WorkLife Book Of The Week

Welcome to WorkLife Book Of The Week. Every week Monday through Sunday I serialise a story from the School of WorkLife series. – There are 27 books in the series (so far), comprising of 109 stories. These stories are based on real life WorkLife situations – case studies of the challenges and successes people experienced in navigating the chapters of their WorkLife story.

I do this each day in under 280 characters – which I post across my social media channels, and then at the end of the week, I bring all 7 posts together here as 1 blog post, which I also post on the other channels where I share my blog posts. 

I hope you enjoy the stories and find them helpful in navigating the chapters of your WorkLife story.

To view all the books in the School of WorkLife series click below: 

Coming soon: Week 1. Book of the Week: How To Make Your Values Matter from School of WorkLife: Story: A WorkLife Change is Needed when Values are Out of Sync: Ted’s story of going from Nuclear Research Engineer to Urbanisation Planner, in order to live his WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

What to Do When Uncertainty is a Certainty. What You Can Learn from Actors and the 3 Rs of Drama: (The Big) Reveal, Realisation and Reaction and How to Manage Your Present While Creating Your Future, by Carmel O’ Reilly

Is part of a series of stories of how people took ownership of their WorkLife to: utilise their skills beyond the scope of their industry; gain confidence in a new skills set; create opportunities outside of their main work; make connections and build relationships; generate an additional income stream; build financial security; spread risk; develop independence; and much, much more.

Words of Wisdom

If the year 2020 taught us anything, it taught us the need for independence, which comes from the ability to be self-reliant, which supports creating our own security, and ultimately our freedom.

What to Do When Uncertainty is a Certainty. What You Can Learn from Actors and the 3 Rs of Drama: (The Big) Reveal, Realisation and Reaction and How to Manage Your Present While Creating Your Future: A Case Study:

Uncertainty is a Certainty

The Big Reveal for Jonny, is that uncertainty is a certainty for actors. He learnt that one great job is no guarantee of another one, and when the job ends there’s no knowing how long it will take to land the next. 

This revelation came to Jonny early into his WorkLife, and gave him the insight into knowing he had to somehow find independence that would allow him to pursue his passion through the tough times – the times of uncertainty. 

So he developed the following criteria of what that needed to be in terms of his WorkLife:

  • Work he undertook needed to be flexible, in allowing him to take time off for auditions (some of which were very last minute), and time off for rehearsals and performances when those auditions were successful;
  • Work he undertook needed to pay the bills, and help to maintain his sanity when those auditions weren’t successful; 
  • Work he undertook needed to provide ways to help him hone his craft, by continuously learning, developing and growing as an actor.

In his search for work that met with this criteria, he came across a gig handing out fliers for a local Italian café. It looked easy, was close by, and most importantly wouldn’t interfere with the rest of his schedule. When he had a schedule, that is, of auditions, rehearsals and performances. 

He was actually quite surprised at how much he enjoyed the work. Beyond the money which helped to pay the bills, which in turn helped his sanity, it also provided ways to help him hone his craft, and to continuously learn, develop and grow as an actor. This is because it gave him the opportunity to perform in a different way: To get people to take fliers, he had to be likeable, energetic and entertaining. His personality, skills and attributes worked well with those requirements. And of course, it gave him the flexibility he needed to attend auditions, rehearsals and performances. So, his criteria was not only met, it was surpassed, because he also got free coffee and a meal at the end of his gig. 

This gig led to another slightly different piece of work. The cafe needed someone bright and bubbly to be their sampler – someone to grab the attention of passers-by and offer them a taste of the delicious coffees that awaited inside. He fitted the bill, complete with a fake Italian accent. Once again, he really enjoyed the work. Once again it fitted in with his criteria that met his wants and needs between acting jobs. Once again, he turned out to be a natural.

Then the cafe offered him a gig at their sister restaurant in another part of town. Because it didn’t meet his criteria of being close by, he suggested a fellow actor fill the gig. His personal recommendation was welcomed because of the good reputation he’d established. Once again, the actor turned out to be a natural, which is when Jonny had his Big Realisation – that creative performers like himself were well suited to this type of work.

Now although Jonny had this Big Realisation, he didn’t act on it immediately. His Big Reaction comes later in his story. This was because he had a Big Acting gig. He had successfully auditioned for a part in a West End production, and was busy rehearsing, ahead of his performance.

Then the pandemic hit, and all theatres closed, bringing his acting gig to an abrupt halt. That same halt affected any café and restaurant gigs he might have fallen back on, as they too were closed.

However, there were a few cafés and restaurants that were able to diversify quickly, and as a result were able to reopen. This was because they began to serve frontline workers with both take outs and deliveries of coffees and meals. Jonny knew it was time for his Big Reaction. These cafes and restaurants needed help in sharing and spreading the word of their new initiative, and Jonny knew he was the right man for the gig.

And it went much further than that, as Jonny began to connect the dots all across London, looking at what he could achieve for himself and his friends. He began to connect cafés and restaurants and his fellow actors, ensuring a win/win for everyone. The cafés’ and restaurants’ initiatives attracted great attention through the creative marketing that the actors brought to their work. Like Jonny they were likeable, energetic and entertaining. And the security of the work allowed the actors to keep the bills paid, and the lights on, during this time of great uncertainty. 

Jonny knew he could go even further with this initiative, because he had another Big Realisation, and that was that recruiting actors in this way was a legitimate business model. He already had the supply chain for businesses who wanted to hire, and he had the workers, or partners, as he preferred to think of them, in his fellow actors.

Needing help in managing his present, while creating his future, he reached for the:

Book Wisdom

Of Mission Possible by Ken Blanchard and Terry Waghorn. The following words from the back cover resonated with Jonny: “Managing your present organisation while you’re creating a world-class future – that’s your mission – should you and your organisation choose to accept it.” The book is written as a parable. 

Sage Wisdom

“The quickest way to increase dignity, meaning and community in a workplace is to involve people in redesigning their work. That is also the shortest route – in the long run – to lower cost, higher quality, and more satisfied customers.” Marvin Weisbord.

These words from the first chapter spoke to Jonny, as did the following thinking from Blanchard and Waghorn: “We think the only way leaders and working people can effectively enter the future is as partners. People who work must become full participants in the process of determining how their working conditions and the nature of their tasks can be improved in the short run (the present) and the long run (the future).”

In the parable, the manager says to the interviewee: “We’ve learnt over the years that most people in the world of work have more creative energy and brain power than they use on the job. If we can tap into and focus some of this discretionary energy on improving our present operation or designing our future, the payoff can be tremendous. Consequently, we say that everyone in our organisation has two jobs. One is his or her ‘day job’ – in some way helping to provide customers with high quality products and services. Second, each person has a ‘transformation job.’ In this capacity you’d be playing on one of two teams. If you join our company, we want to offer you a choice of which of these two teams you wish to join.”

“The first team we call a ‘P Team.’ The P stands for Present. A P Team has the job of revising our present organisation so that we can be more responsive to our customers today. Its focus is on improvement. The second team is an ‘F Team.’ The F stands for Future. The task of an F Team is to create the future by imagining what customers and markets will be like then. Its focus is on innovation. Both teams operate at the same time. We see the work of these two teams as being the only way we can achieve our goal of becoming a world-class organisation. You can help us do that.”

The manager then hands the interviewee a card and says: “To help you decide which team you want to play on, read over this list of questions and see what you think.”

FOCUS QUESTIONS

  • Which has more appeal for you – improving what is or creating what isn’t?
  • Do you see yourself as more of a maintenance engineer or an architect?
  • Are you more interested in doing things right or doing the right things?
  • Would you prefer to tune a carburettor or build a rocket ship?
  • Would you rather implement a direction or determine it?
  • Would you rather produce results now or design how they’ll be produced in the future?

