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July 2015




The Narrative of Change

"If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.”

… Henry Ford (1863-1947) US Businessman

You may not realise it but there are always two aspects to any change experience regardless of whether it is at an individual, group or organisational level. The first aspect is the things that will change and the second aspect is the story associated with that change. Indeed, this is not just about change but life in general. There are the actions and things that happen and then there is our story about them. We speak about this as 'phenomenon' and 'story'.

This can be seen as the difference between the facts, which are things we know to be true, and interpretation, which are what those facts mean to us.

That these two go hand in hand is something I have observed over many years in my work, yet it seems the people seeking to create change almost always don't deal coherently with both of these aspects, tending to favour one over the other.

For example, think of our politicians who spend so much time and energy spinning their story yet seem to neglect that many of their actions are inconsistent with their words. It seems over time, we are becoming more and more disenchanted with our political leaders and much of it stems from this focus on selling a story they cannot hope to turn in action and the outcomes they are declaring, which never come to pass.

On the other hand, organisations go through change all the time and generally put their emphasis on the process of change, tending to pay passing attention to the story of why the change is necessary, what it will be and how it will be implemented. Organisational leaders seem largely incapable of creating an overarching shared narrative of what the organisation is about and what it is seeking to achieve.

There is a simple model, known as the 'story action cycle', that allows us to see how this could work better. We all have a story about how the world is for us. This story includes what we believe we are capable of doing and the possibilities that are open for us. As Henry Ford so eloquently put it, "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." The actions we take are a direct result of our story of the situation and our capability to deal with it. As we tend to take the actions we think we are limited to taking, this reinforces our story and so the cycle continues and nothing ever changes.

When it comes to change, we are seeking to break that cycle. Whether it is a group change or and individual change, we have to find a way to redefine our story of what is possible and then take the action required to develop and maintain a new narrative.

Good coaches have known about the connection between story and action for a long time. We are not only helping people take more effective action, above all we are helping them develop more useful stories about themselves and what is possible.

I invite you to take a look at your organisation and see how much effort they put into developing a narrative that is consistent with the actions being taken, particularly when it comes to major change situations. Think about how you could do this better. It may well help you bring forth the change that is needed in this dynamic world.

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


Mind Health Matters

Some thoughts from Jacqui Chaplin

“A good half of the art of living is resilience.”

... Alain de Botton

What Builds Resilience?

Resilience and the strategies each of us can learn and use to build and sustain resilience play a crucial role in our lives. When Chumbawamba released 'I Get Knocked Down (But I Get Up Again)' it took its rightful place as a resilience anthem. Given our wonderfully diverse nature as human becomings there are as many individuals as there are unique preferred resilience strategies.

Research from mental health institutes point to a distinct set of resilience strategies. Two of the primary strategies are focused not only on mind health and resilience but on physical health, recognising the chicken and egg relationship between our mind health and our physical health, together creating our overall health status. One strategy is the importance of 30 minutes of heart rate raising activity every day. The other is fuelling and resting your body appropriately. Fresh food, water, rest and recreation as well as sleep all come into play here.

Human contact and relationships with others is also of fundamental importance in being resilient. The research says “good relationships” are a cornerstone of resilience. Yet when I ask people to define what a good relationship means to them too many struggle to articulate the what and how of a good relationship. My invitation to you is to think of your top three keys to good relationships: what you appreciate others doing for you and what you believe is important to do for them.

Being aware of and choosing thoughts that serve you well, coupled with keeping a level head, are the next two resilience strategies. In the work I have been doing as an Executive and Corporate Coach for the last 15 years there is a saying that I often use: Your language generates your reality. This has a direct link to the importance of keeping a predominantly positive attitude when it comes to your thoughts and your language. Level headedness can be gained and maintained through deep breathing, meditation and being the gate keeper of your own thoughts.

Volunteering is the next resilience strategy on the list of research proven strategies. Whether it’s hitting the nearest soup kitchen, taking care of an elderly neighbour, being a Rotarian or volunteering on a community radio station, volunteering in a way that matches your skills or preferences with a group or individual in need of assistance is an all-round win-win situation.

Research has shown that having some spiritual dimension, something that is bigger than us as an individual can help build and sustain resilience. It need not be organised or even a recognised religion that you engage in… you might find that nature might be the way you feel connected to a larger sense than yourself.

Appreciate the little things seems like such an easy thing to do. It is simple but not necessarily easy when the day to day challenges and regular activities approach like an epic tsunami. Finding the time to recognise, engage and enjoy the little things in life can mean a useful refocus when the tsunami hits. The smell of a heritage rose, dew drops on spider webs in the early morning sunlight, the changing colours of the leaves in autumn, the infectious giggle of little kids or your pet asleep with their legs in the air like they just don’t care all fit the bill.

