Hello, and welcome to the Qualified Tutor Podcast, the podcast that brings you the latest in the world of tutoring EdTech and education and hopefully inspires in us a big change that each and every one of us is capable of.
Qualified Tutor is an industry-leading tutor training organisation and an online tutoring community for 1000s of tutors around the world. This podcast is the voice of this community, where we aim to hear from tutors, teachers, entrepreneurs, coaches, business experts, students, tutor printers, and more from the world of tutoring about what inspires them every day, how they can help tutors like you and what they’ve learned about tutoring along the way.
The question is, what will you learn today?
Ludo Millar 1:34
Hello, and welcome to the 124th episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast. It’s still a very proud moment to say these wonderful numbers. My name is Ludo Millar, the host of this podcast. Welcome back to regular listeners. Welcome to any of you for whom this is your first time listening to this podcast and of course, a huge welcome to today’s guests. Dinah Liversidge. Dinah, welcome to the podcast.
Dinah Liversidge 2:56
Thank you, Ludo. It’s a real pleasure to join you.
Ludo Millar 2:59
It’s been an episode a few weeks in the making. After Dinah’s wonderful, impromptu, last-minute addition to the Love Tutoring Festival 3 (on-demand tickets still on sale!) calendar in which Dinah delivered a wonderful lunchtime mindfulness session that really blew away our attendees and the QT team, including Julia and Love Tutoring Festival Manager, Georgina. So, this is an episode generated by the beauty and the cohesiveness of that session.
Now, as a little background to Dinah, just for our listeners, before we dive into the conversation, Dinah hails from Myddfai in west Wales, where she lives with her husband, John, and really throughout her career has taken on many many roles: writer, mentor, celebrant, public speaker, workshop facilitator and many, many more. And today, Dinah comes to the podcast in her role as a mindset coach, and off the back of that wonderful session from just over a month ago, from late June. So, if we can feel just a small part of that impact that Dinah had on the festival today on this podcast, we’ll be doing pretty well. So welcome, Dinah. You have your own podcast, is that right?
Dinah Liversidge 4:26
Yeah, I do. Actually, I’m a massive fan of podcasting. I think one of the greatest compliments I ever got was when a dear friend who runs marathons told me that he listened to my podcast back-to-back when he ran the London Marathon. So I have a podcast called No Box Thinking. And I’m also really excited that this year I have started a second podcast with a colleague who is another celebrant, called Ask a Celebrant and yeah, I love podcasting. I think listening to others sharing experience, it’s a world that can really impact us. And you can do it in little tiny bursts, which I know.
Ludo Millar 5:13
Yeah, well, if you’re listening to this podcast, that means, hopefully, you’re into podcasts anyway. Or perhaps you’ve just been recommended this by a friend. But please, the links to Dinah’s podcasts will be in the show notes. But, Dinah, what’s giving you reason to smile today? Today we have the recording is Monday 1st August, what’s giving you reason to smile today?
Dinah Liversidge 5:38
Oh, well, as I think about 1st August, I can’t help but smile today. I love celebrating anniversaries and noticing dates that were significant in our lives, in our journey. And 5 years’ ago today, I got signed off by my cardiology team. That was such an incredible day for us. Several friends, of course, suggested we celebrate with cake, which somehow we didn’t feel quite appropriate. But anyone who knows me will know that that’s exactly what we did. [LAUGHS]
Ludo Millar 6:14
That’s a wonderful story, Dinah. And I think that experience has informed so much of what you do, or have done in those 5 years up until today, and will continue to do but if we stretch our minds and the clock back even further than 5 years ago, and as a wonderful segment that we use to start this podcast, although physical school reports may not be to hand, there was a general trend that you remembered from rummaging through your boxes, a general trend from your school days, is that right?
