I Knew I Was Having an Identity Crisis When I Realised I Had Become Two Different People, By Carmel O’ Reilly

Sally had lost herself in the process of years of keeping her work and her life outside of work separate. She had somehow become two different people. The world wasn’t coming to an end, but the world that she knew was. She was facing a real identity crisis. She had completely changed her persona: not only did her work colleagues not know her, but she no longer actually knew herself. She felt depressed, she felt not only was she broken, but her identity was broken, who she was, was broken. Asking herself: Who am I? What am I? She realised she couldn’t answer. 

But let’s back up to:

Sally’s Story: I Knew I Was Having an Identity Crisis, When I Realised I Had Become Two Different People. A Case Study:

Identity Crisis

Born in 1960, Sally had grown up in a small town in the north of England. On finishing school, she went on to her local polytechnic and achieved a Diploma in Secretarial Practice. Throughout all of this time, Sally had been very involved in her community. She knew everyone, and everyone knew her. She was a big fish in a small pond, but she no longer wanted to be. She wanted to be a small fish in a big pond.

And so, Sally left her hometown for the bright lights, and perhaps even more importantly the anonymity of London. The reason was far greater than not being somewhere where everyone knew her, and knew everything about her, because that wasn’t actually true anyway. People might have thought they knew her, and everything about her, but actually Sally had been hiding who she was for some time now, or rather the part that she knew she was. She had been hiding that she was gay, and she wasn’t ready to tell anyone, because she didn’t know who or what else she was. She was finding keeping her secret exhausting and mentally draining. She figured it would be easier to be the part of herself who she knew she was, and to discover and uncover the rest in London.

She soon came to discover that was both true and untrue. While she was unable to be herself in any situation in her hometown, in London she very quickly established a social life, where she could both be herself and learn about herself, and have lots of fun along the way. 

But at work it was very different. Sally had gotten a job in the public sector. It was the late 1970s and the attitude towards gay men and women in the workplace was cruel; and Sally quickly came to realise that for her self-protection she had to continue to hide who she was at her workplace and with her colleagues.

On reflection, Sally feels this is where becoming two different people had begun, although at the time she didn’t think of it in that way. It was the normal practice of that time for most of Sally’s gay friends to keep their work and their life outside of work separate, to be different people in each of these situations. And at the time, Sally felt OK with it, because she felt she could compartmentalise her life. She didn’t even consider that it would impact on her identity, because she felt in control; and choosing to be a different person in and out of work was her choice, and it didn’t mean she would become a different person, or persons for that matter.

Fast forward to 2010, as Sally was nearing her milestone birthday of turning fifty, when it suddenly struck her like a lightning bolt that she had in fact become two different people. 

One year earlier, after a whirlwind romance, she had married Naomi. It was just ahead of the wedding that she had finally come out to her family. Up until then she had kept her London life – or rather her London double life – secret from her family. But she really wanted them to be at her wedding, and so she opened up to them about her sexuality, and who she really was. Her family were absolutely fine about it. Sally wasn’t sure if they were surprised, or if they had suspected or known all along. They didn’t actually indicate anything. They handled it in an “it’s no big deal, now let’s get to the important stuff of planning this wedding party” way. 

But Sally hadn’t told anyone in work about her wedding. She hadn’t told anyone she’d gotten married. The biggest event of her life and she hadn’t told anyone in work about it. Over thirty years after arriving in London, and she was still keeping her work life and her life outside of work separate.

The thing that was really bothering her, was that she didn’t want to tell anyone at work. She didn’t feel she should have to announce her sexuality, because she didn’t feel it was anyone’s business. But at the same time, she felt she was living a lie. She wasn’t being true to who she was. She wasn’t being her full self. But it was more than that, she had actually become two different people. She was leading two very different lives in and out of the workplace.

Sally had lost herself in the process of years of keeping her work and her life outside of work separate. She had somehow become two different people. The world wasn’t coming to an end, but the world that she knew was. She was facing a real identity crisis. She had completely changed her persona. Not only did her work colleagues not know her, but she no longer actually knew herself. She felt depressed. She felt not only was she broken, but her identity was broken, who she was, was broken. Asking herself: Who am I? What am I? She realised she couldn’t answer. 

Book Wisdom

Bertie, who Sally had met when they both moved into their first flat share in London, and who had become a great friend, gave her a copy of Beautiful People by Simon Doonan for her birthday. 

Reading the book, Sally laughed and cried. As the back cover put it: “For anyone growing up in the fifties and sixties it feels like our lives”. It took Sally back to how she had found her way out of the confines of her home town by escaping to London on her quest to be the part of herself that she knew she was, and to find the rest of herself. She realised that while she had gone far in that discovery in her personal life, she had in fact halted her full discovery by not allowing herself to be her true self in her work life. In the beginning, this was for her own self-protection; but over the years, the cruel behaviour towards gay people had changed, and she could have safely come out, but she chose not to. She had in effect become a different person, or two different people, and she hadn’t even realised.

It took a milestone birthday, and a charming and funny memoir to bring about this realisation, and with it a turning point in Sally’s life. 

By self-protecting herself and her identity at work, she had become hard and broken. For a long time in her personal life, she was able to be soft and strong, but the battle of her two personas had over time worn her down, and had caused her feminine side to die. 

She finally knew the answer to the Who am I? And What am I? Questions she had posed to herself. 

She was a sensitive, emotionally passionate woman, who was both soft and strong. She had denied herself this for so long because somewhere inside of her she was hiding from who she really was, she was holding herself back. She didn’t know why, but that wasn’t important anymore. The important thing was that she now knew who and what she was, and she was determined to bring this to all aspects of her life – both in and out of work.   

Words of Wisdom

Take time to reflect on the questions: Who am I? And What am I?

Through self-feedback allow the answers to inform you what that means in your WorkLife, and what you need to do to live your WorkLife true to who are what you are.

Sage Wisdom 

As long as you know who you are and what you are, it doesn’t matter what other people know about you. 

Epilogue

By getting to know herself, Sally also got to know people both in and out of work, and people both in and out of work got to know her. 

Today’s Book of the Blog is: Beautiful People by Simon Doonan 

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife story.

Acts of Kindness and Generosity, Transformations, Pivots and the Domino Effect, By Carmel O’ Reilly

Acts of kindness and generosity in times of crisis are transformational, not just for you as the agent, but also for everyone around you. Because they can cause the domino effect, that can lead to in the moment pivots, that make a real and meaningful difference to people’s WorkLives and well-being, while bringing individuals and communities together.

Acts of Kindness and Generosity, Transformations, Pivots and the Domino Effect A Case Study:

Domino Effect

Sam Polk, co-founder of Everytable, being completely purpose-driven on the first day of lockdown, sent a message across social media saying: “Our mission is to bring affordable, healthy, nutritious food to whoever needs it. You can’t come to the restaurant, but if you need a meal let us know and we’ll deliver it. If you can pay great, if you can’t afford it, let us know and we’ll deliver it anyway, and if you can pay it forward so we can deliver this food to a family that needs it, here’s the link.” 

Here is where acts of kindness and generosity in times of crisis are transformational not just for you as the agent, but for everyone around you. And here’s how this message brought about the domino effect, leading to a powerful pivot that made a meaningful difference to people’s WorkLives and well-being. 

Within a few weeks of this message, people of LA had donated enough money that meant Everytable could deliver 160,000 meals.

Then the domino effect happened. The governor made a partnership between homeless people and hotels, and they partnered with Everytable; and so Everytable served that community, then they partnered with elderly homes and by the next month or so they were on track to deliver 1 million meals in LA. 

So, when everyone else was having to cut jobs, Everytable was increasing jobs. More than that they were increasing a sense of purpose and possibility and changing their business model in the process. It really was a transformational pivot, that happened because of the power of acts of kindness and generosity. That is the spirit of social entrepreneurship. 