Play and Creativity is the resilience strategy that works for me. Putting pen to paper without thought, plan or design allows for a free flowing release from expectations that we all experience in life. Play, although something seemingly relegated to the purview of children, is something that is missing from the lives of adults. To engage in activities that have no purpose but pure childlike wonder and enjoyment are deemed to be a waste of time and childish – like childish is a bad thing to be when you are relaxing and playing. And yet every time I get adults to play in childlike ways the smiles on their faces, their relaxed postures and expressions of wonder tell me that this is something that would benefit them.

When will you play in a childlike way? Will you dip your fingers in finger paint and create in an unconstrained way? Will you pin the tail on the donkey? Will you let a 7 year old put make up on your face? Will you get your face painted the next time your 3 year old niece does? Will you jump whole heartedly into the next big puddle you find?

Here’s to finding playful, creative, child-like ways to build and sustain your resilience.


Because you mind health matters!


If you’d like me to speak about mind health matters and resilience at your conference or to your organisation please contact me at jacqui@jacquichaplin.com or +61 (0)412 741 531

Play Create Elevate 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 $2.13 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

More on Mind Health Matters next month!


“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

... Steve Jobs, (1955-2011) US Entrepreneur and Businessman

Want to Learn More About Ontology?

Our mission at Talking About is to share the ontological work with as many people as we can. Our aim is to make the world a better place. To that end, we have initiated a self-directed learning experience we call 'Ontological Foundations'.

We will continue to build on this initiative, adding more self-directed learning material covering topics such as learning, conversations and moods and emotions. All of this material will be freely available to anyone who wants to explore the ontological approach.

Ontological Foundations

So what are we offering?

Ontological Foundations is designed to give you an opportunity to gain some familiarity with the basic principles of the ontological approach. It is also designed to give you a chance for self-reflection and self-observation. We do this by offering you a detailed paper on the foundations of the ontological approach and an assignment that we will review and return to you with comments if you wish to send it to us when you have completed it.

How you want to approach this is up to you. You can simply request the Ontological Foundations paper, or get the paper and the assignment and work through them on your own or you can complete it and send it to us for some further thoughts. Ultimately, it is up to you. If you are interested in finding our more, please click on the Ontological Foundations image above or write to us at info@talkingabout.com.au.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Hey, did you know?

'But I Feel Good' Radio Show

Radio Show

On Monday 3 August 2015 ‘But I Feel Good’ …talking about pink elephants (positive resilience strategies) and black dogs (the lows of mood disorders) will premiere its live broadcast on 94.1FM 3WBC Whitehorse Boroondara Community Radio. Based in Melbourne’s east on a good day the transmission covers a great part of the Melbourne metro area. So tune one of your many radio slots to 94.1FM in the car and tune in Mondays 12-1pm AET.

The program will stream live around the globe at www.3wbc.org.au and can be picked up on your favourite smart phone radio app at 3WBC 94.1fm the voice of the Inner East.
‘But I Feel Good’ will still be heard via syndication on 94.9 MAINfm Mondays 1-2pm from August 10 with a special transition program going to air on Monday 3 August 1-3pm. The program celebrated its 90th episode at MAINfm and I’m looking forward to celebrating many more at 94.1fm 3WBC.

I’d love to hear your ideas for mind health topics you’d like to hear about and any mind health resources you’ve found helpful. Email me at butifeelgood@jacquichaplin.com

You can listen to a growing list of content only on demand episodes at www.jacquichaplin.com/bifgondemand.

The Monthly Diversion

Was It Murder?

The neighbours knew that the man and his wife were in a big fight, so the next day when she went missing he was accused of murdering her and disposing of the body.

At the trial, witness after witness came to the stand testifying to all sorts of horrible threats made by the accused to his wife and things were looking dire.

At this point, the accused man’s lawyer rose and addressed the jury.

“Ladies and Gentleman of the jury I have something quite exciting to tell you. If you would all please direct your attention towards the door behind me on my left, you will see the supposedly dead women walk in on her own two feet.”

There was a loud murmuring in the courtroom as all eyes turned towards the door, however no one entered.

“Ladies and Gentleman”, said the lawyer “I need to be honest with you. Nobody is going to walk through that door. However the fact that you all turned towards the door to see makes it quite obvious that you are not sure, beyond a shadow of doubt, about my client’s guilt.”

To the lawyer’s great surprise, the jury ultimately found the man guilty.

“But how could you him guilty?  Didn’t I prove it to you that there had to be a doubt?” asked the lawyer.

“It is true that we all turned towards the door,” one old lady explained, “but there was one person who didn’t.”

“Who was that?” questioned the indignant lawyer.

“Your client”, came the reply.

"The worst thing about being lied to is simply knowing you weren't worth the truth."

… from an unknown source

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 invite to offer 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 Group 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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