Get out of Teaching

Get Out of Teaching Podcast Season 4, Episode 2, Scott Johnson (Co-founder, Get Mentally Fit)

July 21, 2021 Elizabeth Diacos Season 4 Episode 2
Get out of Teaching
Get Out of Teaching Podcast Season 4, Episode 2, Scott Johnson (Co-founder, Get Mentally Fit)
Show Notes Transcript

Scott Johnson is the proud Co-founder of Get Mentally Fit with his psychologist wife Emily.

Scott taught at secondary school level, on the Gold Coast in Queensland, for 13 years. A series of conspicuous signposts eventually led to Scott leaving the teaching profession.

Like many education stakeholders, he experienced the negative effects of increasing academic demands and assessment pressures on students.  Attending the 2018 PESA (Positive Education Schools Association) conference, at Geelong Grammar School, evidently ignited his passion for finding a personal solution to this troubling issue. 

With the luxury of Emily’s professional support and guidance, Scott was able to respond mindfully and effectively to increasing feelings of personal discontent with teaching. This transition facilitated Scott’s shift from teaching at a supportive, high performing school to now thoroughly enjoying the demands of creating, designing and facilitating Get Mentally Fit’s unique brand of pro-active mental health education. 

Scott and Emily are passionate about actively researching and developing evidence-based approaches for enhancing student wellbeing. This translated into the Student Mental Fitness program.

Whilst it took a considerable period of time to get out of the groove of teaching life, including coming out in cold sweats at the thought of bells, Scott is reminded daily of the satisfying benefits of having the courage to follow his intuition and values into his new and exciting professional chapter.

Scott re-energises by surfing the beautiful Gold Coast breaks, reading books during the day (especially mid-week), contorting at yoga, and being trained by his Labrador Retriever Ellie.

Facebook: Get Mentally Fit
Instagram: getmentallyfitau
LinkedIn: Scott Johnson co-founder Get Mentally Fit

__ _

Chris Carlin's Links

_ _

Aired on July 21st 2021

 For show-notes and other resources, visit
For all podcast episodes, visit

Get Out of Teaching website (Larksong):

Join the ‘Get Out of Teaching!’ Facebook group:

Listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts:

Connect with me on LinkedIn:

Connect with me on Facebook:

This podcast is a member of the Experts on Air podcast network

Elizabeth Diacos  0:00  
Welcome to Season 4 of the Get Out of Teaching podcast presented by Larksong Enterprises. I'm your host, Elizabeth Diacos. I'm a Career Transition Coach who guides overwhelmed teachers through a five step process out of Education and into a life they love. In this season, we'll be meeting experts from many different sectors who help people to change careers, as well as a few ex-teachers who've forged a pathway into something new. I'm sure it won't surprise you to learn that what keeps people in teaching when they'd rather leave is often financial pressure. That's why today's show is sponsored by Chris Carlin, Financial Planner and Mortgage Broker from Master Your Money Now. 

Chris can help you sort out your cash flow, pay down debt, and plan your financially strategic exit from teaching, making sure you take good care of everything you've worked so hard for. Chris understands personal insurance cover, and can help you to make a successful claim. So you don't have to deal with the insurance company yourself - a huge relief if you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed by money concerns. Chris is not about taking risks. He's careful to help you keep your money safe and his fees are very reasonable. He can even help you plan for retirement. Chris cares for the caring professions, teachers and nurses, helping you to shore up your financial resources so that you'll be in a good position to leave when you're ready. Go to to book a free 30 minute chat with Chris Carlin, and Master Your Money Now. 

Episode 2. Hi, everyone and welcome to the show. On today's show, I'm very pleased to introduce to you Scott Johnson, who is a self described urban jackaroo and also co-founder of Get Mentally Fit. Thanks for coming on the show today, Scott. 

Scott Johnson  1:57  
Absolute pleasure, Elizabeth. Thank you for inviting me. 

Elizabeth Diacos  2:01  
Awesome, so so Scott, give us a bit of a background, what got you into teaching in the first place?

Scott Johnson  2:07  
Well, going back now 15, over 15 years, I was, I finished my fine art degree. And I was working in a foundry in Brisbane called Urban Art Projects. And for two and a half years, I used to sculpt for a living in sculpt huge aluminium and bronze sculptures. And it was really dirty. And it was really bad for my health. And I was driving up and down to Brisbane from the Gold Coast every day and it wasn't going to end well. So the Queensland Education Department in their wisdom brought the Graduate Diploma back from two years to one year, which was I think, affectionately known as the one-year wonder course. So I thought, "Why not? I'll do that," because a friend of mine, a friend of mine was a teacher at the time and and she encouraged me to do it also. So there was sort of a few few factors that led me into teaching.

