How To Self-Coach, Direct And Lead Effectively

The Road to Self-Sufficiency Begins With Taking the First Step in Your Course of Action Towards Reaching What You Want to Achieve

Matt’s Story: His Journey To and his Discovery Of his Ability to Self-Coach, Direct and Lead

Matt loved the autonomy of his WorkLife. He had worked in accounting at an advertising agency for fifteen years. He was quite a loner, he enjoyed working alone and he loved the solitude of his role. On many occasions he found himself to be invisible, and he was actually OK with that. He had a sense he was on the outside looking in, and he quite liked that: it allowed him to be an observer without being observed.

However, he was required to deliver monthly presentations on how the company was doing financially. This was a challenge for Matt and took him out of his comfort zone in different ways:

1. Talking for fifteen minutes was a very big challenge, as he actually never spoke very much. Matt was a man of few words.

2. While he loved numbers, he knew that when he talked about them he did not do it in an interesting way. He would see people’s eyes quickly glaze over, followed by them making the earliest possible exit.

3. The monthly presentations were preceded by a networking breakfast. He really hated small- talk, and found the experience both contrived and banal.

He did, however, want to continue to learn, grow and develop. There were various workplace coaching, training and mentoring programmes that Matt could have tapped into to facilitate this, but he resisted all of them, simply because his participation would require him spending more time with people than he wanted.

He knew he had to take ownership of doing what he needed to do. He was OK with that because the other side of being a loner was that he was extremely self-sufficient. So he figured he could help himself achieve what he wanted and needed. His thinking was that he could model what the coaching, training and mentoring programmes were offering, and adopt a self-coaching, directing and leadership approach.

Being an accountant, he was quite a logical thinker, and so he thought through the three challenges he was facing:

1. The fact that he spoke so little.

He knew he needed to have the words, so as to have the thoughts to develop his presentations. He knew that of course people think in words, and so if he did not have the vocabulary to describe the things he wanted to talk about, he literally could not give the presentations or have the conversations that came from the Q&A at the end of each presentation.

He needed to find a way to overcome this. He needed to invest in himself and his learning. He needed to find a passion around this learning.

Although Matt was a man of few words, he did actually have a love of words. He read and listened to audio recordings extensively. That was his thing — what he was doing when he lost himself, and when he whiled away the hours.

So, he began by setting out to be more intentional in his reading and listening to learn how writers drew in their audiences. Being analytical allowed him to recognise patterns, which he noted in a spreadsheet. 

His focus on how he could learn what he needed led him to discover an online writing course by one of his favourite authors. This really appealed to Matt because it was something he could do on his own, in his own time, at this own pace, and so he signed up.

His focus on being intentional about his reading and listening helped him to build the vocabulary he needed, and the course helped him with his second challenge:

2. To talk about numbers in an interesting way.

To do that he needed to build a story around the numbers. Matt began to think about what it was about numbers that he loved so much, that he could develop into a story.

He knew he enjoyed finding solutions. He was curious and asked himself a lot of questions, particularly around the status quo of things. Questions that usually began with: “why”, “how”, “what if”.

He got a lot of satisfaction from knowing he had dealt with a problem and had made things better. He actually had quite a creative mindset that was driven by possibility, because his solutions emphasised what was possible. His creative mindset inspired his curiosity and passion, which lead to the action needed.

He needed to talk about these solutions, and the course gave him a framework to develop these into stories.

Focusing on overcoming challenges 1 and 2, allowed him to know what he needed to do to overcome his third challenge:

3. The networking breakfast — making small talk that didn’t feel contrived or banal.

The answer lay in the questions he loved asking of himself. He just needed to make a shift to asking questions of other people. Questions that would elicit more about who people were, what excited them and what they cared about. This would make for much more interesting conversations.

He thought about the questions he wished people would ask him. He started with a question that really got people to open up:

“What’s a passion project you’re working on at the moment?”

Then he moved onto questions that were a little more daring (well for Matt anyway!), and that also had an element of fun:

“Which part of your job would you like to kill or eliminate?”