The manager goes on to say: “If you prefer the first choice in each question, you would probably want to join a P Team, but if the second choice is more enticing, membership on an F Team might be more attractive. Both teams are vital to our organisation. You can only be on one team, though, so take some time to think it over. If you decide to join us, I’ll need your answer within a few days.”

Epilogue

This is exactly the approach Jonny took in building his team. Drawing from the wisdom, learning and knowledge he gleaned from the book, he posed these questions to his fellow actors, asking them to allow the self-feedback they received through the answers to inform them whether they wanted to join the P Team or the F Team, in their quest to manage their present and create a world-class future together, in navigating the uncertainty, that is a certainty for actors.

Today’s book of the blog is: Mission Possible by Ken Blanchard and Terry Waghorn.

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. 

You can learn more about Jonny’s story in How To Self Coach Direct and Lead Effectively by Carmel O’Reilly, along with the other stories featured in the book. This book is part of the:

School of WorkLife Series of Books

In each book I tell stories which are based on real WorkLife situations. I share the exercises that helped the people in the stories work through their challenging situations to resolve their dilemmas. I present these as assignments for you to work through to create your unique stories. 

Each book is available from Amazon in Kindle Format and from SendOwl in PDF Format.

Click the link below to find out more about School of WorkLife Books & Affiliate Programme:

Look to the Future with Confidence and Optimism By Taking Control of Your Own WorkLife Learning, Growth and Development Through Personal Off-Sites, and a Joie De Vivre List of Places To Go, People to Be With, and Things to Do, by Carmel O’ Reilly

On a cold snowy night at the beginning of January, Aisling boarded the Night Riviera sleeper train at Paddington, London, on her way to St. Ives in Cornwall. It was exactly one year since her original intended trip. One she had planned to go on with her closest friend Norma; but sadly and unexpectedly, Norma passed away a few weeks before their trip. Feeling unable to take the trip without her dear friend, so soon after her death, Aisling vowed to take it in her memory, and to do the things they’d planned to do by way of remembering and celebrating the joy that Norma brought to life, her own and other people’s. Norma had a joy of living, and indeed had a Joie De Vivre list of places she wanted to go to, people she wanted to be with, and things she wanted to do. Aisling also had a list, and they’d cross reference joys they both wanted to experience, then plan and scheme to make them happen.

Together with remembering and celebrating the joy that Norma brought to life, Aisling was also going to take time on her trip to think about what she wanted in her future. Her intention was to create space to think long term about what really matters in the greater scheme of things, then work backwards from that to make it happen.  She was embarking on the first of what she planned would be ongoing quarterly off-sites with herself. Time and space to work on her Go, Be, Do list, her Joie De Vivre for all areas of her WorkLife. 

Look to the Future with Confidence and Optimism by Taking Control of Your Own WorkLife Learning, Growth and Development Through Personal Off-Sites, and a Joie De Vivre List of Places to Go, People to Be With, and Things to Do. A Case Study:

Look To The Future With Confidence

Book Wisdom

Aisling had brought the book Your WorkLife Your Way: Make Your WorkLife Work For You by Carmel O’ Reilly on her trip to work through.

Having already completed Part I: Getting To Know Yourself and Part II: Your Superpowers, Aisling picked up at Part III: Setting Your Intentions, and began from where she’d left off on Chapter 10: Creating Your Shorter and Longer Term WorkLife Plan.

Words of Wisdom

“You can’t predict. You can prepare.” Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance.

Because of everything that happened over the previous year, first losing her friend Norma, then the pandemic hitting, and the impact that had to Aisling’s WorkLife and way of living, this quote at the beginning of the chapter resonated with her. And it reminded her of the:

Sage Wisdom

You live only once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” Joe Lewis

Aisling started with the Creating Your Longer Term WorkLife Assignment by beginning to think about her dreams and aspirations. She did this by asking herself: What she will be doing at the pinnacle of her WorkLife – when she’s feeling challenged, engaged and not wanting anything else. 

Her answer was that she wanted to be making a living from her writing, and she wanted to achieve this by following her dream: “To spread the power of WorkLives lived with Passion, Purpose and Pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning, development and growth programmes that are accessible to everyone, everywhere, at all times.”  As well as the books and online programmes she wrote, she also had ideas for films and TV shows she wanted to write. This is what she believed would give her the sense of feeling challenged, engaged and not wanting anything else.

To help her understand her dream, her aspirations, her bigger picture, she asked herself:

What size company do I imagine working for?

There was a time when Aisling thought she would grow her business into something big, but that had changed over time. She now knew she wanted to keep it small, to work independently, and to collaborate as needed with other independent workers or small businesses in their fields. It wasn’t that Aisling was against working with big companies, she just didn’t want to grow her own company big. And she wanted to create books and programmes that were accessible to individuals who managed their own learning, development and growth, which of course companies of all sizes could offer to the individuals that made up their workforce. The key was to keep her products – books, and services – online courses, and in time (hopefully) live-streaming films and TV shows, affordable. So that even in the hardest of times, through downturns in the economy, individuals could still afford to access them, and companies could still offer them to their individual employees, without draining their learning and development budgets, because they were still affordable.

What industry do I want to be in?

That was easy – Education.

Do I want to be in a very individual contributor type role or a management-type role?

Definitely a very individual contributor-type role. That was the role Aisling had always navigated towards. In recent years her work had demanded a more management-type role in some aspects, and Aisling really didn’t like it. It wasn’t that she couldn’t do it, or that she was bad at it, she simply didn’t enjoy it, and it would at times cause her to be slightly anxious at best, and totally stressed out at worst. However, she did enjoy collaborating with people on various aspects of her work – just as long as they self-managed their work.

Aisling then moved on to the next assignment: Create Your WorkLife Action Plan

As directed, as she went about her daily WorkLife, she continued to reflect on what all of this means through the self-feedback she gave herself. She began her outline from the key points she’d gleaned from answering these questions, then she took whatever clarity that came to her over the remaining days of her short-break, her off-site with herself to add more details to her outline. 

Aisling did this alongside remembering and celebrating the life of her dear friend Norma. She had re-booked Carbis Bay Hotel for her stay, which Norma had recommended one year earlier, because it was her favourite hotel (https://www.carbisbayhotel.co.uk). She had re-booked lunch at Porthminster Beach Cafe, another recommendation and favourite of Norma’s (https://www.porthminstercafe.co.uk), and everyday she walked along the beaches of St. Ives and explored the galleries, museums and shops of the town, discovering cafes and pubs along the way. Everything she would have done with Norma, she did in her memory, to which she raised a cup or a glass at every watering hole she stopped at, before she caught the Night Rivera sleeper train back to London (https://bit.ly/38may5j) ready to look the future with confidence and optimism, determined to continue to take control of her own WorkLife learning, development and growth. She was already planning her next quarterly personal off-site, and until then she had her Joie De Vivre List of Places To Go, People To Be With, and Things To Do, to work (and play) through.

Epilogue

To remind her of what she wanted to achieve, and how she wanted to go about achieving this, every day Aisling recited the poem:

Don’t Just

Don’t just learn, experience.

Don’t just read, absorb.

Don’t just change, transform.

Don’t just relate, advocate.

Don’t just promise, prove.

Don’t just criticise, encourage.

Don’t just think, ponder.

Don’t just take, give.

Don’t just see, feel.

Don’t just dream, do. 

Don’t just hear, listen.

Don’t just talk, act.

Don’t just tell, show.

Don’t just exist, live.

Roy T. Bennett

Today’s book of the blog is: Your WorkLife Your Way: Make Your WorkLife Work For You by Carmel O’ Reilly.

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. 

New Years Eve Tales: Stories of Acts of Kindness that Led to Building a Community of Caring and Connectivity & The Book Wisdom Book Club, By Carmel O’ Reilly

A New Year is almost here

A new life chapter about to begin

A time to raise a glass and cheer

Shared stories that warm our hearts within 

Stories of simple acts of kindness 

That showed people really cared

Acts that took away the loneliness 

At a time when people were feeling scared

New Year’s Eve Tales: Stories of Acts of Kindness That Led to Building a Community of Caring and Connectivity & The Book Wisdom Book Club: A Case Study

Kindness & Community

It was the lull before the New Year’s Eve celebrations would begin. Together with the rest of the team, Aisling had spent the afternoon preparing the warehouse for a night of partying and fireworks. As they sat around the table, they each raised a glass in celebration of the friendships that had come about in response to coming together to help rebuild their community, following the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives and the community businesses. They each started to share their story of how they had been connected through acts of kindness.

Aisling began by telling how an act of kindness by Lulu had connected them. Living alone in a studio flat, in a house that didn’t have a garden or outdoor space of any kind, throughout the lockdown Aisling made it a priority to visit a nearby garden at the end of each afternoon, and sit and read awhile. The garden was located in the grounds of a churchyard, and Aisling always navigated towards a bench that nestled in the shade of a grove of trees. Most days Lulu would arrive and sit on the other end of the same bench. They began to acknowledge each other, first with a nod and a smile, then a greeting, followed by a longer exchange, and onto a conversation. One day the conversation led to lockdown birthdays, when Aisling shared that she had a birthday coming up in a few days’ time. When Lulu asked what she would miss most in her lockdown birthday, Aisling shared how she had lost her closest friend, Norma, at the end of the previous year, and how she would miss seeing her arrive to spend time together, as they did on their respective birthdays. Norma would always call out to Aisling as she arrived, smiling and waving, arms full of flowers, because she knew how much Aisling loved having fresh flowers in her home. 

Aisling thought no more about the conversation, until her birthday, when sitting on her  favourite park bench she heard her name being called, and looking up she saw Lulu smiling and waving, her arms full of flowers. Aisling said she was blown away by both Lulu’s act of kindness, and the beauty of the flowers Lulu had arranged.

Lulu shared how she believed flowers had saved her life. She’d had lots of ups and downs in her life. Growing up with strict parents, she’d run away from home in her teens, she’d lived in a squat before becoming homeless and at times had slept rough. She’d neglected her health and as a result developed chronic fatigue. Her friend, Adam, offered her a room in his home to recover and convalesce. Adam worked as a cleaner at the local hospital, and everyday he’d arrive home with flowers – flowers that patients had left behind when they’d left the hospital, flowers that had a few more days of life in them.

With the little energy she had, Lulu began to arrange the flowers in her room. She did so in an amazingly beautiful way, and it soon became apparent that she had a wonderful flair with flowers. In a matter of days her room had become a sanctuary, and this is where Lulu believed flowers had saved her life. She felt that the few days of life remaining in each new daily bunch of flowers that Adam brought had, gave her more strength and as a result restored her life. She felt flowers had deep inner-healing properties. Gradually Lulu regained more strength, but her chronic fatigue never fully left her, and she had to be mindful in taking care of herself, particularly around keeping hydrated, because dehydration would bring about dizziness and cause her to feel faint.

As she went about her daily WorkLife, she would always make time for people she knew to be homeless. She had been there herself, and without knowing people’s individual stories, Lulu could relate to their circumstances. She got to know Charlie who sold the Big Issue outside her local underground station, she bought a copy from him every week. In between times, she always had a kind word for him, would buy him a sandwich or a drink, or whatever she could do to help. 

Then one day as Lulu was walking past Charlie, she collapsed. Because of Covid-19, she’d been avoiding public transport, and was walking everywhere instead. It was a sweltering hot day, and she’d become dehydrated because she hadn’t drunk enough water, causing her to feel dizzy, and then to faint. Charlie came running towards her, and before she lost consciousness she remembered him grabbing her bag, then running away. Lulu’s bag had been robbed before, and she remembered thinking, oh no, Charlie, please not my bag, it’s got my life in it. But she didn’t have the energy to talk or react. The next thing she remembered on gaining consciousness, was seeing Charlie together with a police officer and a couple of medical people who were standing over her. Charlie held out a big bottle of water to her, and then handed her back her bag. He had run to the supermarket and bought her a bottle of water. Along the way he had stopped to tell a police officer what had happened, and he had asked him to call an ambulance. He had taken her bag, because he knew she had her life in it, and was afraid someone would rob her when he left her alone. Lulu said Charlie’s quick thinking and act of kindness had helped save her, and had also restored her belief that there were really good people in the world.

Charlie shared how he had become homeless. An investment banker, he had lost his job a couple of years earlier. He had been living a life outside of his means and had incurred significant debt, partly due to his extravagant lifestyle and partly due to his addiction to gambling. He had hid all of this both at work and at home from his wife, but when his debtors caught up with him, his home, car and everything he owned was repossessed. Because he worked in banking, his employers were notified because of the credit checks they randomly carried out on all employees, and as a result he lost his job. His wife had wanted to stand by him, but he said the shame he felt had led him to a downward spiral of constant drinking, which in turn had caused him to push her away. Over time, with the help of Big Issue, Charlie was slowly beginning to rebuild his life.

Then when Covid-19 struck, Charlie was forced to leave his pitch. He was accommodated in a local hotel, which had opened its doors to both frontline workers and rough sleepers. He had access to health support, daily welfare and food deliveries. Gary, who was in charge of the food deliveries and managed all of the volunteers, asked Charlie if he could help out. Gary demonstrated to Charlie what he needed to do, which was to pack each of the lunch bags, ready for the volunteers delivering to pick up. He in effect gave Charlie responsibility and then trusted him to do it. Gary also asked Charlie to add anyone he knew who would benefit from a nutritious lunch to their list of deliveries. Charlie mentioned a few of the men who slept at the hotel, who he met every afternoon at the churchyard garden, and asked if he could bring them their lunch at the end of his shift. Gary said yes. Having been shown such kindness, and then been given the gift of trust, made Charlie feel like a human being again. It had been a long time since he felt that. It had been a long time since someone had shown trust in him.

Gary told the story of how he had become involved in the food deliveries and managing the volunteers. As owner of a local restaurant, they closed their doors at the beginning of the pandemic, but very quickly reopened them. At first the team began to prepare lunch packs for staff at the local hospital. Very quickly they came to realise that they could do a lot more. As a local business owner, Gary knew his fellow business owners, in particular the hotel owners and managers who were opening their doors to both key workers and homeless people. Gary suggested he and his team prepare and drop off lunch packs at the hotels each day, to be distributed among those staying, and that was how that got underway. He then became aware of people living in the community who were self-isolating, who would also benefit from a healthy lunch. There was more demand than he and his team could meet, so he approached fellow restaurant owners to join in and help out. They were more than happy to do so, and to meet the growing demand of deliveries, Gary began to recruit more volunteers to help pack and deliver. 

One day as Gary was driving past the churchyard gardens, he dropped Charlie off with the lunch packs for his friends. On noticing there were tennis courts within the gardens, Gary parked up and got out to walk around and explore. Tennis was a passion Gary shared with his wife, Catherine, who had passed away five years earlier. Grief-stricken Gary had thrown himself into his restaurant, leaving no time for anything but work. As Gary approached the courts a familiar voice called out to him. It was Marco, the manager at one of the hotels Gary was working with on the lunch packs distribution. Tennis being one of the initial games people were allowed to play during lockdown, Marco suggested they meet to play. Gary declined, saying he was too busy. But Marco wasn’t one to give up, so he booked a court anyway, turned up at Gary’s restaurant the next day, with rackets in hand, and wouldn’t leave until Gary went upstairs to his apartment, put on his sportswear and came with him. Marco also didn’t stop at one game. He signed them both up as doubles partners to play in the summer tournament about to begin, turning up ahead of each game to pick him up, so Gary couldn’t cancel or back out. When he lost Catherine, he had cut everything and everybody out of his life, throwing himself into his restaurant and his work, and then when the pandemic hit, and he could no longer do that, he threw himself into the lunch initiative and helping others. He also needed help, but he would never have asked for it. He knew that Marco knew that, and while he wasn’t explicit in saying he was doing this to help Gary, that was exactly what he was doing. Gary shared that Marco’s insistence and persistence, and not giving up on him, was the act of kindness he needed.

