CHAPTER 21 YOUR WORKLIFE YOUR WAY By Carmel O’ Reilly

Respect and Trust Yourself 

“Respect is the greatest motivator.” Carmel O’ Reilly

I have always believed that respect is the greatest gift you can give to another human being, and to yourself. I am not actually sure if I did coin the phase ‘Respect is the greatest motivator’, but it is something that I live my life by. It is perhaps my most important value. 

A Case Study

Dom’s Story: Losing His Self-Respect and Losing Trust in Himself

Dom always knew he wanted to be involved in team sports. Growing up he had a sense of what he wanted to be. This innate sense guided him to becoming manager of his county hurling team, the place he knew he was meant to be. He always knew he wanted to be the manager, not the player. That in itself was quite a crazy idea because it went against the long established and recognised pathway to becoming manager, as historically managers always progressed from the ranks of players.

As a young boy he was always on the side-line watching his brothers and friends play. He watched, listened and observed the coaches and managers throughout the years: how they engaged with the players, how they got the best out of them, what was happening when the team were doing well, and what was happening when they were not. Although he was encouraged to try out for the team, he never did. His ability to read his life allowed him to know this was not what he wanted to do. 

He chose to study Leadership and Management at university, and became an intern at the university hurling club – although at the time it was not called that. I don’t think internships were a thing in Ireland back then, and certainly not on university hurling teams. Dom simply turned up every day, and did whatever was needed. In effect he created the position. He was relentless, and was there all the time, trying to learn as much as he could. He was like a sponge soaking up knowledge. 

Dom was quite sociable, and very interested in people. He got to know the players both on and off the pitch. He knew what was going on in their lives and how this impacted their game. He also had a nerd side to him: he thought about things in an analytical way. He designed a programme that allowed each game to be analysed, from a technical standpoint (play, formations), while also taking into account anything that could impact individual and team behaviour during the game, and the impact this had. From this combined information he developed a system which took the club’s game to a new level.

On graduating he moved back to his hometown, got a business development role in his local high street bank, and got re-involved in his local hurling team. The coach/manager was retiring, and Dom stepped into his shoes. He got to know the players and what was going on in their lives. He analysed the games and applied the system he had developed at university to develop the team. It worked. In their first year, they went from mid-league to winning the county championship. Some people thought it was a fluke, a stroke of good luck. Not Dom. He knew his system brought together good tactical play with human interaction. It took two more years of winning the county championship for people to sit up and take notice – to take notice of Dom.

He was approached to become Assistant Manager for the county team. As a county they had not reached an All-Ireland final in 25 years. There was new manager Alan, who was more progressive in his thoughts, and more open minded to things. He really enabled Dom’s growth and development. He met the team, got to know them and got an understanding of their lives Some were still at school, while others were starting out in their WorkLives. They were semi-professional players: they did not get paid, other than expenses. 

He came to understand the industry, both from the ground level (the team and club), and the big picture (people who operated at country level and sponsors). He was given the opportunity to really immerse himself in it, and he continued to grow and evolve the analytical side of things.  All the different people he and his manager – who remains to this day a lifelong friend and mentor – were meeting along the way were starting to notice: oh this guy thinks a little differently to other people.

He got to work with great people both on and off the pitch. He really enjoyed it, having a lot of fun learning more about the game, and also the business. He surrounded himself with people who were outstanding. Going in he had blind faith it was going to happen; but when he was in the midst of it winning/losing, he had more or less faith, depending on results. At core he somehow really believed he was supposed to do it: somehow, someway it is going to happen; and he just tried to connect as may dots as he could. And it worked. The first year they came out of twenty-five years in the wilderness making it to the final. The second year, still considered the underdogs, they won.

And it was then it began to fall apart for Dom. That Sunday afternoon as he walked off the pitch, having congratulated the players, he was joined by one of their biggest sponsors, who said: “Well done Dom, now all you have to do is make sure we win again next year, when do you start again?” Dom replied: “At this moment all I’m thinking about is celebrating with the team.”

It was in that moment that he knew he was not living his life in accordance to who he was. He was so consumed by the game, and winning, that was all he cared about. It had become all about the professional side of the game. He had somewhere along the way lost himself on a human level, and it became about having to prove himself. Somehow winning was not the expression of greatness that he had envisioned, because it was not holistic. It was a relief, not a joy. It was more that he was glad he had got that done. He used to think he was a good person, but he no longer felt that. He had lost respect in himself, and with it went the trust that gave him the deep-rooted belief in himself that he could do this. 

He took himself away from the game, and went back to working full time at the bank. A couple of years later his young son, Alex, started playing soccer for the local team. Dom would take him to weekend games, watching and cheering on from the side-lines with his wife and daughter Anna – Alex’s twin sister; and this is where he found his love for sport again. He was reminded that it was the players, the team and community spirit that he loved. When he had got caught up in the championship all he was thinking about was winning, and then the next game. There was no time to experience the joy. He had got so caught up in achieving results because of the pressure that he forgot that the people around him were human. He did not take the time he needed to with them on a personal level. He had left his humanity at home.

Stepping away and not having any vested interest helped him find the love of sport again. He got to watch it because he enjoyed it. He got to rekindle that part of him that loved it. He felt he had done it because that is what he was chasing, and now he was not chasing anything anymore.

It was at this time a new opportunity came into his life: football for girls. He was asked to be part of the team leading on the Irish Football Association countrywide strategy to get more girls playing football. He led the drive regionally in the five-year project to recruit and train a hundred new female coaches through a funded pathway. He was back to where he knew he belonged, and he really wanted to be there. His self-respect was restored and along with that his trust in himself that he could do something special with this.

Develop Your WorkLife Story Chapters

We can all fall short of perfection, and as a result we can all sometimes do things that are inconsistent with living the WorkLife we aspire to live, in line with the legacy we want to leave.

If you do not like who you have become or what is required of you in certain situations or with particular people, work towards removing yourself from that. You may or may not be able to walk away fully as Dom did, but you can take steps to distance yourself.  

Taking Yourself Away Assignment

To get back to your future you need to begin by appreciating the joy of right now.  

Stepping away requires you to say ‘No’ to people and events. If you are not in a position to do this immediately, or you find it difficult, begin by not saying ‘Yes’ to everything. Become selective about who you spend time with and what you spend your time doing. 

Use the time you reclaim to recognise and appreciate the greatness in everyday life. Take yourself back to doing something you enjoyed in the past. For Dom it was taking his son to play soccer, watching and cheering from the side-lines with his family. 

Take the time you need to distract yourself, in the knowledge that anything you do with intent is not a distraction. “Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.” John Lennon

Moral of this Story

When your WorkLife is out of sync with who you are as a person it can cause you to lose the self-respect that comes with having pride, confidence and trust in yourself – that sense that you are behaving with honour and dignity. Taking a step back, making time for the simple everyday things that will support you in appreciating what you value in your WorkLife. The things that matter most to you, that allow you to be a force for good. This will help you find the next step to reshape your life, to make sure these things are really aligned with what you really care about.

Develop a Practice of Continuous Self-Feedback 

When taking time out, let go of any desire to control what happens next. Effective learning and change will take place through your increased awareness of the world around you.

Develop a Practice of Insightful Self-Questioning 

To maintain and protect your self-respect and self-trust work to fine-tune your feelings and emotions, so that you are acutely aware of what causes these to go out of sync. Ask yourself:

In what situations, with what people am I being different than I would like to be?

What’s not right about it?

How can I face this challenge the next time it arises?

Words of Wisdom 

Learning that takes place at its own pace is much more effective than learning that is forced.

© 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: www.worklifeincorporated.com You’ll find my bio right here: https://worklifeincorporated.com/about/ Thank you. Be Well and Stay Safe.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

I’m Carmel O’ Reilly, Founder of www.worklifeincorporated.com. 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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