Don’t Forget To Celebrate 2016 This Christmas!

It’s that time of year again - mangoes, mince pies and New Year resolutions. You start to dream of new beginnings and make plans to seek out the change you wish to see in your life. This call to action is often so alluring it whisks you into the New Year leaving little time to slow down and celebrate how much you have achieved and what has been really significant for you and those you love this year. Taking the time to feel a deep sense of gratitude for the year that has passed and all it has provided is a powerful way to:

  • Strengthen how you see yourself and your sense of identity
  • Recognise where you have had victories (even amongst many challenges)
  • Notice trends in your thinking and behaviour that can lead to potentially untapped resources, strengths and exciting avenues going forward
  • Give and receive positive feedback helping to strengthen your relationships with those you love

Moving to your New Year resolutions before celebrating the year that has been is similar to trying to navigate a way forward without taking the time to have a look at the map in your hands. Don’t forget to slow down and take time to celebrate this festive season. So what are some simple practices that you can use to celebrate solo or with a group? 

Write a letter to yourself 

Go to your favourite location and spend 30 minutes writing a note to yourself. In this note reflect as deeply as you can on the past year and make a special effort to seek out the things you wish to give thanks for. It may be the effort you put in, the help you provided or the forgiveness you had the courage to move towards.

If the past year has been particularly tough and the idea of going straight to a positive note is difficult, you could take the approach of 10/5/15. This means 10 minutes of stream of consciousness (anything that comes out of your brain), followed by 5 minutes of harsh reflections that you want to get out and finally 15 minutes of positive and insightful things that you would like to congratulate yourself on doing or overcoming.  

Play Build Up Your Family/Mates

Build up your family/mates is a game for when everyone is together. Working best in an informal setting you move around the circle or dinner table deliberately building up members of the group one by one with kind words from every other member at the table. One method is to direct the intention towards “What has X done well this year?” A tactful incentive may be necessary (especially for families), but it will be worth it to hear family members in particular articulating things that the others have done well over the last year and celebrating together. I (Jess) practiced this with a group of 15, 15-year old boys and it was a huge success so I believe with the right approach this can translate into families.  

A Year Timeline 

Get a big bit of paper. Put it in landscape position and draw a line through the middle left to right. Write January One on the left side of the line and December 31 on the right. This is a timeline of your last year and on it you can start to note the events or insights of significance. After putting the event in bold you can write around it a whole range of important details such as:

  • What did that event show you about yourself?
  • What value, strength or passion did it highlight?
  • Who helped make that opportunity come to life?
  • What were your priorities at that point?
  • What emotion was primarily attached to that experience?
  • What was holding you back at that point and why?
  • Is it part of a bigger pattern?

This graphic representation should provide you with a range of strengths, values, resources, relationships, emotions and opportunities that, without drawing out would most likely float by unnoticed. 

Positives, Negatives and Interest Stories of the Year (PNI’s) 

For those wanting a quick way to reflect this solo or group exercise will bring to the surface a brief overview of past year. When sharing positives, negatives and interest stories make sure to focus on one person at a time and try to listen deeply to the story being told. There is often more below the surface and this can be a great opportunity to draw out the strengths and internal resources that the storyteller might not realise are present in the situation. One-word answers are not accepted and try to encourage the storyteller to paint as clearer picture as they can. Note: this is a great exercise for road trips. 

These are just four among many simple reflection and celebration exercises. So please take the time this year to give thanks for the amazing effort you have put in and even better to celebrate together.  


Big Decision #2 - Where should I call home?

It’s time to make a decision. 

Is this the place you want to call home?

This choice has a special significance for me (Ian) as through the years I have noticed the hugely diverging life paths of friends of mine who I studied with in England. Over three years I met friends from all over the globe and have been fascinated by where they later chose to call home and how that impacted the lives they went on to lead.

The most telling contrast was in respect of students from South Africa and Zimbabwe. While this is only my observation those who stayed in the United Kingdom or moved to USA were winners on almost all dimensions (professional opportunities, social stability and security and opportunities for their children). In contrast those who returned to say Zimbabwe and stayed under the Mugabe regime have had limited opportunities on many dimensions. Essentially that country has not has the Social Capital, starting with the rules of law and security, on which people can build sustainable opportunity and wealth.

