A Ripple Story…

Chris Talbot

Chris Talbot

Owner and Director of a Legal Practice and a Financial Planning business

Alumni: Brisbane 2017

In our 10653NAT Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing we always talk about the ripple effect; starting with self and creating a ripple out there in the world - whatever that may mean for each person.

In this interview, one of our Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing graduate explains how the course helped him profoundly change who he was, how he thought, and what he believed he was capable of.

What drew you to complete the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing?

In 2017 I was made redundant after having worked in Corporate Project and Human Resource management roles for about 25 years. I had also recently turned 50 and I decided it was time to do something different. I wanted to study something I was deeply interested in so I could then move my life in a new and positive direction.  I had read some of Martin Seligman and Daniel Goleman’s books a few years before but I hadn’t kept up with all the research about Positive Psychology.  I started looking around for a suitable course to fill my knowledge gap.

About 10 years ago I had seen Sue Langley speak at a conference about the positive work she and her team had done. I was really impressed by this, so when I discovered the course offered by the Langley Group Institute I knew it would be the best option to re-immerse myself in this fascinating, meaningful and rewarding field.

What was your experience during the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing?

I found the experience transformational. I greatly enjoyed the initial face to face sessions where we learned about the major positive psychology theories, discussed their practical use and talked about ways they could be incorporated into our work and personal lives. We studied and practiced mindfulness, we created experimental art and supported each other as we went through many personal and meaningful exercises. We were vulnerable and we laughed (more than I expected), and cried (also more than I expected).

Some of the exercises were challenging, at one point we were asked to go off on our own and write a forgiveness letter to someone and “if we couldn’t think of anyone to write to, we should write a forgiveness letter to ourselves”. That was fun.

At the end of the six day face to face sessions it was like coming down from a high. After such an interesting, intense and exhilarating experience with the group it was time to turn the focus on ourselves and apply the learnings to our own challenges and opportunities.

This part is truly amazing, the individual assignments allow you to choose the depth and significance of the change you want to make.
I encourage you to go deep and choose challenges that will change the lives of others for the better. The positive impact this will have on your own wellbeing cannot be overstated.

How are you spreading your positive ripples, and how has the Diploma of Positive Psychology and Wellbeing helped you achieve this?

The course was so much more than I expected it would be.

It went beyond an academic course and beyond a career course to profoundly change who you are, how you think, and what you believe you are capable of.

The things you learn will absolutely lead to breakthroughs in your work environment. They will help you improve your personal relationships and perhaps most important of all, help you to improve the relationship you have with yourself. You will be challenged to actively use your new knowledge and this means different things for different people. The frightened person will overcome their fears, the shy person will find their voice, and by overcoming their personal obstacles both will flourish.

As for me – before I completed the course I had expected that most of what I learned would be applicable to my career. Yet during and after the course my life took a different turn and I found myself applying the principles in different ways to what I had anticipated.

It had to do with my elderly mother – Mitzi – who was unwell, she had a number of conditions that immobilized her and she also had worsening dementia. Up to that point, the time I spent with mum was heartbreaking and usually involved running around trying to get things for her and repeating information to her that she had forgotten – it was very frustrating.

My learnings from the DPP helped me to greatly improve the time I spent with my mother by providing practical, helpful guidance on better and more meaningful ways to interact with her.

For example, I learned to slow down when I was with her and focus on her words, feelings and body language. I learnt to be much more in the moment with her. And even though her memory was fading, I learned gentle ways – like telling stories, singing, growing flowers together and showing her old photos and video clips – to help her remember and reconnect with the past. I am thankful that what I learned made the time we spent together very special and I felt joy when I saw a spark in her eyes and her flame burning brighter.

I have also applied the learnings to my career.  After leaving the corporate world, I had to work out what work I was going to do next.

During the course, you will complete strength and value profiles. You will then be challenged on whether you are living your values and using your strengths. Some of the strengths I was underutilising were, “Legacy”, “ Mission” and “Courage”. I mentioned I needed to find a new career direction. The easy path would have been to go back and take a job in the Corporate world again, yet my wife and I decided instead to open our own business. In fact, we opened two. We established Finlex – a legal practice, and Finpax – a financial planning business. Some would say that opening a financial planning business in the middle of a Royal Commission into financial misconduct – took a lot of courage. Yet we were not afraid because we knew people wanted genuine, authentic and effective advice to help guide them through difficult legal matters and to plan for a successful financial future, and we were ready to do that. We also wanted to build a business that takes a positive approach in everything it does.

It is early days for us yet being our own decision maker and fulfilling our mission of helping people overcome difficult challenges has been very rewarding. In all our business dealings, from our advertising to our policy, to our interactions with clients, we have always tried to build in the learnings from the DPP. For example, when working with clients we focus on understanding and building on their financial strengths to help them improve their position.  We also give back to the community by supporting local businesses and contributing to the Beyond Blue Charity.

My final words… I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to complete the DPP. I try to use my learnings every day, and I don’t always succeed, yet having the knowledge, examples and guidance makes it easier to turn up more often as my best self.