“If we could hire five more people, what unconventional skills would they have and why?”

Throughout the process, Matt found that he was developing his ability to self-coach, direct and lead quite naturally. In fact, he recognised that because of his self-sufficiency this is something he had been doing all along.

For self-coaching the questions he posed to himself included: What’s standing in my way?

What will happen if I take this step? / What will happen if I don’t? What does success look like?
 What do I want?

For self-directing:

Feeling like an outsider looking in observing what was going on around him allowed him to do the same for himself. His power of observation was so finely tuned that he was able to observe and direct himself in the moment.

During his presentations, the Q&A, the networking, his ability to be observant allowed him to be fully present and in the moment, which in turn meant he was fully attuned to his audience, resulting in him being able to self-direct and react on the spot in real time. It actually felt quite surreal. At times Matt felt he was both performing and watching his own performance.

For self-leadership Matt asked himself questions that included: Is this the best way to do this? Is there a different/simpler way? What do I need to stop/start doing?
 Will my approach be successful?

What do I need from myself in order to help me reach my full potential?

How can I help people? Through my presentations, the answers I give at the Q&A sessions, the conversations I have over networking.

A few presentations later Matt realised he was no longer invisible. People would come up to him and tell him how much they enjoyed his stories, and how he made it really easy to under- stand the financial side of things — something they admitted to not having much of an interest in before.

He was able to manage this interaction and still maintain a good level of solitude, which was important to him. If at any stage he found himself thinking “I Have to do this”, he shifted his thinking by telling himself, “I Get to do this.”

This story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Self-Coach, Direct And Lead Effectively, from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

Click on the above title for an inside view of the book, where you will see the stories and assignments. Tap the link below to see the other books in the series.

The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories I share my own experiences, and with permission stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities.

Good Times and Bad Times Bring About Great Resignations

Three Lessons Learnt From Times Of Change and Uncertainty Gone By

Photo by Binyamin Mellish from Pexels

I left Investment Banking in 2003.

Was it a Great Resignation?

I can’t say it was, but I can say it was greatly significant.

During my 12+ years with J. P. Morgan, I had always worked on a freelance basis, on three-month rolling contracts that could be ended with a two week notice period by either party. In 2003, there was a slowing in the market, and the bank decided to end much of their contract work in order to make the jobs of permanent staff more secure. I was offered a permanent position, which I declined. It was the push I needed. And so my resignation couldn’t be called a great resignation, but it could be called greatly significant.


Because it was the beginning of a new WorkLife chapter, which has gotten me to where I am today.

It took a little time, though, because first, I needed to figure out what I would do next. Which was to be a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, helping people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives. That required getting my degree in Career Coaching and Management. It was quite a balancing act working to bring in much-needed income, which I did by facilitating workshops while studying and gaining practical experience that would allow me to launch my new WorkLife.

This brings me to:

Lesson One of Three Lessons Learnt From Times Of Change and Uncertainty Gone By.

1. We can overestimate what we can achieve in one year and underestimate what we can achieve in three years and beyond.

Fast forward to 2006, and I’m working with people who were part of the Great Resignation movement of that time. People who were willing to take a risk on leaving a job that wasn’t fulfilling to them, to go in search of a new WorkLife that aligned with what was important to them — both in and out of work.

Why were they willing to take this risk?

Because at that time, it was a buoyant job market, and this helped mitigate the risk. If things didn’t work out, or if things didn’t happen as quickly as needed, they could go back to what they were doing or get another job in the interim.

Within two years, those good times came crashing down when we hit the recession of 2008 and beyond. Those that kept their jobs hung on to them for dear life. Those who lost their jobs, who wanted to get back into full-time employment, began the challenge to make that happen. And those, who like me, figured the loss of their job was the push they needed to do something different started working to make that happen.

My work shifted to delivering Outplacement programmes, helping people make the transition that was right for them, whether that was getting back into the workplace in a similar role or beginning something new.

This wasn’t a time of Great Resignations but Forced Redundancies.

For this story, I will focus on the learning I gained from the people who began a new WorkLife chapter.

