Positive Actions: Ellie Rentoul's Blog

Six Tips on How to Achieve “Psychological Safety” Within Your Team

According to a recent Google study (“Project Aristotle”, Google, 2016) in order to create psychological safety, team leaders must model the right behaviours. So, for example,

1. not interrupt teammates during conversations – because that would establish “an interruption norm”;
2. demonstrate that they are listening by summarising what people have said;
3. admit when they don’t know;
4. not end a meeting until all team members have spoken at least once;
5. encourage people who are upset to express their frustrations and encourage teammates to respond in a non-judgemental way;
6. call out intergroup conflict and resolve them through open discussion.

For 6 years running Google has been ranked by Fortune as one of America’s top workplaces. They have decided to find out whether there is an OPTIMAL MIX of different kinds of people or backgrounds to make a team successful. In a typical “google fashion” they wanted to figure out if how to ‘build the perfect team’. The project started with a sweeping review of literature on Team Success. Some scientists found that teams functioned best when they contained a concentration of people with similar levels of extraversion and intraversion, while other scientists have found that a balance of personalities was the key to team’s success. Other studies found that if team-mates had similar interests and hobbies – that would help team performance. Others were proposing that Team Diversity is the key to team’s success. Some scientists suggested that team needed members who like to collaborate – others suggested that groups were more successful when individuals had healthy rivalries. The LITERATURE, in other words, was ALL OVER THE PLACE!!

So, the Google guys at Project Aristotle spend more than 150hrs asking Google employees what THEY thought made a team effective (and they have 53,000+ employees!). They have learned that Teams are a bit like ‘beauty in the eye of the beholder’. One group might appear to work really well from the outside – but everyone is actually miserable inside that Team. Eventually, they established the criteria for measuring teams’ effectiveness based on external factors: such as if a team has reached their sales or cost-saving targets and internal factors such as how the team members FELT working within a team. Then they studied that data to death!
What they found is that the “who” in the Team didn’t matter so much – i.e. People didn’t have to be of a similar temperament, of a similar background, gender, or hobbies and interests. That didn’t matter at all if people felt happy and the team was reaching its targets. What DID matter were the GROUP NORMS – particularly one: “the team leader and team members have created a safe space for the staff to make mistakes and to express concerns or to take risks” One engineer has told the researches that his team leader is: “direct and straightforward, which creates a safe space to take risks.. She also takes time to ask how we are, figure out how she can help you and support you”. That was one of the most effective groups inside Google. Alternative, another engineers told the researchers that his team leader has a poor emotional control: “I would hate to be driving with him in a passenger seat, because he would keep trying to grab the steering wheel and crash the car!” That team did not perform well – despite the Team Leader being one of the top engineers in his field and most of the team members being exceptionally smart and capable professionals.
Most of all, though, employees talked about how various teams FELT. The five key TEAM NORMS that Google found amongst their most productive teams:

1.Teams need to believe that their work is important.
2.Teams need to feel their work is personally meaningful.
3.Teams need clear goals and defined roles.
4.Team members need to know they can depend on one another.
5.But most of all: Teams need psychological safety.

So, if you are a manager, how is YOUR Team performing? And, if asked anonymously, how likely do you think your Team Members would say that they feel ‘psychologically safe’ to learn and make mistakes within your Team? It is NOT an easy thing to achieve because, as a leader/manager, you often have many competing pressures applied at the same time, so you may not always be able to act that way you would have liked to. However, this study is a reminder that, sometimes, it is not enough to be great at your job and to know all the right answers and solutions. It is one’s ability to bring the people with you and make them feel safe and valued that will in fact be more valuable than the pure technical skills. A food for thought for many of us!
Let me know your (HONEST) thoughts on this by either e-mailing me at: ellie @ellierentoul.com or by submitting a comment below.
THANK YOU in advance for your time and energy.
Ellie 🙂

What’s on Your Vision Board?


How can you start to make your three-year vision a reality? In my coaching sessions, I use a one-year vision board with my clients as a means of turning their longer-term goals into a shorter-term realities.

I help them to paint a future they wish to achieve, providing daily touchpoints to inspire and guide them. So, what should YOU put on your Vision Board?