Born in Milan, Marco had moved to London seven years earlier. Having studied hotel management in Italy, after five years of working at a leading hotel chain in London, two years earlier he had become manager at the boutique hotel he was currently with in Shoreditch. He enjoyed living and working in Shoreditch, and life was good.

Then at the beginning of the pandemic, he lost both of his grandparents. They were in their eighties, and were among the thousands of Italy’s relatively older population that succumbed to the virus before people realised what was happening. Marco loved his grandparents dearly. He was saddened and shocked, he hadn’t had time to say goodbye to them, and then the Italian government introduced lockdown, which meant Marco couldn’t travel home to attend their funerals. Actually, none of his family could, not even those living close by, because funerals were banned in Italy, robbing his family of the chance to say a final goodbye. His family felt that the pandemic had killed twice, first his grandparents were isolated from those they loved before they died, then it didn’t allow anyone to get closure. 

Marco looked on with the rest of the world in shock as the number of deaths grew day on day in Italy. Nobody had thought this could happen in Europe, but of course a few weeks later, and the UK was seeing the same numbers. Feeling helpless, Marco had thrown himself into his work, then when the hotel faced closure because of the pandemic, he immediately opened it up to both frontline workers and rough sleepers. He had to keep busy, and helping other people was the only way he knew how. Throughout this time he ran every day. It was another thing that allowed him to cope, and then as soon as the government announced people could pay tennis, he went along to book a court. He wanted and needed something else, something that was interactive, that was away from work. Seeing Gary at the court, he immediately saw in him what he was experiencing himself: a loneliness, which is why he insisted and persisted and didn’t give up on him. 

It was a few months later when Marco met Giulia. When he hadn’t a tennis game, he had taken to coming and sitting in the garden alone with his thoughts. Giulia, recognising he was Italian, on greeting, sat next to him to drink her coffee, and began to chat. In her seventies, she had been isolating and was just coming out of lockdown. She had felt quite lonely, having not been able to see her children and grandchildren, even though they lived close by. She was counting the days until they could meet again. Giulia asked Marco about his family, and he opened up to her about having lost his grandparents, and the pain he had felt. Being Italian, Giulia understood more deeply than perhaps even Marco’s closest friends did. All of his friends had been really supportive, but there was something about Italians, Italian families and Italian funerals that only Italian people really understood. 

Giulia, sitting quietly just listening, gave Marco the space to talk, to really talk and to open up and to share everything he had been bottling up inside of him. And then he began to cry. He began to release the deep sadness he had been carrying around. And it felt good. As they left the garden together, Giulia asked if they could stay in touch, maybe have a coffee together some time. She said it would help with her from feeling so lonely. Marco knew this was true, and he also knew she was doing this not only for her own loneliness but for his loneliness too. Marco said Giulia’s act of kindness in giving him the space he needed to open up about his grandparents, and to release the deep sadness he had been holding inside of him, and then caring enough not to leave him alone with his loneliness was what he needed, even though he didn’t admit to needing it.

Giulia had found self-isolating hard, not being able to see her children and grandchildren was really hard. She found the days long and lonely. Although she walked every day, it was lonely, she was alone. London was a lonely place, and Shoreditch felt particularly lonely. Being in her seventies, she felt invisible. On her daily walks nobody ever acknowledged or engaged with her. She missed her family so much, she missed being around people who saw her, and who took time to talk to her. She would prolong her walks by stopping in the church garden, and sit and just people watch. Nobody ever engaged with her. Once again she felt invisible, she felt lonely, but at least it meant less time home alone. Even though people didn’t talk to her, she was among people.

Then one day as she was finishing her walk and heading towards the church garden, she came across a cafe that was selling takeout coffee. Joining the queue, the woman next to her turned and smiled and said hello. It was the first time in weeks Giulia had interacted with anyone. Giulia ordered her coffee and the woman said, “let me get that”, and she paid for it. She then introduced herself. Her name was Aisling. They chatted a little more and discovered they both lived in Shoreditch. As they walked together towards the church garden, Aisling mentioned she visited there most afternoons, but today she needed to get home to finish something she was working on. Giulia said she hoped they’d meet again for a coffee, and Aisling said she’d like that.

It was Aisling smiling and talking to Giulia that prompted Giulia to smile and talk to Marco. The simple but profound ripple effect of a smile. Giulia said Aisling’s act of kindness in first turning and smiling at her, then talking to her, and then buying her coffee, made her feel visible again; and discovering they both lived in Shoreditch made her feel a little less lonely. She said these simple acts had a really profound impact on her. 

And those were their stories of how they had been connected through acts of kindness. This connectiveness developed into friendships as they came together to build a community of caring and connectivity in a place that wasn’t known for caring and connectivity. 

Epilogue

The group had formed a book club. The reasons were two-fold:

  1. For social interaction and connectivity, coming together over a shared interest of reading;
  2. To apply learning from literature to everyday work and life

Each of them took turns to suggest a book. They still had a little time before people would arrive for the New Year’s Eve party, and so they took a few moments to discuss the:

Book Wisdom

They had taken from The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey, which Gary had suggested reading. 

Gary said he suggested the book because tennis had helped him rebuild his life, and that because the tennis courts were connected to the churchyard garden, which was the connection they all shared, that there seemed to him to be importance in that too. Because their connectivity had brought them together with a purpose of rebuilding the lives of people and businesses in their community

He went on to share what he believed were:

Words of Wisdom

On The Inner Game of Tennis: “It is much more than an approach to tennis: it is a whole philosophy of life.” Maurice Yaffe, Psychology Today.

Aisling said because of her work in helping people learn, develop and grow in their WorkLife, she had always been fascinated how people’s inner talk, their inner voices led to them sabotaging themselves. And that she thought Gallwey’s search for practical ways to overcome mental obstacles that prevent maximum performance was really interesting.

Charlie said he recognised the game he was playing in his own mind, against its own bad habits. He spoke about how Gary showing trust in him to get on with the work that was needed in getting the lunch packs ready had given him back confidence in himself, which he had lost. The book allowed him to recognise that his lack of confidence was an elusive opponent, and that he had other elusive opponents, such as low self-esteem. He said he was using this self-awareness together with asking himself questions from the book, for example: How good can I get? Then reflecting on that, and through self-feedback, which in effect are new voices in his head, to use this to guide him in knowing the answer. He said he was learning that he can get good at things, and for now that was good enough.

Lulu said the elusive opponents also resonated with her. She recognised hers to be nervousness, self-doubt and lapses of concentration. She knew the importance of maintaining good health and well-being, and in particular ensuring she was always hydrated, because that helped with her concentration. She spoke about how the work she’d been involved in with the community was helping her self-doubt. She had never felt she had anything to offer in her WorkLife. She didn’t consider herself to have any skills. But the demand for her flower arranging in the community workplaces and at events was disproving her self-doubt, and working with flowers was alleviating her nervousness. Her belief that flowers had deep inner healing properties was being reinforced.

Giulia said the book served to reinforce for her what she had learnt from her first interactions with Aisling and Marco, and that was she needed to let go of self-judgements. She had judged herself to be invisible because of her age, she had judged London and in particular Shoreditch to be a lonely place, but she recognised she had in fact contributed to that invisibility and loneliness because she herself hadn’t interacted with people. She said the ripple effect of a simple smile remains one of the most profound things she had taken from everything that had happened in the last year, and that the learning she had taken from the book had reinforced that. 