Sam Polk and his Los Angeles-based team at the pioneering social enterprise Everytable had been quietly creating a revolutionary model: healthy nutritious food available for lower prices in underserved communities, subsidised by higher prices in more affluent communities. 

Los Angeles is a deeply segregated and unequal society. There have been neighbourhoods that have been left out of the functioning economy, education system, and certainly the food system. 

Until Everytable came along, there was a huge tidal wave of demand for healthy food, and no one to meet it. Their mission was formed to meet a need: to make healthy food affordable and accessible to every community. They sell incredibly high-level, delicious, fresh food, for basically less than the price of fast food. They provide their employees with opportunities for true economic ownership. As one of their employees puts it: “The more people get to know us and the community, I can see us expanding to every community. It’s exciting and we know we are making a difference. We are helping people improve their lives.”

This wasn’t the first transformational pivot Sam Polk had gone through in his life. 

Book Wisdom

For The Love Of Money by Sam Polk is part coming of age, part recovery memoir and part exposé of a rotten, money-drenched Wall Street culture. Sam Polk’s unflinching account chronicles his fight to overcome the ghosts of his past – and the radical new way he now defines success. 

At just thirty years old, Sam Polk was a senior trader for one of the biggest hedge funds on Wall Street, on the verge of making it to the very top. When he was offered an annual bonus of $3.75 million, he grew angry because it was not enough. It was then he knew he had lost himself in his obsessive pursuit of money. And he had come to loathe the culture—the shallowness, the sexism, the crude machismo—and Wall Street’s use of wealth as the sole measure of a person’s worth. He decided to walk away from it all.

For Polk, becoming a Wall Street trader was the fulfilment of his dreams. But in reality it was just the culmination of a life of addictive and self-destructive behaviours, from overeating, to bulimia, to alcohol and drug abuse. His obsessive pursuit of money papered over years of insecurity and emotional abuse. Making money was just the latest attempt to fill the void left by his narcissistic and emotionally unavailable father.

“Vivid, picaresque…riveting” (NewYorker.com), For the Love of Money brings you into the rarefied world of Wall Street trading floors, capturing the modern frustrations of young graduates drawn to Wall Street. Polk’s “raw, honest and intimate take on one man’s journey in and out of the business…really gives readers something to think about” (CNBC.com). It is “compellingly written…unflinchingly honest…about the inner journey Polk undertakes to redefine success” (Forbes).

Words of Wisdom

“Over six months, I had written a book but no one would buy it. I started this new nonprofit and nobody really cared about it, and I would, every night before bed, close my eyes and say, ‘I am enough, and my life is enough.’ I then expressed gratitude for everything good I had in my life, which at that time was my wife and the baby we were expecting together. While in time, all of this led to numerous media and speaking opportunities, I still practice this ritual.” Sam Polk 

Sage Wisdom 

“My challenge has been to – instead of viewing my life as some deficit until I reach a bizarrely high level – my challenge is to accept with total gratitude the life I have already and how perfect everything is.” Sam Polk

Epilogue

In 2014, Sam and his wife Kirsten welcomed their daughter Eveline into their lives. Polk says: “This is what I know: I know of all the things I do in my life, the most important will be how I love Kirsten and Eveline. There is no higher aim, for me, than to become the father I never had, and the kind of husband I never saw. Hopefully Eveline will know in the depth of her being that she is loved unconditionally. And will pass that love on to her children, and they onto theirs, and so on and so on until that love is the only remaining vestige of our brief but meaningful lives.”

I leave you with a question to reflect upon, and to give yourself feedback on: 

Of all that I know, of all the things that I do in my life, what will the most important thing be?

Today’s Book of the Blog is: For The Love Of Money by Sam Polk

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife story. 

What’s Standing in the Way of Your Happy Ever After, By Carmel O’ Reilly

Sam’s driver’s licence expired, so did her longtime relationship, and now her job had too. It dawned on her that everything has an expiration date, as she closed the door for the last time to the apartment she had shared with her boyfriend Karl. The lease had also expired. It was time for Sam to move on, or actually to move back home.

But let’s back up to Sam’s story. 

A What’s Standing in the Way of Your Happy Ever After: Case Study.

Sam had grown up in the country in Ireland, where her family owned a riding stables. She had an idyllic upbringing, and although an only child, she had never felt lonely. Her parents were loving and supportive of everything she had ever wanted to do, and she had a good group of school friends, all of whom mucked out at the stables at weekends and during the holidays. 

Although idyllic, life at the stables was also remote. As a child and into her early teens this gave Sam a great sense of freedom, but as she grew older it gave her a sense of feeling confined. What had once been an open world was now closing in on her, and she felt a need to escape. This coincided with Sam finishing college, ready to go out into the world of work. Her parents had secretly hoped she would join the family business at the stables, but recognised it was important for Sam to choose her own path, and as always they were supportive in whatever that meant for Sam. 

Sam had studied business at college, and without even applying, she was offered a job at her local bank. The manager, Orla, was a lifelong friend of her parents, and knew Sam all her life. She admired the young woman she had grown into, and she also admired and respected her work ethic, from a young girl helping out at the stables, to the work she had done at the bank, during her summer internship. Sam had a curious and creative mind, and this together with her ability to get things done, had really impressed Orla. The bank needed a business makeover. It needed to move from its staid, old-time, traditional approach to the next generation of banking to meet evolving customer needs. Orla felt that Sam’s skills and work ethic together with her vibrant approach to her work and life, was just what was needed to help make this transition happen.

Then on her twenty-first birthday, her boyfriend Brian proposed to her. That on top of Orla’s job offer, together with knowing that there was an expectation that she would take over the running of the stables (most likely at a time to coincide with her starting a family), was the tipping point for Sam. She felt if she accepted all of this, she’d be trapped forever. This wasn’t the happy-ever-after Sam wanted.

Sam asked herself: What do I need to do that will make me happy?

Reflecting through self-feedback brought her the answer.

And so, on an early hazy summer morning, Sam boarded the boat-train from her local station, caught the ferry to Wales, then boarded the night-train to London Paddington. She was ready to begin her new life, a life of freedom and adventure, in search of her happy ever after. 

Immediately she began a business-development job with a travel company, which took her all over the world. She was living her dream in her quest for freedom and adventure. She met interesting people and had lots of amazing experiences.

Seven years later, Sam began to feel weary from living out of a suitcase, and the thought of another flight and another hotel room brought back the sense of feeling confined, she had lost her sense of freedom again.

Sam asked herself: What do I need to do that will make me happy?

Reflecting through self-feedback brought her the answer.

So, she left her job and began working for a startup that catered for adventure and activity holidays in the UK, with a focus on bringing communities and businesses together through tourism and hospitality. Her first day on the job she met Karl, and they began dating. She finally felt she had found her happy-ever-after in both her life and her work.

Seven years later, it all began to fall apart. Sam and Karl knew it was time to end their relationship. There was no big explosive moment, they had simply grown apart. Then Covid-19 happened, which completely destroyed Sam’s industry of tourism and hospitality. Sam’s company didn’t survive the economic fallout from the pandemic, and Sam was out of a job. This was compounded by the fact that all travel to and from the UK was banned – with the exception of free movement between the UK and Ireland.

That recurring sense of feeling confined, and that she had lost her sense of freedom, yet again had returned. 

Book Wisdom

Sam was reminded of the chapter: ‘Dedication to Reality’, from the book The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck. 

Peck writes: “Truth is reality. The more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with the world. The less clearly we see the reality of the world – the more our minds are befuddled by falsehood, misperceptions and illusions – the less able we will be to determine correct courses of action and make wise decisions. Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there.”

And so once again, Sam asked herself: What do I need to do that will make me happy?

Reflecting through self-feedback brought her the answer.