For example, if you wish to be healthier, an image of the type of nourishing, tasty food you want to be eating will remind you of this each day. When you can SEE these things – you can start FEELING them.

It’s just how our brain works! Then you can start setting up a life structure to help you get there.

Creativity and visualization are life skills that can be practiced. Remember, ‘like attracts like’.

Whatever we focus on – we give energy to.

Step 1:
Print and cut out pictures or words that inspire you from magazines, internet etc. Look for quotes and affirmations that warm your heart. Think in KEY THEMES:

1. Career
2. Family
3. Health
4. Finance
5. Home
6. Fun

Think about the kind of life you wrote about in your “My Life Goals 2018-2021” and wish to create (this is a questionnaire I have developed for my clients to imagine where they’ll be in their lives
in three years time – you can purchase it for $20 – just e-mail me your request to elenak90@bigpond.com). The more we can see, hear and feel what a vision of our future would look like, the stronger the pull to make it our reality.

Pictures, words, symbols and colours are a great way to start tangibly creating this new reality.

Step 2:
Let’s ask yourself these questions:

• Where will you be living a year from now?
• What will you be doing for work a year from now?
• Who will you be with a year from now?
• What emotions will you be feeling in year’s time?
• How will you look after your health in year’s time?
• Who will be inspiring your journey in a year’s time?
• What will you be learning a year from now?
• What are you telling yourself with these pictures?
• Is this the life you most want to be living?

How active is your Vision Board looking now? This is your destiny, so make it vivid, vibrant and vital. Make each image it count – don’t over-clutter (I had a tendency to do that and the Vision Board becomes more confusing than helpful).

Step 3:
Once you’ve completed your Vision Board, you can hang it somewhere you can see it daily. As most of my clients know, I have it my office – but you can hang it in your kitchen or your bedroom or at work near your desk.

I see my board daily and it represents the space I need in life, the wellbeing that is my foundation, my relationships, my role models and the characteristics in myself that I want to develop more – and there are some images of healthy food (green colour is the key for me) as well as aesthetically beautiful interiors and 1 or 2 places I’d love to travel to. It includes my passions and my hobbies (our children, my husband, yoga, good food, beach, laughter, interior design, my coaching work) and the feelings I want to feel (deep relaxation, being at peace, belly laughter, accomplishment, doing things well) as well as the basic things I am grateful for in my life (such as lovely sunrises and health of my family). It represents my purpose, my values and my definition of success. It gives me confidence, optimism and courage to create the life I most want to be living.

I hope you are inspired and motivated by your Vision Board as much as I am by mine 😊

Who am I?

Can you guess who am I?
I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things I do, you might jut as well turn over to me and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.

I am easily managed – you must merely be firm with me. Show me EXACTLY how you want something done and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically. I am servant of all great individuals and, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great. Those who are failures, I have made failures…

I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human. You may run me for a profit or run me for ruin – it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you.

Who am I?


Information Overload – A Neuroscience Insight into Then & Now

I’m currently reading a terrific book by Prof. Daniel J. Levitin – a cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist called “The Organised Mind – Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload”. It’s not an easy read, I’ll admit: close to 500 pages in size 9 font (i.e. TINY print). But the author investigates and explains exactly how we got to be drowning in information – from the early building blocks of language to why e-mail and social media are so addictive. The author proposes an alternative to wrestling with ALL this information – Levitin demonstrates how no ease our mental burden by choosing WHAT information is important for us to store and then storing information in the physical world instead. He presents numerous case studies and worked examples covering smarter decision-making (taking into account perception and other human biases), improving memory and attention and organising your time, your space and your relationships successfully. By analysing how the brain works, the Organised Mind will help us function better, go further and find more time to do the things we really want to do.
Each week, I would like to share some of the key themes from the book with you.
Information Overload – Then & Now: Humans have been around 200,000 years. For the first 99% of our history, we didn’t do much of anything but procreate and survive. This was largely due to harsh global climatic conditions, which stabilised sometime around 10,000 years ago. People soon thereafter discovered farming and irrigation, and they gave up their nomadic lifestyle in order to cultivate and tend stable crops. But not all farm plots are the same; regional variations in sunshine and soil, and other conditions meant that over time one farmer might grow particularly good onions while another grew especially good apples. This eventually led to specialisation.; instead of growing ALL the crops for his own family, a farmer might grow only what he was best at and trade some of it for other stuff he didn’t grow. Marketplace and trading emerged and grew, and with them came the establishment of cities.

The Sumerian city of Uruk (circa 5000 BCE) was one of the world’s earliest large cities. Its active commercial trade created an unprecedented volume of business transactions, and Sumerian merchants required an accounting system for keeping track of the day’s inventory and receipts; THIS was the birth of writing (rather prosaic, don’t you think? :-)) Here, liberal arts majors may need to set their romantic notions aside. The first forms of writing emerged not for art, literature, or love, nor for spiritual or liturgical purposes, but for business – all literature could be said to originate from sales receipts (sorry!). With the growth of trade, cities and writing – humans soon discovered architecture, government, and other refinements that we collectively think of as ‘CIVILISATION‘.
The appearance of writing some 5,000 years ago was not met with unbridled enthusiasm; many feared that lacking the opportunity to hear information directly from speaker’s mouth would make it impossible to verify the accuracy of the writer’s claims, or to ask follow-up questions. Plato was amount those who voiced these fears; he decried that the dependence on written words would ‘weaken men’s characters and create forgetfulness in their soul’. Thamus, king of Egypt, argued that the written word would ‘infect the Egyptian people with fake knowledge’. The Greek poet Callimachus said that books are a ‘great evil’.
The printing press was introduced in the mid 1400s, allowing for the more rapid proliferation of writing, replacing laborious (and error-prone) hand copying. Yet again, many complained that intellectual life as we knew it was finished! Intellectuals warned that people would stop talking to each other, burying themselves in books, polluting their minds with useless ideas. It is better to live in this life than to read about other people’s ideas or experiences.

And as we all know, these warnings were raised again in our lifetime, first with the invention of television, then with computers, iPods, iPads, e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook. Each was described as an addiction, an unnecessary distraction, a sign of weak character, feeding an inability to engage with real people and the real-time exchange of ideas. Even the dial phone was met with opposition when it replaced operator-assisted calls, and people worried: “How will I remember all those phone numbers? How will I sort through and keep track of all of them?”.

With the Industrial Revolution and the rise of science, new discoveries grew at an enormous rate. For example, in 1550, there were 500 known plant species in the world. By 1623, this number had increased to 6,000. Today, we know 9,000 species of GRASSES ALONE(!) and there are over 500,000 different PLANT species. The same goes for the numbers of known ANIMAL SPECIES. And the number keeps growing.

We are all confronted with an unprecedented amount of information than ever before: in 2011 the Americans took in 5 times as much information per annum as they did in 1986 – the equivalent of 175 newspapers. During our leisure time, not counting work, each of us processes 34 gigabytes or 100,000 words every day. The world’s 21,274 television stations produce 85,000 hours of original programming every day, and we watch an average of 5hrs of television each day, the equivalent of 20 gigabytes of audio-video images. That’s not counting YouTube, which uploads 6,000 hrs of video every hour (data: 2016). And computer gaming? It consumes more bytes than all other media put together, including DVDs, TV, books, magazines and the Internet. Just trying to keep our own media and electronic files organised (how many photos do you have on your PC/IPhone/iPad etc?) can be a nightmare. We have crated a world with 300 exabytes (300,000,000,000,000,000,000) bits of information. If YOUR share of this information was written on a 3×5 index card and spread out side by side – it would cover every square inch of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined.

Our brains do have the ability process the information we take in – but at a cost. We have trouble separating the trivial from the important and all this information processing MAKES US TIRED. Neurons are living cells with metabolism – they need oxygen and glucose to function – and when they’ve been working too hard – we experience FATIGUE and make sub-optimal decisions. The processing capacity of the conscious mind has been estimated at 120 bits per second. In order to understand 1 person speaking, we need to process about 60 bits of information per second. This means, that we can BARELY FOLLOW if 2 people are talking to us at the same time. Under most circumstances, you will NOT be able to understand 3 people talking at the same time.