Dinah Liversidge 6:57
Yeah, there certainly was. I love the way teachers can be very kind. Language in a report that you can tell as an adult, when you look back was really considered and thought about. And my reports over many years had a couple of sentences in common. One was ‘Dinah shows so much potential’, which, as an adult looking back, always makes me smile. They could have written me so many negative things, and they chose to write that which I’m grateful for. I should point out, however, that that sentence was often followed by a sentence along the lines of ‘if only she would learn to listen more than she taught’, which was a fair comment [LAUGHS].
I will always remember being moved a lot at school, my brother and I started school together. And I ended up being moved to a different school than he. And one of the reasons I was moved was when the headteacher had a visit from my mum, who was a teacher herself. And Mum went in to see her to say she was concerned about my writing skills, that my spelling and actually the whole form of my letters for my age was a bit worrying. And this teacher looked at mum and said, ‘Well, Dinah sings like an angel, you can’t have everything’ … and I was moved the next day to a new school. But I will always remember being told that, you know, this is the school where your singing ability was considered more important, and whether you could form letters, and I can’t help thinking I’d have been a lot happier if I’d stayed there.
Ludo Millar 8:47
That’s one of those, you know, ‘fork in the road’ moments in life. Now I mean, as a mentor, as a mindset coach, as a workshop facilitator, the true power of that individual is often in listening and not speaking over those you’re working with. Do you think then you took your teacher’s words of advice on boards into what you do today? Into why you do what you do today?
Dinah Liversidge 9:18
I suspect that every conversation, every person in our lives as we’re growing and developing, which I hope never stops, has a kind of trickle effect. And certain people and particularly those we respect or look up to you, their words have more impact. So I suspect they were part of a bigger message. My amazing daughter, Hannah, I think is one of the key reasons I’m a great listener. I’m naturally much more of an extrovert than she is. And when she was just 17, she was supporting her dad in his business. And he asked her to go networking on his behalf. Now at 17, to be asked to network with a group of business owners when you consider yourself to be an introvert is a big ask. And I watched her engage and network with these much more experienced, sometimes way older, business owners. And all of them came to me afterwards and said, ‘She asks amazing questions. She’s such a fabulous listener, I could learn from this’. And I realised that as a natural extrovert, and a bit of a show-off, I often wanted to show people, ‘I get you, I hear you, I’ll finish your thoughts and sentences for you’. And in fact, I was often missing the most important part of their sentences. And by taking the approach that Hannah took of stepping back and making it all about them, I became the coach that I think I’ve become with more and more experience. So she taught me that probably way more than my teachers did.
Ludo Millar 11:14
Yeah, well, there’s certainly- it’s very clear, that’s a very strong bond [between you]. Perhaps Hannah is your why even, we’d go so far as to say. So thank you, Dinah. I think that informs a lot about where you’re speaking from, the platform that you speak from which, hopefully, over the next 15-20 minutes or so will give our listeners a chance to see things from how you see them, and hopefully be able to connect with what you’re saying more more closely. Could you tell us a little bit more about how you got involved in mindset coaching and what that tells you about the field?
Dinah Liversidge 11:57
Sure. I guess my first real introduction to mindset was when I worked in a corporate environment, I was sat in a meeting of much more experienced management than myself, I felt a good old imposter sitting on my shoulder, roaring in my ear that I didn’t belong there. And yet, as I was listening, and very much observing, because I didn’t feel yet ready to contribute, I kept hearing them repeat this thing over and over again, ‘We need to think outside the box on this’. And I sat there thinking, ‘Who on earth ever told them there was a box??’ And it struck me, it really struck me, what limitations they put on possibility by doing that, and the fact that they just accepted it. And I kept thinking of that story, that brilliant children’s story about the emperor’s new clothes. And I just wanted to shout it, ‘Everybody, there is no box’.
And part of my way through this big corporate job of mine, I had a rather nasty car accident, which resulted in me spending a lot of time in a wheelchair, 11 years. And I was told I would not walk again. And I decided that that sounded like the kind of sentence that belonged in a box. And it struck me that this probably had more to do with my mindset than the actual physical injuries that had occurred. And as long as I chose to believe that I could do something about it and it was during this time that I took my training as a coach, mainly, because I needed to know I wasn’t the only person who challenged thinking in this way. So it was liberating. And I suddenly felt like I had a tribe of people who thought that limitation was a mindset. And I kind of took myself on this little journey with mindset, where I remembered going to the theatre, and I remembered how it felt when people came on between the scenes, and in very, very deep darkness just in their black leotards and creeping around, they moved the props and when the lights came back on, it was like you’d been transported somewhere totally different. And I thought, Well, how about if my mindset was like the set of a play? And how about if I could be the person that snuck on in between the scenes, and changed a couple of the props, and everything was different. And the really amazing news is … I am. And so are you. And so is everybody else, we just don’t know that we get to be the directors and producers and the starring role if that’s what we want, or a supporting role. And to me, that was really exciting.
And I discovered so much writing about mindset. And even that, to me, it has now been very much put in a box, this idea, you have an open or closed mindset. I think there are hundreds of different mindsets. And I think we get to play them all and then decide which of these is serving me today. How do I decide which set I need to be in to stop limiting my beliefs to start playing big rather than small? To have my voice matter and mean something, and be authentic? All of those things are created by a mindset.
Ludo Millar 16:17
So on hearing that, you know, that sounds- it’s beautifully put, there’s a wonderful analogy to the dramatic stage. And yet, a lot of people don’t think like that. You’ve put it with such clarity there. What are some of the main queries, issues, questions that you get from the people you work with as a mindset coach? How do people query that vision that you put towards them?
Dinah Liversidge 16:46
Lovely question. I have to say most, I’m really lucky, most of my clients, when I put it that way, say, ‘I’ve never thought of it like this. Maybe we could have a bit of fun with this, maybe I could challenge the mindset that I have up to this point adopted’. I think a huge number of us experience what people call an imposter syndrome. I live with a syndrome. It’s tough, it’s horrible. It impacts me every day, and it’s incurable. An imposter is a mindset, it is not a syndrome. It is totally curable, you can absolutely change it and challenge it. And I think that what I get more from my clients than anything else, is when we change our language, we can completely change the way we perceive ourselves and our reaction to other things.
So one of the things I see a lot is people in what I call an understudy mindset. They’ve got all the lines, they know everything they need to know just as much as the person in the spotlight. And something in that mindset holds them in that space that says, ‘No, no, I’ll just support them to do it’. And it’s scary to move into the spotlight. And it’s also really exciting and can be great fun. And by understanding that a mindset, a process of thinking of repeated behaviours and beliefs, I get to challenge them. Now I say we refer a lot to historical data and the trouble with historical data is it’s often hysterical data.
So have you ever noticed how you tell yourself all the things that are bad about yourself? And yet, when you do a comparison to someone else, you big them up? How fascinating that we would choose to put it that way round. And yet often that mindset is the thing keeping us in that understudy space, keeping us small. Does that make sense?
Ludo Millar 19:05
I love that. I’m immediately thinking about all the times where I’ve put myself down. And it happens frequently, doesn’t it? You know, even tiny moments, in our daily lives.
Dinah Liversidge 19:18
Absolutely. And we create that conversation in our head. And one of the things I encourage people to do is notice certain vocabulary. What words do you repeat to yourself on a regular basis? And do they serve you? And if so, in what way? And when we repeat a behaviour over and over and over, it may be hard to admit this, but we’re doing it because of what we get out of it. And that’s not always a positive thing. Sometimes you notice a child repeating bad behaviour, because it’s the only way they get the attention they want. We do the same as adults. We repeat behaviour over and over, because maybe a friend shows empathy. Maybe a boss says, ‘Oh, I understand, take the day off’. But actually, that’s not really the kind of acknowledgement we crave. And if we shifted that behaviour to a place where the boss said, ‘I can’t manage without you this afternoon, because you’re fundamental to the success of my day’, we would feel way better with that reaction than the one we’re currently creating.
So language, yeah, language is everything. It’s that beautiful, simple saying, isn’t it, whether I think I can or I think I can’t, I’m probably right.
Ludo Millar 20:46
One of our favourite phrases on our training courses. I think that’s perhaps even in the 1st unit or the 2nd unit, that phrase, it’s so powerful really, isn’t it, that phrase? And what you’ve just demonstrated is that power to shift mindset is done through the careful selection of words.
Dinah Liversidge 21:11
Oh, absolutely. You ask my doctors, the team who looked after me after my car accident, ‘So how come Dinah walking?’, and they will say to you, ‘Because she’s convinced herself that she can’. Technically, I am paralysed below the waist down my left-hand side, I have no feeling. And I challenge anyone to be able to tell. My husband says he can tell on a day when I’m really tired. Nobody else has ever noticed. And that is simply because I have told myself I can do it. And I believe myself.
Ludo Millar 21:50
There are so many avenues for capitalising on what you’re saying there. And applying that to others, and particularly for the field we’re in and the topic of this podcast, that is applied from the position of educators on behalf of learners. How then can we tie in this message about the importance of language in shifting mindset to educators? What can educators do to ensure they use the right language and the right attitudes with their learners?
Dinah Liversidge 22:29
Gosh, it’s such a huge question Ludo. And I love it. Because I think, honestly, you could write a book on this, couldn’t you? And I’m sure that a huge number of your experienced tutors do this stuff automatically and don’t even realise what they’re doing is so magical and important. But I would say there are a few key things.
The first big thing for me that has a massive impact on mindset is actually a visual thing. So we all work every day in whatever role we’re in, as we grow and as young people when we’re learning to make lists of things we need to do. And most people as they do those things, cross them out. Like, ‘Yay, done!’. Well, as somebody who was not top of the class, something being crossed out, visually, to me is a negative thing. It means, ‘Oh, dear, I got that wrong’. My tutor or my teacher has crossed that out and probably written something about it in red. No, no, no, no red. Oh, my goodness, I don’t have a red pen in the house. I think that’s a big kickback to that, actually. So I don’t cross things out. I put massive stars next to them. Because I was the kid who very rarely got a star at school. And when I did, I treasured it. And then at the end of the day, I write a big ‘what I did today’ list so that I can write out really beautifully all of my accomplishments. So there’s my first big thing: tutors, stop crossing things out. We say they’re not right. They’re not relevant. They don’t matter. They’re wrong. And I think that instills a deep mindset message for people. So that would be my first thing.
The second thing is absolutely about the language of possibilities. It’s about not drowning people’s dreams, not telling them always the sensible answer, but allowing that creative flow. And so I would say as educators, one of the great things we can do is allow people to explore how safe it can be to say things that perhaps don’t fit in [with] what they’re traditionally taught, to explore new answers to questions, and not as a teacher to say, ‘That’s the wrong answer’. But to have a conversation and say, ‘Where did that come from? Why did that feel right for you?’. You know, there are so many topics on which we have discussions now that we would never have had 20 years ago in teaching someone, possibly not even 10 years ago. So it’s being prepared to be very fluid in what we want to instantly say that’s wrong and cross out, and instead, perhaps be open to the idea that we’re learning as much as we’re teaching [in] these relationships.
Ludo Millar 25:53
I love it. I love it, because it’s picked up on such an inherent part of education, which is the crossing out and the use of negative language to describe something, and the kind of ‘black and whiteness’ of lots of education. And I love it as well, because it’s, I feel like you’re my coach, and you’re telling me what to do, because I am guilty of that as a tutor myself, and as I’m sure are many of those listening as well. And I love it. And thirdly, because these are not huge structural changes that we need to make in our lives. They’re not unattainable, unrealistic things that we as educators can implement. And that ties in your message so beautifully with shifting mindset, which has to be done bit by bit, it’s not something that that you can tell someone to uproot and the next day they’ve successfully completed that.
