Potterings Blog

Pottering around life's issues, a little digging here, some fertilizer there, pruning to stimulate new growth and generally cultivating people's potential to blossom. Your comments are always welcomed.  
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When Time Stands Still for You

I received an email with the link to an old man singing in a city street. He was singing one of the inspirational songs of our times  - “You raise me up”.  I was greatly moved by the song and his glorious mature voice.


But what moved me more – to tears in fact – was the spellbound expressions on the faces of some of the shoppers. I saw people entranced by what they were hearing, seeing and feeling. For those few minutes time for them had stopped.  The strains and stresses of their day swept away, their minds transported  to all that was good in their lives, their feelings and their hearts .


When an experience touches your heart, everything in your world stands still. Save for the feeling that you are in a state of being rather than doing, enjoying the person you love to be, feeling the way you want to feel, knowing that all you want is for this moment to go on and on.  


Of course it cannot go on.  The experience will end and your life will move on.  But the memory will last, a ripple of peace that will flow on through to everything else in your day and your week. 


These are the moments for which you were born and from which you truly grow, flourish and  blossom into the person of worth you know yourself to be.  


Let time stop for you momentarily right now while you click this link and absorb the experience so beautifully created by this wonderful man.

Unleashing the Power of Empowerment

I love that word empowerment. It gives me goose-bumps every time I feel I have helped a client feel empowered.  I don’t empower them of course…only they can feel empowered, usually by an “aha” moment that I have triggered in their mind.  I would see the word empowerment as really self-empowerment because it is a feeling and feelings are always generated within one’s own self. 


To me empowerment is the positive feeling you get when you are free to fertilize your natural talents with passionate interests - even better with positive like-minded people.  It's what human nature is all about... but life tends to get in the way.


Empowerment is an especially powerful word in the workplace.  Without it, an organisation is held back, the unlimited natural potential of its people being stifled and frustrated. Empowerment energizes everything about a business/team - productivity, commitment, innovation, staff stability and lack of conflict.  Stress is down, mental fitness is up and resilience abounds.  


I was once required to establish an information unit which included taking over the responsibilities of the reception staff. Prior to that they had always transferred most enquiries to a person specializing in the area of enquiry. If that person was out (which was often the case), they would arrange a call back.


I had sensed there was frustrated talent in the reception group. Nonetheless they looked at me aghast when I said from now on they are going to be responsible for providing answers to enquiries. As a team we worked out a process for the change and I encouraged them to use their experience in reception work to come up with ideas.  If I could see that an idea had holes in it, I responded with “what would we do if…?” types of questions and get them to work it through further. 


Within a few months the unit was humming along beautifully, using ideas and systems that the team had largely developed among themselves.  Callers and visitors to the organisation were now enjoying the services of a confident, efficient and incredibly helpful group of people.   They had bonded into a team who felt empowered to not only provide the service expected of them. Of their own volition, they took the meaning of service to a new level, such was their enthusiasm – even passion – to please customers and staff alike.


The power of empowerment is boundless.


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Hit this Re-set Button to arrange a free no-obligation 30-minute consultation glimpse into the future of the real you - we can do it in person, by phone, or on Skype. You will definitely learn something interesting about your true self.


John Kerry's Bicycle Riding

I took an interest in the news report today of John Kerry, US Secretary of State, being injured while on a bicycle ride during a break in official business discussions.   My interest was in the fact that Mr Kerry regularly enjoys such rides, apparently irrespective of where he is in the world at the time. It's important to note that while he would (normally) get physical fitness benefits from regular such rides, it also provides important mental fitness benefits.


The fact that he does it as often as possible in his busy schedule means he enjoys the experience and the good feeling it gives him. It switches his mind off the constant excessive stresses of his work. It goes further in that it switches his mind on to a positively enjoyable, mentally non-stressful experience of getting out in the open air doing what he loves.  Such experiences re-energize his mind and are clearly a major factor behind his resilience to more than cope with the highly demanding Secretary of State responsibilities.


I am aware of other public figures who create similar enjoyable experiences whenever their work allows. Examples are Mr John Howard, a previous Prime Minister of Australia who went for an early morning walk every day while in office,  Mr Richard Butler who led the investigations into weapons of mass destruction in Iraq adored going to or listening to opera.


Regularly enjoying one’s favourite leisure/recreational interests (mine is, choir singing) has a vital role in re-energizing and sustaining mental health and maintain the resilience to more than cope with the pressures of daily life.  If it's that important to people with the above sort of stresses and time pressures, its important for you and  me.