This brings me to:

Lesson Two of Three Lessons Learnt From Times Of Change and Uncertainty Gone By.

“There’s a saying that if you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life. The truth is you will work harder than you ever thought possible, but the tools will feel light in your hands.” Tim Cook

This is because all the time, you will be carving out the WorkLife that fits your wants and needs.

Fast forward to the present day. So much has shifted in the last year. People have come to realise that the world we live in is not secure, and trusting your future to an organisation, even if it’s a good organisation, doesn’t make it safe. If you love your job and want to keep doing it, you may also want to build something for yourself, perhaps a side hustle that will give you extra security. And if you don’t love your job, perhaps now is the push you need to make your Great Resignation.

This brings me to:

Lesson Three of Three Lessons Learnt From Times Of Change and Uncertainty Gone By.

You Have Much of What You Need Within You, and What You Don’t Have, You Will Be Able to Find or Figure Out.

For example, over the last year, I couldn’t deliver the live learning workshops I had planned, so I wrote 27 e-books, which I’ve called The School Of WorkLife book series. The series is designed to help people manage their WorkLife learning and transitions through times of change and uncertainty. Through good times and bad times. To help people navigate their pathways, to be ready for the Big Resignation, should that be the next chapter of their WorkLife story.

And I had much of what I needed within me to do that. I’ve been a collector of people’s amazing WorkLife stories since 2003 when I made my significant resignation. Since then, I’ve also created many learning programmes.

In writing the books, I simply told people’s powerful stories of WorkLife challenges and successes. I shared the exercises which helped navigate these situations, which I presented as learning assignments for people to work through.

I worked with an editor in self-publishing the e-books, and that led me to work with his publishing company on my next paperback, which will be released in 2021.

If I can do it, so can you, and you never know where your new WorkLife chapter will lead you, and what doors and opportunities will open along the way.

Tap the link below to see the books in The School Of WorkLife series.

Do Speculative Job Approaches Actually Work? (Part 2)

That Would Be a YES!

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

As a friend of The Theatre Royal Haymarket, London, I was invited along for a tour of the theatre, followed by tea and a chat with a couple of the actors from the play ‘Great Britain’ which was playing at the time.

The actors were asked how they go about getting work and if they rely solely on their agent. They both said that while their agents are instrumental in their work, by and large. That they had both approached directors and writers (both stage and screen) whose work they admire and respect to express a desire to work with them.

And guess what — it paid off!

I first shared this story some years ago on my original, now-defunct blog: Evolving Careers. I’m sharing it again because I believe it’s as relevant today, and it was all those years ago.

The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories, I share my own experiences, and with permission, stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities.

Tap here to read: Do Speculative Job Approaches Actually Work (Part 1)

WorkLife Book Of The Week: How To Apologise With Humility, Sincerity And Integrity

Welcome to WorkLife Book Of The Week. Every week Monday through Sunday I serialise a story from the School of WorkLife book series. I do this each day in under 280 characters, which I post across my social media channels. Then at the end of each week, I bring all 7 daily posts together here as 1 weekly blog post, which I also share on my podcast: WorkLife Book Wisdom.

This week’s WorkLife Book of The Week is: How To Apologise With Humility, Sincerity And Integrity

This week’s WorkLife Story of The Week: A Bad Interview Quickly Followed by a Bad Apology: 

Caroline’s Story Of A Demoralising Interview Which Was Followed By A Non-Apology


Caroline had been put through the interview from hell by Darren, the company CEO. Except it wasn’t an interview. In fact, she was asked very few questions. Instead, she was faced with a barrage of insults, which lasted for two hours. She was attacked on every front possible; from


her technical abilities to her soft skills; from her body language to her personal appearance. She was told she wasn’t up for the job because she wasn’t good enough, that she was in fact an underachiever, with absolutely no potential. She left the interview feeling demoralised. 


But then she received a call offering her the job.  She turned it down and let HR know why. Then she received the following text from Darren by way of an apology: “I understand from your call with HR that you’re turning down the job because you felt harassed during the interview.