Not everyone has a choice in this decision. But if you do, then the right choice can lead to exponential changes in the opportunities available to you and those you love - from freedom and the possibility to build a better future for you and your family, to giving you access to a new career or finding a community where you belong. Your home-base matters.

This is also a big decision that you’re already likely to take seriously and think hard about it as it probably involves personal sacrifices (leaving your family, leaving a job, investing money, etc) and a great amount of courage. We hope to add to your reflection by giving you a mental framework to think more broadly about the decision ahead and hopefully giving you the confidence to back yourself when D-day arrives.

Overall the four mains questions that the Lenses will help you to think strategically about are:  


Where can I authentically be who I am and who I aspire to be?

  • What does a rich and fulfilling life look like to me and in which country can that best be achieved?
  • Am I growing in my current domicile? Is it a land of opportunity or not? Does this country inspire my pride?
  • What really matters to me? Will I find it in my current home or in a new country?
  • Where is my community? Is it time to explore and find my tribe?
  • Does this domicile celebrate the strengths, values and purposes that are essential to me as a person?
  • In choosing where to live, what tensions are there between my career ambitions and the lifestyle I want to lead? Is there somewhere where they can be more closely aligned?
  • How will changing my home base impact other areas of my life and how do these compromises stack up (eg health, education, career)?
  • Has moving to another country been one of my dreams? If so, what’s been holding me back?
  • Is it a country that will offer me greater personal freedom? …which will respect the values which are important to me? (eg Is it a domicile which will allow me and my same-sex partner to marry?)
  • What are the implications of this decision for me and who I am connected to? (my kids, partner, dog, friends, family, etc)
  • Who is invested in making this personal decision with me and how do they feel? How can I create the space to have an open discussion with them about it?
  • What are the big reasons for making the change? How do I make sure they come off?


What are the opportunities that become available in calling this place home?

  • Is it a country where the business, economic and social framework will provide wide-ranging opportunity?
  • Does this new home offer the chance for me to drastically increase dimensions of my life that would not be available in other places?
  • How does choosing to call this home compare to other alternatives? Do I need to spend more time exploring other cultures and parts of the world before I choose to settle?
  • Who would have some interesting insights to help me better understand different perspectives on making this choice?
  • Do I understand how much investment is necessary to relocate? Do I have the time, energy and attention to make a success out of this move?
  • What are some of the internal opportunities that making this leap could create for me? (the potential to heal, to create space, to get outside my comfort zone, to challenge myself, etc)
  • In the new domicile will I be able to practice my profession without significant retraining? If not, how much retraining is necessary? 


Would choosing to call this place home help me live smarter not harder - maximising my life, while not draining all of my energy?

  • How much would having this as my new home change what is possible for me?
  • If I choose this new country, what is my life likely to be like in 5 years time?
  • Am I prepared to take the risks of the journey because I believe I will have a better home in a new land? – refugees (whether political or economic)
  • What are the ingredients for success if I decide to make the move?
  • Is the timing good? (Not necessarily perfect!)
  • What are the estimated living expenses in this new home and how will that impact my lifestyle?
  • If my potential home involves a different language am I prepared to give learning the new language a sizeable chunk of effort to give this transition the best possible chance of success?
  • Who are potential role models? …Potential mentors? Do I have the courage and opportunity to speak to them?


Is choosing to call this place home sustainable?

  • What expectations do I hold when thinking about this decision? (my expectations of myself? Of others? Others of me?) And which of those expectations really matter?
  • What does a sustainable life look like to me and in which country can that best be achieved over the long haul?
  • Will I find employment there? Will it be satisfying?...rewarding?...stable?
  • How will this move affect the other people who are really important to me and in part depend on me (partner, children, parents….)?
  • What will give me the resilience and patience I will need in this new country? 

At the end of the day even with hours of reflecting you’ll still have to make this decision on imperfect information and put trust in your intuition and courage to take a chance. This will be easier if you have set aside some time by yourself or with a trusted friend or partner to reflect on your version of the above questions. This is a big decision, the stakes are high and little bit of reflection can help you to uncover the right solution for you.