Life Work Balance - a Refreshing Perspective

A successful business colleague told me recently how he has now adopted a life work balance approach to life, as distinct from work life balance. Instead of a work first approach he now uses a life first approach with his work being just one - albeit still important - facet of life. He is now enjoying a healthy mix of prioritizing his work energies with opportunities he and his wife set aside to enjoy quality outings together.


This exchange gave me a new perspective on the meaning of the word balance - a word I never liked because we can never really balance our work time and personal time. What's different here is my colleague now has a more balanced perspective on the relative values of his work and his personal life in sustaining his health and wellbeing.


Life today is more about the perspectives we have on it than about the time we spend in it.

People - Still just a business cost?

Every business is made up of people - managers and staff - who are the real self and the business person. It's tough to be both at once if the business is going to make a profit. But there's no escaping the fact they are always the same person.


TV's Australian Story on the Hawke era touched on the 1990 slump. It triggered widespread business decisions that the cost of staff was too high and should be reduced by sackings or outsourcing. There is plenty of evidence that, 24 years later, business still puts profits ahead of the people on whom the profits depend:

  • The Australia Institute promoted 19 November as 'Go Home on Time Day' because 2.8 million Australians are unsure what time they will finish work. That's equivalent to one in four workers juggling home life, child care and other commitments with an unpredictable work schedule
  • anything up to 70% of workers would change jobs tomorrow if they could do so
  • surveys continue to show a divergence of understanding between managers and staff about the working needs of staff
  • stress is now the number one cost in business but workers are still reluctant to talk about mental health issues at work
  • leaders still tend to be chosen for their professional skills, with people-skills being an optional extra.

What's the talk that your organisation walks when it comes to people-management?  


I can help. Give me a call on 0417 817 027.

The Vision of Gough Whitlam 1972

THE QUALITY OF LIFE -   extract from Gough Whitlam’s 1972 Election Policy Speech


“There is no greater social problem facing Australia than the good use of expanding leisure. It is the problem of all modern and wealthy communities. It is, above all, the problem of urban societies and thus, in Australia, the most urbanised nation on earth, a problem more pressing for us than for any other nation on earth. For such a nation as ours, this may very well be the problem of the 1980’s; so we must prepare now; prepare the generation of the ’80s – the children and youth of the ’70s – to be able to enjoy and enrich their growing hours of leisure.”


Thus began the development of Australia’s recreation profession – not the first country in the world to do so, as it was well established in the USA and elsewhere at that time. But Gough Whitlam’s 1972 election statement was a significant watershed for developing the modern leisure, recreation and sporting industry in Australia, not to mention the recreational enjoyment of parks, the arts and cultural services.

Australians of all ages and from all walks of life, from the Olympic sportsperson to the local walking club member are now benefiting from the work of thousands of trained recreation planners and developers. How much their efforts are helping to sustain and improve the mental and physical health and wellbeing of millions of Australians is now becoming increasingly accepted and valued.

Yes this is a personal matter to me…I was in the first group to graduate in 1976 from the Graduate Diploma in Recreation Planning established at the then Canberra CAE by the Whitlam Government. It gave me the professional training to structure my life’s passion of promoting the many personal growth and life-expanding benefits of expressing one's natural talents through a passionate leisure interest.

You can get an idea of what I mean by browsing my current business website atwww.australiaspeoplegardener.com.au

Thank you Gough Whitlam. May you rest in peace.

Written on the occasion of the passing of Gough Whitlam Prime Minister of Australia - from1972 to 1975 today at the age of 98.

How hard do you drive your car?

In your increasingly fast pace of life you put your car under great pressure to perform well. Regular refueling and servicing are essential to avoid any risk of running out of fuel - or worse, the frustration and inconvenience of breaking down in the middle of heavy traffic.


Similarly you put yourself under constant pressure to perform well every day.  You want to sustain the energy - particularly the mental energy - not just to cope but to have some in reserve whenever you have to go the extra mile.  


The last thing you want is your mental energy levels to run down to the point of burnout.  Nor do you want  to break down under pressure.


You regularly go to a service station to refuel and service your car.  Your personal energy service station is any passionate freely-chosen leisure experience, one in which you are in total control, enabling you to enjoy creatively expressing your natural talents for your the sheer pleasure of doing so. No one else can tell you how  to enjoy yourself. It's an experience you can access whenever you want, offering unlimited renewable energy for as long as want to 'fill up'.


Simply switch your mind off from your stresses and switch it on to the experience you want to create.  No time? Just keep checking your various energy gauges and you'll know when it's time to pull over and fill up.


When you get back into the heavy traffic, your mental engine will again be purring.  You are back in charge, knowing you have all the energy you need to drive, thrive and successfully arrive at wherever you want to be. 

