What are your words to live by in 2015?

Buddha_WhatYou+Have+BeenAs we’re getting into the swing of 2015, I must confess I’ve been feeling a bit stuck. Usually each year I identify a theme that underpins how I want to approach the year – it usually pops out quite easily. For some reason, this year I’ve been finding it hard to identify something that feels right.

In 2011, as I started my own business, my theme was, “Being OK with uncertainty”; in 2012 I was ready for more and it was, “Stepping Up”; 2013 saw some personal circumstances with illness of people close to me requiring me to dig deep and so, “Courage” was the quality I needed to channel; and last year I took on a theme of, “Being the leader other people need you to be” which is a wonderful saying of one of the speakers at a leadership program I facilitate.

Whenever I would feel a bit wobbly about life or my ability to get through a challenge I would focus in on my theme. I found that being mindful of my theme when doubts or fears threatened to take over, provided an anchor for me and grounded me. It’s been a useful technique to provide leadership to myself and others, help me perform and be more resilient.

reflectionIn 2015, nothing was jumping out at me and I’ve been feeling a bit adrift and uncertain. Luckily I have some great people around me to talk about these challenges with. A business coach I work with suggested that I try a few words instead of one theme.

So I gave it a go and came up with this:

  • * Focus
  • * Fearless
  • * Fitness
  • * Follow through
  • * Fabulous (and fun)

It’s amazing that this slight shift in approach unblocked my mind and freed me up. There is something in these words that reflects a need for balance across all aspects of my life. I’m needing to rely on certain qualities and strengths in my business and in my personal life but I don’t want it to be all serious.

Feb 2015 newsletter imageIt’s so valuable to undertake personal reflection and its helpful to uncover some things that you haven’t consciously realised are going on but that are really getting in the way and that are holding you back. I participated in a great coaching session last week which gave me some valuable insights about why I’m feeling challenged at the moment. A bit of stress has meant that I’ve amped up some of my strengths in the last couple of years but this has meant that some of my other strengths have been turned down. So my challenge for this year is to turn up the volume again on some of the strengths I’ve been stifling. On further reflection I’ve also identified that a couple of my core values are in conflict at the moment which explains some of the internal tussles I’ve been having and my feeling of stuckness.

So now that I’ve worked that out and, having identified my 2015 “words to live by”, I feel more prepared to get right into 2015!

How about you? What do you do/have you done to prepare for the year ahead? Have you had any insights into things that are holding you back that you’d like to change in 2015? Have you set aside any personal development or reflection time – if not, what could you do and what is the next step? Are you being true to your values and, if not, how might you remedy this? What would your theme be or your words to live by?

Here’s to a totally fabulous 2015!

All the best, Cynthia

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How do you make a positive change?

My home town of Benalla on a glorious spring day

My home town of Benalla on a glorious spring day

I recently caught up with participants from our February “Driving Your Life” small group coaching program for a six month check in. I was very keen to see how they’d gone with implementing the goals they’d developed during the program. Could they achieve the changes they’d committed to? What successes had they had? Where did they struggle? What was different? Or were their lives and challenges still the same?

And for me, as the program facilitator, was it worth these people taking two days out of their busy schedules to reflect on what was working and what was not working in their careers and lives?

The great news was that most people had made significant positive changes over the past six months in career, business and life. Devoting two days to reflect, learn, plan and create plus talk to and hear from other people who were similarly motivated to change seemed to have given people a real kick start. They felt happier and were making better decisions.

the gangWe all know that making change isn’t easy. We often have the best intentions, set a goal and then the change just doesn’t stick. Why did this Driving Your Life group have success with some of their goals?

The fact these people spent two days undertaking a program that took them through processes of self-examination and reflection is one possible reason. For those who dismiss these practices as “naval gazing” or a waste of time, Harvard professor Lisa Lahey and her colleague Robert Keegan have done years of research that shows reflection can help make change stick.