I believe you mentioned something along the lines of the interview being brutal. You were interviewing for a job in communications, a job for which you need to be tough. I needed to be able to test your ability to take tough feedback. I needed to know you were up for the job you 


were interviewing for. At the end of the interview I thought you were, but I was obviously wrong in thinking that. Your decision not to join our company is the best decision for all. For you: if you thought the interview was tough, then you’re not up to the job. For me: I need


to be able to give tough feedback without people saying it upsets them. It’s a tough world out there. If giving you tough feedback caused you pain or hurt, I’m sorry, that was not my intent. I simply needed to be sure you were up to the job. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I 


think for your own good you need to toughen up. This is meant as constructive feedback, in the same way you saw fit to give constructive feedback on me.”  Caroline considered it to be a non-apology. It lacked humility, sincerity and integrity. She deleted it from her phone.

That’s a wrap on this week’s WorkLife Story of The Week: A Bad Interview Quickly Followed by a Bad Apology, from the School Of WorkLife book: How To Apologise With Humility, Sincerity And Integrity

If you enjoyed Caroline’s story, you may also like to learn about her fuller WorkLife story and the exercises that helped her to say what she needed to say, along with the other stories and assignments in this week’s WorkLife Book of The Week: How To Apologise With Humility, Sincerity And Integrity.

Click on the above image to see a preview of what’s inside, along with the main ideas and the meaning behind these.

Come back next Sunday for next week’s WorkLife Story of The Week: Losing His Self-Respect and Losing Trust in Himself, from the School Of WorkLife book: How To Motivate Through Self-Respect And Trust.

Click on the above image to see a preview of what’s inside, along with the main ideas and the meaning behind these.

You can also catch each weekly story as it’s released daily. Just tap the link below to:

The School of WorkLife book series are designed to help you manage your own WorkLife Learning.

Each book tells real WorkLife stories of the successes and challenges people encountered in their WorkLife. Each book also includes the exercises that helped navigate these situations, which are presented as assignments for you to work through.

The stories I share are based on real life WorkLife situations – case studies of the challenges and successes people experienced in navigating the chapters of their WorkLife Story.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and also a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

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

To view all the books in the School of WorkLife series and to learn about my Affiliate Programme click the link below: 

Quote #8 That Helped Shape The Chapters Of My First Book

To Give People an Understanding Into What the Chapter Was About. To Open Their Thinking without Telling Them How or What to Think

Image supplied by author

Chapter #8 The Power Of Self-Awareness

Quote #8 “Self-Awareness is looking, and seeing, and discovering who you really are.” Anon

Followed by my Chapter Introduction:

Self-Awareness gives you the ability to take an honest look at your WorkLife to identify and evaluate what is good, bad or indifferent. It allows you to be your own best critic in recognising your strengths and weaknesses, things you want to keep, things you want to improve upon, or things you want to let go of. Taking ownership will energise you to make the small changes, to take the small steps that will make your WorkLife better.

As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I know the importance of serving people’s preferred learning style. Some people like the bigger picture — quotes allow that. Other people like more detail — the chapter introductions allow that.

I like the bigger picture, to begin with, then I like detail. So I like both.

What’s your preferred learning style?

Bigger picture, more detail, or both?

First shared in my book: Your WorkLife Your Way.

Click on the above title for an inside view of the book, to see the other topics and assignments which have been created to help you manage your WorkLife learning, development and growth.   

My Vaccination Experience: The Second Jab

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash

What has remained with me from my second Covid-19 vaccine experience are the stories of the two women I say that day.

One, a Chinese born retired dentist, who having spent a year travelling after taking early retirement, at the age of 58, on return to the UK, as soon as the vaccine rollout began, answered the call to return to work to help with the rollout programme.

The other, a British born woman of similar age, who out of school trained to be a nurse, but then went on to work in education, in school management programmes, also answered the call to help with the rollout programme on her days off.

For a second time within the eleven-week timeframe from my first jab, I was completely humbled by the commitment of NHS workers both past and present.