Live Smarter Not Harder

To work smarter, not harder has been a popular catchphrase. Now, in this era of dramatic nd continuing increases in the pace of life, prolonged excessive stress and overwhelming changes in technology, we need to think about living smarter not harder.


How can we live smarter than we do now? Time management was once the answer. But that doesn't work when we try to fit more and more into an inflexible limit of 168 hours a week. What is suffering is the energy output all this pressure is demanding that we burn.


Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment and feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. Symptoms can include chronic fatigue, sleeplessness, depression, anger, feelings of apathy or hopelessness, lack of enthusiasm to help clients, increased irritability and pessimism.


Like a car we need to regularly refuel our supply of mental energy before the mind burns out and the symptoms of burnout start to appear. Like a car also, it is not enough to simply stop and rest. Active refueling of new mental energy is needed. 


I advocate what I call the "switch off, switch on" approach. Switch the mind off the energy-burning, stress-generating experiences by switching the mind on to any personally-chosen leisure pursuit that you thoroughly enjoy for its own sake and which takes your mind of your problems for a while.  How often and for how long? It's not about the time it takes but about the effect it has. You can deficit-budget energy - a few minutes of a pleasureable interest that is totally your choice can keep you going for hours. Done regularly it can change your whole approach to life and build a strong resilience base.


Now you are living smarter not harder.


Click here for an in-depth paper on the benefits of the 'switch-off switch-on' approach to Workplace Mental Health and Safety.

The battle to stay mentally healthy


The world is fighting a war against the rise of mental illness. The battle to stay mentallly healthy is just as tough because there is much more to mental health than simply the absence of mental illness.


Youl know what you can do to stay physically healthy – whether or not you do them is another matter.  But what can you do to stay mentally healthy ?    With the help of some of my subscribers I have compiled a list of some useful indicators of the extent to which you can demonstrate mental health/wellness.


Examples such as:  

  • having at least one passionate interest outside of work
  •  .
  • mixing with positive like-minded people with whom you share a non-work creative interest
  •  .
  • having a diversity of relationships networks - not just in business
  • .
  • feeling you have adequate control over your life decisions
  • .
  • doing things that help other people feel valued

Click here to read the full list and take the opportunity given there to add to the list.

Shattered Dreams


Buried in the ashes and horrors of the downed MH17 lie shattered not only the lives of almost 300 human beings but also their individual dreams, hopes and plans.


Each of those passengers - from the most experienced to the smallest child - was an emotional person, unique in human history in terms of his/her array of talents, abilities and passions. We shall never know what untapped potential they might have achieved. 


We are each a work-in-progress in making our respective unique contributions to our communities, our families and our professions.  We are all empowered by our differences.


If we can learn anything for ourselves from this tragic episode, it is the fact that we are still here to continue using our talents and passions to make a difference in the world, as much as we can, to as many as we can and for as long as we can.


Life's Like Cricket Batting

When batting in cricket, hitting 50 is a milestone achieved but there’s plenty more to be done. It’s no more than an incentive to go for the 100 and beyond. It requires continuing to express one’s talent, passion and the dream of realising a tantalizing unique potential. The only obstacle (in Ashes Cricket)  is The Old Enemy.


Life’s like that. You get to 50 – a significant milestone in life but it’s only a passing stage. A jumping off point, encouraging you to go on to greater things in life. There is still much to be done, passions to be pursued, untapped talents to be developed that will enable you to reach your natural potential. The only thing that can stop you is The Old Enemy – traditional thinking that taught you to stop at 60 or 65 and decide you have done enough, that you are too old, that it’s time to throw your wicket away.


Fine thoughts, but what does it mean for you in your life? What’s going to keep driving you? I have already got 70 runs on the board and still batting with passion! In your case, the answers will be unique to you.


If you've passed the 50 and planning to bat on for a long while yet, come to my forthcoming public seminar to gain some practical tips on how to ensure you keep on growing:


Retirement Lifestyle Planning - the non-financials"

Wednesday 18 June 2014, 7.30 pm

Brougham Place Uniting Church Community Hall, cnr Brougham Place/Stanley Street, North Adelaide 

$10.00 pp  Book today online to ensure your seat/s.



Do your team a favour and pass this  message on to them too. I look forward to seeing you - and them - there.


With apologies to readers who don't know anything about the great sport of cricket! 

Retirement Isn't What You Think


Unless you have retired from fulltime work you cannot know what it is like to be retired. You can only guess.  Retirees might tell you what it's like but your retirement life will be unique to you. 