Marco recognised that almost every human activity involves both the outer and inner games talked about in the book. He recognised there are always external obstacles between us and our external goals, whether we are seeking to spend time with those we love, but our work demands too much of our time to allow that, or we’re struck by a pandemic that we hadn’t seen coming. And the inner obstacles are always there too: regret for not visiting his grandparents more often was causing difficulties for him from within. He recognised he had to let go of judging himself, in the knowledge that he had his grandparents for a long time and they’d shared wonderful times together. With this same knowledge he knew he would never again allow work demands to stop him from spending time with those he loved.

Aisling shared what she believed was:

Sage Wisdom

That there is a need to ask different questions to get to new places. Questions to help people see themselves in a new light, to tell their story, to help them pivot.

She suggested as a group that this is something they could take away from this book club meeting, and from the stories they had shared of how they had been connected through acts of kindness. Something they could each ponder on, and from the self-feedback that came from that, they could share their thoughts when they next met. She suggested they could do this by way of beginning to think about how they can use the discoveries they’re making about themselves, together with the wisdom they’re gaining from the books they’re reading and the stories they’re sharing, that will help them to help their community. That ripple effect that Giulia spoke about of connecting, whether that’s through a smile, a kind word, a conversation or the sharing of learning, experiences, knowledge and stories. 

Today’s book of the blog is: The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey

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. 

You can learn more about the WorkLife Book Club community member’s stories in How To Use Turning Points To Start Something Different And Better by Carmel O’Reilly, along with the other stories featured in the book. This book is part of the:

School of WorkLife Series of Books

In each book I tell stories which are based on real WorkLife situations. I share the exercises that helped the people in the stories work through their challenging situations to resolve their dilemmas. I present these as assignments for you to work through to create your unique stories. 

Each book is available from Amazon in Kindle Format and from SendOwl in PDF Format.

Click the link below to find out more about School of WorkLife Books & Affiliate Programme:

The Ghosts of Christmas Present, Future, and Past and an Alternative Timeline, by Carmel O’ Reilly

‘Twas the night-shift before Christmas and all through the warehouse 

the team were quietly working to the festive music of Strauss.

Each lost in their thoughts of the year that had passed.

Each thankful for all lives that hadn’t breathed their last.

While each one focused on the task in hand,

their mind couldn’t but wander to where their future might land.

For now they were thankful for interaction, food and a bed,

tomorrow they could think about the unknown road ahead.

The Ghosts of Christmas Present, Future and Past and an Alternative Timeline: A Case Study

Present Future Past & An Alternative Timeline

With all the preparation to bring the community together on Christmas Day complete, Aisling reached for her journal, as she did every night before falling asleep. She had developed a practice of reflecting on her day, expressing gratitude for everything that was good in her life, while also thinking about what could be better. What she wanted to remain constant and what she wanted to change. For herself and for others.

Covid-19 had taught her about the need to build an enterprise in a way that made it anti-fragile. The pandemic had demonstrated there is so little that we have within our control. Wanting to find a way to navigate the unknown, through journaling Aisling had explored what her future could be, She asked herself what she wanted it to be, what were the new things she wanted to discover, and what were the things she wanted to bring with her that she already had. Through journaling Aisling had reminisced about her past. In the knowledge that life and life plans can change in an instant, Aisling also journaled on alternative endings.

Aisling began to read the journal entries she had made over the previous months, which brought back to mind where she had begun the most recent chapter of her WorkLife from, to the changes she had made in the present, to the dream and vision she had for her future, to the nostalgic trip she had taken back to her past, and to the pondering of the possible alternatives to the life events that had occurred.

True to the meaning of her name, Aisling always had a dream and vision for her future, however that had changed over the last year, and in many ways not only was Aisling ending her year differently to how she had envisioned, she was also beginning a new year with remnants of uncertainty as to what her future would hold. She had learnt not to take anything for granted again, and she was grateful for that, because it had helped her to recognise and appreciate all that had been good throughout her life; and also to embrace the unknown, the unexpected, and the uncertainty by doing what she could, with who she was, and what she had, learning through it and from it, then moving on.

When lockdown had first happened, Aisling’s work had immediately stopped. On the one hand as a freelance educator this caused her concern as to how she would survive financially; on the other hand she figured as she wouldn’t need to spend money on anything other than her basic living expenses, and by adopting a frugal approach, she would get through it. So, she decided to use the time that she couldn’t go out to deliver her existing work, to focus on developing new work, so she could hit the ground running when things got moving again. 

This simple shift in how she chose to navigate the situation took her to the place she enjoyed most: a place of learning. The inspiration in creating her education programmes came from a lifelong passion for learning, and having helped people through previous economic downturns, she had learnt that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

Aisling’s belief and value in the importance of learning from people, companies and industries across all walks of WorkLife, brought her to Masterclass – an online education platform on which students can access tutorials and lectures pre-recorded by experts in various fields (www.masterclass.com).

Exploring the classes brought her to Science and Technology and to Chris Hadfield, a retired astronaut who teaches a class on Space Exploration. As she worked through the course, the following words spoke to Aisling, and she considered them to be:

Sage Wisdom

Chris Hadley is ultimately optimistic in the face of adversity. He believes that humans and life itself are tough, that our planet is tough, and that you should deliberately pursue the things that you think are worthy, in spite of the risks. Seeing Earth from space gives him optimism for how rugged and ancient our planet is, and gives him hope for the future of life on Earth.

Wanting to learn more about astronauts and their philosophy on WorkLife led Aisling to discovering two books.

Book Wisdom

The first book was: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: Life Lessons from Space by Chris Hadfield. Hadfield attributes the secret to his success and survival to an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst – and enjoy every moment of it. He takes readers deep into his years of space training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible.

The second book was: Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly. 

Words of Wisdom

“Enter Scott Kelly’s fascinating world and dare to think of your own a little differently.”

These words were enough to get Aisling on board on a journey into an unfamiliar and different world, a world she knew she could learn and gain much wisdom from. 

Kelly’s humanity, compassion, humour and passion shines as he describes navigating the extreme challenge of long-term spaceflight, both existential and banal. He talks about the sadness of being isolated from everyone he loves, and the still haunting threat of being absent should tragedy strike at home.

Along the path of Aisling’s learning, she discovered the concept of mastering the art of time travel, specifically mental time travel. Through the powers of self-awareness and observation, recognising and acknowledging what was happening in the present – this is what led Aisling to begin her daily journaling practice. Fast forwarding to think about the future, rewinding to think about the past, and using counter-factual thinking to transport herself to an alternative timeline.  All of this had given Aisling the capacity to find meaning in the mundane and happiness in the midst of sadness, and make time pass faster or slower at will.

As Aisling began reading her journal entries, moving away from her present, the first destination for her mental time machine was to the future. She had imagined how she wanted to feel when her trip as an educator was over, when her WorkLife experience ends, and not just what she wanted to accomplish. 

Aisling had learnt from Hadfield and Kelly that a mental trip to the future can help us to think less about the monotonous ‘how’ of our days and more about the meaningful ‘why’. We’re able to get out of the dull weeds of the process and shift our attention to an exciting purpose. The further ahead we look, the easier it is to tell a coherent story about our experience. One of the challenges of the current pandemic is that we don’t know when our mission will end, but we do know it isn’t endless, it will end.

Hadfield’s and Kelly’s teaching had encouraged Aisling to ponder on the following thinking and questions, which she’d reflected on over the course of the year, which had allowed her to give herself the feedback to do what she wanted and needed to do:

  • Think about how you want to feel when this crisis is over. 
  • How do you want to have gone through it? 

Hadfield and Kelly said: “You might still find yourself worrying about what is going to happen in between, but worrying isn’t a bad thing, astronauts have to think about, ok what is the next worst thing that could happen to us now? And how do we react and respond to that? Worrying is basically an attempt at problem solving – ok what could go wrong, what’s the next worst thing, how could I avoid that. Rumination is when you get stuck in a loop and worrying about the situation but not trying to act in the face of it. Bad things can happen, we don’t have control over them but we can prepare for them. Add worry time to your daily schedule – 15 minutes for rumination.”

