Innovation isn’t just about inventing something totally new. It’s often more to do with reinventing, which is Elizabeth Diacos’ specialty. She’s the founder of Larksong Enterprises, and an educator and success coach.
“I love learning and hold a Graduate Certificate in Organisational Coaching and a Master of Applied Positive Psychology. I help teachers from across the globe to get out of teaching.”
An idea that leads to innovation often comes to us when we are dissatisfied in our current situation, which is where Elizabeth steps in. And even though she specialises in helping teachers, her insightful tips apply to any industry.Here are ways to reach out to Elizabeth and find out more …
The rapidly growing Get out of Teaching group of over 2000 members:
And soon-to-be-launched “Get out of Teaching” podcast www.larksong.com.au/podcast
For a quick teaser…check out this video
Or the full episode here …
I think a lot of people really are very stressed at the prospect of leaving and there's a whole lot of factors that impact on that. Probably the biggest factor surprisingly, it's the grief around leaving something that you've given your heart and soul to for such a long time.
So I talk to teachers all the time who have, they've got a student loan debt, or they've got, you know, in Australia, we've got a hex debt, they've given years and years of their life to education and further education, they've come into the classroom every day, showing up as this bright sparkly personality and given everything of themselves to that job and then suddenly just realized I just don't want to get out of bed anymore anymore. Or I spoke to a teacher a few weeks ago who was basically having a panic attack because she was about to start work for the year, like it was just before the end of the school holidays here in Australia so she wasn't even back at work yet. And she was already experiencing extreme anxiety about going back.
So there's all these factors that contribute to that feeling of, you know, I want to get out. And then the things that hold them back are financial, especially if they're at the top of the pay scale. So if they're very experienced, they could be on in Australia, say between 90 and a hundred, maybe 120,000, depending on if they're in a leadership role possibly more.
I call it the golden handcuffs, you know, they're stuck there because there's no way they're going to get an entry level job at Aldi or Costco or whatever that’s going to pay anything like what they're on now. And they've, they've got these lifestyles that they've become accustomed to what are they going to do? How are they going to get out if they they've got this lifestyle that, that the pay that they're on needs to service that. And so often the discussion we have is actually, why don't we make the job serve you in the way that you want it to. And maybe you can take a pay cut if it's actually creating a life that you want.
So one of the really important things that when I start working with a client is that we go and look at their character strengths. So there's a wonderful online survey it's www.via.org. and, it's a free survey and you can, it takes about 20 minutes and you can actually do your character strengths.
So we all have all these strengths, but some of them sit near the top. So among mine are like honesty, creativity, the love of learning, and I often find actually the teachers I work with have got similar strengths and often that gets them into trouble, especially the honesty one right. When they tell the boss what they really think. So that could be overusing that strength.
So I always start off looking at people's strengths because that way we're drawing on not what's not working well, but actually what could work well, or how can we leverage the things that they are good at, the things that bring them into a flow state, how can we use those things, those strengths to help them think creatively and imaginatively about the life that they want to create for themselves.
First of all, extricate yourself from your workplace as much as you can in terms of, for instance, if you are a teacher, often teachers have like a truckload of stuff at school that they've purchased themselves, they've got resources, books, whatever.
So it took me about three months of taking a box or an arm full home every day to empty out my classroom so that I just had what I really needed to be there because I knew I was going to get out at some point. And I didn't want to have to spend two days loading the car. So I just did it in dribs and drabs.
So I would make sure you've got a personal email address. I think that's really important, so that, you know, talking to people outside of education or whatever the industry is, that you've actually got an email address that is not gonna, you know, show up in your work email, because that could be awkward. You don't want to accidentally CC your work colleagues into an email about getting a job somewhere else. I think it also helps people actually create like a mental disconnect from work too.
The other thing is a lot of people I talk to don't actually know what their financial situation is, so they don't know how much they need to live off or what the bottom line is for them. So when I say to them, like you're on 120,000 or whatever, could you live off 60 or 45 or whatever it is, you know, and they go, oh, I don't know.
And I'm like, well, there's some homework, go home and work out actually what it costs you to live per month or per year so that you know what leeway you have, if you do decide to go and retrain, or if you do decide just to maybe go part time. What could you actually live off?