And their stories, which they shared in response to my question:

Are you both part of the NHS?

Read about My Vaccination Experience The First Jab

What Happens When We Discover The Grass Wasn’t Greener After-all?

Sometimes Following a Leap into Something New We Realise Our Original Choice Was a Better One but We Then Struggle to Get Back to That

Photo by Jesse Zheng from Pexels

When people come to me saying they’re unhappy in their work and want to find something that has more meaning to them and is inspiring in a way that gets them out of bed in the morning and keeps them sustained throughout the day — from the here and now into the future.

I always say that as we go through the process and we consider, evaluate, and reality check a number of options, they may discover that the job they’re in is not so bad after all or perhaps the new WorkLife they choose will take a little time and planning and in the short-term, they may have to stay put, but they will need to effect some changes to improve their current circumstances. Now that’s not what people want to hear, but it is better to know before jumping ship that the grass is not always greener.

The Greener Grass syndrome is probably something we all know of or have experienced. Sometimes when a client comes to me, it’s because they made a leap into something new, and they’ve come to realise that actually, their original WorkLife was a better choice for them, but they’re finding it a challenge to get back in.

Let’s take Arjun’s story as an example:

Arjun began his WorkLife in Human Rights law, which he really enjoyed. He was involved in some high profile cases, which drew attention to him and his talent. As a result, he was head-hunted into the arena of Commercial law and supported in his re-training. A completely different world which he may have enjoyed for a time but soon grew tired of and, as a result, considered law might not actually be for him.

And so he took a sabbatical, during which time he set up a juice bar which took off overnight and became a huge success, but then the recession hit and his business was affected, and he had to let his staff go, and he was running a one-man show and working all the hours under the sun. This took a toll on his health, and he became seriously ill and had to sell his business. During the long road to recovery, he had plenty of time for reflection, and he came to realise that law was his passion, not Commercial law but Human Rights law, and so he set about getting back into doing this.

This is where he began to encounter obstacles. Having been away from this area of law for over three years, his CV wasn’t getting past 1st base with recruitment consultants or job boards, and so he began to work with a WorkLife Coach.

It’s important to have the bases of recruitment consultants and job boards covered, but in this current competitive environment, you can only be proactive about connecting with consultants and applying for jobs, but then you’re reactive because you’re waiting for an opportunity to come through. So you need to be proactive with moving your job search on to speculative approaches and networking.

Arjun and his coach both knew that once he got in front of an employer, he’d get the job. This was because he made a great first impression, he was passionate about his work, and he would get the opportunity to explain why he left this particular area and why he wanted to return.

But he was still facing a brick wall. He could not get past 1st base of being invited along for an interview. And, so he had to consider what else could be done.

I’m a firm believer of ‘when the student is ready, the teacher will come’ or an opportunity will arise and out of no way will come a way. This is exactly what happened. By way of research that Arjun was carrying out as a part of his job search strategy, he came across an opportunity that would support him in getting back into human rights law.

But it was in South Africa. While he knew the particular piece of work would look great on his CV and allow him to connect and network with individuals and organisations that could facilitate his move back into what he wanted to do, it would involve moving to South Africa for six months.

He loved his life in London, but he knew he had to do what he had to do and so he applied and was successful in securing the role. At the end of the six months, he accepted a three-year assignment to work closely with the United Nations. This was part of his longer-term plan that came about much more quickly than he had dreamed.

And so, before making that move to what you might consider are greener pastures, perhaps first take time to consider if there are any changes you can effect to make your current situation better.

I always think if your career is a 70% fit in terms of your values, interests, and motivators, you’ll be able to get some of what might be missing in your life outside of work.

For example, you might not like being desk-bound or office or city-based, and so you figure out how to design your work so that it doesn’t demand you’re always at your desk or in the office and at weekends you get out in the country. In most cases, this is achievable as we move towards a more mobile way of working.

Now, all that said, I do actually think that we all have more than one career in our lifetime, and with longevity, there’s space for a whole new career between retirement and death, but that’s for another post.

Arjun’s story was featured in my book: Your WorkLife Your Way.