Elizabeth Diacos  3:15  
So the foundry job sounds amazing but obviously wasn't a sustainable in the long term.

Scott Johnson  3:22  
Not for my health. I, one experience I had I think the first time I got to sculpt a huge bit of polystyrene, the boys in the workshop were kind enough to hand me a chainsaw and and said "Go for it. Can you carve this shell out for" that shell actually lives now at Mooloolaba Bar in a hotel there but they got me to carve a shell at a polystyrene with a chainsaw. And then when I'd finished proudly, they then turned around and said "Why didn't you use the heat? Why, you idiot." So it was an amazing job and I loved, I absolutely loved doing doing the foundry work, but it just was not sustainable for my health.

Elizabeth Diacos  4:13  
Mm. Mm. Sounds like you had some less than helpful colleagues, as well, that must have made a huge mess.

Scott Johnson  4:22  
In, oh, there was probably from one end of the, from one end of the factory to the other. Urban Art Projects is an amazing business in Brisbane, by all means check them out because they've done some great stuff over the years with public art sculpture. But the guys I work with highly talented, highly talented bunch of guys who were incredible creatives. So yeah, I was, I was in, I was in heaven there.

Elizabeth Diacos  4:54  
So so when you you got into teaching Where did you start?

Scott Johnson  4:59  
So I kicked off around about 2006. I, in, within 13 years I taught for 13 years. I started with Education Queensland and I spent three years in Education Queensland at two separate schools on the Gold Coast. And then I was fortunate enough to be accepted to work at a school on the Gold Coast called All Saints, All Saints Anglican School, which was like utopia.

Elizabeth Diacos  5:37  
What made it utopian? Tell us about that?

Scott Johnson  5:39  
Ah the facilities were absolutely, well, they are absolutely first class, the students are the hardest thing about teaching at All Saints was keeping up the, keeping up the content to the students and being on your toes enough when the students used to challenge you, which was very unusual coming from the public sector. And the, yeah, the facilities, the opportunities, and my colleagues were fantastic. It was, it was just such an amazing environment to work in - great school.

Elizabeth Diacos  6:18  
And is that the school that you left from? 

Scott Johnson  6:20  
Yes, yeah, it was. 

Elizabeth Diacos  6:22  
Then what was tipping point that that made you decide to leave teaching?

Scott Johnson  6:25  
It is I guess, my personal experience of that tipping point was was a long drawn out process. Back in probably, it would have been about five years ago, initially, Emily, my, my wife is a Psychologist. And she, she introduced me to there was a conference in Geelong Grammar about five years ago, the piece of conference, Positive Education Skills Association Conference at Geelong Grammar. And she said, "You've got to go to this." Yeah. So, so I went to my head of senior school and said, "Can I go to this conference?" And he was sort of a bit, "What do you want to go to this conference for?" And I was sort of like, "Well, Dr. Martin Seligman's gonna be there." 

And I didn't know really a lot about Dr. Martin Seligman, but my wife said, "You've got to go, if you don't go, I'm going." So, so yeah, I was fortunate enough, where I always had a very supportive head of senior school, who encouraged me to go to that conference. So yeah, I headed down there. And that really changed my thinking around how we need to help students and where, where students desperately need, need help. It totally opened my eyes up to the importance of social and personal capabilities. And the fact that even though I was at this amazing school, it wasn't being taught well, and students were missing out on. 

So on top of that, I had been on a six month long service leave, which was amazing. I took half pay for six months. And I was told by another teacher and a very experienced teacher on my way up to that long service leave that "Be careful when you, it's very hard to come back." So that was, that was another sign post for me. And then when I came back from that long service leave, I actually went back to part time, I negotiated to go back part time, because I just I wasn't ready. And I just couldn't see myself going back to full time teaching. At the end of the day, it was a gut feeling. Yeah, my wife, obviously I mentioned she's a psychologist. And yeah, I've learned a lot from her over the years. 