And the other thing is starting to think about what is it that you do want, like, what would you like your life to look like? So for me, for instance, I love going swimming. And I live in Melbourne and Melbourne faces Antarctica. We're not anywhere near the beach, it’s like an hour at least. I want to live where I can walk to the beach in three minutes. So one of my goals is to move somewhere on the coast where I can walk to the beach and have a swim every day, or at least swim every day in the summer.
And I also like to light fires, with a fire in the winter. So I like to have a good winter that's cold enough to be able to snuggle up in front of the fire. So they're the kinds of things that I want from my life. It might sound a bit boring and simple, but that's what I like.
I talk to lots of people who want to travel. Some people would like to just like, not have a home as such, like have a mobile home and travel around Australia, travel overseas and just, you know, live out of a suitcase. It really depends. But I think it's important to start thinking about. What would you like your life to look like in five or 10 years time?
But look, I would always say to people, like you said, that dreaming is really important. Make those dreams with no buts. Like, you know, don't hold back on that vision for the future, because even if you don't ever get quite there, you'll get a whole heap further than you would, if you just stuck with the ‘oh I can't do it because, you know, I've got no money, I've got a house’ whatever things that hold us back, they're the things that stop people from actually achieving their best life.
So I try to hold people to a higher possibility and not make excuses for them when they're telling me the things that they can't do. I go, well, hang on a minute. You know, let's think about it from a point in the future where maybe you have achieved that. What would you say to current you from the future, what would future you say to current you and see, you know, where that takes them? Because sometimes that's a helpful way of encouraging them to think. Rather than look at the restricted you, look at what the possibilities could be.
And I often find with goal setting, people say, Oh, you know, I want to be financially free by 2025 or whatever, whereas that's like an outcome goal, maybe it's better to have a process goal. So I'm going to save $200 a month every month and see how I go with that you know, so sort of shift it up so that you don't get bogged down if you don't get to the outcome that you really want, but you're still making steps along the way.
So I worked as a teacher, so I came quite late to teaching. I was 42 when I started, uh, and we already had a family, so my kids were all at school when I started teaching and I loved it. I gave it everything I had. I was only working part time to start and I had eight grades of prep, teaching, performing and visual arts. So it was abit like Groundhog day that first year, on repeat. But I just, I loved it.
But over time I think what happened for me was the expectations of the role started to shift and things that I did out of generosity and because I loved doing it, became expected. So I've been reading Brene Brown's book, Rising Strong, which I highly recommend. And she talks about living a big life, of boundary, integrity, and generosity. And I didn't know what was happening at the time, but now in hindsight, having read that I can see that I wasn't setting enough boundaries and holding them with integrity. Or at least I wasn't being allowed to. So the things that I did out of generosity suddenly became the expectation and weren't fun anymore. It just was part of the grind.
And eventually, I got to the point where I just would wake up in the morning and not want to put my feet on the ground. And when I got to the point where on the last day of school for the year, at the start of the summer holidays, I was already dreading the first day back, six weeks later, it's not good.
I personally felt that it wasn't good to show up in front of a classroom full of kids who were bright eyed and bushy tailed and already feeling like I just don't want to be there on the first day. I just didn't sit well with me to show up like that. And so I thought it was better to work out a way to get out. So that's how I started doing the Masters. And then from that, we did a bit of coaching in there and I loved that so I did the coaching qualification, uh, and I already had a business from before, but I kind of ramped it up again and started doing coaching.
And I've created a space for my clients too. So when they look at, in my background, I've got plants and pictures on the wall, and it's a really lovely sort of open creative space where we get to co-create that future and it's calming.
You know, a lot of people get innovation confused and you know, innovation doesn't, it's not about finding something that's never, ever been done before. It's innovating your sector doing something differently. And in fact, often as I said earlier, the familiar is easier to market as well. So if you go and I've been down this road, let me tell you where you've got something that's so obscure that you know is a really, really good idea and it may well be, but innovation is only when someone starts buying it and they totally get into it. But you've got to start with baby steps and get your idea. And first separate yourself, get out whatever industry you're out doing now.