This information explosion is taxing all of us, every day, as we struggle to come to grips with what we really NEED to hear and know and what we DON’T. We take notes, we make To Do lists, leave reminders for ourselves in e-mail and on mobile phones, and we still end up feeling overwhelmed. A part of this feeling of being overwhelmed can be traced back to our evolutionary outdated attentional system. Our brains continuous scan the environment for danger or pleasure. The 2 main principles of this attentional filter are ‘CHANGE’ and ‘IMPORTANCE’. There is a 3rd principle of attention: that is the cost to our brain for ATTENTION SWITCHING. If you thought you are a successful multi-tasker – think again how it makes you feel if you multitask and switch between tasks for extended periods. Not great, I am guessing! The reason for this is that our brains evolved to focus on ONE THINK AT A TIME. This enabled our ancestors to hunt animals, to make tools, to protect their clan from predators. The attentional filter evolved to help us stay on task, LETTING THROUGH ONLY INFORMATION THAT WAS IMPORTANT (just think if you suddenly hear such words as: “fire” or “sex” while you are chatting to someone at party).

But the plethora of information and the technologies that serve it changed the way we use our brains. Multitasking is the enemy of a focused attentional system. Increasingly, we demand that our attentional system try to focus on several things at once, something that we are not evolved to do. We talk on the phone while we are driving, listening to the radio, looking for a parking place, planning our child’s birthday party, trying to avoid the road construction signs, and thinking about what’s for lunch. We can’t truly think about all those things at once, so our brains flit from one to the other, each time with a neurobiological switching cost (increased glucose consumption). Attention is a limited-capacity resource: To pay attention to one thing, means we DON’T pay attention to something else.

If you want to see how attention filtering works in practice, go to the http://youtube.com/watch?v=vJG698U2Mvo. Your job is to count how many times the players wearing WHITE T-SHIRTS pass the basketball, while ignoring the players in BLACK T-SHIRTS. Please e-mail your answer to me at: elenak90@bigpond.com or ellie@ellierentoul.com
NEXT WEEK: some practical solutions how to organise your life to deal with Information Overload.

Happiness is a HABIT – CULTIVATE it.

Why is Procrastination Bad for Our Health and Career?

Why do we put things off? Do you ever find yourselves saying any of the following when you know you should be working on an important task (e.g. preparing a family budget, writing your company’s business plan, starting an exercise programme, working on tax paperwork, menu-planning and shopping for healthy meals, working on a difficult work project etc)? 

1.     This is just too hard…

2.     I don’t have time right now – I’ll deal with it tomorrow/ next week/ next month…

3.     This task is unpleasant/boring/tedious/messy

4.     I’m not in the mood right now

5.     I simply don’t have all the information/components/ingredients I need to do it

6.     I’m simply overwhelmed – please leave me alone!

7.     I’m not really clear what I should be doing

8.     I’m just not that interested..

9.     I’m interrupted too often by my colleagues/children/spouse/friends/neighbours

10. I don’t have the energy right now

11. I’m not yet organised enough – but will be very soon and then I will…

12. It isn’t actually due for a while…

Let’s face it: most of us procrastinate sometimes.  Heck, I have days when I KNOW I should be working an important project (like writing this blog, for example!) – but instead I’m either “choosing” to clean my office, worse, spend time on social media or online shopping.  When it becomes a frequent habit, however, procrastination will get in the way of our productivity, goal fulfilment, and the maintenance and enhancement of our reputation, to say nothing of our relationships!  Therefore, it makes sense to develop the skill of standing back from yourself and HONESTLY acknowledging when we are procrastinating – and then figuring out why.  And that, my friends, we all know is NOT always easy as we are biologically programmed to reduce ‘dissonance’ by looking at a more favourable explanation of why we haven’t achieved results or completed our task (see the 12 possible explanations above).  So, how DO we look at ourselves in a more constructive way? 

First, it is helpful to identify the activities that you prefer to do INSTEAD of the tasks that you KNOW you should be doing and are avoiding:

1.     What ARE the activities we choose when we procrastinate?

2.     Are there certain “favourite” activities that repeatedly see you put off your important tasks?

For example, some people (including myself) say that they will just check their emails before they start on their A task. But there are several notifications from the social media sites on which they are active, and by the time they read and respond to all the new posts, the leftover bits of time AND your energy for the important project are seriously compromised.  Perhaps you are just going to “tidy up the office” (yep – me again!) before beginning – and you get caught up in complicated re-arranging.