As an example I might have identified that being more assertive will be a positive change for me to make for my career and life. So I identify this as a goal and go and do some training. And then I don’t implement what I learnt. What is going on?

Lahey and Keegan have identified that successfully making this change will require both a change in behaviour and a change in mindset (adaptive change). They say that by undertaking self-examination and reflection I will uncover other underlying beliefs I have that prevent me from making this change (making me “immune” to change). I might believe that if I become more assertive then people won’t like me or I believe that I’ll make others uncomfortable. These hidden competing beliefs are running at the same time as the belief that being more assertive will benefit me and so the status quo is maintained and I don’t change.

ash and nath

Ashley and Nathan discuss change

Katie and Liz reflect on successes and challenges

Katie and Liz reflect on successes and challenges







Often our beliefs remain unexamined and yet they drive our behaviour. Lahey and Keegan’s Immunity to Change model provides a self-reflection process to identify our hidden competing beliefs so that we can begin to challenge them.

I believe its worth doing the hard inner work to uncover beliefs we’ve developed in the past that just aren’t serving us anymore so that we can let them go. In being more aware of ourselves we can challenge the often unconscious ways we sabotage ourselves, despite our best intentions.

If you’d like more information on Immunity to Change this article is a good start:


What about you? What positive changes have you made in your life? What might be holding you back? What beliefs could you let go of that aren’t serving you any more?

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Our Driving Your Life program delivers results for Cindy

Thanks so much to participant Cindy for this feedback about our recent Melbourne Driving Your Life program held on 31st July & 1st August, 2014! Cindy is a teacher, small business owner and busy mother and was looking for support to bring all the strands of her life together and develop a plan for where to next. So, with her husband egging her on and encouraging her, she took a deep breath and took two days out to invest in herself and her family’s future by coming along to our program.

Driving Your Life is a small group coaching program we’ve specially designed to help people connect with their passion and purpose, set their direction, focus on what’s really important in life/career and take action for their personal and professional success. Whether you want to set a totally new direction in your life/career or simply review where you’re at, re-focus and recharge, we can help you succeed! Our next public program will be in Melbourne on 23rd & 24th October, 2014 – book now!

cindy“Driving Your Life was all that I hoped it would be! It combined people from different circumstances of work, age, stage and family and united us as we hunted down our values, drivers and stoppers. For me, personally, I had a few real light bulb moments. I came to the realisation that I have some great ideas and it was the implementation of those ideas that I needed to work through. I have left with a clearer game plan. I have found myself thinking more about my SDI (Strength Deployment Inventory) and how I can use that awareness to deal with issues and achieve. The iMap particularly worked for me and it is up on my wall as I write this.

I feel that much of what I learnt was already in me but I hadn’t known how to discover it. We were guided to discover, not told what to do and how to think. To have the time to be able to recognise my achievements and how I got there and how I felt, and to be inspired to be able to be proud and achieve new things is very important to me.

Cynth and Louise, you really were great facilitators. You guided us to work it out for ourselves, to bond as a team and to believe in ourselves.

The many messages are still resonating with me now, and I am excited about who will be driving my bus and where it will go.

You were just what I needed and I am excited about the impacts that you have had.”

We’re running another Driving Your Life in Melbourne on 23rd & 24th of October, 2014. Our early bird rate closes at the end of September so book now to avoid disappointment.

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Are you better than you think you are?

too many people

“I’m really bad at public speaking”; “I’m warning you, I’m going to be absolutely terrible”; “I just don’t think I can do this”; “Public speaking’s  just not something I’m good at”; “I’m fine talking one on one but the minute I get up in front of a group my mind goes blank”………..these were some of the comments from some participants at a leadership program I recently facilitated.

Sound familiar?

One of my roles is to observe each person as they deliver a two minute presentation to the rest of the program participants about who they are and why they are passionate about their industry. I identify where they did well and where they could raise the bar and share this feedback with them.

As they were preparing the content, I went around and chatted to people individually about how they were going. Of the 15 participants, about seven quietly shared their fears with me and expressed a belief that public speaking was something that they were really bad at.

I braced myself to sit through a number of excruciating presentations and wondered how I would possibly identify some positive feedback to share.

And you know what? They were great!  Sure there were some nerves and stumbles here and there but no disasters and some really terrific performances.

For some people just delivering the speech was enough to change their self-perception. For some others, who had some doubts about how they performed, the feedback of the rest of the group and myself enabled new self-knowledge to emerge – that they did have the capability to deliver a public presentation well and professionally. In fact, so buoyed in confidence by their positive experience were some of the most terrified participants, that they volunteered to present at an industry dinner that night.


So what was going on? In my experience people’s self-perception can be totally out of whack with how others see them.

Someone who is very competent, or even great, at something can massively underestimate their talent. They assume others operate at the same level so then think their own ability is nothing special. And I think we all know people who think they are more skilled than they actually are (this is known as the Dunning-Kruger effect where the less competent people are, the more they overestimate their abilities).

If you’re one of those people who has a tendency to underestimate your strengths then I’d encourage you to have a go at uncovering your personal blind spots.

  • Like the participants in my leadership workshop who were public speaking, it might be stretching yourself to do something that scares you and finding you actually enjoy it.
  • Tools like the Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI), DISC and Myers-Briggs can help increase self knowledge and awareness.
  • It might be actively seeking feedback about your strengths from people you respect and trust.
  • Being aware of your own inner dialogue and taking some time to uncover and check your limiting assumptions and beliefs can make a big difference to self-perception.

Although the focus of this blog has been on people underestimating their strengths, its also worth reflecting on what can happen when you overdo your strengths. Sometimes our most positive attributes can end up having a negative impact on ourselves and others. For example someone who has a great strength in assertiveness could overdo this and be perceived as bossy. Someone whose strength is flexibility could be seen as wishy washy or someone who is analytical could be seen as nit picky. What might be the impact on others if you overdo your key strengths?

I’d love to hear from you about the ways that you have tuned into your strengths and uncovered some of your blind spots.

Leadership Victoria participants practise active listening

What about you? I’d really encourage you to ask yourself the following questions, note your thoughts down and see what emerges for you.

  • Think about a time when were doing something that brought out your best self, something you are really proud of. What were you doing? How did you feel? Who were you with? What skills did you use? How were you behaving? What were you not doing? What strengths were you using? You can do this reflection privately or tell your story to a trusted friend or colleague and ask them to give you feedback on the strengths they hear.
  • Identify some people in your life you respect and trust and ask them, “When are you at your best? When you are at your best, what do you do? How do you behave? How do they see you?”
  • Is there someone in your team or network who doesn’t realise how great they are? Next time you notice them being terrific why not share with them the strengths you’ve noticed they have?
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Driving Your Life 31st July & 1st August 2014 Melbourne public program taking bookings now!

newsletter koo

Who’s driving your life?

  • – Do you want to take charge and develop a fresh direction in life?
  • – Do you want to create a new and exciting road map for your career and/or life?
  • – Do you want to check in with how you’re tracking and give yourself a booster to move ahead with your goals?
  • – Are you searching for a new way to do something with meaning and purpose and make what you do count?
  • – Are you after some new ideas, confidence and inspiration?

Whether you want to set a totally new direction in your life or simply review where you’re at, re-focus and recharge, this two-day, transformational workshop can help you succeed!  

What are you waiting for? Join like-minded people for a two-day pitstop to make the changes you’ve been dreaming about.

Participants discuss their road map and share ideas

Participants discuss their road map and share ideas

Here’s what some of the participants in our February 2014 program had to say:

  • – “Everyone needs to do this!!! It was incredible. I have recharged my life and direction and am ready to go!” 
  • – “A vibrant program that supplies a bag of tools to help you see more clearly who you are and to put your feet on your chosen path – sometimes we need encouragement and guidance to start.”
  • – “Got a lot out of the two days – a good balance of doing/talking/listening. Great group of people and I look forward to catching up in a couple of months to check in!”
  •  – “Excellent workshop to refocus your life and get ideas/inspiration from others.”