Good luck!

4 Lenses to help you survive the hurt and disillusion of current politics

Let’s keep it simple. Democracy seems to have gone crazy - globally. You could be forgiven for feeling that we’re all playing our parts in a global 12 month episode of a tumultuous reality TV show - The Apprentice 24/7?

Our favourite learning question, having read a book, had a conversation or meeting, or watched a TV show, is “So what?” How has that book/conversation/show changed our views of ourselves, our relationships or of the world around us?

We’re not political commentators so our aim in writing this is not to dwell on the specific outcomes of recent democracy in Australia, Britain, USA or elsewhere nor of lack of effective democracy in many other places.  Our deep interest is in how individuals, groups and communities learn, grow, build relationships and make effective contributions and worthwhile change. From that lens we note that the democratic process has certainly shown its frailty and new levels of unpredictability; and how consequently we are unable to rely upon democratic government as the core source of the changes we would like to see in our society.

So how has the last 12 months changed you? How do you react to the recent trends of the political process? anger? frustration? lose hope? adopt a victim mindset? become apathetic? not accept the people’s verdict and take to the streets?

The Four Lenses are one way to help you to focus on your own story and your own role – directing your thoughts towards a sense of meaning and your actions towards positive change. You may initially find some of this approach challenging or excessively aspirational, but when you look around your local community you are likely to find people, teams and organisations that are making huge contributions. In writing this we ourselves reflected on the diverse range of people we know who are making an extraordinary impact on the world around them. We hope this sheds some light on a possible framework that you can use to tap into your own unique contribution and as a way to digest and act with integrity through these uncertain times.


“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead


Identity Lens

One of the most disillusioning things that has come out of Brexit, the last Australian election and the US Presidential election is that our communities seem to hold such divided beliefs, values and senses of identity. It is easy to lose faith that there is a unified way forward. As a first step in trying to come to terms with this, reflect on what you believe and how you have been changed by the events of the last year?

  • Has the last year of global politics upset you? Disillusioned you? If it has, which of your values has it challenged or brought to the surface (equality, empathy, freedom, honesty etc)?
  • Are current media and politics impacting how you see yourself? (As a man, are you involved in “locker room talk”? As a Muslim, how do you feel about how you have been portrayed? As a woman has your belief in the progress towards gender equality been set back? How have you been influenced by the global media coverage?)
  • How does this make your feel? Try to locate your range of emotions - Is it just anger or is it really fear? Is it disillusion or sadness at a shifting in your belief in what is possible? Is it a sense of frustration in wanting to make a difference? Is it a sense of unity in trying to bridge the division?  
  • Might this year’s events have clarified your sense of purpose in the world? Can you identify 1-3 areas that you hope to impact in your lifetime?
  • What are your strengths and passions? How do they contribute to the above purposes?

Can you come away with a clear paragraph that distils how your identity has been or can be made stronger through seeing the past year of events?... or a pathway forward to letting this be an event that positively changed how you see yourself and your role in the world? Has it solidified your belief in the need to fight for equality of opportunity or to have your voice heard?

Opportunity Lens

The world needs change and is full of opportunities to make change – including in the areas that really matter to you. The Opportunity Toolkit is about prompting you to spot those opportunities to be the impact you wish to see in the world.

  • If you could impact one thing in the next year or over the next decade what would it be?
  • What opportunities are already out there to contribute to making this impact? (Don’t try to reinvent existing wheels.)
  • Alternatively do you need to create a new approach to achieve this impact? For example do you need to build a local community group that campaigns for this impact or find a way to connect with people artistically to communicate this idea?
  • Can you brainstorm with others a range of ways that you could have an impact and find the one that offers the “biggest bang for your buck”?
  • Out of the possible opportunities which one has the greatest benefits?
  • Which one is most attainable with your available time and resources?
  • Do your mindsets and habits open you up to be ready for opportunities to make this impact? Do you have an open mind to listen deeply to other sides of the story?
  • Are you sharing your ideas and beliefs in a reciprocal and respectful way? Are you too busy and rushed to really stand for what you believe in?  

