“Im finally coming to the realisation that my ambition is to be the person I already am.” Thomas Merton 

As you continue to create and live your WorkLife true to your values and purpose, you will capture or recapture your ambition, drive and your enjoyment at work and in life. The questions you are asking yourself are powerful; and the insights you get from them have an immediate impact in helping you to open up, and to look inside yourself to get to your innermost truth.

A Case Study

Mary’s Story: Wearing the Mask of Chief Financial Officer

Mary was ready to move on from her organisation because it no longer inspired her. It was in a sector that was quite progressive commercially, but it was not in line with Mary’s values or purpose. Her internal fire for this type of organisation had burnt out and she felt she was putting on the mask of Chief Financial Officer every day, whether with her team or at board meetings. She felt she was not living her truth.

To facilitate her impending career move she began to connect with head hunters, all of whom were eager to represent her, by either putting her forward for a role they were already recruiting for, or to put her forward as a strong candidate to organisations they had a relationship with who might not have been actively recruiting for a specific position but were undergoing some changes that would benefit from having Mary on board. Of course, being in a position to put forward a candidate of Mary’s calibre would strengthen the head hunter’s credibility and relationship with the organisation. 

They were, however, considering Mary for organisations similar to the one she wanted to move on from, rather than taking the time to understand who she was as an individual with interests and potential across other industries and sectors. Mary was in part responsible for this because she is quite private about her life outside of work, and so did not have anything about her interests and hobbies on her CV.

I was Mary’s career coach at the time, and she asked my opinion as to whether she should put her interests/hobbies on her CV. Without hesitation I responded ABSOLUTELY. I firmly believe that it is very important when people are being interviewed that the interviewer takes time to understand who the candidate is as an individual, and what is unique and different about them over and above their skills, attributes and experience. This allows the interviewer (as representative of the company) and candidate an understanding as to whether they are a good fit for each other. 

After all we spend so much of our time at work that there is a need to have a holistic view of what makes people tick: what motivates and inspires them and keeps them energised in their work and their life outside of work. Good organisations will want to understand and support this, and quite frankly if I was being interviewed by an organisation that showed little interest in me other that my capability to perform the job, I would make a very quick exit, simply because I need to know that the organisation values my happiness and well-being. To do that they need to have this insight and understanding.

Among Mary’s passions were a love for English heritage and animals. She supported charities in both her areas of interests, through donations, and she was also a trustee and board member of her chosen charities, in a voluntary capacity. She had also taken a three-month sabbatical, during which time she lived in a small community in remote Africa. There she worked alongside the local people offering her financial expertise to support them in developing a sustainable business strategy for the community, which allowed them to be self-sufficient in promoting their social enterprise. At the end of the three months the community held a carnival in celebration of Mary’s support, and she was crowned queen of their village.

Along with all of this Mary also has her pilot’s licence, and at weekends she could be found navigating the skies of Britain, along with her husband a fellow enthusiast. Mary is quite unassuming and so you would never really know these things about her. It would be unusual for them to come up in an interview situation, unless of course she has it on her CV (which was not the case), and the interviewer was interested in finding out who she really is. Then of course the interviewer would see Mary’s true potential and would understand why she should be considered as a serious candidate for a role in an organisation or sector different to where she is coming from.

Mary’s story does have a happy ending. Once she shared her interests, hobbies and achievements in her life outside of work with the head hunters, they were able to see her true potential and understand what was important to her. She said once she began to open up, she felt compelled to open the door to her full life, and to achieve that she needed to tell her full truth, about who she was in all areas of her life. 

She really connected with a head hunter called Alex, because she felt he really listened and understood her. He eagerly put her forward for roles in organisations whose values were in line with hers. He recognised this would allow Mary to follow her purpose and live her truth. Of course, the organisation would benefit greatly by having someone with such great potential come on board, and Alex’s relationship with both Mary and the organisation would continue to flourish. He would be recognised and appreciated for his ability to find the best match for candidates and for the organisation.

She was interviewed, but was pipped at the post for a role in a charity that provided care for donkeys in developing countries.  This may bring a smile to your face, but the role of these donkeys is integral to the community, and their owners needed to take better care of them to allow them to work at their best, and to be looked after when they could no longer work. 

Although Mary was disappointed not to secure the role, the experience gave her the belief that she could transition into a sector that had more meaning for her in line with her values and purpose. She has since secured a role, and is working for an organisation within English heritage. She has thrown away her mask, and her face is shining through the vibrancy she is feeling from combining her passion with the total respect she has for the work at hand. She is living her truth in her WorkLife every day.

Develop Your WorkLife Story

When you get to your innermost truth, you then need to nurture and protect this truth within yourself. You must learn to keep your truth alive no matter what, to have an unrelenting commitment to your truth and ultimately your freedom to live your best WorkLife.

Understanding Your Truth Assignment:

Tell Your Story

Tell the story of how you became a … 

Questions to help you shape your story:

How did I get to here?

Why am I here?

What is my motivation?

Is where I am where I want to be? If yes, why? If no, why not?

The Power of Opposites Observation Assignment

Getting to Your Truth

There are times when opposing questions can support you in getting to your truth of what is important to you in your WorkLife by helping you to identify the good and the bad. Take time over the next week to observe your WorkLife by considering and answering the following questions:

What is the most fulfilling aspect to my WorkLife?

What is the least fulfilling aspect to my WorkLife?

What is a good WorkLife day I’ve had recently? Describe it

What is a bad WorkLife day I’ve had recently? Describe it

NB If you cannot identify either a recent good or bad WorkLife day, go back as far as you need to, to answer these questions. If you cannot, that fact is really insightful and powerful too, in allowing you to know how bad or how good your WorkLife is right now.

At the end of the week give yourself feedback by answering these questions:

What was my most important observation? 

What do I want to keep in my WorkLife?

What do I want to let go of in my WorkLife?

What do I want? 

What don’t I want? 

Remember this can change over time, and what was good once may no longer be good enough. You may just not have been quick to realise or acknowledge this.

Getting to Your Deeper Truth Assignment:

Ask yourself the following questions:

Who am I?

What is a question I wish more people would ask me – family, friends, colleagues?

What’s something I want people to know about me?

Who needs to know?

Why should they care?

How will they find out?

By uncovering your truth, you can begin to make the necessary changes to living your truth at all stages of your WorkLife

The Moral of this Story

You need to search fearlessly to bring out your truth, to be truthful to who you are at all stages of your WorkLife: the truth of your character, and your truth as a human being. Like Mary you may feel as though you are hiding behind a mask, and not being true to your values and purpose. You cannot create truth unless you have truth. You must feel it. You need to find the truth in yourself, and use its purity, intimacy and honesty to make your WorkLife real. 

The truth can be hard: hard to know, hard to find, hard to hear. But the truth is worth it, because it brings to light the bravery, perseverance and determination it takes to live your best WorkLife; and importantly, the truth will not be intimidated.

Develop a Practice of Continuous Self-Feedback 

Everything you need is within you, finding your innermost truth is the key to unlocking and achieving your true potential. Then and only then will you be able to be truly alive in your work and the life you choose to live.

Develop a Practice of Insightful Self-Questioning 

To continue to go deep within yourself ask yourself the following questions, and then reflect on the feedback you receive through your answers:

Who am I with when I’m truly being myself? 

What am I doing?

Do I have a truth I’m not dealing with?

Words of Wisdom

Take off your mask and be yourself, your true self, the person you are within your heart and mind, the person you know you are meant to be. In doing this you will give people a window into your mind, your heart and your soul. Live your WorkLife true to this.

Honesty is telling the truth, to ourselves and others. Integrity is living that truth”. Ken Blanchard 

Be honest with yourself and see your reality as it is truly is.

© Carmel O’ Reilly 2019 First published 2019 by WorkLife Incorporated

Feel free to publish an excerpt from this chapter, wherever you like. Your blog, your book, your newsletter. It’s all good. 

Just use my full name and kindly link back to my website: You’ll find my bio right here. Thank you. Be Well and Stay Safe.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

I’m Carmel O’ Reilly, Founder of I’m the author Your WorkLife Your Way, blogger and podcaster on the subject of WorkLife. My work focuses on helping people to live their best WorkLives, by managing their learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful self-questions and the ability to shape and tell their unique story. My Mission is: “To spread the power of WorkLives lived with Passion, Purpose and Pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.”

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