Taking bookings for our next Melbourne program on 31st July & 1st August 2014.

Venue: The JJ Clark Room, Old Treasury Building, Spring St, Melbourne, VIC, 3000.

Duration: 9.30am – 4.30pm (two action-packed days)

nathan and liz

Join other like-minded people in a relaxed, supportive and fun environment

This two-day pitstop aims to put you in the driver’s seat of your life! You’ll….

  • – Review your life’s purpose and/or career direction and identify your passion, taking time to find out what’s really important to you in all aspects of your life
  • – Create a new and exciting road map for your career and/or life
  • – Recognise that you hold the keys to change, identify what’s been holding you back and provide you with the confidence to more forward
  • – Harness your strengths and improve your relationships with others
  • – Set a clear direction so you can embark on your new journey with an action plan to keep you on track
  • – Identify how you can use your network to support you

Join experienced leadership development facilitators, Louise Thomson and Cynthia Mahoney, who will be your “co-drivers” on this two-day journey. We’ll provide you with valuable tools that you can continue to use after the program as well as practical activities and support to get you on the fast track to success and put you in control.

So if it’s time for you to connect with your passion and purpose, set your direction, focus on what’s really important in life and take action for your personal and professional success, then book in for “Driving Your Life” today!

newsletter emma

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Driving Your Life – our new program! Enrolments open now!

Driving Your Life

 This milestone event is all about you! It’s for people like you who want to connect with their passions and purpose, set their own direction, focus on what’s really important in life and take action for their personal and professional success.

DriverThis two-day program aims to put you in the driver’s seat of your life!  You’ll…

  • Connect with your passions and purpose, work out what’s really important to you in life and identify how to play to your strengths.
  •  Have time out of your busy routine to step back and reassess your goals in all areas of your life, providing you with more focus and balance to achieve success at home and at work.
  • Recognise that you hold the keys to change. You’ll set your own agenda and put yourself in the driver’s seat to take up the right opportunities when they come your way
  • Develop a clear direction and plan to take action. You’ll look at what you need to keep doing, start doing and stop doing and identify how you can use your network to support you.

Click here to book your place now!

driving your life official photo 2 compressed

Experienced leadership development facilitators Louise Thomson and Cynthia Mahoney have developed this program in response to the common issues experienced by people they’ve worked with in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. We’ve repeatedly heard:

  • – “I want to do something with meaning and purpose. I want to make what I do count.”
  • – “I need focus. I feel like I don’t have a clear path ahead of me”.
  • – “I’m too busy. I feel stretched. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have balance in my life”.
  • – “I feel bogged down, stuck in what I’m doing and would like more support to develop a fresh direction”.
  • – “Everything around me is changing so quickly and sometimes I feel I can’t keep up”.

Click here to book your place now!

If not now, when?The two days will involve working on practical activities and strategies to:

  • – Understand your passions, what fulfils you and what you stand for – how to use this to take charge and set your future direction
  • – Harness your strengths and improve your relationships with others
  •  – Balance competing demands in many aspects of your life
  • – Design your vision and goals based on past successes, what’s possible and what you’re passionate about
  • – Develop your own personal brand – You Inc.
  • – Realise your personal power and confidence to put your plans into action
  • – Identify who inspires you and how to “borrow” some of their attributes when you need them
  • – Put you in the driver’s seat of your life

Imagine, believe and achieve

Click here to book your place now!

Key questions and answers:

 Who is this program for?

Anyone! Men & Women. Any Age. Any Sector.

 How many people will be at the program?

Seats are limited with a maximum of 20 participants ensuring an interactive and practical program.

What’s included in the program?

