Top Seven Tips for WorkLife Development by Carmel O’ Reilly

WorkLife development is about enriching your life to reflect your changing professional and personal needs. 

Top Seven Tips for WorkLife Development … is part of a series of tips, techniques and stories to help you learn, develop and grow in your WorkLife.

WorkLife development is about enriching your life to reflect your changing professional and personal needs. 

Those are the beginning words of a blog post I wrote some time ago, words taken from the learning from the stories of the people I’ve worked with. I’ve revised the post for this week’s blog and podcast.

Carmel’s Story: A Top Seven Tips for WorkLife Development Case Study:

WorkLife development is about enriching your life to reflect your changing professional and personal needs.

Sage Wisdom

“Build trust. Believe in the process. Earn a seat at the table, Be curious about everything. Learn how to listen deeply. Maintain a sense of humour about everything. Keep Moving.” Alina Wheeler

Book Wisdom 

In the book Brand Atlas by Alina Wheeler and Joel Katz they say: “Brands who do one thing better than anyone else and deliver on their promises are unstoppable.” They talk about how in Good To Great, Jim Collins: “Demonstrates how growth and greatness spring from companies that have a purpose beyond profit, strong core values, and a disciplined culture.” 

They propose the following questions for self-reflection and self-feedback:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What can you be best in the world at?
  • What drives your economic engine? 

As your WorkLife develops it is important to retain a sense of purpose that motivates and challenges you, allowing self-fulfilment and opportunities to develop and grow. The following tips are intended to help you manage your WorkLife development plan:

1. You are accountable for your own success. As such it is your responsibility to be aware of your attributes and skills that can give you a competitive edge. Commit to excelling in what comes naturally to you to develop personal mastery. For example, if you are a good negotiator, look for ways to fine tune your technique by practising in everyday situations both in and out of work.

2. Imagine as deeply as possible your vision for your future WorkLife reality. Then work backwards from that to determine what you need to learn or experience over the next one or two years to be seen as a highly desirable candidate to step into your next role. Thinking of the bigger picture and understanding the challenges your industry is facing will support you in identifying the right intelligence and know-how needed to accelerate your WorkLife advancement.

3. Embrace learning through experience – be open to learning and change. Your unique talent needs to be nurtured and developed through the right experiences, and this will support meaningful work. Use assignments and secondments creatively, bring your personal insights and creative abilities to each assignment. Aim to build breadth and personal depth. This is your opportunity to shine and build your personal brand.

4. Make mentoring work – build a personal advisory board who can guide your WorkLife goals. Identify your circle of influence and take time to invest in these relationships. Take responsibility through benchmarking – benchmarking allows you to compare yourself with others, identify their comparative strengths and weaknesses and learn how to improve.

5. Demand inspirational leadership and support your manager (if you work for yourself, you’re your own manager) in being innovative with leadership programmes. Identify key thought leaders in your industry – people you admire and respect for their authentic leadership – then role model their behaviours.

6. Find ways of gaining exposure to new people and ideas by being a participant in a strategic task force. Think of your networking as a professional development bootcamp to meet people you would like to collaborate with. Learn to value your time and how to connect with the right people. Nurture the relationships that matter most. Give time and attention to keep the most meaningful relationships active at all times.

7. Invest in your personal life to create balance and strengthen your WorkLife. Spend time with the people important to you and do the things you love to do outside of your work. This helps to clear your mind and broaden your observations through a different lens and appreciate new ideas that can help shape your thinking and contribute to your personal growth.

Words of Wisdom

“Define what your brand stand for, its core values and tone of voice, and then communicate consistently in those terms.” Simon Mainwaring

Epilogue

Today’s world gives you voice, power and multiple ways to develop your unique brand. You’re in the driving seat of your WorkLife development journey. You get to choose which roads to travel down – the roads that will enrich your life. Along the way you can reflect on your changing professional and personal needs, the decision to make a detour or change direction is all yours. Enjoy the ride!

Today’s book of the blog is: Brand Atlas by Alina Wheeler and Joel Katz

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.

My Top Three Isolation Inspirations By Carmel O’ Reilly

My Top Three Isolation Inspirations is part of a series of people’s stories of how they’re spending their lockdown, and how they’re being inspired in isolation.

In deciding what I was going to do in this strange time of lockdown and isolation I asked myself: How can I make the most of this time? The self-feedback I received in answer was that I wanted to do the following three things – which are actually six things, because well that’s what came to me, because they all seemed like good ideas, because they’re things I can combine, and because I can.

My Top Three Isolation Inspirations A Case Study

Isolation Inspirations

1. READING/WATCHING TV 

Embracing being at home and indulging in pure unadulterated me time, to my absolute delight I discovered all thirty-four of the previously screened episodes of Inspector Montalbano are currently available on iPlayer. I’m a huge fan, so of course I decided to work my way through them – there is a little work involved as it’s in Italian with English subtitles. As I’d watched them before I wanted to create a sense of purpose around re-watching them, and so I decided I’d read each book first, then watch the episode.

My reasoning behind this was two-fold: 

  1. I want to read more fiction, and mysteries are a life-long favourite genre. Beginning from a young age with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven books, then moving on to Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple detective novels, and many, many more in-between.
  2. I have an idea for a mystery book, but I have no idea how to go about writing it, and so I’m setting out to learn just that, and what better way to do it than by embracing my love of literature and performing arts.

2. LANGUAGE LEARNING/EXERCISING AT HOME

Before the pandemic hit, I’d planned a road-trip around Ireland along with exploring France by train. While this of course has to go on hold for now, I thought I could still prepare, and as this is something I could multi-task on, I thought the best combination would be with home-exercise. So, I got my Michel Thomas Irish and French Language CDs, along with my Jane Fonda and Callanetics DVDs off the shelf, dusted them off, put on my legwarmers and got going. 

3. PHOTOGRAPHY/WALKING

I decided I’d use this time to learn how to take better photographs. This is simply because I love photographs, but I’ve never been very good at taking them. This seemed like the perfect time to try out my new iPhone that I’d bought because of the camera function, which was reportedly good for both photos and videos. I created a project which I’ve called ‘Capturing the Beauty in Everyday WorkLife’, and as we’re allowed to exercise outside of home, I thought I’d combine both. How am I doing? Here are a few of my pics: I’ll let you judge.


Book Wisdom

So, what wisdom am I gleaning from reading mystery books and how could this be helpful in your WorkLife? Looking at the first book in the series of Inspector Montalbano (The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri), Donna Leon, an American author of a series of crime novels set in Venice, Italy, said: “The novels of Andrea Camilleri breathe out the sense of place, the sense of humour, and the sense of despair that fill the air of Sicily. To read him is to be taken to that glorious, tortured island.” 

Alongside exploring how to write a mystery book, I’m also working on my next book, which is about helping people to tell their unique WorkLife stories. Since 2003 in my work as a WorkLife consultant I’ve helped people manage, develop and transition their WorkLife. The importance of people being able to tell their story whether in interviews, presentations, in networking situations is so important at all WorkLife stages.