Click on the above title for an inside view of the book, to see the other topics and assignments which have been created to help you manage your WorkLife learning, development and growth.   

The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories I share my own experiences, and with permission stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities. 

My Vaccination Experience: The First Jab

Photo by Courtney Hedger on Unsplash

What has remained with me from my first Covid-19 vaccine experience are the stories of the two women I saw that day.

One, a British born nurse, who in her day job works with immigrants, taking care of their medical needs. 

The other, a Caribbean born neurosurgeon who moved to the UK to follow her dream of working within the NHS. 

They were there that day because they both volunteer on their days off to administer vaccines.

I expressed my immense gratitude for everything they had done and continue to do throughout the pandemic through tear-filled eyes. 

I felt so humbled in that moment when they briefly shared their stories in response to my question: 

Are you both part of the NHS?

Read about My Vaccination Experience: The Second Jab

How To be Autonomous In Your Development And Growth

Autonomy in Your Development and Growth Comes From Learning, Knowledge and Experience. Three Superpowers We All Have within Us

Tony’s Story — Going Across rather than Up the Proverbial WorkLife Ladder

Tony is a sales negotiator in residential property. While he really enjoys his work, he feels his development and growth has stagnated. For the moment there is no scope for him to advance his position within the company — and he is fine with that, because he enjoys his day-to-day work. But he does feel the need to stretch himself more, and he wants to develop new skills — to go across rather than up the proverbial career ladder.

He identified that he wanted to develop his coaching and training skills, and figured the best way to get started at this would be to teach something to someone. He had a wealth of knowledge, and so he asked himself what the smallest and simplest thing he could do to teach someone was.

A fundamental part of his role was building rapport and connecting with people both on the phone and in person. Tony excelled at this, as did his fellow sales colleagues, but he had observed that other colleagues in different functions sometimes struggled. While this was not necessarily integral to all roles, Tony felt this was a WorkLife skill that would benefit everyone, regardless of whether they needed it in their particular role.

Because it was something that had always come naturally to him, he had never given much thought as to how he did it. So he began to break down the steps, which he identified as being:

  1. Open with a smile;
  2. Be himself;
  3. Be friendly;
  4. Listen well;
  5. Show real interest;
  6. Find common ground;
  7. Go off-script.

He noted questions he used throughout the call or meeting to build and maintain rapport, to really connect with people.

The company ran Friday Lunch and Learn sessions where people imparted their knowledge to a captive audience of pizza eaters. Tony put forward his idea for a session on building rapport, which attracted a lot of interest. He wanted to make it fun, and so he asked people to share experiences and ideas for good, bad and ugly sales calls, which he then developed into roleplay scenarios. 

People loved it and wanted more. Tony was happy to oblige and is setting out to develop a series of coaching and training programmes, as well as more Friday Lunch and Learn sessions.

Develop Your WorkLife Story

In today’s world there are not always opportunities to climb the proverbial WorkLife ladder. There will often be few or no positions to grow into. You can, however, continue your development and growth through learning, knowledge and experience, in or out of your workplace.


Becoming an Autonomous Self-Development and Growth Agent Assignment

Begin by asking yourself:

How do I want to develop and grow?


What do I want to develop and grow into?


What learning, knowledge and experience do I want to gain?

What opportunities either in or out of the workplace will facilitate this?

Having this awareness will help you to identify the opportunities you need to facilitate your development and growth wants and needs.

This story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Be Autonomous In Your Development And Growth, from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

Click on the above title for an inside view of the book, where you will see the stories and assignments. Tap the link below to see the other books in the series.

The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories I share my own experiences, and with permission stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities.

Taking Care of Your WorkLife Wellbeing

Maureen Was Already Feeling the Pressure of Her Need to Stay Socially Connected 24/7, When Her Husband, Robert, Was Diagnosed With Cancer

Photo by Julie Aaggaard from Pexels

Taking Care of Your WorkLife Wellbeing is part of a series of people’s WorkLife health stories. Stories of how the stresses of both work and life impacted their wellbeing. Stories of how people needed to take better care of both their physical and mental wellbeing. Stories of people needing to establish better WorkLife wellbeing practices both in and out of the workplace. Stories of people needing to take time out, or to make time to take better care of their own and their families wellbeing.