– Completion of an on-line profile tool to understand your strengths and develop strategies to improve your personal effectiveness in relationships, particularly in conflict.

– A copy of the popular book, “Do More Great Work – Stop the busywork and do the work that matters” by Michael Bungay Stanier.

– Food and refreshments throughout the two days.

– You Inc. workbook which hosts a series of activities that we commence during the program.

– Meet and network with a group of like-minded people.

 Where & When:

Friday 15th & Saturday 16th November 2013

9am – 5pm (both days)

The Oaks on Collins, 480 Collins St, Melbourne, VIC, 3000.

Pricing (GST incl.):

Corporate: $1,320 (per person)

Individual & not-for-profit: $880 (per person)

Book with a friend and receive $100 off the price of each ticket (GST incl.):

Corporate: $2,420 (for two people)

Individual & not-for-profit: $1,540 (for two people)


Cynthia Mahoney Ph: 0427 622 654 E: cm_associates@live.com.au


Louise Thomson Ph: 0458 130 100 E: globalpeople@sandhurst.net.au


 Click here to book your place now!









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Opportunities to apply for a dairy scholarship for the 2014 Australian Rural Leadership Program!

An article about opportunities for dairy farmers to apply for a scholarship for the Australian Rural Leadership Program – this article features Lisa Dwyer, a terrific dairyfarmer who is a participant in one of the programs we facilitate – the Murray Goulburn Supplier Development Program. Applications for the ARLP close on the 31st July 2013. A range of scholarships for other rural industries are also available so why not encourage someone you know to apply!

Link to article on ARLP dairy scholarships, featuring Lisa Dwyer

Lisa Dwyer at the 2013 Murray Goulburn Supplier Development Program
Lisa Dwyer at the 2013 Murray Goulburn Supplier Development Program


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Leadership Learnings from the Igniting Leadership Program

One of our favourite programs to facilitate is Leadership Victoria’s Igniting Leadership program. Its a five day program for emerging leaders in the government, corporate and not-for-profit sectors. The program is a dynamic mix of seminars, scenario-based learning, guest speakers, reflection sessions and other learning-based activities. An informal graduation is held at the conclusion of the program where participants share their leadership commitment with the rest of the group. As the program facilitator, its inspiring to observe the participants’ development and to see them identify and embrace their own, unique “leadership voice”. The program also includes a guest blog, where some of the participants write about their experience of the program. We thought we’d share Dale Ahern’s reflections from Day 1 of the May 2013 program.

Guest blog: Dale Ahern Day One Igniting Leadership April 2013

15 April 2013 By Dale Ahern, Communication Advisor, Dept of Premier and Cabinet

Dale ahern photo

Last year, my office had a spare ticket for a Leadership Victoria cocktail event, so I put up my hand.

For someone with no prior knowledge of LV, being in a room full of alumni was a powerful experience. Everyone seemed to possess a strange confidence, visible in the way they voiced ideas, the way they delighted in meeting new people. And there was a strange sense of family about the whole gathering.

I decided that, if the chance came, I’d find out more.

Fast forward to today and there I was, one of seventeen eager participants gathered in the stately halls of Old Treasury for day one of Igniting Leadership.

Over the day, Cynthia, our bright and brave facilitator, steered us from being a room full of strangers to being a group who energised and trusted each other. We shared personal reflections, displayed our acting talents, and joined in a Ladder of Inference sing-along.

We heard from two fantastic speakers, both LV alumni, who shared with us not only their time, energy and wisdom, but their own personal experiences and thoughts.

Personal highlights were hearing tales about overcoming your own fear and taking the plunge, reflecting on strengths and leadership qualities, and wondering if, maybe, I’ve had crucible moments in my life that I’ve just never recognised as such.

For me, the overarching experience of day one was about getting comfortable with being outside my comfort zone. And, now, I think I understand what I saw last year at that LV event. The confidence I saw in those alumni was the confidence of people for whom confronting their fears and enlarging their own boundaries had become a way of living. And, that night, they were a family who shared a common knowledge of the terrain beyond their comfort zones, and who had supported each other in walking it.