If you are in your 50's you need to start thinking about these sort of real life issues which will be covered in my upcoming public seminar on 18 June:

  • don't leave your retirement lifestyle planning to chance any more than you would your financial planning
  • retirement isn't 
    • long service leave
    • a holiday from work
    • a replacement for work
  • retirement planning is vital for staying mentally healthy
  • Get on the front foot or risk having a lonely, perhaps short, retirement
  • beware the 'retired husband syndrome'

If you are over 50 and still in the workforce, you would be wise to come with your spouse to my 


Retirement Lifestyle Planning Public Seminar (the Non-Financials)

     When? Wednesday 18 June 2014 7.30 pm

     Where? Brougham Place Uniting Church Hall, North Adelaide

     Cost? $10.00 pp

   Bookings online - either at my website or at Eventbrite


An Innovative Approach to Managing Workplace Mental Fitness


An amazing level of interest is being shown in my Workplace Mental Fitness Positive Position Statement Posted on my website late last year the Statement is getting by far the most hits and comments (all positive and supportive) of any topic on my site. 


It's exciting to find such a keen interest in identifying that leisure has a strong yet simple and cost-effective link with the difficult problem of managing workplace mental health.


If the length and detail of the Statement deters you, go straight to the comments. These will provide any evidence you need to read the full Statement and discuss its potential for your organisation.

And because mental health is, in the final analysis, only manageable by the individual the Statement can be of personal interest too.


Planning for Recreation

Recreation planning was my professional work and passion for almost 30 years. I can best describe it as creating places and spaces for a variety of recreational pursuits in which the participants for each of the diverse pursuits go home at the end of the day satisfied that their particular desired experience has been fulfilled.


With the high value/costs of public land set aside for recreational use there is today a growing trend of concern to me. We are now undertaking recreation planning instead of planning for recreation.  


The difference?  My passion to plan for recreation puts the primary emphasis on providing opportunities for the widest possible variety of quality recreational experiences.  What I see happening now however is that such planning is increasingly focusing on getting the  maximum financial return on open space.  In other words, giving priority to recreation and sporting interests that attract funds rather than focusing on satisfying diverse community needs.


This trend also smacks of going back to the bad old days where priority was given to young active predominantly male sporting interests that gain media attention and develop sporting champions. A worthy cause but not at the expense of the majority of an increasingly ageing population who want to enjoy recreational passions for the sheer love of doing so and to keep them healthy in mind, body and spirit.


Balance in all things is vital to personal and community health and wellbeing, including in the provision of opportunities for quality leisure, recreation and sporting experiences.

Empowering the Individual at Work

Mental health, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-belief, commitment, engagement, enthusiasm, motivation, inspiration – all lovely words expressing sentiments that every business wants to see flourishing in every employee.


The common factor is they are all emotional states of mind, realizable only by the individual.  Employers can only cultivate a culture that encourages such emotions to flourish and blossom productively.


Such a culture recognizes and supports respecting the dignity of the individual. It seeks to satisfy individual desires to creatively express personal talents, passions and potential in ways that harmonise (different to duplicate) personal and corporate needs. 


Get it wrong and people will soon be flocking to your door - the exit door.

Slowing the Ageing Process

We're told we are likely to live longer than previous generations, we want to get the most out of life and we would love to slow the ageing process.  The answer is simple - spend more time creating time-stopping experiences.  


They need to be experiences totally suited to you and your unique life.  Which means only you can create them and only you can choose what experiences to create. The answers will be unique to you but they will come from re-visiting your natural-born talents, passions, skills and the potential those resources could realize.  It needs you to create regular experiences in your week that creatively express your talents :

  • in your own freely-chosen way,
  • for the sheer intrinsic enjoyment you gain from each such experience,
  • in your chosen location,
  • by yourself or with positive like-minded other people.

These interests/experiences:

  • are unrelated to work or other demands on you
  • are energizing, mentally stimulating and spiritually refreshing
  • you can pursue whenever and wherever you wish
  • could be passions that your busy life has forced you to suppress - but don’t limit your potential to try something totally new and challenging  (perhaps be the first to….?)

How are they time-stopping and age-slowing?  These experiences are so enjoyable, stimulating and totally absorbing that you forget the time - you are 'in the zone'  as they say.  They slow the ageing process because these experiences energize you, keep you mentally fit and healthy and keep you feeling young in mind, body and spirit.


Not convinced? Think how long you will live - or how long it will seem like - if you don't have lifelong interests like these built into your lifestyle.


It's Never Too Late


This week I have had the honour of my new article "It's Never Too Late" being featured on Keith Ready's A Gift of Inspiration website and distributed as his first InspirEmail for 2014.


Hopefully "It's Never Too Late" will inspire you to treat the start of this new year as the time for letting nature refresh your life.