And it was just a gut feeling in term three 2009 that, oh sorry, 2019 term three, I went back and I just felt it just I just was sick in my, my gut. And I just, I just thought "that's it." And at the same time, I was really, the feeling of wanting to explore this idea of positive psychology in Education with students and support them in that area and also at the same time support Emily, because her career was really starting to take off. Yeah, they were the reasons really. So yeah, I literally went back in term three 2019 and said to my head of senior school "I'm done."

Elizabeth Diacos  10:06  
Wow, yeah. It's really interesting that you talked about the Positive Education because that's how, that was my pathway out as well. I did the Master of Applied Positive Psychology. And some years earlier, Martin Seligman was working with the South Australian Government as their, I don't know a guru-in-residence kind of thing, with me. And and so there was one afternoon after school, I flew to Adelaide.

Scott Johnson  10:34  

Elizabeth Diacos  10:35 go and hear him speak for like one hour and got him to sign my book. 

Scott Johnson  10:40  

Elizabeth Diacos  10:41  
And then like, flew home the next day, but it was just, I just..

Scott Johnson  10:45  
He went flying around the country for yeah, yeah, it's, it's amazing. When that light bulb comes on, on, so many teachers talk about this idea of, of students need this. But when the light bulb actually comes on, when you actually realize this is how we can teach them, these skills, it gives you fire in your in your belly, that's for sure.

Elizabeth Diacos  11:14  
So Scott, was there fear around making that change and leaving Education, all that time?

Scott Johnson  11:23  
Not not a massive amount of fear. I think the students reactions, that was the big thing. I think with like a lot of teachers, it's the students and the energy that they give you and the relationships you build with students, which is probably the one thing that you fear, disappointing them by saying, "Sorry, I'm done." And the other thing as well. I guess a fear in the in making the transition as well as is not being able to, to sort of, not being able to avoid dealing with burnout. Yeah, I had a fear that I was going to burn out. Before I left, I was doing a Master's at the time. I sort of trans- that was another part of my transition out, I undertook a Master's of Heritage Management. And once again, I was supported incredibly by my head of senior school to be able to do that. But I came to my thesis. And so my big fear of leaving was if I didn't, I was going to seriously crash and burn.

Elizabeth Diacos  12:47  
Right. So and your thesis was what, how did that relate to that part of it? Just the commitment of time?

Scott Johnson  12:56  
Oh, totally, totally. Um, yeah, I was, I probably should say, unfortunately, I used to teach VET, VET subjects within visual art.

Elizabeth Diacos  13:09  
Can you please explain that for international listeners, what that is?

Scott Johnson  13:13  
Vocational Education and Training so, many schools have, in their wisdom, have taken up VET courses within within schools. And as a teacher, it sort of went against that sort of went against my, once again as a gut feeling and a personal experience, that sort of it went against my belief of what teaching should be. And it definitely went against my understanding of the best way to teach visual art, which was my subject. It was all compliance based and it was all competency based. And it just was a total ineffective form of teaching. In my, in my view for and, and students just, I lost engagement with students because of the structure of the program. I don't know where I was going with that. But yeah, that was, that was one thing that I just, it ground me down teaching VET in visual art for about three years. 

Elizabeth Diacos  14:40  

Scott Johnson  14:40  

Elizabeth Diacos  14:41  
What was the Masters in? How does that? What what is that?

Scott Johnson  14:45  
I initially, I just, I just purely wanted to do a Masters to stop me going nuts. Just teaching was driving me to the point of, yeah, I was good. One of my strengths is love of learning, as you know, with Martin Seligman, there's also the VIA Strengths. 

Elizabeth Diacos  15:06  

Scott Johnson  15:06  
So I've done that quite a few times over the years. And one of my top three is consistently love of learning. And it's a bit of a cliche in teaching that we have all this in the curriculum, and it's always spruiked. And teachers hate it, this, this idea of love of learning. But it's actually, it's actually a really positive thing. I think teachers, however, they phrase it, and however they approach it, they need, they need to actually give it a lot of respect. Because, yeah, one of my strengths is love of learning. Anyway, so I thought, "Well, I'm unhappy, my energy levels are low." And once again, Emily guided me through this process as well. 

And I thought, I've just got to go and learn something other than, you know, the stuff that they're forcing down our throat at school. So I had a look at the University of Queensland just to sort of see, I really wanted to do a Masters of Art History. But they didn't offer it. And then they offered the Masters of Museum Studies. So I started with the Masters of Museum Studies. And no sorry, the Masters of yes, Museum Studies, sorry, I jumped around a bit. The Masters of Museum Studies, and I did about four subjects in that area. And I just looked at the museums, we started to go into museums, and I just thought, these people aren't my, they're not my crew. 

