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November 2014




Life is not a Bunch of Tasks!

"We live in a fantasy world, a world of illusion. The great task in life is to find reality."

… Iris Murdoch (1919 - 1999) Irish author

Bucket lists, to do lists, KPIs. These are just some of the things designed to help people live a fulfilling life in today's fast paced world. However, for many people they take over their world. They are compelled by the things they think they have to do.

It seems many of us spend our lives doing one task after another. We do one thing, finish it and then do the next thing and repeat this until we collapse at the end of the day and fall into bed only to get up the next day and repeat the process. Visit The HubAnd yet, we never seem to have time to do all we want to get done, so we learn time management skills to get better at doing our many tasks more efficiently. And still we cannot do all we want to do. It is little wonder that many people feel overwhelmed, unfulfilled and unsuccessful in life.

Now you may be thinking this article will be all about how to better deal with having to do too much in life, but it is not. What I want to focus on this month is not about developing better time management skills but what happens for us when we see life as a series of things to do. When our focus on tasks and task lists drive us.

I do not wish to imply that we should ignore the role of tasks and task management as as a means to help us manage what we wish to complete in life. What I want to invite you to think about is what can happen if we see tasks as part of life rather than as defining our life. In other words, to step away from defining everything as a task. Let me use an example to highlight what I mean.

Many organisational leaders decide they should have a set of values to underpin the culture of their organisation. They set aside time to develop those values, normally word smithing them ad nauseum until they come up with some words that are seen as generally acceptable to those involved. The values are then put up around the building and into some documents and then any attention to them tends to peter out. Sound familiar?

One of the possible reasons this can occur is that many of those involved in the creation of values see this as a task with the outcome being the words themselves. Once the task is done they move onto the next task, forgetting about why they created the values in the first place. They perceive that what is required is some words and not the embodiment of those values into daily organisational life to generate a desirable organisational culture.

One way of looking at this differently, and I feel more effectively, is to see life as a continuum of experience rather than a set of things to be done. Life is not just what we do but also what we believe and how we feel at any given moment during the day. If we apply that to my values example, then the approach to bringing the organisational values forth might be different.

The organisational leader(s) could still go through a process to come up with some values. Ideally these values are based on a framework covering the key elements of culture, such as the Human Synergistics constructive styles. The key is to not spend too much time word smithing these, as to do so creates the impression that once the values are defined the task is complete. Rather, once the values have been defined, the challenge is to bring them to life and create a shared understanding of what they mean. This is done in part by drawing on experiences as they occur and determing whether those experiences fit the values or not and having conversations to develop shared meaning. The difference is to appreciate that the creation of values is not a task to find words but an ongoing experience in creating shared meaning. So rather than simply seeking the creation of values as a task with an objective outcome, it is seen as an ongoing experience to embody those values and bring meaning to them.

This speaks to life in general. Rather than thinking of life in terms of the things you have to do, we can think of it in terms of the experiences we are having. We don't just have to go to the supermarket to do the shopping and get the things on the list. We could go and embrace the experience of shopping. We can take in the people, the smells, the sounds. We could follow that old cliche and "stop and smell the roses" as we go through life. We may well find ourselves living a more fullfilled and satisfying life and still get things done.

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 in 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

"As long as we are persistence in our pursuit of our deepest destiny, we will continue to grow. We cannot choose the day or time when we will fully bloom. It happens in its own time."

... Denis Waitley 

Mental Health vs. Mental Illness

Not long ago I was chatting with a client and she was telling me about a person she heard speak recently. She couldn’t remember her name or I can’t if she did tell me but the speaker’s message was a great one. The speaker talked about the difference between mental illness and mental health and drew the distinction between them in an interesting and thought provoking way.

The speaker talked about what it meant for people who were not mentally ill but were living with really poor mental health… those who were stressed and anxious, irritable and cranky. I am pretty sure that there aren’t too many of you out there who would willingly choose to live your lives like that. However it is all too common. When I talk with clients and friends and family members there are any number of people who exhibit those behaviours or talk with me about people they know who are exhibiting them. It is a sad state of affairs.

I call it a sad state of affairs for a number of reasons:

  1. It seems to have become the norm for so many people
  2. It infects and affects those around the person with poor mental health
  3. It can too easily tip into mental illness if left unmanaged

The other distinction the speaker made warranting attention is that a person may be living with a diagnosed mental illness and yet have sound mental health.  Post diagnosis the person is having therapeutic conversations, has a network of support to help out, may be taking the appropriately prescribed medication and can be living a fulfilling and purposeful life.  They actively seek to build and sustain their resilience focussing on everything from physical activity and sleep through to play and creativity. They purposefully maintain good mental health.

The sad state of affairs on this front is that those people are still unlikely to disclose their mental illness status for fear of being judged as loopy, crazy and unfit for purpose.

So what can you and I do to change this?

Firstly, if, on reflection, you are one of those people with poor mental health my invitation is for you to step off the treadmill, think about how you want to feel and interact with others and find the help, support, tips and strategies to shift your mental health status. Yes, this is more easily said than done. However, help is available. Just ask. And if you not sure where to start I highly recommend you check out the “listen on demand” episodes of my Radio Show “But I Feel Good”. Great music, helpful information.

Secondly, if you fall into the second category of mental illness with sound mental health then here’s my invitation for you! In as many different areas of your life that you feel comfortable (it might be only one) pick ONE PERSON and share your journey of mental illness to sound mental health.  Be a part of the movement that is helping those who don’t yet understand that mental illness does not mean a life babbling in a straight jacket.

And from a lovely friend this came across my desk: saying “you don’t have anything to be depressed about, your life is great” is like saying “what do you mean you have asthma, there’s loads of air in here!”

Be a part of moving our society, one person at a time, beyond awareness and into better understanding, greater compassion and acceptance of mental illness.


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.

You can listen to on demand episodes at www.jacquichaplin.com.

The Monthly Diversion

Something a little bit different.

Try this and see if you can consciously control your foot. Let us know if you manage it!

1. While you are sitting, lift your right foot off the floor and rotate it in clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with you right hand - As you do so bring your attention back to your right foot. Which direction is it now going? I suspect it will be moving counter-clockwise. It sure does for me. Even, if you try to maintain the clockwise motion, it appears we are hard-wired so that we can't make it happen.

Go figure!


"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go."

… 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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