There was nothing to keep Sam in London, and there was nowhere for her to go but back to Ireland. The time had come for Sam to move back home.  She needed to vacate the apartment before the lease was due to be renewed. She packed her bags, got her driver’s licence out of the drawer, ready to book a car to drive to the port, only to discover that too had expired. 

So, fourteen years later Sam found herself retracing her journey from London to Ireland – well in reverse that is. She caught the night train from London Paddington to Wales, picked up the ferry to Ireland, and then the boat-train home to her local station. 

But it was different this time, or actually it was Sam who was different. As she rode across the fields on her first day home, breathing in the wide-open space, that sense of feeling confined was gone. It was replaced with a strong sense of freedom.

Epilogue

The stables were coming out of a three-month lockdown. Sam’s help was needed to not only re-build her family business, but also the businesses of her local community. Her skills, experience and expertise were exactly what was needed to get things moving again.

Orla was the bank representative on the team coming together to get the community and businesses started again. And yes … Brian was on the team too.

For Sam, being back where it had all began, for the first time she felt that her whole life made sense. Up until then she always felt on the outside looking in at her life; now she felt she was in her own life, looking out and for the first time seeing clearly everyone and everything around her. 

Her life felt simple for the first time in a long time, maybe as far back to when she was growing up. She wasn’t sure if it was because of Covid-19, but every day she was appreciative of all the simple things in her life. Oftentimes that would be as simple as being just a good feeling.

Has Sam arrived at her happy-ever-after? Well for now, that remains to be seen. Maybe we need to come back in seven years, and pick up on Sam’s story then. 

I leave you with the questions:

What do I need to do to make me happy?

What’s standing in the way of my happy-ever-after?

Words of Wisdom

It’s true many things in life have an expiration date. The trick is knowing when that is, and being prepared for it. Because all these things can sneak up on you, and in the end you’ve got to know when something is over, and be willing to let it go. 

Sage Wisdom

Every problem has an expiration date too. But your dreams, your happy-ever-after, don’t have an expiration date, so take a deep breath, and try again. 

We only know one thing for sure in life, where we’ve been and the journey we took. Our paths come together and then break apart. We can only hope that they lead us back to the people we love.

Today’s Book of the Blog is: The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife story. 

This Is The Way It’s Always Been Done … By Carmel O’ Reilly

This Is The Way It’s Always Been Done … are people’s stories of when they wanted to do things differently, not necessarily because they thought there was anything wrong with the way things had always been done, but because they wanted to try new and different ways of doing things, because they believed there are new and different ways of doing things. They believed that the way of always doing things, while good for many people and situations isn’t necessarily good for all people or all situations. They believed in exploring and trying out new ways of doing things, and importantly they believed in choice. They believed in the freedom of choice to give people their best way of doing what they wanted and needed to do.

This Is The Way It’s Always Been Done: A Case Study:

This Is The Way It’s always Been Done

I was in the queue for Richard II tickets at the Barbican London. The show starring David Tennant was completely sold-out, but as with many London theatres they hold back a small number of seats for on the day performances. People join the queue early, in the hope of successfully being able to buy a ticket. It’s actually a really good experience, because you get chatting to people who share an interest with you – anyone who’s willing to get up early to queue for theatre tickets has a love of theatre. Somebody will usually do a coffee run, and if you are successful in getting a ticket, you’ll be on first name terms with people in your row of seats. 

Meg, the girl next to me, was Canadian. She was a teacher and had a love of both Shakespeare and David Tenant. My nephew Trevor, who has moved to Canada, had just shared a photo of his six-year old daughter, Jodi, who had received an award at school for reading her first one hundred books. I thought this was a pretty amazing achievement for Jodi, and a great way to encourage children to read. I shared this story and my thinking with Meg.

She had a different take on it. She said yes it’s really encouraging for children who love to learn through reading, but it actually discriminates against children who love to learn in other ways. For example, she said a lot of children in Canada loved the outdoors and loved learning through nature, others loved singing, dancing and music and loved learning through the arts. She said while these were considered to be good, children weren’t recognised and rewarded in the same way for learning through nature and the arts, as they were for learning through reading. She said she felt there was a bias in favour of reading being the best way to learn, and as a result there was more recognition and reward for children who read more. She had broached this with her school board, and she was told: “This is the way it’s always been done. Reading has always been an integral part of a child’s education, and their learning process, it should be recognised and rewarded.” She said her argument wasn’t that it shouldn’t be rewarded, but that other ways of learning should be rewarded in the same way. She really objected to the thinking or reasoning: “This is the way it’s always been done.” But she said her argument fell on deaf ears.

In a previous story: Knowing When To Say No More, I’ve Had Enough, It’s Time To Call It Quits, I shared some of the trials and tribulations Mo experienced as a volunteer at a non-profit organisation from his fellow committee members. The words: “This is the way it’s always been done,” can be added to what Mo had to endure.

Mo felt as a committee they were out of touch with what people attending the events they ran wanted. But when he tried to raise it, he was immediately shot down with the words: “This is the way it’s always been done. People know what to expect and that’s what we give them. There’s nothing wrong with that, it works just fine, people are fine with the way it’s always been done”  Mo’s argument wasn’t that there was anything wrong with what they were doing, or that there weren’t people who came because they knew what to expect, and that there were people who were fine with his. His point was that they could offer more of the same for the people who wanted that, and they could also offer something different for people who wanted that. 

His belief was that the customer, or the member in this case, will always show you what’s next. Because he felt the committee were out of touch with what many of their members wanted, he began talking directly to the members, simply asking what they would like to see more or less of. He knew he would find the answers this way. The majority of members did want something else, they did want something different. Mo shared the information he’d gathered with the rest of the committee, letting them know that there was more demand for new and different courses than the courses they had created and were offering. He said we’re trying to sell them something, but they want something else, they want something different. He was met with the response: “But that’s not our business goals.” He replied: “But we’re getting lots of enquires, maybe we need to expand our business goals.”  The reply he received: “This is the way it’s always been done.” His argument had fallen on deaf ears. 

Book Wisdom

In the book Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin, Martin throws the idea of: “This Is The Way It’s Always Been Done” on its head. He says: “With conventional joke telling, there’s a moment when the comedian delivers their punchline. What bothered me was the nature of the laugh it inspired, a vocal acknowledgement that a joke had been told, like automatic applause at the end of a song. A skilful comedian could coax a laugh with tiny indicators such as a vocal tic or a slight body shift.” He noticed that even with unintelligible punch lines, audiences would laugh at nothing but the cue of a hand slap.”

“These notions stayed with me for months, until they formed an idea that revolutionised my comic direction: What if there were no punch lines? What if there were no indicators? What if I headed for a climax, but all I delivered was an anti-climax? If I kept denying them the formality of a punchline, the audience would eventually pick their own place to laugh. This type of laugh seemed stronger to me, as they would be laughing at something they chose, rather than being told exactly when to laugh.”

He tested it out and it worked. People were falling around the place laughing, they were laughing their heads off, they were crying from laughter.  Afterwards when these people were asked what was funny, they weren’t able to say exactly what it was, they simply said: “You had to be there.”

Now the punchline hasn’t gone away, and I expect we’ve all laughed at a good punchline. I expect there have also been times when we’ve all used the expression: “You had to be there” when something was really funny but we couldn’t explain exactly what it was. 

Words of Wisdom

The great thing about exploring and trying out new ways of doing things, is that it gives us choice. It’s not about the way it’s always been done being wrong, no more than it’s about always doing things differently being right. It’s simply about what’s best for any one of us at any given time. 

Sage Wisdom

What’s good for many people and situations, isn’t good for all people or all situations. Freedom of choice gives people their best way of doing what they want and need to do.

Reflect on the following questions through self-feedback to know what’s best for you:

Is this known and proven way the best way for me in this moment and situation?

If yes, great. If no, ask yourself:

What do I need to do differently to find the best way for me in this moment and situation?