Elizabeth Diacos  16:47  

Scott Johnson  16:48  
This wasn't, it was really political. And it was just like, they just not my, they're not my crew. They're not my tribe, no. Because I've been on the other side of museums, as well as an artist, showing in galleries and sort of seeing it from that side as well. And that I just, and fortunately, I did a fantastic subject with a professor called Ian Lilly, who works for ICOMOS and UNESCO and he ran a course in World Heritage. And that was, that guy, and that was my tribe. He was my tribe. He, yeah, just the way he, you know, viewed the world and what he was doing positively around the world was like, "Whoa, can I carry your bags?" I literally asked him "Do you need someone to carry the bags?" 

Anyway, long story short. So yeah, so I swapped across into the Masters of Museum Studies and I completed that in 2019. But that kept me sane. During the the final two and a half years of my teaching, because I said, I was allowed out by the school, which was very, very kind of them. I was allowed out two afternoons a week to catch the train up to Brisbane to attend lectures. 

Elizabeth Diacos  18:22  

Scott Johnson  18:23  
Oh, the, seriously the All Saints, where I worked, was incredible. Yeah, so I guess if anyone's going to leave teaching. Yeah.

Elizabeth Diacos  18:40  
Not sure if that's a selling point. But anyway,

Scott Johnson  18:42  
Yeah, no, but if anyone's gonna leave teaching, it can be done even when you are absolutely, like, even when you work in an amazing school. Because when it comes back to the at the end of the day, it's your happiness. That is number one.

Elizabeth Diacos  19:00  
Yeah, that's a nice little soundbite. 

Scott Johnson  19:02  
I guess that's my point. Yeah. 

Elizabeth Diacos  19:04  
All right. So transferrable skills. Oh actually, what are you doing now? And then how did you take what you've already had as a teacher into what you're doing now?

Scott Johnson  19:13  
Um, so basically, the start of 2020 I became the co-founder of Get Mentally Fit with my Psychologist wife, Emily. We, our focus was on offering programs that basically flipped mental health on its head and looked at mental health. This was Emily's idea for quite some time to look at mental health as a daily practice, just like physical health, the people need to develop their skills in so that they can live in a state of ease which over the years, once again, I've, I don't know whether it's getting older, but I've experienced that transition myself where I, yeah, suffered from anxiety and all the pressures and all the stress levels and all the distractions that everyone suffers from.

And I've sort of come through that transition and experienced that transition into a state of ease, which is a profound, profound change for... And I think it's absolutely crucial that you go on a journey of life that no matter how you do it, you go on that self discovery journey of finding that, that state of psychological ease, before you can make crucial decisions, like leaving teaching, or whatever your crucial, crucial decision is you need to be you need to have clarity. Yep.

Elizabeth Diacos  21:04  
Can you just explore that idea of that psychological ease a little bit more? Because I talked to a lot of teachers who, who don't know what's next, and who were afraid of what the possibilities are even. 

Scott Johnson  21:16  

Elizabeth Diacos  21:17  
And you're saying, in order to be able to even be in a place where you can think about that. You need this state of ease? How do you attain that? That sounds kind of magical.

Scott Johnson  21:28  
It's bloody hard work. Like everything, it, you know, I probably had a fixed mindset growing up. That has definitely, I've, I've fought that. And, and I'm slowly developing and increasingly developing a growth mindset. And it's so important to have that, but it's an individual thing. For me, it's probably been a six year, seven year journey. It helps when you have a psych-, a great psychologist, guiding you along, guiding you along the path on tap. Yeah, that helps. But yeah, it started off, you know, Emily introduced me to a Buddhist psychologist who I do half day retreats with. I've met different therapists that do breathing, I do yoga, once a week, religiously, I have to kick my own bum out the door to go and do it sometimes. 

But Emily says, if you miss something twice, it's really hard to continue with a habit. So I make sure if I miss it once I don't miss it twice. Yeah, my, whatever you whatever you need to do, whatever your listeners and people you talk to need to do, to be able to access a space where they can be mindful enough to have insights. That's, that's where they need to, that's what they need to strive for. Those moments of, those moments of insight that come with sustained wellbeing practices. Yeah.

Elizabeth Diacos  22:55  
Yeah. I think when I have a couple of walks that I take now.

Scott Johnson  23:31  

Elizabeth Diacos  23:31  
Thank you, lockdown, for forcing me to go to the creek.