That was exactly what Aisling had done in her daily journaling. She journaled on the answers to each of these questions, she journaled on the worries these brought up, she journaled on how she could react or respond. 

Aisling wanted to feel equipped for the future, and she also wanted to feel a sense of serenity. Throughout her life she had always been a serene person, but she had somehow lost that part of herself over recent years, and she wanted to get it back. She wanted to go through the crisis with a sense of serenity. Being alone through the enforced self-isolation helped Aisling to begin to regain this. 

Learning was the key to equipping Aisling with everything she needed – learning in the present, learning from her past, would give her what she needed for the future. In previous downturns the first thing companies cut was their education and training budgets. As a result people’s learning, growth and development was negatively impacted. Aisling’s dream and vision were to create continuous WorkLife development programmes that are accessible to everyone, at all times. 

Then she thought about silver linings, aspects of being remote that she was going to miss:

  • Having more alone time; 
  • Having more flexible time; 
  • Not having to travel or commute; 
  • Not having to change out of pyjamas!

Imagining these silver linings in the future makes them feel scarce and leads to appreciating them more in the present.

Aisling’s second destination for her mental time machine was to go to the past. To think about her memories from her days as an educator.  Throughout the lockdown when people asked her what she missed about delivering her work, she would reply, it was the people she was there with – the people who helped her deliver the work, who had also helped her develop it, and the people who booked and participated in her events. It was also the sense of purpose all of that had given her. She was feeling a strong sense of nostalgia, 

She had learnt that the Greek words for nostalgia are return and pain – the pain of being unable to return to the past. Travelling in her mental time machine, Aisling felt happier when she did return to those places. It gave her a stronger connection to others, together with more willingness to give and seek help. 

Being a freelance educator had caused Aisling to become fiercely independent. While at times she collaborated with people, ultimately she was responsible for how successful her WorkLife was. As a freelancer there are always highs and lows – the highs being so busy with work meant she didn’t have time for people, and the lows when she had little or no work meant she’d retreat from people, because she had to focus on somehow getting work in, in order to survive.

Aisling had grown up with a strong sense of community – family, friends and colleagues once she had begun her WorkLife. When she had first moved from Ireland to London she had maintained this, but over the years she had somehow lost that sense of belonging. She lived in Shoreditch – a vibrant part of London, but a part of town that didn’t seem to have a sense of community, that was partly because there were more business properties than residential homes. But that said, Aisling hadn’t taken time to explore the community, she had kept herself to herself. Reflecting on, and reminiscing about her past, allowed her to know she needed to meet and learn about the people in her neighbourhood and to find a way to become involved in her community. 

Aisling had gained a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in life, by thinking about nostalgic events in her WorkLife. In particular the smaller things she had before the pandemic, but no longer had. For Aisling it was sitting in cafes reading and writing, being in restaurants with friends, short breaks every now and then to escape the hustle and bustle of London life.  Remising about those moments was bittersweet but the aftertaste was sweet, it motivated her to make the most of the present, and as soon as it was allowed, to begin to bring these things back into her WorkLife. When she did it was from a place of great appreciation, from a place of never taking the smaller things for granted again, from a place of recognising and valuing the simple things in life. 

This in turn allowed her to get to know the people behind the businesses in her neighbourhood. It began with the people behind the cafes and restaurants, and grew from there. It led Aisling to becoming more involved in community events, and to the event that was taking place tomorrow, which she was helping out on tonight. The Christmas community breakfast, lunch and dinner, a day of bringing people together though sharing food, interaction, and ensuring everyone had a bed for the night, at the end of the day. 

Hadley and Kelly said It doesn’t just help to remember pleasant memories from the past, it also helps to reflect on painful ones too. Aisling remembered the sadness of losing her closest friend, Norma, just over a year ago. And also how in time she had been able to move beyond this to remember all the happy times they’d shared together. She had learnt that death is part of life, and that there is life after death for those left behind. She had learnt that life can be taken away at any time, without any notice. She had learnt that life is for living.

Aisling’s third destination for her mental time machine was to transport herself to an alternative timeline, things that could have happened but didn’t – counter-factual thinking. Imagining how things could have been worse helps us find gratitude: for example, people graduating in a time of recession end up being happier with their jobs a decade later, because they could easily imagine a world where they’re unemployed, so they don’t take it for granted that they have jobs.

That Aisling, and everyone she cared about, had survived the pandemic was quite profound in allowing her to know how things could have been so much worse.

From the very beginning, going through the initial circumstances, Ailing knew they could have been a lot worse. Supermarkets had remained open, which gave people a greater appreciation for those people who kept things going. She recognised how much harder it would have been to work without the internet, and how much harder it would have been to have stayed connected without a phone. How much harder isolation would have been if she hadn’t been able to see the faces of her family as they stayed connected virtually.

Hadley and Kelly said for astronauts looking down from space, it seems like humanity is all part of one big team, and when you’re part of a team you need to work together to solve a problem. This virus has taught us, for better or worse, that we’re more interconnected than we realised. Teamwork is absolutely critical to get through this. We’re really fighting right now the greatest battle of our lives.

All of this had led to Aisling becoming part of a community. People began to come together to build a community of caring and connectivity in a place that wasn’t known for caring and connectivity. A place where people had been too busy with their own lives to stop and think about the lives of others. A place where people had been selfishly living their own lives. A place where people had somehow, somewhere, sometime stopped caring and connecting with their neighbours and their community. Aisling recognised she had played her part in contributing to this non-community. She recognised that by not connecting with people, had led her to not caring – if she didn’t know people, how could she care about them? 

The pandemic had changed people’s lives in this respect, it had changed Aisling, it had changed how she thought about herself as a business owner.- Albeit predominately a one-person business owner, Aisling was also a collaborator in her work. She now became a collaborator in her community, together with her fellow business owners and her neighbours. 

In the beginning Aisling and her collaborators didn’t know what they were doing, they were just working and letting the work teach them what they had to do next, and learning through and from that. They were looking for ideas, and then the resources to follow through with those ideas. Ideas and resources to build a community based on caring and connectivity. A community that was anti-fragile. 

The pandemic had brought about the desire for a collective, a community of moral thinking, imagination and problem solving. People started not from their perspective of what should be, but immersed themselves in the grounded reality of what was needed for what was. People got to know how their neighbours and their neighbourhood businesses had been impacted by the pandemic. Through this they got to understand what would work to help rebuild people’s lives and businesses. From this perspective, as a community people started to build support networks, and supply chains. 

And it was hard. People failed along the way, and the community failed with them. People had to get up again. As a community people helped by turning up, starting where they were, with who they were, and with what they had. With growing learning and knowledge, all the time rebuilding the community together. As a community they looked at better ways to support individuals and business owners in ways that was so much different to the broken systems put in place either by the government or the private sector, which so often excluded people who fell between the cracks. This included people who had found themselves without work because of the pandemic, some of whom had become homeless, adding to the growing number of rough sleepers around the streets of Shoreditch. 

Aisling’s knowledge, skills and experience helping people learn, develop and transition their WorkLives in times of change and uncertainty gave her the impetus to collaborate with her community to develop a fellowship programme. The foundation of this was to meet people’s basic social needs: a place to eat, interact and sleep. An online university was designed because they had to create new mindsets – a mindset that enabled a sense of belonging, helping rebuild self-esteem and confidence for those who had lost so much. A mindset that enabled a willingness to try, stumble, learn and adapt. A mindset that enabled anti-fragility.

Together the community took ownership of a derelict warehouse, together they worked to restore it to a place where people could come to eat, interact and sleep. Together the community was building a way forward, through caring and connectivity, that was striving towards anti-fragility. 

Epilogue

As Aisling closed her journal on the ghosts of her present, future, past and alternative timeline, she did so with a sense of serenity that came from knowing she was not alone. She not only had her ghosts to help her navigate her mental time machine, she also had a community of real people that she could help and be helped by. 