Remember whenever you have a question or a problem, you also have the answer or solution within you. Remember also the power of What If? questions. If they can turn comedy on its head, imagine what they can do for you in finding your best way.

Epilogue

Meg and I were both successful in getting a ticket to see Richard II that evening. The history play by William Shakespeare was believed to have been written in approximately 1595. I expect since then it’s been performed on stages throughout the world hundreds or more likely thousands of times. Each and every time I know that every single actor who has played this role will have played it differently, and every single director will have directed it differently. This is because actors and directors will always look for something new to bring to the role, and to the play. They never come to a role or a play thinking this is the way it’s always been done, so this is the only way it can be done. Instead they look for nuances that will allow them to bring something new and different to the role and to the play. That’s not because there was anything wrong with how it was done before, it’s just that they believe that there’s always something new to learn and discover from a personal perspective. This is something that is encouraged within the arts, something that is recognised and rewarded. 

Today’s Book of the Blog is: Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife story. 

SCHOOL OF WORKLIFE AFFILIATE PROGRAMME

My books represent my work as a WorkLife Practitioner. Since 2003 I’ve helped people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good times and times of change and uncertainty. I’ve achieved this by creating programmes that enable people to self-manage their own individual learning needs, through self-coaching, self-directing and self-leadership.

As a WorkLife Practitioner and Writer my work has grown entirely because of organic word of mouth referrals. If you believe my books would be helpful to people you know, I would appreciate if you would help to share my work. You can do this by clicking the link below to join School Of WorkLife Affiliate Programme. You will receive 30% commission on each book sold, as a thank you for helping me to continue to help people live their best WorkLife true to what is important to them.

The book format for this programme is PDF

Click the link below to view all books:

Knowing When to Say No More I’ve Had Enough and Calling It Quits by Carmel O’ Reilly

Knowing when to say no more, I’ve had enough and calling it quits can be one of the hardest things you’ll do in your WorkLife. As a volunteer, an employee, or a business owner. You put so much time, energy and maybe even money into doing something, that you want to do everything to make it work. But that thing that doesn’t work ends up draining so much of your time, energy and maybe even money, and you look back and you think you should have cut it off sooner, but at the time you say to yourself:  “I’m going to push through with all my grit,” and then somehow it doesn’t quite land. It takes guts to be able to say I decide not to do this, as opposed to I decided to keep pushing this along.

Knowing When to Say No More I’ve Had Enough And Calling It Quits: A Case Study:

Knowing When To Say No

Mo had become a volunteer at a non-profit organisation that ran coaching and training events designed to help people develop skills needed in the workplace. This ranged from soft skills training to include communication skills to technical skills, which included IT skills. 

Mo had become a volunteer because he was someone who always liked to give, and to help others. His area of work is IT, and his intention was to freely give his time, sharing his expertise, knowledge and skills. In return, he hoped to meet really good people and to build his network. This was important to him, because he’d recently moved from Pakistan to London for work. He had good work colleagues, but he wanted to meet people outside of his workplace too, and he thought the best way to do this was by becoming a volunteer. He also believed he could develop new skills by helping to organise the events. This is not something he had ever done before, and he was willing to do whatever was needed of him. All of this honoured his values of giving and helping, meeting new people, and learning new skills. 

The events were organised by a committee. Including Mo there were twelve members. They ran one or two events each month, and they met monthly to plan and prepare for these. The members were very different. Some were somewhat welcoming to Mo, others were completely unwelcoming. There was no onboarding, and Mo wasn’t really sure what was expected of him. He wanted to do as much as he could, but he didn’t want to come across as too pushy. So, he put himself forward to do the things that no-one else was volunteering to do, while at the same time, observing how things seemed to operate. 

Every meeting was really heated, with people arguing right, left and centre. There was very little consensus between the group. At the first meeting, Mo had somehow found himself in charge of communications. He soon discovered that this was because no-one else wanted to do it, and he very quickly came to realise why: people didn’t read or respond to communications. It was a complete shambles and no-one ever seemed to know what was going on.

It was the same at the events, nobody ever seemed to know who would be there to help out, resulting in either all twelve of the committee turning up or it just being one person. Even though it was agreed at every meeting that there needed to be three or four people helping out at each event, and people would promise to communicate their availability, this never happened, because people simply didn’t read or respond to emails. Yet they said emails were their preferred choice of communication, and objected to phone calls, texts or any other kind of communication platforms, because they said that would be too intrusive on their time.

Mo found the people who attended the events were always really lovely, but there just was never very many people turning up. This was because the events weren’t marketed very well. Mo suggested setting up social media platforms by way of promoting the events, along with email campaigns, as they had email addresses for all members. He also suggested starting a newsletter by way of keeping members informed. Some of the members thought this was a good idea, others were a bit wary of it, questioning how much work this would involve for them. Mo said it was something that he could do, using his technical abilities. There was an immediate sigh of relief in the room, and a general consensus that if Mo would do it, then that was fine. Mo asked if the other members could help with writing a brief description of the upcoming events, and get it to him to circulate. There was an immediate sense of drained energy in the room, as people mumbled that they’d get back to him, and let him know what they could do. Mo knew immediately this wouldn’t be forthcoming, and he was right.

These are just a few of the things to demonstrate the dysfunction of the committee. Although draining, it didn’t deter Mo, he really enjoyed the events, some of which he facilitated by way of sharing his expertise, knowledge and skills, and others which he helped out on, doing whatever was required of him – set-up, meet and greet, connecting people etc. He enjoyed the various marketing campaigns he managed by way of communicating the events to members. He was honouring his values of giving and helping, meeting new people, and learning new skills. 

It wasn’t long before his good work became noticed by the governing board of the non-profit. They had begun to receive great feedback from members about the events, and how great the new communication channels were in keeping them informed. Mo’s name would be mentioned time and time again, because of how giving and helpful he always was – at the events he ran and helped out on, and in his communication. 

This led to Mo receiving a special achievement award in recognition of his good work at the Annual General Meeting. Mo wasn’t expecting it, he wasn’t even aware that such an award existed. He was really humbled and pleased to have been recognised. 

But he soon came to wish he hadn’t been singled out, as he met with immediate resentment from his committee members, who were quite loud in saying: “Why is he getting an award? What had he done that none of the rest of us have done? He’s only been on the committee for a year, some of us have been on it for twenty years, we’ve never been given an award for anything we’ve done. What makes him so special?”

And it got much worse. Any new ideas he put forward for events or connecting with their members were shot down immediately. He didn’t think it was possible, but the meetings became even more draining. And the events that he had really enjoyed became less enjoyable. The committee decided he had run too many events, and he needed to give other people a turn. The problem was no-one else wanted to run events, which meant there were less events. It was the same for the events that he wanted to help out on. He was told that he was always muscling in to help, and he needed to give other people a chance to help out. Again, the problem was that no-one else wanted to help out, which meant there wouldn’t be enough people on hand to do what was needed to be done – set-up, meet and greet and connecting people. 

The members suffered as a result and they expressed that in their feedback. Mo no longer wanted to communicate these events to the members, because he was embarrassed by the lack of events now being run, and the disorganisation of the events that did actually run.

All of this was having a negative impact on Mo’s WorkLife. It was draining, demotivating and de-energising. He didn’t want to say no more, I’ve had enough and to call it quits, but for his own wellbeing he knew he needed to. 

Mo was feeling really emotional about everything and because of this he wanted to be sure that his emotions weren’t clouding his judgement. To do this he considered how he could ensure his decision was rational. 

He asked himself:

 What is wrong that is making me want to leave?

Reflecting on this question, the self-feedback he received was:

  1. There’s a temperament gap. They’re not treating me with respect. Respect is an important value to me, this is not being honoured.
  2. There’s a quality gap. I want to do work that is high quality, that is helpful and valuable to our members. They want to push out work that is cheap, dumb and insulting to our members.
  3. There’s a reputation gap. I don’t want to be associated with what they do or how they do it.