Scott Johnson  23:35  

Elizabeth Diacos  23:36  
And just being near that water and you know, that physical environment and then there's parts of that pathway along the creek where it's - I do very occasionally encounter another human, but mostly not. 

Scott Johnson  23:49  

Elizabeth Diacos  23:49  
It's just bliss. And you get that that thinking time and that headspace and your own in your own head, and you can...

Scott Johnson  23:56  

Elizabeth Diacos  23:57  
...nut out issues. And then because you're doing the physical stuff as well, you're kind of, I don't know, I feel like anytime I'm having a bad day, I'll just go for a walk to the creek, you know, and by the time I come back I'm kind of, I'm alright again, you know, it makes a difference. So yeah, I love that, that idea of creating that space for yourself.

Scott Johnson  24:14  
Oh, it is so important. And it's a it's a learned skill. It's not something like and that's what drives us a little bit nuts about, you know, all this stuff on social media and all this information on on mental health as well. It's just these little snippets, and there's so much noise around mental health. And I think if anything, it just causes more anxiety. What people have to realize is it's, it's a sustained daily activity. It's something every day. It, we have a we have a labrador. She's out there somewhere causing chaos but so we're very lucky we live, there's a forest right here with tracks throat. So that's, that's the place I tend to go. So I'll take her for a walk up through the forest. 

And I think I've practiced it so many times now and I've had the benefit of doing walking meditations with the chap I was telling you about the Buddhist psychologist, I've had, I've had the benefit of doing walking meditation. So now I've sort of access this, this trigger when I enter that forest now, it's almost like, I'm not actually conscious of it. But I've got to the point where subconsciously, I'm actually walking, I'm doing a walking meditation. And daily now, in fact, by daily, I have insights. It's almost like, I don't force the insights anymore. It just naturally happens. And that comes with practice. And, and clarity, the, it has taken years to get to that point.

Elizabeth Diacos  26:08  
Yeah. So apart from your study that you did, what, what else did you need to bring or learn in order to be able to do what you're doing now?

Scott Johnson  26:22  
So starting a business has been a sharp learning curve. I guess, you brings so many things from teaching. There's so many skills that you bring as far as communication skills. I taught new media, so I'm constantly, I'm doing a lot of the graphic design stuff for the business. Unfortunately, we're not in a state, a point of business where we can employ people to do that stuff for us. So I'm still I'm still practicing all the skills that I learned in my, in my teaching content. So I put that, like, you know, later after this interview, I'll be writing an article for our A-Z to getting mentally fit, I do an article every fortnight. So I'm accessing my writing skills. I'm obviously accessing my teaching skills through the programs that we're designing. 

So I'm pretty much, Emily feeds me content. And I've pretty much done a Psychology degree in the last 18 months with the amount of content that she has fed me. And then I basically take that content and design all our training materials and handouts, and all that sort of stuff. 

Elizabeth Diacos  27:48  

Scott Johnson  27:49  
Yeah. So yeah, it's sort of easy to look, it's easy to look forward. So I'm getting off on one here. But it's easy to look forward at what you need to do. And what you have to do in business. And this is how the state that I'm constantly in is looking forward, I'm sure you are, I've got to do this. And I've got that podcast to, to, you know, we want to set, we want to set a podcast up and we want to do this and we want to do that. But you also need to just shut shut up for a second. And actually look back in, in conversations like this, or when you're talking to people or even when you once again, go for a walk on your own and just give yourself a break and go, "Wow, I've done all this." So that's really important to reflect on what you have actually achieved. 

And when you, I'm doing that, I'm doing that daily now. So I'm actually reflecting daily, because otherwise it's so easy to get stressed, and, and this feeling of overwhelm. Thinking about what you haven't done yet, but for me, it's so important and I've actually made that a daily practice now where I'm, I'm reflecting on, on what I have actually done. One example of that would be we were told - Emily's not great in in the limelight. She's, she's not a big fan of limelight, which a lot of people are - anyway, I was told this fantastic thing by a chap recently, really helpful guy, who's in sales and advertising. He works for RebelFM on the Gold Coast. 