Are there one of two clear opportunities for action in your community or organisation that will help to empower you to act in accordance with your values and contribute to positive change?

Impact Lens

If you have identified an opportunity to bring back your sense of agency, how can you work smarter, not just harder, to effect progress and change? 

  • Are you willing to take a risk in really backing this opportunity/action?
  • How can you make sure your opportunity gets off to a strong start? How much time, energy and attention do you need to invest up front to make this opportunity a success? 
  • Who can you collaborate with? Who else is committed to this issue/purpose? Who can you talk to about this project that would have a huge impact on its success?
  • Can you envisage success more strongly by breaking your opportunity up into a number of sub-projects or steps? At each step how are you going to make sure that you’re learning and continuing to extend your reach?
  • What resources are at your disposal to help you to make the biggest impact possible? (social media, your networks, freeing up more of your time and energy to devote to the project?)
  • How often do you have to keep reinvesting in this opportunity in order to help it grow? Is there a way to lower that cost?

The aim of this toolkit is to create a clear strategy to help maximise the impact of your opportunity to contribute given your realistic constraints of time, energy, attention and resources.


"It's stunning to me what kind of an impact even one person can have if they have the right passion, perspective and are able to align the interest of a great team." Steve Case


Sustainability Lens

Now you have made an action plan it is time to slow down and reflect again on how this plan can fit into your whole life. Grounding your actions in the reality of your day-to-day will help to make sure that the actions you take will be able to grow over time and not wear you down or burn you out.

  • What are the different life roles you are playing at the moment? How will this opportunity and strategy fit with those? Conflict with those?
  • What changes do you need to make to ensure you can sustain the momentum over the long term?

Going Forward

Finding a way to move to action can be challenging. It may be helped by thinking globally for inspiration or by focusing locally on what  you can most immediately impact.  We hope this blog has empowered you to  believe that you can make a difference. If you come away with answers to only these four questions this blog will have been a success:

Identity - What has the last year of politics shown me about myself?

Opportunity - How do I take that reflection into one positive opportunity for action?

Impact – How do I create a strategy to maximise the benefits of that opportunity while minimising the strain on my time, energy and attention?

Sustainability – How do I make sure that my actions are fulfilling and sustainable? 

Big Decision #1 - Marriage decisions and whether to commit to a life partner

It’s time to make a decision.

Is this the person you want to be with for the rest of your life?

Asking someone to marry you or committing to a partner for life, is likely to be the biggest decision you will ever make. We could rely solely on our heart to help us make this decision, but is there a more rigorous way to weigh up whether this is the right person or the right time to pop the question or commit?

Consider these scenarios:

  • You’ve been together for 8 years and getting married seems like the right thing to do, but you keep having to sacrifice things you love in order to stay together. What should you do?
  • Your partner is pressuring you to get married, but something in you is hesitating. What do you do?
  • You’ve been together for six months and you think this is definitely ‘it’. Is it too early to ask your partner to get married?

Committing to your partner necessarily involves risk, courage and a willingness to take a chance. It is also a decision in which your intuition will play a big part. Our aim is to give you a framework to help you reflect on and clarify the decision ahead, so you are more confident in backing yourself when D-day arrives.

Overall the four mains questions that the Lenses will help you to reflect on are: 


Who are we as a couple and what would a future together look like?

  • Why am I in this relationship?
  • Who has a relationship that inspires me? What is it about that relationship that makes it special?
  • Are there any serious differences we need to unpack before making this decision?
  • How do I feel about what I’ve already put in to this relationship? …and got out? – Do those months or years of relationship feel like sunk costs going nowhere?.... or like a wonderful investment and experience regardless of where things go from here?
  • What are my expectations in making this decision? In staying together?
  • How do I see the story of this relationship? Is this a story that merits continuation? ….perpetuity? or needs change?
  • Is there a reasonable fit of values? ..of interests?..of give and of take?
  • Do we have a growth or fixed mindset when it comes to our relationship? Are we growing or just going through the motions?
  • What daily habits form the autopilot of our relationship? (TV? Intimacy? Conversation?) What is the long-term impact of those daily habits? Is that a future I want to be a part of?
  • How does my partner make me feel? Do I feel good about myself when I am around them?
  • What qualities does my partner bring out in me? Curiosity? Courage? Open-mindedness? Ambition? Aspiration?
  • What might this marriage/partnership be like in 5 years time?