So thank you for laying that out for our tutoring podcast, which is all about instilling confidence in our learners. But just before we’re done here, Dinah, I’d like to turn to the future. It’s a journey that we plot on this podcast, each episode is a look at the guest’s background, what they do currently and then looking ahead. So, Dinah, what’s next for you? What’s next for Dinah Liversidge?
Dinah Liversidge 27:32
Thank you for asking that question. That’s lovely. I guess, as somebody who has survived challenges to my life several times because of illness, I love having this incredible opportunity nowadays to plan ahead. To really look forward and say what am I going to be doing in 10 years. I find it quite funny. When I turned 55 this year, I never thought I would get to go grey with my husband and say this is such a blessing to me.
So what’s ahead for me? Well, I am really, really lucky that because, I don’t believe in the box, I have several small businesses rather than one, one of which has been becoming a celebrant. And I’ve done that now for nearly 8 years. And this year, I have launched my own new training for celebrants. And I have just this week been told by our trade association, the Association of Independent Celebrants that they’re going to recommend my training, which I am kind of beside myself [about], I’m so thrilled and overjoyed. I have always had a really clear idea of my purpose in life. I believe my purpose is to help others be all they can be. And that’s such a massive blessing. And being a celebrant, where you help people celebrate the loves in their life, including losing the love of their life, is the most humbling and incredible privilege. And so to get to train other people to do that in a way that is heart-led, that is about others.
I see my role as a celebrant as never ever to be in the spotlight, but instead to stand next to those in the spotlight and support them. And it’s such a wonderful opportunity to train others to do this. So I really believe my next 10 years, that’s going to be a huge part of what I get to do and it just fills me with gratitude and joy.
Ludo Millar 30:02
Well, what a wonderful, positive way to end this episode, Dinah. You’ve touched hearts and minds with what you’ve been saying, both at the festival and and here on the Qualified Tutor Podcast. Very eloquent and considered and full of experience in you, it’s clear to see.
Dinah Liversidge 30:31
It’s been such a pleasure.
Ludo Millar 30:33
If people want to go a step further and get in touch with you directly, Dinah, what’s the best way they can do that?
Dinah Liversidge 30:40
The best way is to connect with me on LinkedIn. I have one of those names which means there can be only one. So if you search and ‘Dinah Liversidge’ (and good luck with the surname), then I would be absolutely delighted to connect on that.
Ludo Millar 30:58
Wonderful and as I said, the links to to both No Box Thinking and Ask a Celebrant will be in the show notes. So there’s plenty to look out for once this conversation has come to an end. Dinah, thank you so so much. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to speak to us and for agreeing to be on this podcast. It means a lot.
Dinah Liversidge 31:20
Thank you for having me, Ludo. It’s been a joy.
Ludo Millar 31:23
Okay, well, listeners, I hope you’ve learned something there. I hope you’ve been able to spend the last half an hour thinking about your craft and your profession and your outlook. And we will see you all again next time.
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Qualified Tutor Podcast. Whether you’re a regular listener of this podcast, or you’ve just stumbled across it, join the Qualified Tutor Podcast Group within the Qualified Tutor Community. To stay up to date with our latest news offers workshops and of course, simply to meet other tutors like you, whatever your level is as a tutor, our training courses will be the next step in your professional development. Visit qualified tutor.org/training to find out more about our CPD-Accredited and Ofqual-recognised courses: the first of their kind in the tutoring industry.
Ludo has been involved in tutoring for almost 10 years now, first working as a tutor for primary school children in his local area in 2014. Since then, he’s helped develop Qualified Tutor into what it is today: a wide and welcoming tutoring community, training provider and quality mark for tutors all around the world. With a background in languages, Ludo spent a year working for a start-up in Paris in 2018, learning the ropes at a small but ambitious sports booking company. Now, as Host of the Qualified Tutor Podcast and with connections across the tutoring sector, he’s ready to raise the profile of tutoring to another level …