Or maybe you think you will think better after a run? Of course, going for a daily run is a great thing to do for your health and fitness.   But why not chose to go for a run when you are taking a break from your project? 

Perhaps you are one of those people who are motivated by urgency (remember cramming all your studies JUST before the exams or writing your company’s business plan the night before it is due – until 4am?).  Some people feel like they do their best work under pressure, so they wait until the last possible moment – when the task is at emergency level – and then they put in a heroic effort to get across the line on time! There is bad news and good news about procrastination.   

1.     Why is habitual procrastination (or procrastination as a personality trait) bad for our health? 

Now the first bad news about habitual procrastination is that it is actually bad for our physical and psychological health.  Researches led by psychologist F. M. Sirois from Bishop’s University in Quebec, Canada, have found that habitual procrastination can lead to heart problems, headaches, digestive issues, colds and flus, and insomnia (Crew, 2015).  Unfortunately, Sirois’s study didn’t attempt to uncover a reason WHY procrastination and heart disease may be linked, but there are some obvious possibilities (offered by science journalist Melissa Dahl).  People who are habitual procrastinators may be likely to put off dreary chores like exercising or eating healthily, and the avoidance of these can of course lead to chronic health issues, like heart disease. And, as anyone who’s ever procrastinated on anything knows, people who put undesirable tasks off still, eventually, have to ACTUALLY DO THESE TASKS – and when they do, they’ll be under more stress than necessary, because they’ve allowed themselves less time to get the thing done. Stress, and its main culprit’s Cortisol detrimental effect on the body’s inflammatory responses, is well known to contribute to heart disease, digestive disorders and reduction in the function of the immune system (i.e. stressed people get sick easier and take longer to recover).

2.     Procrastinating is also not great for your career progression

The second, less physically damaging, outcome of habitual procrastination is that people are not often recognised or promoted for putting on a heroic last minute effort to meet a deadline or to put out their own fires; they stay at their current professional level because there will always be fires to put out!  Employees who can avoid or solve the problems that caused the fires are more likely to be promoted.  For families with a stay-at-home parent who is a procrastinator the list of potential problems is endless: from kids not having the right uniform/stationery/equipment in time for school to families eating frozen ‘TV-dinners’ five nights per week (because mum/dad have ‘ran out of time’ to shop for groceries and cook a healthy meal) or bills/fees not being paid on time – resulting in fines and extra charges. 

So, what should you do if you regularly procrastinate?

If you find that you are procrastinate regularly, don’t despair!  The good news is that taking control back from procrastination is NOT IMPOSSIBLE!  

1. Rule Number One: to heal procrastination pain – work on avoided tasks FIRST THING IN THE MORNING (many of my clients know about this mantra of mine!).  If morning is not your best time (due to shift work or other commitments) – chose the time when you feel it is YOUR “power hour” (the time of the day you know you are usually most productive). Most people have more energy then as your glucose levels are high and you have recharged after a good night’s sleep.  It is scientifically proven that most people can focus better and make better decisions earlier in the day (before the glucose level drop by about 1pm) and then again 20-30min after a meal. So: DON’T put work on the “urgent but not important” tasks first!  Do your “hard but necessary/important” tasks first thing in the morning (Zeigler, 2005)!  Please e-mail me for the copy of the Eisenhower’s Decision Matrix to help you better plan your tasks. 

2. Break up major projects into smaller tasks, which can be individually scheduled. Use a GANTT Chart, or a simple Master to Do List or a Family Planning Calendar – whatever works for you.  Once you get going on the smaller tasks, momentum will tend to build to carry you through to completion of your project (Tracy, 2010). 

3. Program your subconscious mind to help. Now this may sound like some ‘hippy nonsense’ – but it works!!  Repeat with energy and enthusiasm  – as often as necessary – “Do it now, do it now, do it now!”.  To avoid being sent to a psychiatrist for talking to yourself – it may be better to this in private. Remind yourself of the importance of the project, the need to stay on your schedule, and the appeal of the rewards you have planned to give yourself for doing this. Eventually your subconscious mind will get the message and gather up the energy for you to complete the project: on time. 

4. Stop being an adrenalin junkie – learn to be well-organised and PLAN things in advance. The point is not to discourage you from hard work. It is great that you can perform well under pressure.  Rather, it is to urge you to plan and schedule in the needed tasks in a timely fashion to avoid unnecessary stress and delays. Even if you feel you are brilliant in adversity, the fact that you created the adversity through procrastinating may not go down well with those around you (or worse, above you!) (Zeigler, 2005).


Values – Why knowing what these are for us is so important for our happiness?


How to Deal with Disappointment

How to Deal with Disappointment


You miss out on that dream position you wanted. Your family loses the long & unfair court case. Your best friend announces a move to another country. Life is rife with disappointments. Many of them are out of our control, so if we want to be happy, the only option is to learn how to deal with them.


What is disappointment, and is it good for us?

According to Dr Meg Carbonatto B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. we can define disappointment as “the gap between our expectations and the outcome which resulted”.  Hence, the larger the gap, the stronger the disappointment. Simple, isn’t it? But not always easy to deal with.  When things don’t work out as we hoped, the unfulfilled desires fester, filling us with negative thoughts and emotions. We may criticise ourselves, saying that we’re just not good enough, or that things never work out for us. We can become stuck in all the “d” states: Doubt, Discouragement, Despondency, Despair, and even Depression. So what’s the best way to not only move on but to grow from a disappointment? Dr Carbonatto offers six simple steps.


Step One: Acknowledge your feelings!

Disappointment is painful, but can you be more specific about what you’re feeling? Maybe underneath the hurt of being dumped from the team, you feel resentment. Behind the post-breakup weeping, are you angry at how you were treated? Feeling vengeful toward the business partner who betrayed you? Ask yourself if you are blaming yourself, others, or circumstances for what happened. Are you caught up in making excuses, shifting blame, or not taking responsibility? These reactions are normal after a disappointment, but they can hold you back. Clarifying why you are disappointed (i.e., identifying the gap between what happened and what “should” have happened) can help you identify expectations you had, preparing you for the next step.


Step Two: Bury unrealistic expectations

Here you evaluate the expectations you had of yourself and others. Were they fair and realistic? Flexible? Or did you see the situation narrowly (i.e., like a donkey with blinders on)? Were you thinking in a petty or selfish manner? Ask yourself, “Do my expectations need to be adjusted for next time?” If necessary, get a reality check from a trusted friend, because if you can’t acknowledge unrealistic hopes, the next step will not be do-able.


Step Three: Connect to your purpose; re-commit to your vision

Disappointment knocks us about. We realise that we lost the battle. But we are far more capable of hanging in to win the war if we take a moment to re-connect with our overall purpose: why were we pursuing the goal in the first place? How does it fit in with our vision for our life? Coming back into relationship with the “why” of whatever we were seeking gives us the patience and courage to stare down the disappointment and start again. Do we need a new strategic vision – or just a new way of approaching what still seems to be the right thing for us? What if Sir Joseph Swan had given up on his vision for an electric light bulb before his 2000th (and finally successful) attempt? And if you think that Edison developed the lightbulb – think again! Edison has merely worked on Swan’s lightbulb and then began a shameless advertising campaign stating that HE was the real inventor of the light bulb so he won the rights of distribution of an incandescent lightbulb across the USA – making him a very rich man. For both Sir Swan AND for Edison, persevering in the face of apparent failure allows us to get to the next phase of the process.


Step Four: Disidentify from the disappointment

Remember those drawings that looked like so many dots until you stood back – and then the “hidden” picture became apparent? Disappointment functions similarly. It is not until we stand back and disidentify from our painful feelings that we can see the big picture of the situation, including the possibilities and potentials that are embedded within the disappointment. With a disidentified perspective, we can see what we are being asked to learn from the situation – and get a glimpse of what else we could do, or what could happen differently in future. We suddenly realise that the job would not have suited our lifestyle, or the person who left us was often not there for us even when with us. Separating illusion and imagination from clear-headed reality primes us for the fifth step.