My earlier posts: Everything is Riding On This – We’re Relying On YouHello My Name Is … and I’m a Recovering Boring Person and Crushed by Feedback and What I Did Next demonstrate how to give a sense of place, humour and despair in storytelling. 

Words of Wisdom

In the midst of times of uncertainty and disruption powerful shifts are going to come about, people are going to make big changes. You may not have the clarity on what you could, should, would do, if you only knew what that was, and that’s OK. Focus instead on how you should think about making decisions when the time is right for you.

Sage Wisdom

Down moments are sometimes when the greatest opportunities arise.

Epilogue 

This chapter of my WorkLife has just begun. In time I’ll reflect what it meant for me, what I learnt from it, and what changes it effected in my WorkLife. 

I leave you with a couple of questions for you to reflect on at whatever stage you’re at, at this chapter in your WorkLife.

What do you want to get out this strange, bizarre, challenging time?

What do you want to remember from this time?

Through reflection and self-feedback let the answers inform your isolation inspirations in whatever you choose to do. 

In time should you choose to make changes in your WorkLife, ask yourself: How should I think about making these decisions? 

Today’s book of the blog is: The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

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.

The Irish and The Chocktaws: A Story Spanning 173 Years That Connects our Tribes Across the Ocean By Carmel O’ Reilly

“To everyone who wants to create a world where not a single person is poor”. Muhammad Yunus

The Irish and The Chocktaws: A Story Spanning 173 Years That Connects our Tribes Across the Ocean is part of Acts of Kindness, Solidarity, Making a Difference and Reciprocity series of stories. Stories where people showed and were shown great kindness, both in difficult times and in good times. Stories of solidarity that connected people through humanity. Stories that showed the best of humanity in difficult times, in times when it was needed most.  Stories of individuals and organisations who made a difference. Stories of reciprocity because it was the right thing to do. Stories of acts of kindness, solidarity, making a difference and reciprocity, which were shown simply because people wanted to help – some were in a position to give support themselves, others joined forces to give support as a collective. All of whom did this without wanting or expecting anything in return.

The Irish and The Chocktaws: A Story Spanning 173 Years That Connects our Tribes Across the Ocean A Case Study:

Navajo and Hopi Families Covid-19 Relief Fund, Ethel Branch organiser writes: “My last update was 11 days ago, and I reported then that we had broken the $1 million fundraising mark. Well we have now broken the $2 million mark, in good part due to a beautiful act of solidarity from our friends in Ireland, who remember the kindness shown to them by our Choctaw brothers and sisters, who sent them aid during the great potato famine in 1847. Thank you so much, Ireland!!! 

“Several of our recent donations for our GoFundMe campaign have been inspired by the Great Hunger Famine in Ireland which started in 1845.

“During this difficult time, in 1847, the Choctaw Nation provided $170 of relief aid to the Irish to help them (today that is the equivalent of $5,000). Not long before the Great Hunger Famine in Ireland, 60,000 Native Americans, including the Choctaw people, had suffered through the experience of the Trail of Tears. The death of many people on the Trail of Tears sparked empathy for the Irish people in their time of need. Thus, the Choctaw extended $170 of relief aid.

“173 years later to today, the favour is returned through generous donations from the Irish people to the Navajo Nation during our time of crisis. A message from Irish donor, Pat Hayes, sent from Ireland across the ocean: ‘From Ireland, 170 years later, the favour is returned! To our Native American brothers and sisters in your moment of hardship’.

“The heartache is real. We have lost so many of our sacred Navajo elders and youth to COVID-19. It is truly devastating. And a dark time in history for our Nation. In moments like these, we are so grateful for the love and support we have received from all around the world. Acts of kindness from indigenous ancestors passed being reciprocated nearly 200 years later through blood memory and interconnectedness. Thank you, IRELAND, for showing solidarity and being here for us.”

https://www.gofundme.com/f/NHFC19Relief

I was moved to tears when I learnt how the Choctaw Tribe had helped my ancestors in our time of greatest need, how across the ocean they had shown us such great kindness and solidarity, when they had so little themselves. I cried tears of immense pride when I read the comments of my fellow country men and women who 173 years later were remembering and reciprocating this great kindness by giving what they could in an act of appreciation and solidarity.

Book Wisdom

In trying to make sense of what this could mean in today’s world, a world that has been turned upside down by the pandemic we’re all living through together while apart, I reached for a book I’d read many years ago: Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunnus. Yunnus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneered the concept of microcredit and microfinance. These loans are given to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans.

The Prologue “Starting with a Handshake” made me smile. Who could ever have envisioned a time when we can’t do that? In time of course the warmth and true meaning of that gesture will return. Yunnus tells the story of how over a lunch meeting with Franck Riboud, the chairman and CEO of Group Danone, he learnt about the origins of the corporation behind the brand. He learnt how Danone is an important source of food in many regions of the world, including developing nations where hunger is a serious problem. Riboud wanted to find ways to help feed the poor. It was part of his company’s historic commitment to being socially innovative and progressive. Within a very short space of time Yunnus found himself suggesting creating a joint venture to manufacture healthful foods that would improve the life of rural Bangladeshis – especially the children. Selling the products at a low price could make a real difference in the lives of millions of people. 

Immediately Riboud rose from his chair, extended his hand, and said “Let’s do it.” And they shook hands. Yunnus said he was as elated as he was incredulous. He questioned if this really could be happening so quickly, and wondered what they had agreed to and if perhaps what he said wasn’t understood because of his Bangladeshi accent. When they sat back down, he decided he’d better make sure that Franck knew what he was getting himself – and his company – into.

As he began to explain, Franck nodded and said: “No, I got it! Your plan is quite clear to me. I shook hands with you because you told me that, in Gameen Bank, you rely on mutual trust between the bank and the borrowers, making loans on the basis of a handshake rather than legal papers. So I am following your system. We shook hands, and as far as I am concerned, the deal is final.”

As I continue to ponder what all of this means in today’s upside down world, the initial learning I’m taking from these stories is that the decision to show kindness, solidarity, reciprocity, and to make a difference is instant; and it’s something that each one of us can take ownership for, whether as individuals, in our communities, our tribes, or our organisations. It begins by asking a simple question: What can I/we do to help? Then reflecting through self-feedback on the answer that comes to us, to follow through with the action we can take that will have the greatest impact. 

Words of Wisdom

“In Creating a World Without Poverty, Muhammad Yunnus argues convincingly that social business is an achievable way of exploiting capitalism to help the poor.” Poverty News Blog.

Sage Wisdom

“By giving poor people the power to help themselves, Dr. Yunus has offered them something far more valuable than a plate of food – security in its most fundamental form.” Former President Jimmy Carter

Epilogue

This is how Grameen Danone Foods defined its objective:

“Grameen Danone Foods aims to reduce poverty by creating business and employment opportunities for local people, since raw materials, including milk needed for production, will be sourced locally. The companies that make up Grameen Danone Foods Ltd. have agreed not to take out any of the profits out of the company. Instead they will invest these for creation of new opportunities for the welfare and development of people. Hence it is called ‘social business enterprise’.”

Today’s book of the blog is: Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism By Muhammad Yunus

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.

How a Side Hustle Can Supercharge Your Skill Set and Effectively Future Proof Your WorkLife by Carmel O’ Reilly

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Steve Jobs

How a Side Hustle Can Supercharge Your Skill Set and Effectively Future Proof Your WorkLife … are people’s stories of how a side hustle allowed them to: utilise their skills beyond the scope of their industry; create opportunities outside of their main work; use the skills they already had to take the initiative to get things done; build confidence in a new skills set; create an additional income stream; make connections; practice authenticity; develop independence; spread risk, and much, much more.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Steve Jobs. Those were Saoirse’s opening words at her university’s annual alumni day.  But let’s hear Saoirse’s full address to understand her story:

A How a Side Hustle Can Supercharge Your Skill Set and Future Proof Your WorkLife Case Study:

Saoirse’s Alumni Address:

Sage Wisdom

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Steve Jobs.

In my earlier talk I shared how a side hustle saved my WorkLife and my well-being, and how I instinctively knew that sharing my experience would help other people. 

I took the following approach to understand how I could do this:

  • I evaluated what I enjoyed about both my work and side hustle;
  • I considered learning I wanted to undertake – areas of my WorkLife in which I wanted to grow and develop;
  • I thought about how I could combine skills from both to create something that was truly my own.

I’d begun my WorkLife as a freelance copy writer. When I had more work than I could handle, I outsourced it to fellow copy writers. This was reciprocated. This led me to founding a start-up business: a cooperative for freelance copy writers. 

I enjoyed writing, I enjoyed bringing people together, I enjoyed working solo on smaller projects and I enjoyed collaborating on bigger projects. 

I enjoyed the immediate and continuous sense of well-being and serenity I’d experienced by tidying my home. A weekend project which I soon became to think of as a side hustle because I felt it had greater scope. I enjoyed the enlightenment, inspiration and creativity that came to me through clarity in my thinking and from having a focused mind.

I wanted to learn how to enable people to learn and grow through self-development. That was my growth and development plan.

I asked myself: “How can I make a difference in people’s lives?” “What action will get me closer to the reality that I have just envisioned?”

The answer that came to me through reflection and self-feedback was that I could develop a mentoring programme for people who wanted to declutter their WorkLife. 

I focused on people who had founded start-ups.  After all, I knew their pain, so I knew there was value in teaching what I had learnt  to other people, and I wanted to do something that made a difference for others. That was my marketing plan: to Market to a specific group based on a shared identity.

Book Wisdom

I re-read Give and Take by Adam Grant, the book that helped me when I was figuring out how to shift from freelancing to establishing a business that aligned with my values. The book enabled me to articulate what honouring my core values meant in this WorkLife transition. I wanted:

  • To build a successful company from the collective energy, intelligence and contributions from all team members;
  • To practice a win-win practice with our team and our clients, by treating everyone with respect, fairness and integrity, and expecting the same in return; 
  • To serve and support our community by developing relationships that make a positive difference in people’s lives by enabling continuous learning, development and growth.

For me this book holds the key to a more satisfying and productive WorkLife, better relationships and fairer profits. It’s helped me to play my part in creating a society in which people do better by being better. It provides an inspiring perspective on how to do better by being better.

I began by utilising my experience to teach what being a self-organiser is really like. I created a virtual declutter mentoring programme for people who wanted to take a DIY approach to organising their WorkLives – instructional videos and work sheets. I made my course accessible by charging only £19. I thought this was a good price point for adding value to the course while also making it available to more people.

Next, I developed a 4-week organisation mentorship programme: for people who wanted to establish a business in professional WorkLife decluttering. I put together short-term training packages, to educate people on how to handle their business from the initial start-up through to the developing stages of growth. I followed my principles of wanting to make the course valuable and accessible by charging only £79. 

Finally, I contracted with a team to support high-end clients; people looking for onsite WorkLife professional organising. The cost for a 4-hour session is £299, which I outsource to my team. I take 20% commission from each job. 

Words of Wisdom

In managing your own WorkLife learning, growth and development, ask yourself: “What do I want? and “What will make me more fulfilled?” Reflect on what comes up for you, then identity how you can make that happen, and from there develop your plan. Pay attention to what you discover along the way: I discovered I enjoyed empowering others rather than being on-site doing the physical work myself. This allowed me to adjust and adapt my plan. 

Epilogue

You can view my earlier talk How a Side Hustle Saved My WorkLife and Well-Being on the university’s intranet to help you understand what led me to these simple steps of evaluating what I enjoyed about both my work and side hustle; considering the learning I wanted to undertake; the areas of my WorkLife in which I wanted to grow and develop; and thinking about how I could combine skills from both to create something that was truly my own. This had a significant and positive impact supercharging my skill set. 

Each and every one of you can do the same. By taking responsibility for your own learning, growth and development, you can design your WorkLIfe transitions around investing in a diverse set of skills, and in so doing you can effectively future-proof your WorkLife. Thank you. 

Last week Saoirse told her story of How a Side Hustle Save My WorkLife and Well Being.

Todays Book of the Blog is: Give and Take by Adam Grant

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.

How A Side Hustle Saved My WorkLife And My Well-Being by Carmel O’ Reilly

Three years ago, I was feeling the burnout from working the long hours required as founder of a start-up …

How A Side Hustle Saved My WorkLife And My Well-Being… are people’s stories of how a side hustle made a positive impact in their WorkLife. Stories of how a side hustle helped: their well-being; take ownership of their WorkLife; enable opportunities; build financial security; utilise existing skills; develop new skills; connect with their community; establish their reputation; to stand out; to distinguish themselves and their uniqueness; bring new opportunities their way, and much, much more.

Three years ago, I was feeling the burnout from working the long hours required as founder of a start-up … those were Saoirse’s opening words as guest-speaker on WorkLife Well-Being at her university’s annual alumni day. But let’s hear Saoirse’s full address to understand her story:

A How A Side Hustle Saved My WorkLife And My Well-Being Case Study: 

Saoirse’s WorkLife Well-Being Alumni Address:

Three years ago, I was feeling the burnout from working the long hours required as founder of a start-up. I was feeling overwhelmed and I knew I needed to reorganise my WorkLife. I lived in and worked from a small studio flat, and it was messy, it was disorganised, it was full of so much stuff, I could never find anything. But I didn’t have the time, energy or motivation to tidy it up, or so I thought.

Sage Wisdom 

My dear and wise friend Anne came to visit, and over a few beers I shared my woes, telling her how I no longer had the same clarity of thought in my thinking, and how I was struggling to focus my mind. “Tidy your home, and you’ll tidy your mind,” she said. But I don’t have the time, was my argument. “You need a side-hustle,” she responded. I think you’ve had too many beers, I said. I don’t need to take on something else, I need to let go of something. “That’s exactly my point,” she said. “You need to declutter, and you also need to reframe. You need to shift your focus from all the reasons why you can’t do something to emphasising what’s possible. By shifting from a negative mindset to a positive mindset you’re implicitly acknowledging that it’s possible. And I have the perfect book that’s going to help you,” she continued “It’s an easy, yet insightful read. Come over on Sunday and while you get started on it, I’ll make us lunch.” You really have had one too many, I responded, if you think reading a book is going to help me. “All I ask is you give it a try,” she answered. Knowing she wasn’t going to give up, along with the fact that her Sunday roast is the best in town, I agreed.

Book Wisdom

On arrival at her home that Sunday morning Anne took me directly to her wonderfully relaxing courtyard patio. Awaiting me was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and soon to follow was a pot of her home-brewed coffee. Informing me lunch would be a couple of hours she left me alone. Wanting to make good with my promise to give the book a try, I got stuck in. 

Anne was right, it was an easy read, and more importantly it was insightful. It elicited self-feedback through self-questioning. Such as asking myself:

Why do I want to tidy?

I want a space that’s not cluttered was my response.

In preparation for getting started, I had to visualise my destination by asking myself:

What do I hope to gain through tidying?

I discovered my goal of wanting a space that’s not cluttered was too broad.

I had to think about it more deeply, so that I could vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.

Wanting a more serene lifestyle was what came to me. Closing my eyes, I saw myself in my home:

My bookshelves were choc-a-bloc, with the overflow on my windowsills blocking my view across the rooftops of London, and London life in the streets below. I had more books and magazines all over the floor of what is my workspace/ living room during the day, and my bedroom at night. When I’d go to bed I’d have to move the clothes which wouldn’t fit into my already stuffed wardrobes from my bed to the floor, and then in the morning put them back on the bed, so I’d have a pathway to move around. My lifestyle could not have been called serene by any stretch of the imagination.

The book prompted me to go more deeply into what I meant by a serene lifestyle. I wanted windowsills and floors that were clean of clutter, to make my home a calm space to work from during the day, and a peaceful space to relax in at the beginning and end of my day. 

In the morning I wanted to be have my first coffee sitting in my window seat (which was covered in clothes), slowly waking-up watching the sun rise on a new day. At night, I wanted to sit and read looking out at a moonlit sky as the day came to a close. 

I wanted to be enlightened, I wanted inspiration, I wanted creativity, which has always come to me through imagination. I wanted to day-dream – I’d been feeling blocked, and my night-dreams were troubled – I wanted to be carefree.

Going deeper into knowing my Why (Why I want to tidy), led me to know what I wanted. This also allowed me to know that tidying would allow me to have the enlightenment, inspiration and creativity I wanted and needed to live my WorkLife with the serenity I deeply yearned. I had all of this knowledge by the time Anne came back to let me know lunch was ready. 

With this knowledge came energy, the energy I needed to tidy my home. The book stipulated making tidying a special event, thinking of special events reminded me of early morning hikes I always liked to take whenever I wanted to explore somewhere new and different, or when I simply wanted to be alone with my thoughts. I decided I’d make the following weekend my special event of tidying, and take the same approach as I did with my hikes by rising early when my mind was at its clearest, and my power of discernment sharp.

And it worked, I got everything I wanted.  But what was perhaps most profound was the immediacy in which it worked, together with how what I wanted remained with me over the coming days, weeks and months, actually that never left. I now live a WorkLife filled with serenity. The enlightenment, inspiration and creativity I gained, gave me back the clarity of thought I needed in my thinking, and allowed me to focus my mind. This was integral in saving my WorkLife because without that I risked losing everything. While I didn’t explicitly set out seeking well-being in my WorkLife through tidying, this came about as a natural, holistic and powerful by-product for which I am truly grateful. 

Words of Wisdom

If there are times in your WorkLife when you feel overwhelmed or you’re reaching burnout, I encourage you to reframe. By shifting from a negative mindset to a positive mindset you’re implicitly acknowledging that it’s possible, and that’s the beginning of a pathway to your WorkLife well-being. 

Epilogue

What began from a place of feeling burnout and being overwhelmed in my WorkLife, took me on an unexpected path to not only overcoming my challenges but also coming through with a strong sense of knowing that my experience could help other people’s WorkLife well-being.  This has led me to develop my weekend project of tidying into a side-hustle. I’ll share more about that in my talk later today: How A Side Hustle Can Super Charge Your Skill Set and Effectively Future Proof Your WorkLife.  Thank You.

Next week Saoirse will tell her story of How A Side Hustle Can Super Charge Your Skill Set and Future Proof Your WorkLife.

Todays Book of the Blog is: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, by Marie Kondo

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.

Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Carmel O’ Reilly

The hardest workers always get rewarded. By “rewarded” I mean both financially and in terms of responsibility. 

Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You … are people’s stories of how they carved out a WorkLife that was rewarding, fulfilling and meaningful, how they worked with people they admired, how they contributed in ways that was valuable, and how their WorkLife allowed  them to make a difference in a way that had a positive impact.

The hardest workers always get rewarded. By “rewarded” I mean both financially and in terms of responsibility. Those were Elaine’s opening words at her university’s annual alumni day. But let’s hear Elaine’s full address to understand her story:

A Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You Case Study:

Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Elaine’s Alumni Address:

The hardest workers always get rewarded. By “rewarded” I mean both financially and in terms of responsibility.

Sage Wisdom

Tim Cook said: “There is 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. He added something equally powerful: There’s nothing more beautiful than trying.”

As you prepare to go out into the world, wherever your WorkLife takes you you’ll want to stand out, you’ll want to be recognised, and you’ll want to be rewarded. But how do you achieve that? The answer to that question came to me though the superpower of:

Book Wisdom

I learnt lessons and drew inspiration from Setting the Table by Danny Meyer. It’s essential reading, not just for people in the restaurant business, but for people in any business, people who want to play an integral role in integrating the success of a business and the success of its community.

In the book Meyer asks: “To imagine if every business was a lightbulb and that for each lightbulb the primary goal was to attract the most moths possible. Now what if you learned that 49 percent of the reason moths were attracted to a bulb was for the quality of its light (brightness being the task of the bulb) and that 51 percent of the attraction was to the warmth projected by the bulb (heat being connected with the feeling of the bulb).” He said: “It’s remarkable how many businesses shine brightly when it comes to acing the tasks but emanate all the warmth of a cool fluorescent light.” He went on to say: “That explains how a flawless four-star restaurant can actually attract far fewer loyal fans than a two- or three-star place with soul.”

Like Meyer, in my WorkLife I wanted to be a hundred-watt lightbulb, whose work is the sum of 51 percent feeling and 49 percent task. 

I learnt that hospitality is present when something happens for you. It’s absent when something happens to you. These simple concepts – for and to – express it all. 

I learnt to err on the side of generosity: You get more by first giving more.

This wisdom allowed me to know what I needed to do in order to stand out: I needed to work hard to be the best I could be; I needed to commit myself fully to always go the extra mile; I needed to pay attention over and above the task, to what was going on around me, to the people, the situation, in order to notice what else I could do that would allow me to go that extra mile.  

I also knew I wanted and needed to be in this for the long-haul. As a graphic designer straight out of university, I had so much to learn, and because of that I knew I needed to work with and for people I admired, people I could learn from. I knew I couldn’t compromise by taking something less than my ideal job, I knew I couldn’t settle for a place where I wouldn’t accomplish anything. I wanted and needed to make an impact with my work, to stand out for reasons that gave me a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction. To be so good they couldn’t ignore me.

I encourage you to do the same. Do work that makes a contribution, work that gives you a sense of purpose, passion and pride. Work with collaborators who respect you, this is very important. You most likely won’t make a lot of money straightaway, but if you work with people you think are great, and you actually learn from them, that will be more valuable than immediate financial reward. But that will come too, along with greater rewards in terms of responsibility as you travel down the road of your WorkLife. 

The principle of working hard is an old-fashioned principle, a principle that has stood the test of time. It’s a principle that you can all live your WorkLives by. It’s a principle that leads to many rewards. It’s a simple principle: the harder you work, the better you’ll become. The greatest reward: You’ll be so good they can’t ignore you. 

Words of Wisdom

Why do I do this every day?  This is a question I regularly reflect upon. Through self-feedback the answers I’ve received include: it’s helping me achieve a goal that’s important to me; it’s helping me create freedom, independence, confidence and security. All good things to help me create the WorkLife I want. It’s about getting rewarded both financially and in terms of responsibility, it’s about what that allows me to do, who that allows me to become, how that allows me to serve others, and how through that I can achieve my dreams. 

That’s a value that I try to live out every day. I encourage you to do the same, by following this simple practice of asking yourself: Why do I do this every day? Then take time through self-feedback to reflect by way of understanding how it can help you achieve your dreams to live the WorkLife you want. 

I can’t wait to start work every day, and I hope all of you will get the same type of pleasure and reward out of what you choose to do. 

Thank you.

Epilogue

Elaine’s grounded approach while following her bright star to live her WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride has led to her giving motivational talks at her university, her workplace and at events within her industry.

Today’s Book of the Blog is: Setting the Table by Danny Meyer

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.

Build It And They Will Come, Do A Great Job Building It And They’ll Stand In Line To Get In. By Carmel O’ Reilly

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw

Build It And They Will Come, Do A Great Job Building It And They’ll Stand In Line To Get In … are people’s stories of how they carved out a WorkLife that was rewarding, fulfilling and meaningful, how they worked with people they admired, how they contributed in ways that was valuable, and how their WorkLife allowed them to make a difference in a way that had a positive impact.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw. Those were Marco’s opening words at his university’s annual alumni day.  But let’s hear Marco’s full address to understand his story:

A Build It And They Will Come, Do A Great Job Building It And They’ll Stand In Line To Get In Case Study: 

Build It And They Will Come Do A Great Job Building It And They’ll Stand In Line To Get In

Marco’s Alumni Address:

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” George Bernard Shaw

Two years ago, I interviewed for my dream job of advertising artist at my dream company. The process was really intense, but I got through the four rounds of interviews and reached the last stage – the dreaded “interview task”. You all know the drill: I had 4 hours to design a product that had a great UI (User Interface), was slick, and really stood out. 

Now you also all know the actual time that goes into that 4-hour task is considerably more. The reality was I spent 40 hours preparing. But I was OK with that. This was my dream job, with my dream company, and I really wanted that job.

I didn’t get it. I was told it was a close call, and to re-apply in another year. I was totally gutted, and it took me time to pick myself back up. As I went through what I call my Rejection Recovery Resilience phase, I was reminded of something the actor Vince Vaughan said that helped me, and I believe will help you too. So I’ll share Vince Vaughan’s:

Words of Wisdom

“When you’re rejected, find a process where you allow yourself to feel disappointed. It is important not to turn off those feelings, but it is important to understand how to do that as quickly as possible to then become productive again, and start doing the things that are going to give you a better opportunity. The sooner you get back to your own growth, and what can enhance it, the sooner the chance of having what you want in life becomes greater.” 

The time I spent in my Rejection Recovery Resilience phase brought me the fourth ‘R’:  Reflection. I’m a firm believer in effective self-feedback through insightful self-questioning. I asked myself the question: “How can I use this experience to move forward in my WorkLife?” Through self-feedback I had an idea: I took the prototype I’d developed for the interview task, I added features, and I built it into an app which you may have heard of: NOQ. An app that allows people to queue remotely for the best restaurants in town. (People applauded – NOQ was a much talked about alumni success story.)

I built the app into a business I love. That wasn’t in my plan. That wasn’t the plan I had when I was starting out, when I was sitting where you’re sitting now. My plan then was to get a job as an advertising artist at my dream company. And you all know how that worked out.

Building the app into a business I loved actually happened quite organically, but because it wasn’t in my plan, I did need help along the way. I’m a firm believer in the:

Sage Wisdom

“When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” Buddha

This is exactly what happened. The help I needed came to me in many ways to include through the superpower of:

Book Wisdom

I discovered Principles by Ray Dalio. In the book Dalio shares the unconventional principles of life and work, that can be used by anyone to achieve their own goals. The book became my bible, I learnt so much from it. In particular I learnt how to make decisions in the best possible way. I learnt that having the courage to make them comes from: a) going after what I wanted; b) failing and recovering well through radical open-mindedness; and c) changing/evolving to become ever more capable and less fearful.

I didn’t have all the answers. I didn’t need to. I asked people what they wanted, and they told me. I then found a way of giving it to them.

You can do the same. You can build a business you love, by letting your community build your business with you. Try doing something that’s good for you, good for other people, good for your community, and then let them co-write it with you.  

I began from the simple principle of wanting to use real demand in the form of bookings. I built it and they came. Did I do such a great job building it that they stand in line to get in? Well as you know NOQ means no standing in line, instead they queue remotely for the best restaurants in town. 

That’s my last plug I promise.

Now go build it and they will come. Do a great job building it and they will stand in line to get in. 

Thank you.

Epilogue

Marco’s story of how he let his community build his business struck a chord with the university. They asked him to develop a class that would help future students model what he had accomplished. The class was developed into an online course which has been made available to all alumni. 

Today’s Book of the Blog is: Principles by Ray Dalio

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.

It Was The Worst Of Times And Then It Got Even Worse, But It Did In Time Get Better by Carmel O’ Reilly

Is It Ever Too Late Or Too Difficult For Your Next WorkLife Chapter?

We’re living in very difficult times right now, with countries throughout the world introducing the toughest measures affecting how we go about our daily lives, ever seen in peacetime. We’re anxious and fearful for vulnerable loved ones. Almost overnight our lives have slowed down dramatically, nearly to the point of standstill. We’ve all become more observant of what’s happening around us. Through the stories being shared we have learnt we need to take Covid-19 seriously, and that we need to take responsibility for our own behaviour, because we’re all key players in fighting this as an army of individuals. Through our observation and the stories being shared we have also learnt about the greatness of humanity through the care and kindness being shown towards fellow human beings. And through our observation and the stories being shared we are also seeing hope and recovery. 

It is the worst of times, and it will get even worse, but it will also in time get better. And when this time comes, we’ll need to focus on our next WorkLife chapters, for now we can use this present time to learn through observation to help guide us in knowing what we want the next chapters of our WorkLife to be.

Today I’ve revisited and revised a blog post I wrote some years ago, based on the TV series The Waltons, which I included in my book Your WorkLife Your Way The chapter is titled:

Is It Ever Too Late Or Too Difficult For Your Next WorkLife Chapter?

I’ll begin with a little:

Book Wisdom

The book Good Night John-Boy by Earl Hamner & Ralph Giffin. A celebration of an American family and the values that have sustained us through good times and bad.

The book includes a description of each episode of the TV series, which combined wonderful stories and “teachable moments” in which adults and children alike learned the importance of honesty, hard work, respect, responsibility, self-sacrifice, kindness, compassion and humility. As is true in most families, the Waltons faced many challenges, occasionally stumbled along the way, but they struggled to live their lives within the framework of the values they believed and taught.

The book introduces readers to the Hamner family members who later became characters on The Waltons. Richard Thomas who played John-Boy said: “It’s significant that the Waltons celebrated familism and healing during the tough times of the Great Depression.”

The Story Of The Waltons In The Most Difficult Of Times. Is It Ever Too Late Or Too Difficult For Your Next WorkLife Chapter? Case Study:

There have been many difficult times throughout history, perhaps none more so than the Great Depression followed closely by WWII. The Waltons TV series set during these times demonstrated how the family navigated their WorkLives during these difficult times.

When The Waltons first came to our screens it was set in the time of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, companies were closing down, and people needed to be creative in their thinking when it came to finding themselves a job or set up in business. Not so different to how it is now, really.

Then the storyline moved to World War II, which deeply affected the family. Their WorkLives became very different. It forced them to put aspects of their WorkLives aside or on hold. They had to diversify in line with the demands of the time. It was also formative in charting their immediate and pursuing WorkLife chapters. 

What might have made it even more difficult for the Waltons was that they lived in a very small community, and so perhaps there wasn’t a lot of scope for enterprise. However when they did venture further afield to the bigger towns, there may have been more opportunities, but there was also more competition, again not so different to how things are now.

And yet they all managed to find work when they needed to. They were quite inventive about it really and managed to utilise, embrace and nurture their unique talents, skills and attributes, whether that was in their small community or when up against the competition in the bigger towns and cities. 

The grandparents and parents instilled strong values in the children, along with a strong belief that they could achieve their heart’s desire. They recognised and encouraged the unique talents, skills and attributes within each child and gave them a supportive push in striving towards their goals.

They didn’t have the financial capacity to fund their education, but the belief they instilled in each child provided a greater capability to achieve the WorkLife they aspired to, far more than funding their education would ever have done. Each one worked hard for what they wanted, which resulted in even greater appreciation and gratification. I think the old adage of “give a man a fish and he’ll eat well today, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat well for the rest of his life” is appropriate here.

The grandparents, parents and in turn the siblings were a great support to each other along their WorkLife journeys. They were, I think, both mentors and mentees at various stages as they all supported each other in their learning, growth and development. As much as we’ve evolved since the time of the great depression, and WWII, and organisations are becoming more international and global, many things remain the same. 

We all have the capacity to be both mentors and mentees, to share our knowledge, wisdom and expertise, along with our kindness, compassion and humility; and even among the international and global organisations there is space for the values and beliefs demonstrated in the Walton family. Simple perhaps, but as I think many of us have come to realise in an increasingly complex world ‘simplicity’ is becoming a key value. 

Earl Hamner Jr. based the characters in The Waltons off his own family. 

John-Boy: From a young boy he had a passion to become a writer, and began by recording his thoughts about his family, friends and circumstances, writing stories in a journal. He wrote and published his community and college newspaper. On graduating he moved to New York to fulfil his dream of becoming an author. After the attack on Pearl Harbour he enlisted in the military and wrote as a war correspondent for the U.S. Army’s newspaper Stars and Stripes. After the war ended, he returned to New York and turned his attention to reporting news. He went on to become a novelist. 

Jason: Enjoyed composing music for harmonica, guitar and piano. He attended the Kleinberg Conservatory of Music. He joined the National Guard, and during the war became a sergeant in the army. He landed a job playing honkytonk piano at a local tavern, which he later came to own. 

Mary Ellen: Followed her ambition to go into medicine, gained an education as a medical worker and became a nurse. Ending up taking care of people out in the country by herself, she concluded they needed more medical expertise than she could offer, and so she continued studying medicine until she succeeded in becoming a doctor. 

Ben: Had an entrepreneurial spirit and embarked on various schemes, some more successful than others. He too fought in the war and was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Between times he ran the family sawmill in partnership with his father.

Erin: Worked as a telephone operator while finishing school. She struggled to find her place, as she wasn’t an academic like John-Boy, or musical like Jason, interested in medicine like Mary-Ellen, or entrepreneurial like Ben. She took a part-time job at a business college. When the owner saw her helping out at the unattended front desk answering and assisting callers, he allowed her to work her way through the business school. She went on to become an executive secretary, then personnel manager, going on to become the plant’s assistant manager. Later in life she earned a teaching certificate, leading her to become a school principal. 

Jim-Bob: Was fascinated by aeroplanes and aspired to become a pilot. However increasingly poor eyesight forced him to give up this dream. He went on to become a mechanic and opened his own business. 

Elizabeth: Had an inquisitive mind and a talent for writing. She joined the Peace Corp. A free spirit, she struggled to settle down and travelled the globe looking for adventure. 

Like the Waltons, we will come through this difficult time, not unscathed, not without sadness and not without loss, but hopefully with a strong resolve to appreciate the simple things in life: spending time with family and friends; being involved in our local communities; passing the time of day with strangers; walking in the great outdoors; appreciating the beauty of what’s around us; and everything good that remains with us.

Sage Wisdom

  1. Remember you will get through this, and things will be alright again. No matter how difficult and uncertain everything is right now, darkness never prevails;
  2. Be kind, look out for each other. You won’t be the only one worried. Talking will help, sharing will help. Look out for your friends, your neighbours, people you hardly know, family, because in the end we’re all family; 
  3. Stay strong, stay positive, you’ve got this. 

During this enforced active WorkLife pause be open to experiences that require deeper thinking, let this guide your self-feedback to learning what you need to learn, and to knowing what you can do with the learning you already have within you, in a new and different context.  Being observant will allow you to know what to do next to make the most of this WorkLife experience. Ask yourself:

What do I already know that I can adapt to this WorkLife experience?

What parts of this WorkLife experience are best suited to teach me what I want and need to learn?

Words of Wisdom 

You are the author of your WorkLife story. This is not the end, it’s just the beginning. 

Epilogue

I leave you today with a poem by Laura Ding-Edwards

It feels like things are not ok

And this “thing” will never go away

Like all around is caving in

And no-one knows where to begin

What-ifs and fears are on the rise

And nobody’s able to disguise

The sadness of this sudden change

To life, routine; it’s very strange

But sit a moment with that thought 

Forget the things that you’ve been taught

For a while there’s no rat race

A slower life put in its place

We suddenly have the space to stop

Appreciate the things we’ve got

The cusp of spring still breaks its sleep

Our birds return to trill & cheep

And hope and kindness start to bloom

And we find ways to life the gloom

And so in this uncertain time

Take stock, reflect and redefine

Keep in mind it’s not forever

We’ll make it through with love, together 

Today’s book of the blog is: Good Night John-Boy by Earl Hamner & Ralph Giffin.

The story has been adapted from chapter 26 of Your WorkLife Your Way Is It Ever Too Late Or Too Difficult for Your Next WorkLife Chapter.

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.

The Objectification of People: Men This Week, by Carmel O’ Reilly

Those Men Can’t Wear Those Clothes, They Need to Look a Lot Smarter, They Need to Wear White Coats, That Will Make Them Look Smarter …

The Objectification of People … are people’s stories of the objectification they experienced themselves, or witnessed – of people around them, or of people in society at large. People’s stories of how they objected strongly to the objectification of people, sometimes inside of themselves, causing them to walk away from these people and situations, and other times when they spoke up and spoke out. Stories of how people took the steps they could to stop this objectification of people – how they did this by walking the talk, by never engaging in this practice, by being the change they wanted to see in people, by living their WorkLife true to their values. People’s stories of what they were able to do to make an impact in making it known that this was not a practice they approved of, that this was not a practice that was acceptable, and that this is a practice that everyone had the ability to impact to enable positive change within themselves, their groups, and society at large.

Those Men Can’t Wear Those Clothes, They Need to Look a Lot Smarter, They Need to Wear White Coats, That Will Make Them Look Smarter … I felt sick in my stomach hearing this words …

But let’s back up a little to my story: The Objectification of People Case Study 

Object To Objectification

I sometimes get asked to take part in focus groups, to be part of a discussion where I give my opinion on products or services, where I share my thinking on things that are happening in the world, from politics to economics and much more in between. 

I was taking part in a focus group about back pain. It was an all-women’s group, and we’d all experienced back pain in our lives. For some women it was from childbirth, for others from an accident. For me it was caused when I spent six months backpacking around Australia, when unable to leave my books at home, I instead loaded up my backpack with them, putting too much strain on my back, causing me to slip a disc; and once it happened once, it happened frequently, until I was able to find a way to prevent it from happening.

The market research focus group had been commissioned by two men: both of whom had significant experience working with people who had suffered severe back-pain. As well as both of them having private practices, they each had specific areas of expertise within the world of sports: one of them worked with grand-prix racing drivers, and the other with world-cup rugby teams, both sports put great strain on participant’s backs, causing extreme pain and injury. 

They had come together to combine their knowledge, skills and expertise, creating an on-line platform which comprised of videos demonstrating techniques and simple practices that people could do in their own home to help alleviate and overcome back pain. This was offered as a stand-alone service, and also in support of in-person treatments with practitioners who they had trained, who were providing their services throughout the UK. 

We were shown a video in which both men shared the story of their work, and then each of them demonstrated different techniques wearing the clothes they worked in – sweat pants and T-shirts. Immediately on the video finishing, one woman said: “Those Men Can’t Wear Those Clothes, They Need to Look a Lot Smarter, They Need to Wear White Coats, That Will Make Them Look Smarter.”

I felt sick in my stomach hearing those words. and a voice in my head was screaming: NO, PLEASE STOP! STOP OBJECTIFYING. As women we don’t want to be objectified, what then makes it OK to objectify men? 

While everything going on in my head was causing me to feel sickened and enraged, I wanted to express this in a way that demonstrated my thinking, without alienating the rest of the group. In my mind I asked myself what I could say in this moment that would allow me to express that I think what is going on is the objectification of men, and that I’m not OK with that. The self-feedback that came to me in that moment was that I could do this by simply bringing it back to what the woman had said about the clothes they should be wearing, and then try to move it on from there.

I said: “For me, white coats would make it very clinical. The clothes they’re wearing actually demonstrate to me that they know their work, and they know what’s needed in order for them to be comfortable in being able to move in carrying out their work.” I went on to say how the best treatment I’d had was from a woman who was dressed in clothes similar to both men, which allowed her to really get stuck in – in performing the hands-on treatment, which enabled me to walk out of her surgery upright and free of pain; and how this differed from seeing practitioners who wore white coats, which reflected the clinical approach of their treatment – which was hands off, apart from a little poking and prodding, and was totally ineffective.

I then said how to me the stories both men shared demonstrated their skills and expertise, along with their passion, and that was what impressed me most.

I wanted to bring the conversation back to what the facilitator had told us that the men hoped to get from this focus group discussion, which was: Do we think the platform they’re creating is something people would use, something people find helpful, and something people would pay for.

So I shared my story of how I first began to overcome my back pain.

Book Wisdom

It was long before YouTube or on-line video platforms, when in a search for what I could do myself to overcome my back pain I discovered the book: Body Learning – An Introduction to the Alexander Technique by Michael J. Gelb. The book gave me insights into how the Alexander Technique helps maintain the health and efficiency of the human body, by putting us in touch with our body, and giving us a way of deepening our perceptions and well-being. The approach it took in teaching the techniques was simple. For example, “Allow the neck to be free to let the head go forward and up so that the back may lengthen and widen”, was a direction I remembered. I went on to say that over time and over the years I discovered video demonstrations of the Alexander Technique, which I found to be really helpful, and what the men were proposing with the service they were developing was in a way similar to what I’d discovered with the Alexander Technique demonstrations, and so I believed there was scope for their idea.

My approach worked in bringing the conversation away from objectifying the men by the clothes they were wearing, to the techniques they were demonstrating, and considering how beneficial the platform they’re creating could be to people – would people use it? would people find it helpful? and is it something people would pay for?

Sage Wisdom

All of the women began to share their experiences, which was in effect Sage Wisdom. They shared their discoveries in being able to manage their back pain, many of which were video tutorials – tips and techniques, along with support being offered by local GPs and the NHS (National Health Service), health and sports centres, organisations for  employees. They talked about ways in which these men could work with GPs, the NHS, health and sports centres, and organisations, by way of offering their services to reach wider audiences. 

Epilogue

As the group was nearing the end, the facilitator said she’d just pop next door to ask if there were any further questions from the clients – who had been observing from the room next door! She wasn’t explicit in letting us know who was observing at the beginning of the session. She now explained this was because the men wanted to get our feedback based on what we really thought – rather than what we thought they wanted to hear, which might have been the case had we known they were observing. However she had told us at the beginning that as it was a focus group, and we were in a viewing facility, there were people observing, and our conversation was also being recorded – this was to ensure that everything we said was captured, allowing her to facilitate the discussion without having to make notes. She came back in with both men, who laughingly asked: “So what can we wear that will make us look smart?” They had taken what had been said in a good-natured way, and while I don’t think they wanted to get across any underlying message with  that question, that is exactly what they achieved. As I left the building with the other women, the woman who had said those words said how mortified she was in saying what she said. She hadn’t meant to objectify the men by the clothes they were wearing, but now recognised that’s exactly what she had done. 

Words of Wisdom

The golden rule is the principle of treating others as you want to be treated. 

Today’s story was about the objectifications of men, last week’s story was about the objectification of women.

Today’s Book of the Blog is: Body Learning – An Introduction to the Alexander Technique by Michael J. Gelb

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.

The Objectification Of People: Women This Week, By Carmel O’ Reilly

These Women Are Too This, These Women Are Too That, These Women Are Too the Other – These Comments Were in Relation to Age, Size and Colour

The Objectification of People … are people’s stories of the objectification they experienced themselves, or witnessed – of people around them, or of people in society at large. People’s stories of how they objected strongly to the objectification of people, sometimes inside of themselves, causing them to walk away from these people and situations, and other times when they spoke up and spoke out. Stories of how people took the steps they could to stop this objectification of people – how they did this by walking the talk, by never engaging in this practice, by being the change they wanted to see in people, by living their WorkLife true to their values. People’s stories of what they were able to do to make an impact in making it known that this was not a practice they approved of, that this was not a practice that was acceptable, and that this is a practice that everyone had the ability to impact to enable positive change within themselves, their groups, and society at large.

These Women Are Too This, These Women Are Too That, These Women Are Too the Other – These comments were In relation to age, size and colour … I felt sick in my stomach hearing those words …

But let’s back up a little to my story: The Objectification of People Case Study: 

Object To Objectification

I sometimes get asked to take part in focus groups, to be part of a discussion where I give my opinion on products or services, where I share my thinking on things that are happening in the world, from politics to economics and much more in between. 

I was taking part in a focus group discussion about a clothing brand which was looking to reenergise itself, and also to reach different audiences. It was an all-women’s group aged over 50. We were given a homework task before attending, which was to think about what influenced us in the world of clothing: ’influencers’ we were aware of, people who wrote blogs or used social media channels such as Instagram to get their thinking out into the world, brands we liked, who were doing a good job within their industry, magazines we read, commercials we’d seen, anything that had influenced us, things we liked and also things we didn’t like.

During the discussion we were introduced to the brand – which we all recognised as a high-street retail chain. While many of us had shopped there in the past, none of us had shopped there in recent years. This was because we associated it with being for a younger age group.

We were shown their marketing campaign material: posters, TV advertising, their catalogue, their social media platforms, photos, blogs and so on.

The brand wanted to reach women of our age, and the focus group was designed to discover what they needed to do in order to achieve this. In sharing their thoughts and opinions, the women in the group said: These Women Are Too This, These Women Are Too That, These Women Are Too the Other.These comments were in relation to age, size and colour … 

I felt sick in my stomach hearing these words, and a voice in my head was screaming: NO, PLEASE STOP! STOP objectifying women, STOP making it about a woman’s age, her size, the colour of her skin. STOP being part of what has become the norm: the norm of individuals, the norm of groups, the norm of society. STOP being women who objectify women. Just STOP it now.

While everything going on in my head was causing me to feel sickened and enraged, I wanted to express this in a way that demonstrated my thinking, without alienating the rest of the group. In my mind I asked myself what I could say in this moment that would allow me to express that I think what is going on is the objectification of women, and that I’m not OK with that. The self-feedback that came to me in that moment was that I could do this by talking about and sharing the book the homework task had taken me to.

Book Wisdom

The book was Dreaming of Dior by Charlotte Smith. The premise of the book is that every dress tells a story. Smith writes about the inheritance she received from her American Quaker godmother, Doris Darnell. How the boxes started arriving, with more than three thousand pieces dating from 1790 to 1995, from Dior and Chanel originals to a dainty pioneer dress. How it was when she unearthed her godmother’s book of stories, that the true value of what she had been bequeathed hit home. This wasn’t merely a collection of beautiful things, it was a collection of life. Women’s lives. Tiny snapshots of our joys and disappointments, our entrances and exits, triumphant and tragic. 

I shared the story of how I came to discover this book My mum was born in an era when women always dressed up when leaving the house: not for a night on the tiles, but for everyday occasions, such as a trip to the local grocery store. I always remember her looking elegant, and she had a penchant for clothes and accessories. Sadly, towards the end of my mum’s life she developed dementia, which progressed quite rapidly. She had to go into a retirement home as she required round the clock care. As a family we felt we’d lost her: the dementia took away aspects of her personality and parts of her memory. She just wasn’t the same anymore and it was heart-breaking.

When we went to visit, she always knew us, but as soon as we left she wouldn’t remember we’d been there. We also couldn’t have a conversation with her, because she just couldn’t remember things, and she’d become frustrated and agitated. It was too upsetting for her.

My mum had a love of reading, and over the years along with books, she also enjoyed reading fashion magazines. Sadly, she was no longer able to read, and wanting to find a way of spending time with her, I began to think about books I could read to her, which she would enjoy. Thinking about it in terms of what she loved in her life led me to discovering Dreaming of Dior by Charlotte Smith. My mum loved it. She’d listen as I read the stories of the fabulous dresses and their adventures. She looked at the beautiful images of the dresses, which had been illustrated by Grant Cowan – an illustrator who worked on magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour and Red Magazine. Our time spent together in this way seemed to have a calming effect on my mum.  She was always less agitated and more relaxed, and my sister would tell me of how she’d show her the book when she visited – she remembered it was in her bedside locker.

I went on to share what I believed to be:

Sage Wisdom

Dresses are about where they take women, where women take their dresses, the adventures they go on together, the experiences and memories they create, which remain within their hearts and minds, and will continue to live on through the stories women tell about their dresses.

Words of Wisdom

“A dress can hold a lifetime of memories for a woman.” Charlotte Smith

Epilogue

While I have no way of knowing the impact my words, my thinking, or the story I shared had on the brand’s marketing campaign, it did have an impact on the women in the room, as they each began sharing stories of dresses they had been on an adventure with: a dress they wore on a special date, a dress they wore to an event which they had a fond memory of, a dress they wore when they were travelling and exploring new and different places. My story took the conversation away from objectifying women by their age, size or colour of their skin, to sharing stories that were meaningful to each woman in the room.

Today’s story was about the objectification of women. Next week’s story is about the objectification of men.

Todays Book of the Blog is: Dreaming of Dior by Charlotte Smith

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.