What is your spark? How many hats do you wear? What’s your internal voice telling you? Is your ladder leaning on the right wall? And why, why, why are you coming to me with this idea?


These are just a handful of questions which we were asked in a one-hour session during the latest ‘BeNext’ session – “Reignite your spark: Moving from reactive to proactive”. If anyone was still trying to wake from their Christmas break slumber, this session was like a triple shot almond milk cappuccino.


For starters, it was invigorating to see a tapestry of faces belonging to young, aged care leaders quickly dot their way across multiple zoom screens. If there was ever a doubt that the aged care industry was brimming with motivated professionals looking to create an impact, this audience said otherwise.


Part 1: Hats and Happy Thoughts


Our first break-out room was led by LASA’s very own NSW-ACT State Manager Ian Poalses. Ian asked us to consider how many hats we actually wore. I realised pretty quickly that he wasn’t talking about the army-green cap which donned my head. Soon enough we were introduced to managers, community coordinators, registered nurses, HR professionals and even a fellow physiotherapist. But more than that, we had mothers, brothers, doggy dads, partners and friends. It was brilliant to see the broad scope of not only professionals but people working within our aged services community.


After a brief exploration of the several users of marijuana (yes, you read that right – it made sense in the context), Ian went on to challenge us to think deeply and critically about any problem which may arise in your workplace. He introduced us to the “ask why, 3 times” method. By doing this, we are able to drill down into the most important details, which can help us to be more effective in our decision making.


Ian stressed the importance of a clear vision, whether that be organisationally or just in your team. He used the analogy of the ladder. It’s the job of a manager to ensure that the organisation or team climbs the ladder as quickly as possible. However, he stressed a good leader will ensure that the ladder is up against the right wall. Sometimes it’s not until we take a step back, that we realise whether we’re climbing the right wall or not.


Immediately I could relate to this analogy. In 2020, a huge focus for myself as the leader of a relatively new business was making sure that our team knew our why. But most importantly, they knew our vision and which wall we were trying to climb. As much as I liked the ladder; as a leader, I think I’d rather build a staircase and make sure it leads to the right level, in the right building. It just seems like a more efficient way to get your entire team to the top, and you don’t have to worry about falling off. Now I know what you’re thinking, why doesn’t he install a lift? Well, I’m a physio, we’ll always tell you to take the stairs!


Ian then highlighting the importance of empowering your team. If they have a clear vision or goal, don’t feel as if it’s your responsibility to tell them how to get there. In fact, people will likely be more motivated if they are empowered to find their own way.


Finally, Ian asked us to consider our own inner voices. It turns out that we speak about 50,000 internal words each day. I knew I wasn’t going crazy. Now imagine if these thousands of words were positive, motivating, reassuring statements. Conversely, what if they were negative, demeaning or doubtful? It was an interesting process to reflect on the sheer power of our internal dialogue. I know I’ll be taking check of my own thoughts over the coming days and weeks.

Ian challenged us to focus more on the NOW. Sure, we’ve learned lessons from the past and we always need to look towards the future, but in order to achieve growth we need to be present.


Ian’s presentation had a number of key themes:

  1. Understand who you are
  2. Think deeply about any ideas or problems
  3. Have a clear vision
  4. Empower your team
  5. Be present


By doing these 5 things, it’s clear that we can be more proactive than reactive in both our personal and professional lives.
If I could give one piece of advice to readers looking for their spark for 2021; I’d encourage everyone to be proactive and find ways to expand your thinking and connect with people who inspire and motivate you. In BeNext, you may just reignite your passion, become a stronger leader and find your tribe.

Click here to read Part Two


Simon Kerrigan is the inaugural National LASA Next Gen Young Leader Award winner, an innovative physiotherapist, the Managing Director at Guide Healthcare, and LASA Next Gen Ambassador.

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