Sage Wisdom

The hardest thing about growing in your WorkLife is that no-one is there to tell you what to do next, you have to decide that for yourself. Whenever you get stuck with knowing what to do or where to go next, turn to your inner sage wisdom in the knowledge that whatever question you have, or problem you’re facing, you have the answer and the solution within you. Your inner sage will guide you and show you what to do next.

Words of Wisdom

‘Suffering Is Optional.” Haruki Murakami

Book Wisdom

Mo remembered these words from the introduction to the book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. 

Running was something that helped Mo to switch his mind off when he faced difficulties in his WorkLife. There was a time when the situation he’d just experienced would have impacted his emotional wellbeing and would have caused him to suffer. He hadn’t been running since he’d arrived in London and he knew he needed to get back to it for both his emotional and physical well-being.

The book is quite like a memoir of writing and running. Murakami said, each time he wrote he’d ask himself: “What’s on my mind right now?” Mo modelled this each time he went for a run, and he also used the same question in journalling, a daily practice he did alongside running. Together the practice of running and journalling had also become a memoir for Mo. These combined actions had allowed Murakami to sort out what kind of life he wanted to lead. It did the same for Mo 

Epilogue

All of this allowed Mo to know it was time to say, no more, I’ve had enough, and to call it quits: and he resigned from the committee. As he instinctively knew, getting back to running and journalling was exactly what he needed to do, to ensure he didn’t suffer emotionally from his experience. 

He loved everything that this gave him, most importantly a calm sense of being and a clear mind. He enjoyed the solitude of running alone, but he also now had time on his hands. He still wanted to connect with new people, and so he joined a local running group. This was an amazing experience. He met really good and interesting people. People who showed an interest in him and his work. This led to him being invited to community events to share his expertise, knowledge and skills. He worked with groups that varied from young people applying to college, to return to work mums, to people living in the community retirement home – all of whom greatly appreciated and valued Mo’s giving and helping nature. He also became involved in his community choir. He’d never really sung before, so this was a new skill he was developing.  He had happily returned to a place where he was honouring his values of giving and helping, meeting new people, and learning new skills. Most importantly he was among people where there was mutual respect and appreciation for each other. He’d gotten here by saying, no more, I’ve had enough, and calling it quits.

Today’s Book of the Blog is: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami 

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife story. 

When You Know You Have to Fire Your Client, Your Collaborator or Your Colleague from Your WorkLife to Save Your Sanity, By Carmel O’ Reilly

A client, collaborator or colleague that drains you with too many demands, derails your morale, and demands too much attention, needs to be fired from your WorkLife. Because for all the time you waste salvaging deteriorating relationships, you could instead be opening yourself up to doing great work with great people, and living a happy and healthy WorkLife as a result. 

Another Friday afternoon meeting with the client from hell, another weekend ruined by unrealistic demands. Those were Tony’s thoughts going into his meeting with George, and boy was he right. But this time he knew it was the beginning of the end of their relationship. 

Tony knew he had to fire George as a client. He had to do it for his own morale and his mental health. He had to save himself from this toxic relationship, but as a freelancer this wasn’t going to be easy from a financial perspective. But let’s back up a little to understand Tony’s story, and how he found himself in this position.

When You Know You Have to Fire Your Client, Your Collaborator or Your Colleague from Your WorkLife to Save Your Sanity: A Case Study:

You’re Fired

Tony’s position as Marketing Executive at a non-profit organisation had been made redundant two years earlier. He had worked there for five years and really enjoyed his time. He was part of a small team, which meant he got exposure to all aspects of the job, and he had worked with really interesting companies, from business startups to SMEs in developing and building their marketing strategies.

It was always his dream to work for himself. The skills he’d developed, the experience he’d gained, together with the redundancy financial package he’d received, put him in a good position to work towards making his dream come true. And so he set out to find his first client. Enter George.

It was at a tech networking event that they first met and got chatting. Tony told George he was setting up as a freelance marketing executive, having worked in the industry for five years. George said he needed support with his marketing, suggesting this would be good experience for Tony, and that he could introduce him to fellow business owners. His first gig as a freelancer, Tony couldn’t believe his luck, he was on a high, and over the next few days he prepared for the first of what was going to become the Friday afternoon meetings with the client from hell.

In fact when Tony reflected on those initial words, “It’ll be good experience for you,” he now knew these words should have been a red flag. He didn’t need experience, he had five years of experience; and he soon came to learn, that experience as a freelancer doesn’t pay the rent, and that in his haste to get his first client he had sold himself short. He hadn’t read between the lines.- George’s lines, that is. Working for experience means working for very little money. And as for the introductions to George’s fellow business owners, well, that was never forthcoming. It was simply another ploy by George to sucker him in, and suckered in he was. Tony thought to himself: “boy, did he see me and all my naivety and misplaced trust coming!” 

The Friday afternoon meetings became a weekly thing. They weren’t needed, nor were the 6pm calls George constantly made, by way of checking in, checking up, and most often making changes to what they’d agreed. But George insisted on the meetings, and he insisted they needed to be face-to-face at his office – a taxi ride across town in Friday afternoon London traffic. 

There was so much wrong with this relationship. Apart from paying very little, George never paid on time. The Friday afternoon meetings, the late evening calls, the constant changes to the brief they’d agreed on, and the continuous demands for more work on Tony’s part, without sufficient financial renumeration was having a really negative impact on Tony’s morale and his mental health. His relationship with his girlfriend was suffering, because he never had time to spend with her, and he couldn’t remember the last time he’d been to visit his parents, or seen his friends. 

Time and time again Tony questioned why he was doing this. He felt it was because George was his first client, and he felt that he owed him. He also felt if he couldn’t deliver on this work. If he failed his client, he would be failing himself, he would be a failure, his freelance business would be a failure. And so he persisted, telling himself it would get easier, that George would come to recognise and value the good work he was doing, and that they’d develop a better working relationship. 

That wasn’t to be. That Friday afternoon meeting was to become the final, fateful meeting from hell. 

As Tony had come to expect from these meetings, George wanted to make yet more changes to the brief that they’d agreed on. He demanded more from Tony, and he said all of this needed to be completed by Monday morning. Tony said that wasn’t possible. He had a friend’s wedding the next day, and immediately after the meeting he was catching a train out of London and wouldn’t return until Sunday night. He had already told George this. In fact he had wanted to travel earlier in the day, and had asked George if they could have this meeting remotely. George refused and insisted Tony come to his office. He then kept Tony waiting for an hour. 

George’s behaviour was always unsettling, but today it was completely erratic. He kept getting up from the table and pacing back and forth. When he was sitting, he just kept tapping the table. He didn’t engage in any eye contact. He wouldn’t listen to anything Tony was trying to say, and kept cutting him off and talking over him. Then about an hour into the meeting, when he demanded Tony work on the latest changes he needed over the weekend, and Tony told him he couldn’t, telling him again about the wedding he was going to, George completely flipped, shouting at Tony that he needed it done, and that if he didn’t do it, he wouldn’t pay him for any of the work he’d done on the project; and he’d tell everyone he knew how bad Tony’s work was. His final words were: “if you don’t do this, I’ll destroy you, and I’ll make sure you’ll never work as a marketing consultant again.” 

Tony was dumbstruck. He had been feeling anxious throughout the meeting, now his blood pressure had risen sky high. He still doesn’t know how, but he somehow managed to hold it together. He got up from the table, and said: “We’re finished, this relationship is over, I’m terminating this project. We both know you owe me for the work I’ve done, I’m going to write that off, because I don’t want to have anything to do with you ever again. If you want to pursue this, if you want to bad mouth me, there will be repercussions, that I can guarantee you. I’ll be seeing my best friend who is a solicitor at the wedding this weekend. I’ll brief him fully on the situation. Here’s his card. Anything else you’ve got to say, say it to him.” With that Tony walked out of George’s office.

