How a late-night in Spain originated in Finding A Better Way

Updated: Oct 1

"The key to success isn't just thinking about what we are doing but doing something about what we are thinking." - Peter Senge



We were on holiday on the Spanish coast visiting some friends in Cullera about forty kilometres from Valencia in the mid-2000s. I had a long night out with Raphael, whose father is Spanish and mother is German, and he grew up in North London. He married one of my wife Nicole's nursing colleagues from New Zealand. What a beautiful blend of cultures. Rapha and I talked about many things; his brother is a Buddhist and lived in a tree for a couple of years (100% true story). I touched on some personal stories, things I found interesting from books I had read and the thinking I was exposed to at various company training programs. Rapha suggested and then insisted I must write a book. I laughed. I actually recall laughing a lot and choking on my drink.


That evening I entertained the thought for a couple of moments and began thinking about the book's structure, using Minto Principles. Minto takes a large amount of information and filters from a wide-angle to a narrow point; it was part of my training earlier that year at IBM In London. It is a useful concept and can be practically applied. The book starts broadly, with global issues, Australian implications, workplace situations, community consequences and then narrows into the home of the modern family.


Fast forward to the summer of 2020, and I am talking with Michelle at the Subiaco Hotel, a different bar and no Estrellas (Spanish beer). I outlined the book's structure and some mentally catalogued research to Michelle;

  • Peter Senge's 'system thinking', seeing the whole rather than snapshots

  • How the internet connects us all but also creates isolated communities

  • Nordic culture, with the story of a beautiful but poorly designed ship called the Vassa that sank in 1628 at her launch and how the culture evolved with the law of Jante - Jante celebrates collective rather than individual success

  • How Australia's culture is masculine and celebrates individual success

  • Bob Hawkes thinking on how the Australian government could be structured and how it is interesting that John Hewson shares a very similar view too

  • Why eastern cultures treasure their elderly and age care in the west is a booming industry

  • How volunteering can improve your mood and its declining, yet depression is increasing

  • The challenges with addiction of antidepressants and how they have spread across society since 2000

  • PERMA, positive thinking from Martin Seligman. PERMA stands for Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishments.

Michelle has the knack for asking great questions. It is her journalist background; her naturally inquisitive nature which evolved our thinking, adding another perspective to the book. Her suggestion was to make the research more relatable with my view as a Gen X male and Michelle's as a Gen Y female with our personal stories. This is a passion project. I wrote the book for my children, thinking about wanting to leave the world in a better way than how I entered it. It is not directly related to any of my service lines but somewhat loosely related as everything seems to come back to people. The project is constantly evolving… last week, there was an inquiry about creating workshops based on the book content for an international event.