Step Five: Exploit opportunities by identifying strengths and supports

Up to this point you may have felt disempowered, but here you identify skills and strengths which help you to turn the situation to your advantage. What knowledge do you now have which can drive successful future efforts? What tools are at your disposal? What support can you garner from others? The lost court case gives valuable experience of how the justice system operates; the close friend shifting away gives the opportunity to utilise our own resources and meet new friends. A poor interview sharpens our skills of self-presentation for a job which may be more suitable.


Step Six: Flexibly re-set objectives and expectations

Moving through disappointment requires a re-appraisal of expectations which life has not met. To avoid future disappointment, we can ask ourselves how we may be able to pursue our objectives realistically, with less rigidity, and not lose hope. Maybe we can still keep the bar set at the high level, but approach it with more, smaller steps. What helps now is a genuine acceptance of what happened along with an equally solid commitment to moving forward. Creative and wise people tend to see how what they have already experienced has given them the capacity to engage the next battle, where they often win the war.


Thus disappointing outcomes become GIFTS; we just need to learn to unwrap them!

Mindfulness & Goal Setting Half-Day Workshop – 30th August 2015


Quieten your Mind and your Heart will speak


Mindfulness & Goal Setting Half-Day Workshop – Sunday 30th August 2015, 10.30am-2.30pm

It seems like everyone is meditating these days – from CEOs of companies to professional athletes and TV personalities. So what IS mindfulness and why is it good for us? And why does goal setting improve your life outcomes? Join me to:

  • Discover what mindfulness is and how it can help us to have a healthier, more productive, more creative and financially stable life.
  • Learn 5 quick and easy mindfulness & stress busting techniques.
  • Discover what your Core Values are and whether you are living in congruence with these.
  • Prepare a clear Personal Action Plan to focus on 1 or 2 Life Goals, which will bring your closer to your Optimal Future.
  • For small business owners: instead of a Personal Action Plan, we can prepare a One-Page Business Plan.

90, Hilda Street

Cost: $150/person
Concessions: $130/person (students, pensioners and people with a disability)

For bookings:
Mob: +61 (0)404 067 360
E-mail: ellie@ellierentoul.com

The workshop is limited to five (5) people only – to ensure all attendees receive high quality guidance and advice specific to their needs . I look forward to seeing you all on the 30th August!

Ellie Rentoul 🙂

What motivates us?

Most of us would agree that having meaningful work – work that provides a sense of fulfilment and empowerment is one of the key factors in our overall happiness. Those who have found deeper meaning in their careers find their days much more energising and satisfying, and count their career as one of their greatest sources of joy and pride.  Sonya Lyobomirsky, professor of psychology at University of California, has conducted numerous workplace studies showing that when people are more fulfilled on the job, they not only produce higher quality work and a greater output, but also generally earn higher incomes. Those most satisfied with their work are also much more likely to be happier with their lives overall.

For her book Happiness at Work, researcher Jessica Pryce-Jones conducted a study of 3,000 workers in 79 countries, finding that those who took greater satisfaction from their work were a whooping 150% more likely to have a happier life overall. On the flipside, research by the Gallup poll in the US found that, not surprisingly, people whose work is out of alignment were much more likely to be depressed, anxious, and have damaged relationships in their personal lives. Now that tells us that we should spend a bit more time on both career planning and career management!

If you find yourself unhappy and unfulfilled with aspects of your work, according to research by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton, you are not alone: job satisfaction and employee engagement has been on a steep and steady decline worldwide over the last two decades. However, Gostick & Elton also have found stories of teams and individuals who are deeply fulfilled by their work, who are passionate about what they do, and are energised when Monday comes.  So – what is their secret? In most cases, Gostick and Elton say, these people and teams have taken control of their careers. So, why don’t we all do it? The problem is that most people in unsatisfying jobs feel either helpless or overwhelmed.  Many wait for the outside force like a manager to fix things or some even secretly wish to being made redundant – because someone else is making a decision for them.  But this is a very passive way to manage one’s career and is unlikely to produce a better career outcome in the long run.

In addition, most people don’t have a clear understanding of what their strongest motivators are. Based on my 5+ years of coaching experience, this is probably the most relevant cause of career inertia.  People simply don’t know what they should do instead of the current role they are in – as the saying goes: “better the devil you know…”. However, there IS a solution, and in most cases it does not require a major career or job transition. There is no need to look for that ‘dream job’ as it simply doesn’t exist! EVERY job contains within it at least 20% of the stuff you don’t like to do. Most people don’t need to make a risky leap into the unknown; they just need to make small changes in their work lives. Many of the happiest people Gostick & Elton interviewed for their book “What Motivates Me?” didn’t find their bliss down a entirely new path: they made course corrections on the path they were already on.

So, how do you find out what truly motivates you? According to Gostick & Elton, there are 23 key motivators (or we can call them Core Work Values) that drive and shape our thoughts, behaviours and habits. As you read the list of these ideas, you’ll most likely notice that a majority could be motivating to you in some degree, with only a few being truly demotivating. However, the priority ORDER for each person is vitally important as it results in a unique mix of 3-5 core drivers that shape our identity:

  1. Autonomy
  2. Challenge
  3. Creativity
  4. Developing Others
  5. Empathy
  6. Excelling
  7. Excitement
  8. Family
  9. Friendship
  10. Fun
  11. Impact
  12. Learning
  13. Money
  14. Ownership
  15. Pressure
  16. Prestige
  17. Problem Solving
  18. Purpose
  19. Recognition
  20. Service
  21. Social Responsibility
  22. Teamwork
  23. Variety

Gostic & Elton have come up with five clusters for the above motivators which they call Identities.  These are:

  1. The Achievers –
    • the love a good challenge;
    • they are driven to excel;
    • they thrive under pressure;
    • they like to be in control
    • they have strong belief in their own talents
    • Completing tasks is crucial to them
    • They feel guilty if they aren’t giving their all
    • They are highly accountable
    • In extreme cases can suffer from perfectionism – there is no such thing as a healthy perfectionism!
    • They set ambitious goal for themselves and others – so will need help with respecting others when striving to reach a goal and not simply ‘run them over’
  2. The Builders
    • They want to help others grow;
    • They’ve long felt a sense of destiny to help others;
    • They want to be surrounded by a passionate team;
    • They believe everyone is a leader;
    • They are loyal friends;
    • Doing good is more important to them than making money;
    • They connect well with others – especially those with the same beliefs;
    • May find it hard to exert ‘tough love’ when genuinely needed so employees or team mates can take advantage by sitting back and putting in less effort;
    • Can end up disillusioned and complaining when others don’t meet their lofty set of standards;
    • Sometimes they ‘jump ship’ when dissatisfied in order to ‘find themselves’.
  3. The Caregivers
    • Driven by Empathy, Family & Fun;
    • They can relate to other people easily;
    • Are natural communicators;
    • They are dependable;
    • They respect others;
    • They try to balance their work and personal lives – so they tend to leave work on time to be with those they love;
    • They are genuine;
    • They are positive;
    • They are light-hearted;
    • They don’t like to be in charge and they avoid having ‘tough conversations’ with staff and people in general;
    • They can do too much ‘small talk’
    • They can be addicted to social media
  4.  The Reward-Driven are motivated by:
    • Money – they like to be incentivised;
    • Prestige – their identity is strongly tied to their success;
    • Recognition – they like regular indications of praise;
    • They are ‘doers’ and action-oriented;
    • Can be highly stressed, tensed and anxious – they work longer and report a higher incidence of failed relationships with spouses and children;
    • Can be pushed not by the healthy desire to compete but by an overriding fear of failure, which means they find fault in themselves;
    • They can be driven by a need to win all the time;
  5. The Thinkers
    • Dislike bureaucracy – they hate silly rules and red tape
    • They want to know ‘why’
    • They value novelty
    • They like to see the impact of their innovation;
    • They think before they act;
    • They like to draw on a wide range of experiences;
    • They don’t like being told how to do their work;
    • Can filter out everything but they most positive comments to reinforce their own points of view. They avoid constructive comments from staff & co-workers;
    • They can dominate people and situations – particularly under pressure.

Prior to each career coaching session, I will send out a unique questionnaire that will help to understand what your key motivators are and what are your 3 dominant Identities. That will be a good starting point for either a career course adjustment or a complete life shift. If you would like to book a Skype or one-on-one or a group coaching session, please contact me on: +61 (0)404 067 360 or via e-mail: ellie@ellierentoul.com