And he said, the problem with your business, at the moment, is you're parking your Ferrari in the unlit back line. You need to bring your Ferrari out and you need to park it in front of the cafe on the yellow line. So I said this to Emily. Anyway, this is a reflection sorry, this is one of my reflections. And then yesterday Emily featured in a podcast, fantastic podcast. In America, in Canada, so it'll go all through North America. So it's so easy to look and go, we've got so much to do. But then you look back three weeks, and you go, we've gone from being told that our business is struggling because we haven't really had any exposure to all of a sudden doing 4 podcasts. And Emily did a fantastic article in the Burnout Club, which was featured yesterday, it came out yesterday. So it's good to reflect on what you have actually achieved.

Elizabeth Diacos  30:31  
Yeah, one of the things I asked my clients to do is to write a couple of paragraphs before we start working together, about their current situation and about what they would like their life to look like. And it's really, it's so important, because you do you integrate that knowledge and that new way of being and you forget, when you change, kicking myself that I didn't do it, if I had a coach to help me get out of teaching, I would have, I would have said that to me "Write it down!" Because you do forget, you forget what you gave, it becomes part of who you are now, and you don't see the progress that you've made. And you know, then you you're not in a position to be able to track you need to measure those successes. I think, it's really important. You made such a good point there. 

Scott Johnson  31:20  
It's the appreciative inquiry, I don't know if you've come across the appreciative inquiry model. But that is the first thing, is discover. And it's a great model. I'm sure you use it with your clients, Emily bases a lot of her programs on the appreciative inquiry model of transition. And the first step being discovery is, is so so important to get a, I guess, a reading on where you are now. Because at the end of the day, my firm belief and what really made my transition from teaching, and I've had a few careers. As I said, I'm an urban jackaroo, I've got a few stories to tell and careers to discuss, misspent careers. But I think I firmly, firmly, firmly believe it's different, it's going to be different from everyone for everyone. But you must have a clear plan in place. And, and discovery is part of that plan. It's so important to have a plan. You can't just wake up one day and go, I've had a gut full of teaching, I've had a gut full, that's it, I'm done. Because that's not going to work.

Elizabeth Diacos  32:43  
Well, it's very stressful way to make it work isn't it?

Scott Johnson  32:47  
It's not going to work, and it's not going to be good for you. You need to be more measured. And you need to put a plan in place to say, "I'm not happy. It's okay. I'm not happy. But where do I actually, where am I going to go? Where do I want to go? And what's my plan going to be to get there?" And and as we discussed earlier, my master's was part of my plan. That was part of my plan. I haven't worked a day in that industry.

Elizabeth Diacos  33:21  

Scott Johnson  33:21  
But I look back and think it was part of my plan to stay sane. And use my love of learning and feel feel like I'm contributing to my growth. Back when I felt really flat.

Elizabeth Diacos  33:40  

Scott Johnson  33:41  

Elizabeth Diacos  33:41  
I got a, I happened upon a little set of cards made by the school of life that were in my local, you know, share library, you know, in the streets. And they were unopened their call Career Career Choice, I think it's called this little set. And that was one of the cards. It's just got these little, little pearls of wisdom on it different one on each card. And it said that one of the things that we that, we don't leave a job because of bad working conditions or bad pay, we leave it when we stop learning. I'm like "Whoa," and you just made that.

Scott Johnson  34:16  
Totally, totally. And there's so many of my colleagues, and that was another thing I used to, you're probably still very familiar with the old morning tea on a Friday and everyone we used to turn up to the morning tea on a Friday and they were the guys that you know, it was like seagulls. The morning tea we all used to take food in and it was it was a big table a beautiful spread of food and it was only seagulls that attack the food that morning tea but that's a side issue. I used to look at a teachers in these situations and and I used to know that they weren't happy. They, they were actually just caught in teaching. 

And I remember and for years, I think it was actually years. In fact, when I got clarity around the fact that I knew I was going to move on to something else that was years before I left, I used to really struggle and feel really bad by looking around the room and thinking, these people are stuck. And are they happy being stuck? A lot of people, like, you know, there were teachers that love teaching and are amazing teachers, but that you can always identify the one or two, usually the ones that were actually complaining about, they hated what they were doing. But I think that was just hanging out for their retirement. They were just like, "Nah, this is my lot. I'm gonna stay here, and I've got all my retirement planned. And I'm just gonna kick back and go through the motions. And I'll be fine. I'll be happy when I get to that retirement age." And I'm just like, "Oh, my God, I can't, I don't want to be that person."

Elizabeth Diacos  36:15  
Yep, I get it. All right, so we're gonna move on. I'm just watching the time. 

Scott Johnson  36:22  
Yep, no worries, sorry. 

Elizabeth Diacos  36:24  
Um, so, Scott, what, what advice would you give to someone who's feeling stuck? And then if they wanted to work with you, how would they use your service?

Scott Johnson  36:36  
My best bit of advice. I had a profound moment my father passed two years ago. And I remember looking at him the day he died in his bed. And I remember thinking to myself, "Oh, my God, when you're dead, you're dead. That's it." So my advice to people would be "Live. You're alive, live." Find, well, everyone, everyone hopefully has an idea of what their passions are. Always, always identify your strengths, identify your passions, identify your values, and set a plan in place. Regardless of whether you're ever going to get there, sort of like writing a book, really. Just put that plan in place, and just one step at a time. Strategically follow that plan that you've you've set out and see how you go. Yup.

Elizabeth Diacos  37:50  
Awesome. And, and if someone want to work with Get Mentally Fit, what does that look like?

Scott Johnson  37:56  
Um, I guess from a teacher's perspective, or someone professionally transitioning in, in their life. So what we, what we do, Emily is set up a transitional system, and a support service based on measuring people's mental toughness. So there's, there's four key components to mental toughness, which is control, confidence, commitment and I always forget the fourth one. But regardless of that, there's four, there's four key components. So what we did, what, how it looks with us, as we measure, we measure people's mental toughness. And what that allows us to do is it allows us to identify the areas in a person's life where they need to enhance their skills in, so it might be life control, or it might be emotional control. 

And if people are reading a little bit lower in emotional control, then we can - well Emily, I say we, I just write the material. Emily then targets specific educational psychologically evidence based units of modules of learning that will support people to increase their skills in that area. So I guess, from our, the the ultimate goal that we're working with, and we consistently find, we're getting to this point, is celebrating that transition from feeling that stress, overwhelm and distraction that people are feeling in their lives. So we're experiencing people going from that, to having these lightbulb moments and feelings, because it's a feeling that we're, we're working with. 

Transitioning to that feeling of at ease. Which is, which is hard to explain. Well, it's not hard to explain but that that's the word for us, is ease. So transitioning from that state of languishing in stress and not being able to cope with that stress and overwhelm to this feeling of ease and being able to cope, regardless of internal and external stressors.

Elizabeth Diacos  40:47  
And so are you working with students or teachers? Like who do you actually work with? Who are your clients?

Scott Johnson  40:53  
Predominantly small-medium business owners. So we've got three programs, we've got the Leader Support Program for business leaders, we've got the Get Mentally Fit Program, which is for just adults. And then Emily and I've also designed a program called the Student Mental Fitness Program. That program is actually designed around it's an eight week program. And it's designed around the Melbourne Declaration and the Australian Curriculum looking at the factors of social and personal capabilities. So basically, we take students through groups of students through a, an eight week program that focuses in on on those personal and social capabilities. 

My experience with Pisa I've been to three conferences now. My, my feeling with what I saw at Pisa even though whole schools are doing amazing stuff, with students and well being programs, some schools like Geelong Grammar and, and other skills are doing some amazing stuff. I just still question the richness of a program in a whole school. I think what we're doing is basically amping, amping up massively amping up our programs for a very, a much smaller group of 15 to 20 students per term. And I just feel personally that we can have more impact on a smaller amount of students doing it that way. And their parents. Yeah. Mmm.

Elizabeth Diacos  42:53  
Okay, so what's the best way for someone to get in touch with you if they want to use your service?

Scott Johnson  42:59  
Um, so we're basically available on, through our website on I can be contacted directly on And we're also on socials. So there's Instagram, which is We're on Facebook. People, anyone listening is more than welcome to join our A-Z to Getting Mentally Fit Program on Facebook, which is free. We're running a 12 month free program where we do an activity every fortnight so people. Yeah, so when they do an activity, starting with K, for instance. And we also write an article to support people every fortnight on a different psychological evidence based subject or, or discussion. Yeah, or LinkedIn. I'm on LinkedIn as well. But there's a lot of Scott Johnson's, so yeah.

Elizabeth Diacos  44:13  
Yep, there are. What I might do is put all of that information I'll get you to send me all that in and put in the show notes for this episode. And that way, if they want to search you out they can find you in the show notes. 

Scott Johnson  44:25  
No problem. 

Elizabeth Diacos  44:25  
So Scott, as we as we wrap this up. A couple of more questions. Do you have any regrets?

Scott Johnson  44:32  
Um, I, I don't have any regrets. Absolutely not one. There is, it probably took me two years, actually, no what did it take me. It hasn't been two years. It took me about, it took me close to 18 months to stop thinking about school. I still think about school but you know that that, that rhythm of going back after a holiday and the rhythm, right, in two days time, it's holiday time. That rhythm, it takes about 18 months, it took me 18 months to actually stop being affected by that rhythm of teaching. I don't have as far as, and a lot of people have asked me, you know, "Did you make the right decision?" Absolutely. I have no, I have no regrets. 

I think the reason I don't have any regrets is very much down to what we were talking about earlier, is a strategic plan around why you're leaving, and how you're going to leave. And understanding that this is, is going to be a really positive thing in your life. There was one thing I was disappointed with, as part of my master's I, I looked at virtual reality in Heritage Education. And I almost got, we almost got it over the line where we were going to run a virtual reality indigenous cultural heritage project in my school. And that's one thing I was really disappointed I couldn't get off the ground before leaving. So I guess it was more of a little disappointment rather than I've certainly no regrets.

Elizabeth Diacos  46:24  
Yeah, I have an art project, that's probably still in a storeroom, half-finished, that I wanted to finish but just know, it wasn't gonna happen. Okay, so Scott, what's the legacy that you want to leave in the world?

Scott Johnson  46:39  
Um, I think the legacy that I want to leave is contributing positively to the community, whether that be your immediate community, your regional community, national community, international community - I'm, it's really, really high up on my, on my to do list, I think if you can find what you're passionate about. Obviously, the fact that people are in teaching means they care for people. So that, that's my big one, is contributing positively to the community. And more, more, more at home, contributing positively to our daughter, Alora, because we want her to experience the freedom of of pursuing her or using her strengths to pursue what what she loves, and also being engrained with this idea of contributing positively to the community. Because if we all did that, I think we'd be we'd be in a good place as, as a nation and as a world. 

Elizabeth Diacos  48:05  

Scott Johnson  48:05  
Getting a bit deep now aren't we?

Elizabeth Diacos  48:08  
We wanna go, we want to go deep. And just to finish up, what's your favorite song or a song that has meaning for you? 

Scott Johnson  48:16  
Oh, God, um.

Elizabeth Diacos  48:18  
Didn't I have that one on my list of questions?

Scott Johnson  48:21  
Yeah, you did. But that was a really hard one. Um, it depends on the context. So so yeah. Everyone experiences driving along, and you'll hear a song come on the radio, and that's your favorite song for that two minutes. But if I have to choose one, it's the Three Legged Dog by by the Cruel Sea. It's called the Three Legged Dog, a Melbourne band. Tex Perkins was a lead singer. And why that song? Because it, we used to when I was, I lived in Noosa when I left school, I lived up in Noosa for five years, that was my misspent youth. And the Three Legged Dog was the first song on the Three Legged Dog album. It has no lyrics. And it's the most wonderful piece of music, instrumental music. And it was quite often the case that we were playing that song out in my mate Brett's property, which was at the back of Kuroi on the Sunshine Coast. It was an old farmers, farmers, farmers cottage, beautiful old timber farmers cottage, and the sun was usually going down at the time. And we had dinner on and we had a nice bottle of wine. And it just reminds me of that. So yeah, it's my, it's my comfort, it's my comfort song.

Elizabeth Diacos  49:52  
Love it. Love it. Thank you for sharing that. That's really.

Scott Johnson  49:56  
That's right.

Elizabeth Diacos  49:56  
I'm dying now to go out and find the the music and listen to it. 

Scott Johnson  50:01  
The Three Legged Dog and and the actual album by The Cruel Sea the Three Legged Dog is an amazing album, fantastic album.

Elizabeth Diacos  50:11  
Thanks for the recommendation. And thank you so much for joining us on the get out of teaching podcast today. 

Scott Johnson  50:17  
Absolute pleasure, Elizabeth, thank you for giving me the opportunity to reflect.

Elizabeth Diacos  50:25  
If this is the kind of conversation you'd like to have, here's some ways we can make that happen. You can connect with me via my website, or join the Get Out of Teaching Facebook group, or send me a message. You don't need to stay stuck in a job that makes you miserable. I offer a free 10 minute triage call to people who are ready to explore possibilities for the future. So let's have a chat. You've been listening to the Get Out of Teaching Podcast, please share it with your teacher buddies and for show notes and other resources visit

Transcribed by