a late age and performed poorly in school.

Thomas Edison - As a boy he was told by his teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything.

John Grisham - This best selling novelist’s first novel was rejected by sixteen agents and twelve publishing houses.

Isaac Newton - He failed at running the family farm and did poorly in school.


"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities."

… Theodor Seuss Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) (1904 – 1991)American writer, poet, and cartoonist

Join Us Online

LinkedInDo you want to explore some of these ideas in more depth? Then, we invite you to join our LinkedIn Group and share any insights you may have. As others have done, we also initiate your own thoughts and conversations if they relate to the ontological approach. You can find us on LinkedIn by clicking here.

Want to Read More?

Since the formation of Talking About in 2005, we have published our e-zine every month. Before that, Chris wrote regular newsletters and e-zines with Gaia Consulting dating back to 1995. If you would like to explore more of Chris' ideas then you can access our e-zine archive and view any newsletter written since 2005 by clicking here or to look at all the articles Chris has written over the years simply click here.

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