Change your story and move on to happiness

Author John Sautelle… “It’s not comfortable sharing stories that are deeply personal, but being prepared to do that can help others.” Photo by Danielle Nohra

YEAR after year John Sautelle would come back to the same New Year’s resolution.

He was desperate to end the recurring burnouts that forced him to take time off work every time he physically came “crashing” down.

While working as the managing partner of Sautelle White Lawyers on the far south coast John had the worst burnout of them all, which led him spiralling into depression.

It was challenging for John and his family, but it was also the thing that pushed him in a new direction and forced him to write himself a new story.

Now, John, 68, of Cook, is a principal consultant for Bendelta where he provides consulting, training, coaching and conflict resolution services to government, private sector and not-for-profit clients in Australia and internationally.

After changing his own story, John has been helping others change theirs for 17 years.

Wanting to share his life-changing tips with a bigger audience, he published a book titled “Choose Your Stories, Change Your Life”, which helps bring to the surface and change the stories that prevent people from achieving their goals.

The stories in the book are based on real examples from John’s coaching career and also personal ones.

“While it’s not comfortable sharing stories that are deeply personal, I know from my coaching work that being prepared to do that can sometimes help others,” he says.

“What I eventually discovered is there were two stories that were out of my conscious awareness.

“One story was driving me to overcommit and the second was preventing me from delegating, which was a recipe for burnouts.”

Through John’s work he brought to the surface these overprotective “stories”, reflected on them and then created new ones, such as trusting people instead of overcommitting.

“These stories are set up early in life to ‘protect’ us but become exaggerated and then over-protect us, such as the story ‘I must always be in control to be safe’,” he says.

“Instead of ‘I must always be in control to be safe’, it’s rewritten to, ‘I can be safe and not be in control’ or ‘I can say no and they will still like me’.”

In John’s book, he’s created a process with steps that help surface these stories in order to rewrite them.

“As I’ve evolved through this change process over the last 17 years and seen how effective it is with coaching, I wanted to make it widely available to anyone struggling and wanting to make the change,” he says.

John began running workshops across Australia and was humbled by the response.

“A lot of people have said: ‘I found myself in one of your stories’,” he says.

“I think we all have some stories we inherit or create early in life as a result of painful or challenging experiences.

“Sometimes we inherit them without them being painful. For example, there are lots of subtle stories we inherit like saying: ‘They are filthy rich’ can actually get in the way of people saving money, by equating being ‘rich’ with being ‘filthy’.”

In the past John had often asked himself, “what’s my purpose in life?”

“At the moment it’s clear, my purpose is to help people achieve their goals,” he says.

“Choose Your Stories, Change Your Life”, $25.95, via


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