Today’s books of the blog are:  An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: Life Lessons from Space by Chris Hadfield, and Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly. 

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. 

You can learn more about Aisling’s story in How To Fine-Tune The Superpower of Observation by Carmel O’Reilly, along with the other stories featured in the book. This book is part of the:

School of WorkLife Series of Books

In each book I tell stories which are based on real WorkLife situations. I share the exercises that helped the people in the stories work through their challenging situations to resolve their dilemmas. I present these as assignments for you to work through to create your unique stories. 

Each book is available from Amazon in Kindle Format and from SendOwl in PDF Format.

Click the link below to find out more about School of WorkLife Books & Affiliate Programme:

What Are You Going to Be When You Grow Up? Or Maybe a Better Question Who Are You Going to Be at Your Next WorkLife Stage? By Carmel O’ Reilly

Roisin had never really found her place in her WorkLife. She had stumbled from one thing to another. She had reinvented herself so many times along her WorkLife journey, all the time she felt she was constantly reinventing herself for everyone else. People didn’t see her for who she really was, and Roisin couldn’t see it either.

But that was about to change, because there was a lot more to Roisin, as she was about to discover. But let’s back up a little to learn more about Roisin’s story.

A What Are You Going to Be When You Grow Up? Or Maybe a Better Question Who Are You Going to Be at Your Next WorkLife Stage? A Case Study

What Are You Going To Be?

From a young age, Roisin had always been very sociable. She loved bringing people together, and she had a talent for connecting people. She also loved entertaining people through music, song, dance and performing. People would laugh, and say: “Here comes Roisin, she belongs on the stage. She should be an actor, she just loves being the centre of attention.”

So Roisin went to the School of Musical Theatre, and although the idea was planted by what other people thought she should be when she grew up, Roisin really enjoyed it. And as much as she really enjoyed learning the different performance elements of acting, music, song and dance, what she enjoyed maybe even more was sharing her learning with the young students who attended Saturday classes at the Youth Music, Dance and Theatre School she taught at each weekend, which she’d undertaken to help fund her way through school.  The children and teenagers loved her bright, bubbly personality, and the attention she gave them, and they would gravitate towards her. Her colleagues would laugh and say: “She should be a Children’s Entertainer, she just loves all the attention.”

So on graduating, Roisin became a Children’s Entertainer, and was soon booked up for months in advance for parties. And although the idea was planted by what other people thought she should be when she grew up, Roisin really enjoyed it. And as much as she enjoyed the performance elements of the party, what she enjoyed maybe even more was that she was continuing to share her learning. Because her parties had a little twist: Roisin not only dressed up and performed herself, but all the children did too. She’d teach them a few techniques, giving each child a part to play, that drew out their skills and abilities, that would allow them to create a performance together. This culminated in an end of party performance, played to the adults attending. People would say: “She should go into Entertainment Events, then she would be in her element, surrounded by people who also love attention.”

So Rosin went into Entertainment Events. She got a job as an entertainer, with responsibility for helping out with the organisation of events on a cruise ship. And although the idea was planted by what other people thought she should be when she grew up, Roisin really enjoyed it. And as much as she enjoyed the entertaining element of her work, what she enjoyed maybe even more was connecting people to each other, and also to different roles, which she did in organising the events. She always seemed to know who would work well together. She had a knack of seeing different parts of people, that perhaps they or other people didn’t see. All the while, Roisin was waiting for people to come up to her and tell her what she should be when she grew up, but nobody did this time. 

This left Roisin with a sense of uncertainty and questioning for herself who she should be when she grew up. She shared this with Agnes, a woman in her eighties, who Roisin had gotten to know throughout the cruise. They always sat at the same table for breakfast, and Agnes had attended all of the performances Roisin had been involved with.

Agnes asked Roisin: Who are you? And how did you become who you are? What makes you different?

A little uncertain how to answer, Roisin said: I’m an entertainer”, and went on to share what people said she was, or what she should be when she grew up, at her different life and WorkLife stages up until now; and that this was how she had become who she was. She couldn’t answer what made her different.

Words of Wisdom

Agnes responded: “It’s great who you think you are, now here’s who you really are. You’re an educator and a connector. You create learning experiences and you bring people together. The experiences you’re creating are helping people change their entire lives, because you’re helping them find their essence. You’re unlocking the parts of people that are at the core of who they are, and you’re connecting them from that place. You’re connecting people from who they are vs what they do. That is who you are, and that’s what made you who you are, and that’s what makes you different. And you do it by observing people, by really seeing who they are. You ask questions, you listen, you help them to tell stories where they’re the hero of their own story.”

Agnes went on to remind Roisin of the:

Book Wisdom

Of Pygmalion by George Bernhard Shaw, on which the musical production of My Fair Lady by Jay Lerner was based. There had been a screening on the ship, which they’d both seen, and they’d also both read the play text, which they’d discussed over breakfast one morning. Agnes said: “To Professor Higgins Eliza will always be a Cockney flower girl, to Freddy she will always be a lady. When people think they know who you are, you tend to live up to their expectations.”

Agnes continued with her words of wisdom: “This time no one came up to tell you who you should be, because they saw and appreciated you for who you already are, and that was far more than an entertainer. They recognised you as someone who could see what is truly inside of each of them, and because of what you saw within them, you set them off in being active participants in their own lives. You used your insights as a fuel to change how other people think of themselves. You created that: an environment where you were working with friends.

“In knowing who you’re going to be at your next WorkLife stage, that’s important to remember. Remember to create environments where you walk in and you’re working with your friends. If you’re going to spend time doing something that perhaps may require working long hours, as events do, it should be around people you love and like.”

Agnes finished by sharing this:

Sage Wisdom

“In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else. Because passing civilisation along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honour and the highest responsibility anyone can have.” Lee Lacocca 

Epilogue 

Recognising she knew how to do something that not everyone knew how to do – which was how to unlock those parts of people and connect them from that place, that allow people to go to a deeper place of what makes them who they are – caused Roisin to look deeper into who she was.

When she dug within herself to who she already was, and found that truth within her, she allowed that to lead and guide her. It didn’t feel like another reinvention, it felt like she’d already been doing this the whole time. She now just needed to step into it. She wasn’t trying to be something she wasn’t, or something other people thought she should be. She felt the difference by not trying to be something, by simply being something. She had gone from trying to reinvent herself for others to stepping into her own power, to tapping into who she already was – an educator and a connector. 

In continuing her WorkLife, words Roisin often finds herself sharing are:

Just because someone tells you you’re something, don’t take that to be true. Instead believe in yourself, believe you have the answer within you, and believe that, that discovery is yours alone. So all the time you have to be experimenting, and asking yourself:

Who am I?

How did I become who I am?

What makes me different?

Reflect on this and give yourself feedback that will allow you to know who you are going to be at your next WorkLife stage, and the steps you need to take to become that.

Today’s book of the blog is: Pygmalion by George Bernhard Shaw

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. 

You can learn more about Roisin’s story in How To Embrace  The Superpower of Self-Awareness by Carmel O’Reilly, along with the other stories featured in the book. This book is part of the:

School of WorkLife Series of Books

In each book I tell stories which are based on real WorkLife situations. I share the exercises that helped the people in the stories work through their challenging situations to resolve their dilemmas. I present these as assignments for you to work through to create your unique stories. 

Each book is available from Amazon in Kindle Format and from SendOwl in PDF Format.