Taking Care of Your WorkLife Wellbeing: A Case Study

Maureen was already feeling the pressure of her need to stay connected 24/7 to the clothing company she had started a couple of years earlier, when her husband, Robert, was diagnosed with cancer.

As Robert had chosen to be a stay-at-home dad, managing his work as a writer around taking care of their two children, Maureen knew she would now have to shoulder this. She would somehow need to do this alongside running her business, as this would be their only source of income for the foreseeable future.

It was all too much, and one day, a few weeks into the situation she was trying so hard to manage, her mind and her ability to function simply shut down. She felt her WorkLife had spiralled out of control, and that she had lost control. She didn’t know if it was deep anxiety, or depression, or burnout, but whatever it was that had forced her to shutdown, also forced her to think about which aspects of her WorkLife she had control over, and which aspects she didn’t.

To be able to do what she needed to get herself, her husband and their children through this, she needed to get back in control, and to do this she needed to let go of something: both the practical side of doing something and any emotional attachments she had to that.

Maureen immediately knew she had to let go of her need to stay connected to her work 24/7.But the reality was, this was her family’s livelihood, which she somehow had to maintain for them to survive. Technology was integral to the success of her business, and through social media platforms it had allowed her to build relationships with her customers, which it had played a key part in her connecting her with. But it was her relationship with technology that was causing her immense pressure.

She asked herself: How can I have a better relationship with technology, to do what I need to do in my WorkLife now, while still maintaining my relationship with my customers?

Through self-feedback the answer that came to her was that she needed to do the following three things:

1. To let her customers know what she and her family were going through right now. She had always shared aspects of her family life, because it was part of her WorkLife, and she had always taken a holistic approach in bringing her work and life together.

2. To set up a work schedule that fitted in around everything she needed to do for her family: taking her husband to his hospital appointments, and taking care of his needs while at home; preparing family meals, doing the school run, helping with homework; spending quality time as a family.

3. Remove all work-related apps from her phone. During the hours she scheduled to work, she got out her laptop. This decreased the chances of a mobile notification pulling her into work.

These three actions gave Maureen back the control she needed to manage the situation. It also allowed her mind to open up again. In doing so she was reminded of the:

Sage Wisdom

“By adopting alternative approaches to your business, you and your company will survive to innovate another day.” Seth Godin.

Book Wisdom

She picked up the book Purple Cow by Seth Godin, which took her back to the principle: Ideas That Spread, Win. Godin says: “A brand is nothing more than an idea. Ideas that spread are more likely to succeed than those that don’t. I call ideas that spread, ideaviruses.”

“Sneezers are the key spreading agents of an ideavirus. These are the experts who tell all their colleagues or friends or admirers about a new product or service on which they are a perceived authority. Sneezers are the ones who launch and maintain ideaviruses.”

This is the principle that was responsible for the growth of Maureen’s company. She had told her brand story through platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest with images of her clothing range accompanied by short blog posts, telling stories of the people who wore the clothes. The sneezers shared these stories and her business took off. In sharing her current story, she reached out to ask people to share their own images of wearing her clothes and the stories that went along with them. She then asked her band of sneezers to help spread these stories wide and far. People were really happy to help out, resulting in Maureen’s business not just surviving, but thriving.

Words of Wisdom

“Your product will only survive in a crowded marketplace if you stop advertising and start innovating.” Seth Godin


Robert thankfully beat his cancer, and is now back to being a stay at home dad and to his writing. Maureen continues to keep her phone free from all work-related apps, pulling out her laptop only during the hours she has scheduled to work. The family are all experiencing greater WorkLife health, and spending quality time together. Maureen has rolled this practice out with her team to ensure they also experience better WorkLife health, free from the pressures of being constantly connected to work.

Today’s featured book is: Purple Cow by Seth Godin

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share 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, failures 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.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.