Do we try to spot opportunities to grow as a couple (as well as individually) and is a future together full of opportunity or Groundhog Day?

  • What opportunities does us being together invite into my life? (Adventure, learning new things, new friends, picking up habits and mindsets, etc)
  • What opportunities does being with you potentially make me miss out on? (living somewhere else, Having/not having kids, etc)
  • What opportunities have I had to collect information relevant to making this marriage decision? What experience have I had to compare this to?
  • What are the contexts in which this relationship has already been tested? (Living together? Living apart? Travelling together? External pressures?)
  • What opportunities have these given me to observe relevant signals about my partner or about the relationship? Did I observe the signals objectively? Or was I selectively editing out the good signals or the bad signals?
  • Have I been growing through this relationship? Does my partner challenge me? Do I want to be challenged? Or are we just going through the motions like Groundhog Day?


Do we work smarter not harder as a couple to move towards mastery in how we relate to and love each other?

  • When is the right time for making this decision – in the context of our individual lives and the relationship?
  • As what I get out will mainly be related to what I put in, what must I be putting in and when can I best put it in?
  • How often do I invest in us and are those choices the best ones available?
  • How often do we take time to make a strategy for our relationship and making it meaningful? 
  • How can we best help each other to grow? …..and our relationship to strengthen? How do we work smarter together?
  • What are some conflicting aspects which need to be dealt with?  and how do we minimise their impact? …and maximise our growth through dealing with them?
  • What do I need/ need to do in order to make this relationship really special? What else has to go if I’m going to make a success of this relationship? How do I make myself sensitive to where to direct my energy in this relationship?


Do I believe that we are a good couple to weather life’s storms together and that our love can stand the test of time?

  • Can I see us growing old together?
  • Do we make each other a priority in our lives or a second-thought?
  • How do we negotiate the potential deal breakers? (I’m in Sydney and my partners in London, is that really sustainable?)
  • Does spending time together fill my bucket?
  • Do I know when to say “no”/ draw lines?
  • Am I being a perfectionist? Why should I expect perfection from me or my partner?...or from the relationship?
  • What are the things we should be celebrating along the way?
  • Do we have a healthy balance of routine and surprises in both our lives to nourish the relationship?

Even with hours of reflecting you’ll still have to make this decision on imperfect information, putting trust in your intuition and summoning courage. This may however be easier if you have set aside some time by yourself or with a trusted friend/counsellor/psychologist/family member to reflect on some of the above questions that are relevant to you. The stakes are high and a little bit of reflection can help you to uncover the decision. Good luck!

This Week’s Challenge:

If you’re making a decision like this: Set aside one hour this week by yourself or with a trusted friend/counsellor/psychologist/family member to reflect on the above questions. Pick three questions from each Len that resonate with you and spend 15 minutes reflecting or discussing each Lens.

At the end of the hour bring together your reflections into a note to self, jotting down any of the key learnings, information you need to find out and actions that will help you be more confident in your ability to make the big decision.

If you’re in a stable relationship: Set aside one hour this week with your partner at a location you love (with your favourite food) to reflect on the above questions. Pick three questions from each toolkit that resonate with you and together spend 15-minutes discussing:

  1. How this lens currently relates to your relationship
  2. How this lens could help to enrich your relationship going forward

At the end of the hour take 15 minutes to experiment with creating a relationship plan that incorporates any of the key insights gained in the hour and experiment with it for one week. As you experiment with it check in, modify it if necessary to make sure it is working for both of you and try to create new ways of being together. 

Tune in on the 16th of November for the third instalment in the Big Decision Series: “Where should I call home?”

THE BIG DECISION SERIES - Lifechangers where you can only choose one option

This blog series was inspired by a conversation we had about 6 months ago, involving a big decision I (Jess) was then facing. What was interesting was that through the course of the conversation I realised that there were many dimensions to the decision that I had not considered and I ended up hugely benefiting from getting another perspective. This reflection inspired us to offer up this big decision series and the framework of the Four Lenses as a way to help you navigate any such big decisions.

You have lots of opportunities and choices, small and large, which can impact the quality and creativity of your life and can expand or shrink your world. This series focuses on one particular category of these decisions – those where you can only choose one option and which often convert into Lifechangers. Obvious examples of those decisions, which are typically faced by people in their 20s or early 30s, are:

  •  marriage decisions/ commitment to life partner
  • choice of country of domicile / place you call home
  • decision whether to buy a home and if so, which one
  • choice of career
  • choice of whether to be an employee of one organisation, to set up your own business or to do a mixture of roles

Variations on these decisions which might be faced by people of other ages include:

  • major health decisions (eg re major surgery)
  • divorce or not
  • retirement or not
  • moving from a single full-time job to part time or retirement

So how do you usually negotiate these big decisions?

  • by flying somewhat blind or hoping for the best?
  • by relying principally on our gut and feelings?
  • by following the expectations and traditions of your family and culture? Note: we are all influenced by this in our own ways or by making the decision by default? Ie You never get round to making any decisions – so either nothing ever happens or someone else makes the decisions for you.

Sometimes these approaches work, but they don’t help you to explore the full range of opportunities available and potentially cut you off from the best fit. They also are unlikely to help you when you need to make tough decisions, pioneer a big change in your life or deviate from society’s status quo. For those decisions you are likely to need a more reflective approach. For this reason we have created this blog series to help you:

  • recognise that these are big decisions. There is often a broad range of potential outcomes, good and bad, that you have to live with for extended periods;
  • think outside the box to understand just how big the dimensions of opportunity in this decision are. This involves both the good and bad outcomes of your decision, and the time, energy or dollars required to implement it. Alongside this are also the other opportunities that your choice will preclude you from. Think of it like food envy. You don’t just have to eat a bad dish, you also missed out on the mouth-watering main of the friend you are dining with. When this metaphor extends to love over a forty year period the envy really starts to hurt.
  • prepare by anticipating these big decisions and thinking about your options and your approach to the final decision as early as you can. If you’re going to spend 30+ years in a career or a marriage or say 5 years in a job or home, it’s worth spending a few extra hours or days thinking about or preparing for the big decision or picking the brains of some trusted confidants; and
  • think strategically about the big decision through the Four Lenses framework.

We’ll be aiming to do individual blogs on the relevance of the Four Lenses to each of those five decisions which many young people face – marriage, country of domicile, home purchase, career and employment v self-employment. An interesting part of this exercise has been sharing and contrasting our values, perspectives, questions and conversation starters which reflect our generational divide.

As an introduction to those later blogs it’s worth reflecting on some of the tools that are relevant across many such decisions:

Identity Lens:

  • What needs of mine is this decision relevant to? What really matters to me? What are my expectations from this? What are the deal-breakers for me on this?
  • What are the strengths I can bring to this?
  • How do I currently see myself and my life?
  • What are the other big decisions I have to make or can forsee?... and what influence might they have on this one?
  • Am I currently in the right frame of mind for making this important decision?
  • How do I balance logic and emotion in making this decision?
  • Am I procrastinating, and if so, what is holding me back?

Opportunity Lens:

  • What are the alternative routes open to me now? ..and by decision time?
  • How can others open my eyes to other options?
  • How would each route change how I see myself and my life?
  • How will each route help me flourish? …empower me? …bring me opportunities? How big are those opportunities?
  • How will each route box me in? ..disempower me? …cut me off from opportunities? How big are those opportunities I’ll be cut off from? …and for how long?
  • What opportunities is procrastination cutting out?

Impact Lens:

  • How do I maximise the benefits from this chosen route? … make it easier?
  • Who can help me maximise the benefits from my chosen route? ….make it easier? Do I have the courage to ask them?
  • How would this route change how I can grow my world?
  • When is a good time to make this decision?.....and to take this step?



