John Tattersall – What I’ve learned in the last decade

“I understand my values and anti-values how they motivate me, how I act when the stakes are high, and how much I love to learn.” John Tattersall, Scaffold Coaching.

10 years ago I had left the security of full-time employment in an industry that I had lost all respect for, a job and role I would later realise my default settings were ill equipped for. It’s true that the culmination of our values, beliefs, the people we meet and our experiences shape our lives and hopefully our learning. I always knew that I wasn’t a banker, as those colleagues that worked with me will readily testify. This was my second time around in the world of finance and it wasn’t any better than the first. So what have I learn’t since then….?

Right & Wrong

Looking back, I find it interesting that having left the world of ‘command and control’ far behind, I didn’t even know that terminology then. My coaching journey has taken me into a way of continual learning, something I like to promote with all our clients. I truly believe that the process of mutual learning is more effective than having a “right or wrong” approach to life. It means you have to test the assumptions we jump too in a nano second. This has led me to learn that it is also very difficult for people to change from operating on the vertical axis of “right and wrong,” myself included.

Understanding that everyone is different and those differences are massive opportunities for learning was a true light bulb moment, more than anything it explained my career mis-fit, and that still makes me smile. It turns out coaching found me in that serendipitous way. A word of warning, it needs balance; you can think too much. Only a true friend would tell you that, and I’m truly grateful for that, Tim.


Furrowing this path can be arduous and effortful, and admitting that I get things wrong, and I don’t know everything all the time, is at times really difficult. Yet, it is a wonderful leadership trait that people who value control, find almost impossible. Working for yourself needed a change of mindset. Leaving secure full-time employment can be very scary, yet I’ve slowly learnt to deal with it. The only security of employment is cashflow; until there’s a restructure, or your face no longer fits and then you could argue working for yourself isn’t so scary. Freedom, flexibility and not having to do what you are told all the time, feels wonderful to me.


At first I was very precious about “my stuff,” “it’s mine,” but really, it never is, it’s probably your version of someone else’s stuff anyway, or at best just a compendium of connected ideas. Whilst working for yourself is great, working along side others adds a different dynamic, motivation, creativity and fun.


So working with others, definitely helps my motivation, yet I find people in general struggle with their levels, some from time to time, others chronically. Even though I help people with finding their mojo, it doesn’t exactly mean using these ingredients help me with my cake. It’s all about context, there are some things that just give you ‘flow,’ writing this article feels like that, yet there are some tasks that I have to do and don’t enjoy, perhaps it’s like this for most of us? Try to find more of the things that put you into ‘flow,’ and take care as to when you choose to do the mundane.


10 years back did I make more statements, than I asked questions? Absolutely. After 40 years of making statements, my view of the world, what I was thinking and how I communicated, left little wriggle room for the person I was talking too, or rather at. If you make a statement, people can either agree or disagree, if they disagree there’s a chance your reaction is an evaluation of “right or wrong.” I still have to work hard to think of the insightful question that overrides the statement that’s already in my mind, it’s effortful but worth it because you often get a very different perspective, and a chance you’ll learn something new.


The simple notion and stark realisation that I might very well be contributing to them. So I wonder what we’ll learn over the next 10 years with considered anticipation.

Thank you for reading, Rachael and I will be taking a deeper dive into what we learn on our collective journey in business, in our Podcasts – it would be great if you can join us.