A few weeks from now, on the other side of the discoveries and challenges that I’m sure are yet to come, I’ll feel privileged if I can call myself part of that family, too.

Bring on day two.

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Social Media and Leadership Behaviour

“So it is that a medium which prides itself on having its members ‘join the conversation’ has rapidly turned into a modern day Colosseum.” Article by Clementine Ford about Twitter for The Drum (“Tweeting in the age of condemnation”, 25/02/13).

As an avid tweeter, I do find some apects of it disturbing. For example the twitter storms in a teacup that make an event seem meaningful when really, in the grand scheme of life, it is not worth worrying about. And of more concern the lynch mob phenomonen that reveals the sometimes nasty, violent, dark and depraved underbelly of society. I wonder if people forget that there are fellow human beings on the other end of a tweet? Would they speak to someone in person in the same way as they communicate via their tweets? Or do they just not care?

Like most things in life, I try to remember twitter is a double-edged sword and I need to choose how I want to participate and be mindful of my behaviour. There was a great quote I read the other day – “Leadership is what you do when no-one is looking” – I think the same can be applied to social media – before posting, take a breath and stop and think – if I was sitting having a conversation with another human being face-to-face, is this how I’d behave?

I want my twitter world to be informative, open, engaging, supportive, constructive, fun, challenging and useful so is this what I’m building and creating when I’m tweeting?

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Stanford University providing loads of insights into technology and designing new learning environments

I enrolled in a MOOC (Massive Open OnlineCourse) at Stanford University called “Designing a New Learning Environment”. What is a MOOC I hear you ask? Well its the latest trend in education and is defined (by Wikipedia anyway) as, “a type of online course aimed at large-scale participation and open access via the web. MOOCs are a recent development in the area of distance education, and a progression of the kind of open education ideals suggested by open educational resources.”

Stanford is one of the global leaders in MOOCs and was offering the design program which asked the intruiging questions:

What constitutes learning in the 21st century? Should reading, watching, memorizing facts, and then taking exams be the only way to learn? Or could technology (used effectively) make learning more interactive, collaborative, and constructive? Could learning be more engaging and fun? We construct, access, visualize, and share information and knowledge in very different ways than we did decades ago. The amount and types of information created, shared, and critiqued every day is growing exponentially, and many skills required in today’s working environment are not taught in formal school systems. In this more complex and highly-connected world, we need new training and competency development—we need to design a new learning environment.

As a facilitator and program designer who loves the potential of technology to transform the way we learn and interact, I signed up so that I could connect with the other 6,000 odd people from all around the globe interested in learning more about the same topic.

So much out there and so much to learn and absorb and apply to my practise. I am really excited by the opportunitites that new technology offers me. This program is assisting me to learn more about fundamental program design principles and applying this to ensure that the technologies I use are being used in the right context and for the right purpose….so that the technology is just another tool I use in my design and is not an end unto itself.

One of the assignments asked us to research educational technologies and apply them to learning. We needed to use Bloom’s Taxonomy which represents the process of learning.
“Before we can understand a concept we have to remember it
Before we can apply the concept we must understand it
Before we analyse it we must be able to apply it
Before we can evaluate its impact we must have analysed it
Before we can create we must have remembered, understood, applied, analysed, and evaluated” (http://edorigami.wikispaces.com/Bloom%27s+Digital+Taxonomy).

My assignment was created on Powerpoint and to view it you are invited to click on the link below:

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy assignment 4

I utilise a lot of technology already in my facilitation and business practise which has meant I can deliver services to people in a way that is more responsive to their needs and increases delivery flexibility. I am determined to keep up-to-date and more fully understand and apply the increasingly complex range of new technologies and how they can be applied to create postive , dynamic and valuable learning environments.

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