I encourage you to:

  1. click here to read "It's Never Too Late", and
  2. subscribe to future InspirEmails through Keith's A Gift of Inspiration website.


Loving Your Teenager is Not Enough


“Loving your teenage son or daughter is not enough. He or she needs to feel that you appreciate them as a blossoming human being, whose talents and uniqueness require constant nurturing, support and encouragement and whose dreams are sufficiently intriguing to be worth exploring.” 


This quotes the 53rd message from my new book "Enjoy Being Proud of Who You Are - 52 Inspirational Life-Skills Messages for Teenagers".  It brings out the fact that no matter how much we might want to influence our teenage children in their life direction, they are going to make their own decisions.

And rightly so!  Whatever our age, we are all unique individuals from birth to death.  No matter how much you try to put yourself in someone else's shoes, you simply cannot do so.  And just like you would with any adult, the way to help people is by focusing on increasing their sense of self-esteem, self-belief, self-confidence and sense of self-worth.


My book brings out many statements that people have learned from their parents and have successfully passed on to their children.  But that is only a start. I want to run workshops and discussion groups with young people and give them the chance to discuss with each other what each statement means in their lives, what has importance to them and - let's be frank - what, to any of them,  is now just so much garbage from us oldies!


Kids are smart. They want your help but they will make up their own minds. We just need to give them the best possible information on which they can base their own decisions.  


Click on the pic below for information on how you can get a copy of the book to give to your teenager/s as a way of:

  • telling them how much you care for and respect them as individual human beings and
  • recognizing them as emerging adults who want to blossom in their own way.

 Enjoy Being Proud Of Who You Are

Launching "Enjoy Being Proud of Who You Are: 52 Inspirational Life-Skills Messages for Teenagers"

 It was someone no less than the Dalai Lhama who said that education today focuses too much on material and economic success and not enough on education of the mind, the emotions and personal growth. 


I was in a gift shop some months ago, looking for gifts for primary school age children. I came across some books with inspirational life messages and thought I would love to give the children something like that when they get a little older.  In fact, I asserted, I could write such a book myself!


From my subsequent investigations I concluded there was indeed a gap in the availability of this sort of book – amazing, given the huge issues of teenage depression and suicide.  Some say there are more suicides than there are road deaths.


So I put my mind to work, culminating in the world-wide release this week of

Enjoy Being Proud of Who You Are: 52 Inspirational Life-Skill Messages for Teenagers.

(Thumbnail image appears in the right-hand column of this page). It is available in e-book and e-reader formats through dozens of online outlets including Amazon/Kindle and Kobo.  It will also soon be available to purchase online in hard copy form through similar outlets.


I am not an expert in today’s teenage issues (I vaguely remember being one myself many years ago). It’s simply my attempt to provide a series of thoughts that I have gleaned from my mentor work, my life experiences and from the lives of various other people who gave me some great thoughts they had absorbed sitting at the feet of their own parents and passed down to their children.


Will teenagers read it let alone like it? Who knows? When did you last read a book of inspirational messages from cover to cover? If one teenager who is struggling with adolescence is helped by one message, the task will have been worth the effort.  


If you are a parent, grandparent, guardian, aunt or uncle of a teenager, I urge you to give him/her an opportunity to make their own decisions about reading and, with luck, identifying at least one message in the book that may help them make sense of this mad life.  


I also ask that you heed what is in fact the 53rd message in the book, directed at you:


Loving your teenage son or daughter is not enough. He or she needs to feel that you appreciate them as a blossoming human being, whose talents and uniqueness require constant nurturing, support and encouragement and whose dreams are sufficiently intriguing to be worth exploring”.


I would love to hear any anecdotes of outcomes from a reading of my book – by you or by your teenager – or even have you put a review on the sales site from where you purchased your copy.


And I hope His Holiness the Dalai Lhama would approve of my efforts to try bringing some balance into the world of education.


Stress costing millions

Ariound 140 stress-related claims per year are being made by teachers in the South Australian education system at a cost of some $10 million per annum.  Another news heading last night on ABC television made reference to a disturbing growth in mental stress issues in the workplace.


When is the business world and the health sector going to stop bemoaning the prevalence of increasing mental illness and start taking notice of ideas for keeping people mentally healthy, building resilience and sustaining mental energy?? When will we start focusing less on the problems of finding cures and focus more on preventing mental illness?


Nature does have a remedy that has existed since Adam was a pup.  You can read about it in detail elsewhere on my website. Click here.


It's a long statement- resist the temptation to read just the first and last para if you want to really start tackling mental health positively and productively. 


It's enough to get you started doing your own program without my help but call me if you want to know more.