 Sustainability Lens:

  • Are my expectations from this chosen route realistic?
  • What was my mindset at the time of making the decision? What is the simple narrative which reminds me why I chose this route? (In fact, was this totally my decision and do I really own it?)
  • What are the things I should be celebrating along the way?....prioritising along the way?......ignoring along the way?
  • How do I avoid the dangers of perfectionism?.....and the dangers of comparisons with my neighbours, siblings or mates…?....and the dangers of others’ expectations?
  • Am I prepared to put in what is necessary to make this work?
  • How can others help me ensure it works?


At the end of the day you’ll still have to make these decisions on imperfect information and not necessarily at the perfect time but it helps to have a framework to plot your way.

Amplifying your positive ripples with the Four Lenses!

We all have those moments when you wish you could swallow up the words that just came out of your mouth and press rewind on the conversation. You had not meant it to come out like that… 

In our last blog we talked about how your words have the power to make a big impact on someone’s life. So how do you maximise the positive and minimise the negative impact your words and actions have on the lives of those around you?

A great place to start is to avoid the things that have a negative impact. The simplest and most certain way to avoid doing any harm is to do nothing. But surely that is not the answer and often leads to missed opportunities. Imagine if doctors or paramedics lived by this rule, many lives would be unnecessarily lost. While conversations may not often be life and death, they similarly offer up the choice to get your hands dirty and to take ownership over making a difference to someone’s life. 

So how can the Four Toolkits for life help you in your quest to amplify the positive ripples you are creating on a daily basis? 

The Identity Lens – who am I?

  • Do you ask questions and listen deeply?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses in communicating with others? (Empathy / Disinterest; Listening deeply / Interrupting; Patience / Impatience; Calm and relaxed / Agitated and rushed; Open mind / Closed mind)
  • How you can build on those strengths and minimise the cost of your weaknesses?
  • What mindsets do you bring into your relationships and daily conversations? 

"I am having this conversation with you because...." 

  • I really care about you and your life
  • I want to help make a positive impact your life
  • I want to learn more about you and your story


  • I am ticking boxes
  • I don’t know why
  • I want to convince you that I am right

The Opportunity Lens

  • Try to be curious in conversation and look for the aspects of the story you don’t yet know. You can never know the full story so look for alternative opinions, blind spots and additional facts that can help to create a shared sense of ownership over what is going on.
  • Try to avoid stating your opinion as fact
  • If you are in a position of power or people are coming to you for advice, what is the most useful thing you can offer? Think deeply as we often mistake this to be advice, when in fact someone may just need to feel heard and supported. Is this a really formative period when people are open to influence, a really tough period when they are searching for something to cling to, something to give them hope or something to calm them, or are they seeking objectivity, decisions, actions, constructive input or recognition of the hard work they have put in?
  • What extra opportunities do you have in your day to make a positive impact on those around you? Some of our ideas include: 

  • Leave a secret love note for your partner
  • Tell your friend why you value them out of the blue
  • Write an encouraging letter to someone in your team
  • Go out of your way to help someone
  • Take someone out to lunch that you feel needs support in your team and try to learn one of their strengths or a secret success stories and watch them light up
  • Picking your kids up from school or surprising them in an unusual way

The Impact Lens

  • How do you work smarter not harder with the way others communicate and understand your signals? Do you need to be clear with someone and softer with another? To the extent you are capable of doing so, can you aim to bring what they need?
  • Can you impact and shape the context in which you send the Signal or have the interaction? Do you need a quiet place or a safe environment away from the team? Do you need to be on a walk or doing an activity with your kids? Should you sort out the issue before you fall asleep?
  • If it is a time when you know someone is coming to you for help, can you prepare thoughtfully?

The Sustainability Lens

  • Look after yourself – or your ability to send out positive ripples will be impaired
  • Be yourself – lack of authenticity dampens the ripples
  • Walk your talk – words not followed by aligned deeds soon become ineffective.

So what?

  • Can you think of an instance in the week ahead where the signals you send out will be VIP? (A group meeting? A one-on-one session with a team member or peer? A difficult family situation? Your regular arrival home from work to a busy household or tired partner?)
  • Which of your strengths/mindsets will be significant then?
  • How will you maximise the positive impact?
  • How will you ensure that it is sustained?