A New Journey

I was so inspired when I read Viktor Frankl’s book Mans Search for Meaning that I went on a mission to find a Franklian psychologist in Australia.

After a prolonged search I found 1 and only 1 in the whole country!

I was totally amazed by this, as we are a country, like most in the western world, plagued by anxiety, stress and depression with 1 in 5 people reportedly on some sort of anti-depressants.

How can this be in the lucky country?—and for anyone who has travelled the world it is easy to see how Australia has this title—amazing and free beaches,snow in the mountains,deserts that turn into wildflower parks at certain times,a welfare safety net,work opportunities for all those who want to and the list goes on.

Not only that, we seem to have no shortage of psychologists and psychiatrists to offer support.

Before I read this book I had been asking myself -what has gone wrong?

As a young traveller I had crossed overland from India to London,I travelled through countries and regions where people were incredibly poor-and I had also noticed how generous they were to us as travellers and how many had smiles on their faces.

Frankl’s book gave me so many deep insights into the really important drivers that enable us as human beings to live with joy and happiness.This has gone some way to explaining the depression epidemic that exists in many wealthy countries.

I was inspired to learn more and decided to do a short course in Logotherapy the therapy that Frankl based his psychiatry on.

I undertook a short course with Dr Paul Mc Quillan and as they say the rest is history!

However the challenge of getting the empowering message of Frankl has just begun for me.

I want to share these learnings and my life experiences to inspire others to lead lives that are more purposeful and joyful.

This blog is a starting point, as is our book - Finding New Meaning in Life, which is a contemporary version of Frankl’s thinking,a collaboration between a psychologist and a business person.

Pills may not always be the answer!

I have always been interested in mental strength and fitness,believing it to be as important if not more so, than physical fitness.

Look at the time and money we spend on physical fitness –diets and weight loss,exercise, gyms and even the designer gym clothes.

The epidemic of depression which I mentioned in my first blog enhanced my interest in this.

Yes it is a real break through that mental health has been opened up as a subject.

It is great that people can now admit to feelings of depression,anxiety and stress.

I have no doubt that some people suffer serious chemical imbalances and therefore real clinical depression.

I do not believe this equates to 1 in 5 people in Australia.

I am fearful that many people may take anti-depressants to cure a short term problem and may become addicted to these drugs.

Some years ago when I was running a business across Australia and New Zealand and travelling 150 days a year,I went to my GP to discuss my exhaustion.

I should state that I was very fit,exercising every day in every place I travelled to, but mentally I felt quite exhausted,we talked and he suggested a new anti-depressant that had just come on the market.In fact he said the pharmaceutical company had left him samples and he offered them to me.

I took them,I had been going to this doctor for years and trusted him totally.

As I drove home I was thinking about these pills and when I arrived home my wonderful mentor Gregory Landsman was there at my gate.I had forgotten we were meeting that evening.I told him what I had in my hand.

He was horrified and as we talked through the situation,my exhaustion and stress,it was clear that I needed a break,not a pill.

We flushed the pills down the toilet and I took a few days off.

That short break worked well and I was back at work with renewed energy.

I do not remember the name of the pill,I am sure my doctor was genuinely trying to help me.

I do not know what would have happened had I started taking this anti-depressant.

Sometimes all we need is a rest and a positive supportive listener!









Mental fitness does not happen overnight!


Mental fitness is not something we get overnight,like physical fitness it requires hard work and daily practice, and it is sure to be tested along the way.

Right now we are hearing the incredible story about the young soccer team in the caves in Thailand.

I am sure the whole world was praying in whatever way people do, for a safe outcome.Tragically one life has already been lost.

I cannot imagine what those young boys went through-having faced the ultimate test of life.

Their rescue was brilliant and for me restores faith in humanity.

In our own smaller ways there is no doubt we will all be tested.As I look around the world and at people, I know, I see huge variations in mental fitness and the way people respond to life's challenges.

Some I know are consumed with first world problems-where can I buy this? Where should I go for my next holiday? etc etc-lovely problems to have-but so many people in the world face serious tests to their mental strength.

A very poignant story was the recent one about the little girl from Syria caught up in that horrible civil war-she has recently been given prosthetics but spent some time using jam tins to walk on.That image will stay in my mind for a long time.

While we dont need to have to face challenges such as hers to become strong, we do need to be and stay strong in a world full of negativity and divison.

So the question is how do we stay strong? I have to go back to Frankl a lot in my thinking because he saw that finding meaning and purpose was a way of staying strong.

Do you notice that when you are on purpose, you feel powerful and when that purpose is complete you feel less powerful and you need to find another sense of purpose-or maybe you are fortunate to have lifelong purpose!

I have had that feeling in various times in my life-the feeling that nothing could stop me,that I had endless energy and could achieve whatever I set out to do.

For sixteen years of my life I set out to restore my self belief and put a roof over my head and I did that.But it did not happen overnight.There was no overnight success.Sixteen years of hard slog and many ups and downs, starting a new business and growing it to success.

I had previously let my exhusband control the finances and he did-and in doing so lost all we had .

That was a really tough lesson for me.

I really had let someone else take responsibility for a big part of my life-my mistake.

The financial consequences were disastrous and my lesson was learned the hard way.

I did not become strong and resolute over night as a consequence, but I did over time and with great effort.

We all have challenges and each one can give us what I call the bounce back factor-the determination to succeed.

I do feel stronger as a result but I would like to think that others could build up mental strength in less onerous ways!




Businesses need purpose as well as people


I noticed an interesting article in July Boss magazine suggesting that the corporate buzzword in Australia this year is around purpose.

The article proposed the idea that everyone has a sense of purpose, a reason for being, that motivates and informs them and that brands should have one also.

I like the idea of a company being on, and having a clear purpose-I do not believe that everyone has a sense of purpose.

I think if that was the case we would have less drug addiction,fewer crimes and greater mental fitness in the community.

In our book we talk about the keys to mental fitness and our belief,evidenced by Viktor Frankl, the renowned psychiatrist and my co-author, psychologist, Dr Mc Quillan, that having purpose and finding meaning in life is a key driver for all people.We agree with Viktor Frankl  that  finding meaning is the great desire of human kind.

We can see this in all sorts of ways-the people who find real meaning in the work they do,in the activities they take on-whether it is climbing mountains,playing bridge,painting or in bringing up their families.

We can see people on purpose and we can see how energised they are by that purpose.

I could see this very clearly when I was CEO of a direct selling company.The bigger the purpose of each sales person,the more fulfilled and successful they became.Their purpose was their real driver and it was different for every individual.No amount of external motivation was as effective as their own deep purpose/reason for working.

Think about the power of a company that has a clear purpose and whose people are aligned with that.

There is a commonly held idea that millennials want to associate with companies that have a purpose,previous generations have been focussed on more basic drivers such as doing a job,so they buy a house!

So companies today need to find those people who are aligned with their purpose,are driven, are mentally strong and have the integrity that enables sustainability in achieving that purpose.