He never did hear from George again. Tony recognised he was a bully, and in standing up to him, he had disempowered him.

Although shaken by the whole experience, Tony also felt a great sense of relief. He felt he’d gotten his WorkLife back, and was determined not to lose it again. He knew he needed to define what that was – what it was he wanted, and as importantly what it was he didn’t want. In terms of the people he wanted to work with, and the work he wanted to do, and also making time for the people he wanted to spend time with outside of work, and the things outside of work he wanted to make time to do. 

Book Wisdom

Tony picked up a copy of Small is the New Big by Seth Godin. One of the first questions Godin poses is: “How Dare You? How can you squander even one more day not taking advantage of the greatest shifts of our generation? How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?” Going on to say: “I Dare You. I dare you to read any ten of these essays and still be comfortable settling for what you’ve got. You don’t have to settle for the status quo, for being good enough, for getting by, for working all night.”

This question, these words echoed loudly for Tony. He was determined to draw on the wisdom of the essays, the stories Godin shared, to give himself the feedback he needed to make his WorkLife work for him.

Tony drew the following wisdom from the essay/story: Do Less. 

“Years ago, when I started my first company, I believed in two things: Survival is Success and Take the best project you can get, but take a project. I figured that if I was always busy and I managed to avoid wiping out, sooner or later everything would work out.”

“Maybe you need to be a lot pickier about what you do and for whom you do it.”

“Consider the architect who designs just a few major buildings a year. Obviously he has to dig deep to do work of a high enough quality to earn these commissions. But by not cluttering his life and his reputation with a string of low-budget, boring projects, he actually increases his chances of getting great projects in the future.”

“Take a look at your client list. What would happen if you fired half of your clients? If you fire the customers who pay late, give you a hard time, have you work on low-leverage projects, and are rarely the source of positive recommendations. Would your business improve?”

“Leaving off that last business project not only makes our profits go up, but it can also dramatically improve the rest of our lives.”

Words of Wisdom

Knowing when to pull the plug on toxic work relationships gives you more time to find good people to work with. That can be colleagues, collaborators or clients.

Sage Wisdom

“The ability to change fast is the single best asset in a world that is changing fast.” Seth Godin

Epilogue

Do something that matters with people who matter. This is Tony’s motto for his WorkLife. This is the motto which guides him in deciding every project he takes on, and in how he lives his WorkLife today.

Today’s Book of The Blog is: Small is the New Big by Seth Godin

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife story. 

Start With Where You Are With What You’ve Got and With Who You Are, By Carmel O’ Reilly

Maria was in her early 50s when she began her return journey to the world of acting. Over thirty years earlier, on finishing school, she had gone straight onto drama school, gaining a BA (Hons) in Drama & Theatre Arts. Soon after she married and started a family. She chose to be a stay-at-home mum, and to put her dream of becoming an actor on hold.

Over the years she kept her hand in by being involved in her local community theatre, mostly behind the scenes, helping out with whatever needed to be done on productions, as General Production Runners assistant – from making costumes, to office administration to promoting ticket sales, and cleaning up. 

Start With Where You Are With What You’ve Got and With Who You Are: A Case Study

Start Where You Are

Her dream of becoming an actor had never gone away, and in recent years she had successfully auditioned for small roles in her community theatre productions. This reignited her quenched fire and she knew she wanted more. She wanted bigger roles in her local theatre productions, and she also wanted roles in bigger theatre productions, as well as roles in film and TV. 

To achieve this she knew she needed to develop her skills, and so began her quest to learn, and learn and then learn some more. And so, she took class, after class, after class. This helped to give her the confidence to successfully audition for those bigger roles in her local community theatre productions.

Three years later she had taken every course possible at all of London drama schools offering part time courses, and she’d played most of the leading roles in her local community theatre productions. She had put all of the skills she had learnt to good practice, both on stage in the theatrical productions she had been involved with, and on screen by becoming involved in student short film productions. 

She was at a point where she wanted to perform on stages other than those that were considered to be amateur dramatics productions, or even fringe theatre. And she wanted to move away from student films to be part of mainstream films and TV productions. 

This was when she hit a barrier. She didn’t believe she could achieve this starting from where she was, with what she had, and with who she was. She believed she needed to attend a leading drama school, undertake a full-time course – the courses she identified would take two years. This she believed would allow her to start from a better place, with what she needed, and with who she would be by the end of the course.

Maria identified three London schools she wanted to apply to, each of them offered two-year courses, and so she began to prepare for auditions. She was successful in being offered a place at one of the schools.

Over coffee, Maria shared her good news with her trusted friend Bella. They’d attended Drama School together all those years ago. Bella had gone on to become an actor, and played roles on stage, film, and TV. In between times when she wasn’t performing, she taught acting at a leading drama school. 

Bella wasn’t convinced that Maria’s belief that she needed to attend a leading drama school and undertake a two year course was true, or that it was the only option that Maria had, or indeed the best option. She had been to see Maria’s most recent stage performances, and she’d watched the short films she’d acted in. Bella was impressed with her performances, and she thought that Maria was actually holding herself back, and that she was in danger of becoming a perpetual student. She gently broached this with Maria, sharing these:

Word of Wisdom

While learning is wonderful, it can sometimes hold you back, it can be your comfort blanket. 

She went on to ask Maria to consider the following questions:

What will going to a leading drama school for the next two years give you?

What will not going to a leading drama school for the next two years give you?

What will you gain by doing this?

What will you lose by doing this?

Can you get what you want in any other way?

Maria was thrown by what Bella said. Before they met she was convinced that going to a leading drama school, and undertaking a full-time  course, was not only the best option, but the only real option she had. Now she was less certain. Because she valued Bella’s thinking, she knew she needed to give the questions Bella had posed serious consideration. 

Reflecting on these questions, this is the feedback she gave herself:

Going to a leading drama school for the next two years would give her great credibility. To have been accepted onto the course in the first place was a great achievement. The audition process was tough, places were limited. She knew from the feedback she’d been given, that the school had seen something in her, for her to have been successful in being offered a place. Building on this over the course of two years, Maria could only get better because of the intensive training she would undertake. 

Not going to a leading drama school for the next two years, would give her – well it would give her two years to focus on getting the roles she aspired to getting, on stage, on film and on TV. A head start as such. If she was good enough to be accepted into this school, well maybe she was good enough to begin to get small roles, which in turn could lead to something bigger.

She would gain more skills and more confidence as a result, by doing this.

She would lose the opportunity to be out in the real world auditioning for real roles, and gaining real world experience of the industry, and potentially being offered roles by doing this.

She could get the experience in another way by identifying her learning gaps, learning what she needed to bridge those gaps, then putting that into practice, enabling her to learn and grow.

Maria was confused, she really didn’t know what to do for the best. She had two months before she needed to accept her place, she also had the option of deferring for one year.

She and Bella met for coffee again, and Maria shared the feedback she’d given herself, prompted by Bella’s questions. Bella had brought along a book which she believed would be helpful to Maria.

Book Wisdom

The book was The Intent to Live Achieving Your True Potential As An Actor by Larry Moss

“Moss shares the techniques he has developed over thirty years to help actors set their emotions and imagination on fire, resulting in performances that are powerful, authentic and career changing. From the foundations of script analysis to the nuances of physicalisation and sensory work, here are the case studies, exercises, and insights that enable you to connect personally with a script, develop your character from the inside out, overcome fear and inhibition, and master the technical skills required for success in the theatre, television, and movies.” These words from the back cover spoke to Maria. Immediately she made the decision to spend the two months she had before she needed to make her decision, learning as much as she could from Moss. She wasn’t convinced she could get the learning she needed from a book, but she was willing to give it a go.

Sage Wisdom

“I call this book The Intent to Live rather than the Intent to Act because great actors don’t seem to be acting, they seem to be actually living. You know you’re in the presence of the best actors when you forget you’re sitting in an audience watching make-believe and instead you are catapulted onto the screen or stage and blasted into the lives of the characters.”

“I want to tell you another, more personal reason for the title of this book. When I was a young actor, I had many negative feelings about myself and about my life. I made a decision not to destroy myself but to understand and heal the pain that at times seemed so overwhelming. In other words, I made a decision to live. And one of the things that helped me was learning the craft of acting.” Larry Moss

Epilogue

Maria did in fact learn a lot through the book. Not as much as she knew she would learn attending drama school full-time for two years, but enough to allow her to know that her best decision at the end of the two months was to defer for one year. This would allow her time to put the learning she had gained into practice, and to continue this learn/practice loop by continuing to identify her skills gap. She made the decision to start with where she was, with what she had, and with who she was.

Today’s Book of the Blog is: The Intent to Live Achieving Your True Potential As An Actor by Larry Moss.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife story. 

The Importance of Taking a Stand for Something You Believe In and How This Helps to Develop Your Personal Brand True to Your Identity, Values and Beliefs, By Carmel O’ Reilly

Taking a stand for something you believe in, speaking out about something, doesn’t mean you have to be a social commentator on everything. But from time to time it’s important to say, here’s what I believe about this thing, and when you do this, what you gain in trust will be far greater than what you lose. Besides if you believe in something, shouldn’t you be prepared to take a stand for it?

In doing this, along the way you’re building your own personal brand; and the beauty of the brand you’re building is that you don’t have to explicitly say who you’re trying to connect with. People will figure it out for themselves.

The Importance of Taking a Stand for Something You Believe In and How This Helps to Develop Your Personal Brand True to Your Identity, Values and Beliefs: A Case Study:

Your Identity Your Brand

This is something I always knew, without knowing what I knew. Without fully comprehending, and without being able to verbalise what I knew to be true. In that when I’d be asked by business advisers or marketing people about the demographics I wanted to reach (e.g. who was my ideal client in terms of age, location, gender, occupation, annual income, education and so on), I wouldn’t be able to reply, because I didn’t know the answer by looking at it in this way. But I did know this wasn’t the way for me to look at. This was usually judged that by not knowing who my ideal client was, that I thought everyone was my ideal client. This wasn’t the case, but I wasn’t able to define my ideal client either. I just knew this way of identifying and finding my ideal client – or people I wanted to work with, as I’ve always preferred to say (I have a tendency to rebel against any kind of label) – wasn’t right for me.

So, I continued with my WorkLife, helping people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in both good times and bad, through continuous learning and growth. I found ways to incorporate the arts into my work – the arts are a part of my identity, and have played an integral role in my own learning, growth and development, and because of this I knew this would benefit other people. 

Throughout this time I was doing lots of reading, writing and research, and through this one day I came across the notion of psychographics.

Psychographics considers shared belief systems, shared values and shared interests. A group of people spread across all kinds of demographic lines, linked together by common beliefs, values, interests, as well as challenges and struggles, successes and failures, wins and losses, all of which give a sense of belonging through a sense of shared identity. 

In  the blog or podcast, where I first came across the notion, the person speaking said that other brands were using the phrase “we’re a podcast for badass women’, and that other podcasts can attract badass women, but that they’d never use that phrase, because they don’t want to alienate men, or women who might think yeah, I’m awesome but I’m not badass.” This spoke to me, simply because I don’t like anything that, at best, excludes a person or a group of people, or at worst discriminates against them.

The blog/podcast went on to say: “State your values on a regular basis.” This is something I’ve always done, not necessarily explicitly. In fact more often it’s implied through how I go about my daily WorkLife. For example, showing people respect and kindness, and treating people fairly are among my core values, and I think the way to demonstrate this is actually to do it quietly, because I think if you feel you need to say (or shout!) that you’re respectful, kind, fair, then you’re not. It’s the same as saying you’re funny, you’re deep, you’re intelligent. If you have to tell people that, then you’re not. 

However, there are some values that I do share more explicitly in the words I write and speak. My inspiration to create WorkLife Incorporated came from a lifelong passion for learning, which has taught me that the one thing that can never be taken away from you is your learning. This is something I’m explicit about. I also speak up and speak out against inequality, discrimination, and so many kinds of ism’s: racism, homophobism, sexism, ageism, bodyism, machoism, egoism, even feminism, because I believe in equality for everyone, women and men, and as I mentioned earlier I don’t like anything that excludes or discriminates against any person or any group of people.

Live your WorkLife true to your beliefs and values, whether that’s implicitly by quietly going about your daily WorkLife in everything you do and say, or at times more explicitly by taking a stand on those things which are important for you to voice more strongly. By doing this you can trust that the right people will find you, because they will be drawn to you through a shared sense of identity. At its core lies shared belief systems, shared values and shared interests. This goes across demographics of age, location, gender, occupation, annual income, education, and much, much more, and importantly doesn’t exclude or discriminate against any person or group of people. 

Build a brand around yourself, your message, psychographics based on a shared purpose and passion, identity, beliefs and values, things you stand for and things you stand against, things you’re in agreement with and things you’re opposed to.

In your WorkLife identify the values and beliefs of the people you want to be around, the people you want to spend time with, the people you want to work with. Remember in business and marketing speak for self-employed people, that’s your clients. For employed people, that’s your colleagues. However you want to think of it, it’s important, especially if your personal brand or business relies on a personal connection, or at least benefits from it. 

So, identifying the values and beliefs of the people you want to work with can be much more effective than the old demographics way of thinking about it. Because if you can make an emotional connection with people, it extends far beyond your idea, product or service.

You can begin by reflecting on the following questions, and then allowing your self-feedback to inform you as to how you can connect to these people.

What are the things you and the people you want to work with stand for?

What are the things you and the people you want to work with stand against?

Of all the things that you and they believe in and value, what are the things that go to the core of your shared identity or personal brand?

Sage Wisdom

“If you don’t like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time.” Marian Wright Edelman 

Use the self-feedback you receive through the answers to these questions to allow you to know the steps you can take, to take a stand for something your believe in. You can do this quietly in the actions you take as you go about your WorkLife and/or at times you can do it more loudly through the words you speak. You can do it alone or you can do it with other people. 

Words of Wisdom

Community brands are built on relationships, often individual relationships. 

Book Wisdom

The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz tells the story of a woman on a lifelong quest to understand global poverty and find powerful new ways of tackling it. She began her WorkLife in Investment Banking. After three years, she left banking to explore how to make a difference in the world. She fell or was knocked down time and time again. Each time she had to pull herself back up again, each time she had to find her voice, each time she had to fight to have her voice heard. The book talks about the demeaning stories people shared about their lives. It talks about how people were put in categories – the worst being a box marked “other” – a description given to people who couldn’t save themselves for trying, a description given to them by the people who were supposed to be using their “expertise” to help them. At this point in the story Novogratz was in Rwanda, a country where women comprised half the population, yet had no access to banking facilities. She quickly came to understand the importance of giving women access to loans, believing not only that it was an issue of justice, but also by lending women money instead of giving handouts, this would signal the high expectations for them and give them the chance to do something for their own lives, rather than waiting for the “experts” to give them things that they might or might not need. Her story continues by telling her story of how she took a stand for something she believed in, at times quietly by doing things behind the scenes, and at times speaking up and speaking out. At times she worked alone on this, and at times she worked with other people. The book is a firsthand account of her journey from international banker to social entrepreneur and founder of Acumen.

Epilogue 

Jacqueline Novogratz’s story is a story that demonstrates the importance of taking a stand for something you believe in and how this helps to develop your personal brand true to your identity, values and beliefs. 

Today’s Book of the Blog is: The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz 

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife story. 

Speaking Listening Understanding, The Impact of Ism’s, By Carmel O’ Reilly

Along with many people throughout the world I’m shocked, sickened and saddened by inequality, discrimination, and so many kinds of ism’s: racism, homophobism, sexism, ageism, bodyism, machoism, egoism, even feminism, because I believe in equality for everyone, women and men, and I don’t like anything that discriminates against any person or any group of people.

In trying to understand the atrocities so many people are experiencing throughout the world because of some despicable ism, I thought about my life.

The Impact of Ism’s: A Case Study:

Equality

Born in the 1960s I grew up in Ireland. I had a simple and idyllic upbringing. I’m one of ten children – five boys and five girls. We were all treated equally, at home, within our community and within our country. Of course, Ireland is a small country and the population when I was growing up was around three million people, the majority of whom were Irish. That has now grown to a population today of five million. This is attributed to international businesses setting up operational plants in Ireland. 

So, growing up in Ireland I wasn’t exposed to, or really aware of isms. My experience was that people thought of each other as equal, and treated each other as such. But then there wasn’t much diversity, and maybe had there been, my experience would have been different. I’ve lived in the UK since 1993, and so I can’t talk from experience of changes brought about by a larger population, and as a result more diversity. Of course, staying connected to family and friends allows me to have a sense of how Ireland has navigated though this. I believe Irish people are by and large, open, accepting and welcoming, but as with every country in the world I also believe there are exceptions to this. In particular around religion, being a largely Catholic country, there remains strong held beliefs that same sex relationships is wrong. But thankfully I believe that’s among the few and not the many.

Growing up in many ways I was even oblivious to the troubles in Northern Ireland, which ran from 1968 to 1998. In the beginning I was too young to understand, and in later years, I was busy growing up, living and loving my life. I really never gave it much thought. I think like many, I became conditioned – it was on our TVs daily, but it was almost as though it was happening somewhere else. Living in the south of Ireland, it felt as though we were removed from it. Very few people from the Republic of Ireland actually went across the border from the south to the north. 

During those years I only crossed the border twice. The first time was uneventful. I was taking a return flight from Belfast to Spain, and caught a bus which took me across the border. The second time I was visiting a friend in Drogheda – a town just south of the border. We decided we’d go shopping to Belfast and so drove across. The journey there was uneventful but on the way back we took a wrong turning, got completely lost, and ended up at a barricade in what to us was the middle of nowhere. This was manned by British soldiers, we were asked to get out of our car, and we were questioned at gunpoint, as to who we were, and what we were doing there. It was unnerving, but being in our 20’s we were quite naive, and though a little bit frightening, I think our naivety served us well, in that we didn’t panic in any way. So after a while we were allowed to continue our journey. We were in fact escorted to the border. It was only on our return when we shared our story with our friends, that we began to realise the potential danger we had put ourselves in. It’s widely believed in Ireland, both then and now, that there was a shoot-to-kill policy by the British police and army stationed in Northern Ireland throughout the Troubles. Our friends believed that had we said the wrong thing, or given a wrong glance, that we wouldn’t have been in the pub that night sharing our story. Over the years as I’ve become more politically aware, that belief has crossed my mind from time to time. When it does, I’m thankful for our naivety, because had we had this awareness back then, we may well have behaved differently, resulting in me not being here today, telling this story.

A few years later I dated a guy from Northern Ireland. He always travelled south, I never travelled north. I’m Catholic, he was Protestant. It wouldn’t have been safe for either of us to have been together in Northern Ireland. However, despite the use of the terms Catholic and Protestant to refer to the two sides, it wasn’t a religious conflict. A key issue was the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. Unionists, who were mostly Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists, who were mostly Catholics, wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland. I still remember his amazement at the freedom we had going out together, when he came to stay, and how different he’d say it was to how he lived his life on a daily basis at home. There were places he couldn’t go, people he couldn’t be with, ways in which he had to behave, so as not to draw any untoward or unwanted attention to himself. I also remember how his mother used to call me: “The wee girl from the free state”. Referring to a freedom of living that I had always taken for granted, and because of that I had never questioned it.

I moved to the UK in 1993 and began working in London. I immediately loved the diversity. I didn’t experience any isms. Perhaps I was oblivious because I was living and loving life, meeting great people and having great experiences. 

Then I met my ex-husband Carlos, who is from Ecuador, and I began to notice things. For example, if we were driving through London and there was a checkpoint, every time I was driving we’d be waived through – no stops, no checks. Every time Carlos was driving, we’d be stopped, and asked questions – where we’re going, does he live here, and so on. I’d become really angry within myself, and I’d voice that by asking, why when I’m driving are we never stopped, but when my husband is driving, we always are. Carlos would quietly say to me: “just leave it Carmel”. He was extremely polite and respectful in answering all the questions, and we’d be allowed to continue our journey. I would say to him, you shouldn’t let them treat you like that, they shouldn’t treat you differently to how they treat me. He would calmly respond, that’s just how it is Carmel, to them we are different, our appearance allows them to know that, they may not know immediately you’re Irish, maybe they think you’re British, but with me they immediately know I’m not British, and so immediately they treat me differently. I would be angry on his behalf, he would just be accepting of that was how it was. There were ways in which he had to behave, so as not to draw any untoward or unwanted attention to himself.

So, I suppose I can say I have some experiences in my life that allow me to begin to understand the atrocities so many people are experiencing throughout the world because of some despicable ism. But it is just the very beginning of an understanding. There is so much more for me to learn. 

I believe because of my upbringing, the values, and beliefs that have grown with me throughout my life, that I’ve never practised isms, I certainly hope I haven’t in any way. But nowadays I question if by something not existing within me, in my heart, my mind, or at the core of my very being, has that made me obvilous to it, until I experienced it myself, and is that OK? The conclusion I’m coming to, is that it’s not OK, and that I need to be a lot more aware of the atrocities people are experiencing through the practice of isms.

Book Wisdom

Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World by Jacqueline Novogratz provides a benevolent tonic for those looking to rise above the troubled waters of the age and embrace the ‘beautiful struggle’ of rebuilding a broken world. When we look at the world’s problems, it’s easy to be discouraged, and maybe even conclude that positive change is futile. Positive change isn’t just possible, it’s happening all around us. Novogratz introduces the quiet warriors for a better world, and shows how each of us can be part of the moral revolution. 

Sage Wisdom

Novogratz shows the power of listening to everyone who can help you to see new possibilities. 

Words of Wisdom

Whether or not we’ve witnessed, experienced or suffered a despicable ism in our lives, the last few months have been a time to reflect and assess. We’ve wondered how our lives will change in the coming months and years – what will change around us and how do we want to change our lives. We’ve come to realise when we don’t make connections, we don’t build communities. To build strong communities we have to have a really good conversation with each other, to build a sense of calm, a sense of reassurance that we can take the right action to move the road together. 

Ask questions such as:

What would you like to see more of?

What are challenges or struggles you’ve faced?

To help understand each other. 

Then listen and allow the answers and feedback you receive to allow you to know what you can do to help, what you can do to make a difference in the world in ridding it of despicable isms. 

Epilogue 

People are talking, they’re speaking up, and speaking out, and sharing their stories. Conversations are taking place. I’m determined to listen and to learn. Because I believe things happen through talking, through conversations, without which nothing happens. Through better conversation we listen to connect and to understand each other, as opposed to listening to reply.

I believe this because of the Northern Ireland peace process. In 1993, the Joint Declaration on Peace was issued on behalf of the Irish and British governments. In 1994 talks between the leaders of opposing parties in Northern Ireland led to a series of joint statements on how the violence might be brought to an end. These talks had been going on since the late 1980s. The Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. At the beginning I was sceptical, after thirty years of war, thirty years of injuries, violence, murders, bombings, massacres, thirty years of so many atrocities. I wasn’t sure if the peace process would last. But there is one ism I subscribe to, and that’s optimism. I wanted to believe it would last and thankfully it has. 

Today’s book of the blog is: Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World by Jacqueline Novogratz

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife story.