Click the link below to find out more about School of WorkLife Books & Affiliate Programme:

Be Grateful to the Naysayers, Allow Them to Motivate You, to Prove Them Wrong, When They Say Something Can’t Be Done, By Carmel O’ Reilly

“Opening a bookstore when everyone buys their books from Amazon is a crazy idea, and in a small town, that’s soon to be by-passed when that new road opens, makes it not only a crazy idea, but a stupid idea too, and in case it hadn’t come to your notice, there’s also that rather big obstacle that the town has never fully recovered from the recession. I’m sorry to say this, Michael, but your idea is crazy, stupid and it’s not going to work, I’m saying this for your own good, before you invest your time and money into something that has no future. What you’re proposing, can’t be done”

To say Michael was dumbfounded by this outburst from his uncle Matt is the understatement of the year. But let’s back up to Michael’s story to how he found himself on the receiving end of uncle Matt’s advice – unsolicited advice that his uncle Matt was prone to dish out rather frequently. 

Be Grateful to the Naysayers, Allow Them to Motivate You, to Prove Them Wrong, When They Say Something Can’t Be Done: A Case Study

Be Grateful To The Naysayers

Michael had a lifelong love of books. As a young boy he was always first in line when the Books on Wheels mobile library parked up in the grounds of his village school every Saturday morning. Returning the books he’d avidly read, he’d leave with a new collection, with excited anticipation of the places, near and far, that he would soon be transported to. His encounters with the familiar, unfamiliar, and sometimes bizarre, people, places and happenings, continuously opened his mind to new learning and discovery. To what was and what could be, to how the impossible could become possible. 

It was with no surprise that Michael went on to study Irish Literature at college. Then on graduating he began working at the library in the town close to the village he had grown up in. The library that served all the neighbouring small village communities with its Books on Wheels mobile library. 

That the town had been hit hard by the recession was true. Some businesses didn’t make it, and the businesses that did survive, did so by the skin of their teeth, and were forced to make cuts. Job losses were high and livelihoods were severely impacted. This was followed by government cuts to public spending, the latest of which brought about the closure of  libraries throughout the country. 

Michael finding himself out of a job, had what uncle Matt labelled as a crazy, stupid idea, that wouldn’t work, that couldn’t be done, and that was to open a bookstore in the town.

Though dumbfounded by his uncle Matt’s outburst, Michael wasn’t deterred, in fact if anything it spurred him on. It motivated Michael to prove his uncle Matt wrong, and that what he was proposing to do, could be done. 

It was more than wanting to prove his uncle wrong. Michael believed in his idea, he believed he could make it work, he believed the people of the town wanted and needed it, many of whom were bereft following the closure of the library. There was a gaping hole in the town, and Michael felt he had the ability and capability to fill it. His uncle was right that the new road could cause the town to be bypassed. Michael felt now was the time to ensure that didn’t happen. He was determined to plant the town firmly on the map, and in his mind there was no better way than a bookstore that brought people from near and far. He was under no illusion that it would be easy, but he believed it was possible.

There had been many books that had inspired Michael throughout his life. Books had taken him on a journey of make believe, and also on a journey that was real. It was books that had taken him along a path to college and to study Irish Literature. It was books that had taken him along a path to working at the library, a path that at the time had seemed to have taken him full circle, back to the beginning of where his love of books and love of book wisdom had first begun. Michael now knew that his journey wasn’t over, and he believed that it would be books that would take him along a path to his next destination.

Book Wisdom

The book that motivated Michael to follow the path that he believed he needed to be on at this moment in his WorkLife journey, the path to owning and running his own bookstore was Unstoppable: My Life So Far, by Maria Sharapova. 

Sharapova talks about her rise to success, and the disasters that threatened her career and her fight back. She says if there are lessons she could share from her experiences, it would be about the people you surround yourself with, whether that’s your family, (excluding any uncle Matt types of course!), your mentors, your team members. Choose people you’d be comfortable to lose alongside. In sport you lose a lot more than you can win. If you can face those challenges in that moment with people you respect and trust, it makes the process so much better, it brings so much light to the situations, it carries you through. We don’t always feel at our best, but if we have people alongside us, paving the way and giving us a platform, giving us a voice, and sharing values that we have, it’s so meaningful. So much about the process is about the people you meet along your path.

She believed her earlier years formed a lot of her character, and that the foundation and skills she built when she was young was something she could always go back to. If the core of what you’re doing is so strong and so positive, it drives everything else. Whatever comes your way, at whatever age, it’s how you handle it in the moment that will ultimately set you up in the future. When you face challenges that are not necessarily the same, your life experiences never fail you. Stay grounded and real, when other worlds are stripped away from you, by keeping your feet on the ground. This is the belief that allowed Sharapova to successfully establish herself in the world of business.

Although their paths were very different, Michael believed by surrounding himself with good people, people he trusted and respected, he too could achieve his dream. This belief proved to be true. He met all the right people along his path: virtual people in the books he read, who became his mentors; and real people, who he seemed to meet at just the right time. This is where Michael believed the universe conspired – he did a lot of the work, every day he kept on moving, and every day he was directed along his path

Epilogue

Michael succeeded in his dream of owning and running his own bookstore. He succeeded in firmly planting his town on the map. He succeeded in bringing people from near and far to visit his bookstore and his town.

He achieved this by waking up every day and asking himself the questions:

How can I continue to do what I love doing? 

What can I do next?

How can I get better or how can I stay level with where I was yesterday? 

Reflecting on these questions through self-feedback, the answers always came to him.

Words of Wisdom

You can’t unilaterally try to give people feedback, you have to let them come to you and want that feedback. There are times in a relationship that it’s more welcome than others, and you have to know when to give. 

In saying these words to his uncle Matt, Michael wasn’t sure if they were received with the same intention they were given.  And in his mind he was thinking, “oh and when someone tells you it can’t be done, don’t believe them, believe in yourself instead”.

Sage Wisdom

When we face challenges, change and uncertainty in our WorkLife, this is the time to ask ourselves how we might take ourselves to a new place, a place that gets us though these difficult times or even a place that is even better. 

Today’s book of the blog is: Unstoppable: My Life So Far, by Maria Sharapova

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. 

You can learn more about Michael’’s story in How To Use Turning Points To Start Something Different And Better by Carmel O’Reilly, along with the other stories featured in the book. This book is part of the:

School of WorkLife Series of Books

In each book I tell stories which are based on real WorkLife situations. I share the exercises that helped the people in the stories work through their challenging situations to resolve their dilemmas. I present these as assignments for you to work through to create your unique stories. 

Each book is available from Amazon in Kindle Format and from SendOwl in PDF Format.

Click the link below to find out more about School of WorkLife Books & Affiliate Programme:

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.

You can learn more about Sally’s story in How To Build Your True Personal Brand Identity by Carmel O’Reilly, along with the other stories featured in the book. This book is part of the:

School of WorkLife Series of Books

In each book I tell stories which are based on real WorkLife situations. I share the exercises that helped the people in the stories work through their challenging situations to resolve their dilemmas. I present these as assignments for you to work through to create your unique stories. 

Each book is available from Amazon in Kindle Format and from SendOwl in PDF Format.

Click the link below to find out more about School of WorkLife Books & Affiliate Programme:

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. 

You can learn more about Sam’s story in How To Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages And Inspires You by Carmel O’Reilly, along with the other stories featured in the book. This book is part of the:

School of WorkLife Series of Books

In each book I tell stories which are based on real WorkLife situations. I share the exercises that helped the people in the stories work through their challenging situations to resolve their dilemmas. I present these as assignments for you to work through to create your unique stories. 

Each book is available from Amazon in Kindle Format and from SendOwl in PDF Format.

Click the link below to find out more about School of WorkLife Books & Affiliate Programme:

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. 

You can learn more about Sam’s story in How To Pursue The Superpower of Happiness by Carmel O’Reilly, along with the other stories featured in the book. This book is part of the:

School of WorkLife Series of Books

In each book I tell stories which are based on real WorkLife situations. I share the exercises that helped the people in the stories work through their challenging situations to resolve their dilemmas. I present these as assignments for you to work through to create your unique stories. 

Each book is available from Amazon in Kindle Format and from SendOwl in PDF Format.

Click the link below to find out more about School of WorkLife Books & Affiliate Programme: