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:

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

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

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

This Is The Way It’s always Been Done

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Wisdom

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

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

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

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

Words of Wisdom

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

Sage Wisdom

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

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

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

If yes, great. If no, ask yourself:

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

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

Epilogue

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

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

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

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

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

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

SCHOOL OF WORKLIFE AFFILIATE PROGRAMME

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

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

The book format for this programme is PDF

Click the link below to view all books:

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

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

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

Knowing When To Say No

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He asked himself:

 What is wrong that is making me want to leave?

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

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

Sage Wisdom

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

Words of Wisdom

‘Suffering Is Optional.” Haruki Murakami

Book Wisdom

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

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

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

Epilogue

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

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

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

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

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

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

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

You can learn more about Mo’s story in How To Use Your Voice To Express and Protect Your 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:

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

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

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

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

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

You’re Fired

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Words of Wisdom

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

Sage Wisdom

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

Epilogue

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

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

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

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

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

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

You can learn more about Tony’s story in How To Use Your Voice To Express And Protect Your 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: