A Lesson in Self-Awareness

From Singer-Songwriter, Author, Visual Artist and Nobel Laureate – Bob Dylan


Photo by Polina Kovaleva from Pexels

Words Of Wisdom

“When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was.”

Those were the opening words to Dylan’s Nobel Lecture.

But let’s back up a little to understand how those words are a lesson in self-awareness.

When it was announced that Dylan had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” He didn’t respond immediately. It took him a couple of weeks to acknowledge and several months before he accepted. He didn’t attend the Nobel Prize banquet. He submitted the required lecture to officially collect the title (which he also recorded), very close to the deadline set by the Swedish Academy. 

His delayed response and non-attendance at the awards ceremony brought criticism from many. His behaviour was described as disrespectful and ungrateful. 

I consider his behaviour demonstrates the opposite. His delayed response, to me, demonstrates respect and gratitude and a lesson in self-awareness.

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Every week I write three stories about a topic relevant to helping people live their WorkLife in the best way for them. The topics primarily focus on soft skills. I think soft skills are as important as hard skills in being our best. I believe that soft skills are the unsung heroes that drive fulfilled WorkLives.

The stories I bring you are created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow. 

Whatever you want to do, there is a path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to do what you need to do at each step of your WorkLife journey. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to take that next step. The motivation to follow your WorkLife path.

Two of these three stories are available to everyone. They are free and always will be. I publish them every Thursday and Friday.

The third story is available to members only. The membership cost is £3.00 p.m. I publish this additional story every Wednesday – so members get four/five additional stories p.m. These stories are not better. They’re just extra.

This approach allows me to honour my Purpose: To help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride, by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone. 

If you find my work helpful, please consider subscribing to my member’s publication.

As an independent writer and WorkLife practitioner, I love to create resources to help people manage their learning as they strive to live their best WorkLife. Your contribution allows me to do that and is really appreciated.

Quote #25 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 #25 Self sabotage

Quote #25 “It’s good to be confident but not so confident you always think you’re right — that’s arrogance, it’s good to be humble, it’s not good to be so humble that you’re discrediting yourself — that’s insecurity.” Anon

Followed by my Chapter Introduction:

Timothy Gallwey, the author of the series of ‘The Inner Game’ books says that achievement is the result of skill minus interference, by interference he means the self-talk that tends to clutter up our minds while going about our worklife, notably at times when we want to be our best. We get in our own way and sabotage our performances. He goes on to say, that we need a better relationship with our inner critic, we think self-criticism pushes us to perform better and live up to higher standards, but actually it can bring about self-sabotage, because focusing on what’s wrong with you rather than what’s right, decreases your confidence and makes you afraid of failure. This hurts your performance, makes you give up more easily, make poor decisions, less likely to try new things and less resilient in the face of failure, less likely to learn and grow from your mistakes.

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.

How Writing and Walking Can Lead You to Happiness 

And to Better Mental and Physical Wellbeing Too

Photo by Youssef Naddam on Unsplash 

Liam was barely keeping his head above water. Covid-19 had seriously impacted his finances. As a freelance trainer, his work had stopped immediately when the pandemic hit, and workers were either forced to work from home or were furloughed. He had to cancel the events he had planned because people couldn’t attend them. At first, he toyed with the idea of turning them into online training sessions, but there were so many jumping on that bandwagon — many of whom were offering courses for free, Liam didn’t feel he could compete.

So, what did he do?

He started writing.

Why?

Well, Liam had always written. Stories about the amazing things people had achieved in their WorkLives. Stories of their struggles and successes. He had recently published his first book and accompanying workbook, which shared many of these stories, along with the exercises that helped people navigate through their WorkLife situations, which he presented as assignments for readers to adopt and adapt to help them navigate through their situation. Liam had developed workshops from the different topics covered in the book — these workshops were the training courses Liam had been forced to cancel.

So, instead of jumping on the online training bandwagon, Liam started writing. He began to develop each chapter in the book into an e-book on that topic. He did this by adding more stories and assignments.

Why did he do this?

Well, Liam believed people would tire of online training. For many, their whole WorkLife had moved online. It was zoom meeting after zoom meeting, online class after online class. All of this meant people were constantly in the company of other people — albeit remotely. Liam felt this would bring about burnout, and the last thing people needed was more interactive learning. Now in normal times, Liam championed interactive learning. He had based his work around it. But these weren’t normal times, and Liam, who also had always championed learning alone, because he knew that for some people, this was their preferred way of learning — learning in their own time and taking their time, as opposed to scheduled learning events, which by their very nature, demanded people’s presence at a certain time, and sessions were timed to be completed in a set time.

Liam knew the importance of serving people’s preferred learning styles — whether it was interactive group learning or solitary learning. He designed his learning programmes to meet people’s preferred learning styles — whether that was a bigger picture or a more detailed approach, or whether people preferred to learn auditory, visually or kinaesthetically, He ensured his programmes addressed all of these needs.

Another reason Liam started writing more stories was that he believed stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching. A powerful medium to learn through. A powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for — much of Liam’s work was designed to help people fine-tune their soft skills to support this communication.

Liam believed his first book and the subsequent e-books developed from the individual chapters would enable people to manage their own learning to achieve what they want and need in their worklife development and growth. He believed people would welcome solitary learning in a world that had become so interactive. And he believed this would help people’s mental health and wellbeing, too, because it would encourage people to slow down and take a step back from the intensity and busyness of the teleconferencing world of meetings, shared screens and the need to be constantly connected.

So, Liam had a plan of what he wanted and what he believed he needed to do to serve people’s ability and desire to learn. As a provider of learning programmes, he had been through several downturns in the market that had taken people’s jobs away from them. That had led to frozen training budgets, in essence taking away learning from those who remained in their roles. But the one thing in life that Liam had come to know that could never be taken away from you is your learning. Liam believed everyone could take ownership of their own learning needs.

Wanting to play his part in making that happen set him on a path to create learning programmes that are accessible to everyone. His books — paperbacks and e-books, the stories he wrote and the exercises he created were all part of allowing Liam to play his part. His part in enabling people to take control of their own continuous WorkLife learning.

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When Liam’s work had come to an abrupt stop, so had his income. He had no money coming in, and his writing work wouldn’t bring in any income anytime soon because first, he needed to develop a body of work and then somehow market and sell it.

Thankfully Liam was able to get financial support from the Government to see him through the unprecedented times that people and businesses worldwide were going through.

Liam was grateful for this support, it gave him the time he needed to focus on writing, and it alleviated any stress that not being able to meet his monthly living costs would have brought about.

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Liam began to write, and write, and then write some more. From the moment he woke up in the morning until the moment his head hit the pillow at night. The words flowed onto the page. Liam loved writing. Sitting at his laptop, writing was his happy place. And despite everything bad that was going on in the world due to the pandemic, Liam was in a good place mentally. His writing was the reason for that because it brought him happiness.

However, because Liam was in effect establishing himself as a writer, he needed to develop a body of work — stories and assignments to fill the e-books, and also stories and assignments to establish himself as an expert in his field — someone who is knowledgeable and whose work is helpful to people. Liam focused on content marketing to establish himself as someone knowledgeable and helpful. He wrote and shared WorkLife stories that were based on real-life struggles and successes; he created exercises that he presented as assignments that demonstrated how the people in the stories worked through their challenging situations for people to adapt and adapt to their situations.

To achieve what he needed, Liam had a lot of writing to do. He was OK with that. After all, he was in effect writing the next chapter of his WorkLife, and in so doing, he was living true to his commitment to creating learning resources that are accessible to everyone.

His days of writing turned into weeks and then months, and before he knew it, a year had gone by. He had self-published his e-books, and he was continuously sharing stories through content marketing on his website and across several platforms for writers. He was doing everything he could think of doing to raise awareness to him and his work and establish his brand. But nothing was coming back. It wasn’t that people didn’t like his work or find it helpful, or at least he couldn’t know that because people weren’t coming to his website, which in turn would have brought them to his books.

He was beginning to get extremely anxious. He knew the government financial support would soon stop. He also knew that training budgets would be frozen again as companies endeavoured to get back to business. The body of work he had put so much work into developing wasn’t reaching the people it needed to reach — individuals who wanted and needed to take responsibility for their own WorkLife learning.

Liam had shut himself entirely off from the world — at first because social interaction wasn’t allowed, but as things began to open up, he had remained isolated — he enjoyed the solitude of being alone and working from home. But mostly, it was because he had so much writing to do. He wrote from early morning through to late night, stopping only to sleep. He grabbed the quickest thing he could to eat. He wasn’t taking time to cook proper meals, or indeed to shop for healthy food — beans on toast had become his mainstay for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

He also wasn’t making time to keep fit. Walking was his go-to exercise. It’s a simple exercise that got his body moving and his mind too — in that if he ever had anything to work through, time spent walking always gave him the space to think things through. From this, the solution to whatever challenge he was experiencing always came to him.

The cracks in Liam’s mental wellbeing started to appear, and with it, the happiness he had found through his writing began to disappear. He was living in a constant state of anxiety, worried that the Government financial support would stop and that he wouldn’t be able to afford to sustain himself and meet his financial commitments.

He couldn’t sleep, which negatively impacted his mood. Not only was he feeling emotionally and mentally drained, but because he hadn’t exercised in over a year, his physical wellbeing started to suffer too. He had always prided himself for maintaining good mental and physical wellbeing by walking, but now the short walk to the shop was enough for him to feel exhausted. This added even more to his anxiety, worry and state of unhappiness.

Liam knew that he somehow had to get back to a place of good mental and physical wellbeing and happiness, and the only way he knew how to do this was by walking.

And so he decided that the first thing he would do when he got up each morning would be to go for a walk. He knew it had to be the first thing because he knew as soon as he started writing, he wouldn’t stop. He knew he would keep writing and writing and then writing some more. He knew morning would turn into night, and it would be too late to walk, and he’d be too tired even to contemplate it.

And so early next morning, he set out walking. He took a walk that he used to do regularly, a two-hour walk that took him to his nearest park, around the park and back home again. It was a walk that he used to do with ease, but having not walked for so long, that was no longer the case. Halfway through his walk, he felt exhausted. He didn’t think he’d make it back home. He had to push himself to do so. And when he arrived home, he had to lift his legs up the 51 steps of stairs to his flat. He was exhausted and dehydrated — he had forgotten to bring a bottle of water and had left bank cards at home so he couldn’t buy a bottle. He drank a litre of water and then lay on his bed, but immediately he had to run to the bathroom because he was throwing the water back up. He was so ill he was shaking. He had to lie down, and he ended up sleeping on and off for the day. Every time he tried to get up, his body ached so much, he had to lie down again.

Liam got no work done that day. The next day he was so full of aches and pains he couldn’t walk, and so he was back to his writing. The following day was the same, but by day three, his aches and pains had subsided, so he decided to attempt another walk. A shorter one this time — an hour’s walk that took him along the river. While he was tired on getting home, he wasn’t ill or dehydrated — he had remembered to bring water with him and so had kept himself hydrated throughout his walk.

Liam continued like this, walking for an hour every other morning to begin until he felt able to walk daily. He was then coming home and writing for the rest of the day. Over time walking became easier and enjoyable. Alone with his thoughts, he began to think things through. The solution to the challenge he was facing of people not finding his work came to him. He needed help. He was a writer but not a marketer, he had done good work in establishing his brand through the books and content he had written, but he needed help to get his work to the people who needed it most.

But the thing was, Liam didn’t have money to spend on marketing, and also, he didn’t like asking for help unless he could pay for it. But if he didn’t ask for help, the alternative was that he wouldn’t be able to pay his bills when the government financial support stopped. He had to do something.

He reached out to a good friend, Jonas, who worked in marketing and events. Liam had put work his way over the years when people he knew who, like himself, were freelancers or small business owners, would benefit from Jonas’s support to help promote their products, services and events.

He asked Jonas if he could buy him a coffee and ask his advice on promoting his books.

Jonas immediately said yes. He respected Liam and was grateful for the support he had shown him by referring people to him.

On learning about the series of e-books Liam had published, Jonas suggested a swap of services. Although the books were designed to help people self-manage their learning, Jonas knew that Liam had delivered one-to-one WorkLife coaching sessions over the years. Jonas felt he would benefit from a coaching programme, he was feeling stuck in his WorkLife, and he needed someone who would act as a sounding board to help him work through things while also holding him accountable to follow through on doing what he needed to do. Alone, Jonas felt he would continue doing what he always did, mosing along and not pushing himself to take the actions that would get him to where he wanted and needed to be in his Worklife.

That was one reason Jonas suggested a swap of services. There was another reason. He knew he could help Liam to market his books successfully. He also knew Liam wouldn’t take that help unless he could pay for it. The swap of services would alleviate the need for financial payment for both of them. Because in the same way, Liam couldn’t afford to pay for the marketing support he needed, Jonas couldn’t pay for the coaching support he needed.

And so, Liam and Jonas set up a mutually supportive swap of services. With Jonas’s marketing support, Liam’s books started to sell. The sales began trickling in and, over a matter of weeks, built momentum, resulting in the income Liam needed to support himself to arrive in his bank account. And before the Government stopped their financial support.

And with Liam’s coaching, Jonas identified and followed through on the actions he needed to achieve what he wanted in his WorkLife. He established his work in a way that allowed him to relocate to Cambodia while maintaining, building and serving his clients. Cambodia was always a place that he wanted to experience. To experience it in the true sense, he didn’t want just to visit. He wanted to live there. To do that, he needed to be able to work from there. With Liam’s coaching support, Jonas achieved this.

Epilogue

Liam is back to his happy place of writing and walking. He is also back to a good place in his mental and physical wellbeing. He has vowed to himself never again to be at a place where he had come so close to destroying that.

Having come so close to losing his happiness and mental and physical wellbeing, and having found he had everything he needed within himself to restore and rebuild that, he set about helping others to do the same. Because Liam knew he wasn’t alone in the struggle he had faced.

How did he help others?

By sharing his story, of course.

Words of Wisdom

In doing so, Liam also shared the importance of asking for help when you need it. And the importance of helping others whenever you can in whatever way you can.

Get Help By Giving Help Assignment

As with Liam, and as with many people, there will be times in your WorkLife when you need help.

As with Liam, and as with many people, you may not like or want to ask for help.

To make it easier, as with Liam, and as with many people, make it easier by being known as someone who helps others. Not because you want or expect something in return, but because you simply want to help people when you can.

As with Liam, and as with many people, when you do this, you will find people want to help you.

It’s the power of reciprocity — the gift of giving and returning acts of kindness and generosity.

People helping people is an act of kindness and generosity, and the power of reciprocity is simply powerful.

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As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

My book, Your WorkLife Your Way, focuses on helping you live your best WorkLife by managing your learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful questions and the ability to shape and tell your unique story. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

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The Connection Between Happiness and Mental Wellbeing at The Intersection of Laughter

How To Connect Happiness To Mental Wellbeing Hint: It involves a LOT of Laughter 

Photo by Tim Mossholder from Pexels

Liam had withdrawn into himself. He had distanced himself from everyone. He’d had a couple of experiences that had caused him to distrust people. Apart from his longtime friend, Dylan, he didn’t know who else he could trust. He didn’t trust his own judgement of knowing who to trust. He was also questioning if, being Irish, he fitted into British culture.

His recent experiences brought back things that had happened over the twenty years since he first moved to the UK. The way in which people sometimes reacted to him when he was being himself — he seemed to rub people up the wrong way — British people, that is, it never happened with people from other countries, and it never happened in his twenty years living in Ireland. Hence he felt he didn’t fit into or belong to the British way of life — the culture or the people. He felt he was an outsider who wasn’t accepted for who he was.

And so he withdrew into himself. He had Dylan, and he felt it was better to have one true friend, whom he could trust implicitly, rather than a group of so-called friends he couldn’t.

Two situations had caused Liam to distrust people. But first, a little background to what led up to this.

Since his divorce, Liam lived alone, and he was fine with that. He worked for himself as a freelance trainer, developing and delivering workplace training programmes — from helping people improve their communication skills to outplacement programmes, helping people who had been made redundant navigate their way back into the workforce. He enjoyed his work — the interaction with people in group training sessions and the work he did alone, from home, developing the programmes.

But because he was a freelancer, he felt he needed to network more, by way of meeting more people in a work sense, because he didn’t have colleagues as such. And also by way of raising awareness to his work, which would hopefully lead to work. He also felt the need to meet more people socially in a way that wasn’t work-related — he wanted to broaden his circle of people. When he had been married, he and his wife pretty much kept to themselves, so he didn’t have a broad circle of friends.

Liam was aware of a membership body that connected people in his industry — people who worked in People Development. They ran various networking events, which seemed ideal to Liam to help him connect with the people he wanted to connect with. And so he became a member and started attending events locally to him. He enjoyed the events and got to know people, including Mel, who was on the committee that ran the events. Liam’s interest and enjoyment in the events caused Mel to ask him if he’d like to join the committee to help out with the running of future events. He immediately said yes, but he was to come to rue the day he did.

Including Liam, there were fourteen people on the committee. They were from different cultural backgrounds, and most were welcoming to Liam. But three of the six British born members weren’t. They were unfriendly, and they often sneered at his ideas in meetings — Liam couldn’t pinpoint exactly what was going on because one of the three would make what seemed to him to be a sarcastic remark and then exchange glances with the other two. Liam didn’t know what to do because he wasn’t sure if he was imagining it or if it was real.

For some reason, they seemed suspicious of him and his motives for joining the committee — that was something that Liam sensed because they weren’t upfront about it. So, again, he wasn’t sure if he was imagining it or if it was real.

Things continued like this for two years. Liam gave a lot of time and energy to do whatever was needed to plan and deliver the events. He enjoyed this. He enjoyed meeting people at events. He enjoyed working with most of the committee — except for the three, who, to Liam, never seemed to contribute much to help — they did, however, contribute a LOT to meetings following on from the events — by way of criticism, which usually began with … in our day we didn’t do things this way …

Liam found it hard going, but what he enjoyed about being involved with the committee outweighed what he didn’t — the behaviour of the three members, and so he continued.

Until, one day it came to a head, when out of what seemed like nowhere — but it soon became apparent that it had been festering for a while, a six-page document was circulated by the three members, outlining everything that was wrong about the events being run — they were too this, they were too that, they were too the other — it was all so illogical it just beggared belief. All of the criticised events were ones that Liam had suggested(which had been agreed by everyone) and had led on.

It soon became apparent that there had been a lot of bitching, back-biting, and bad-mouthing going on among the three members. What Liam had questioned about what he had been imagining was validated as being real. Liam couldn’t abide this kind of behaviour. He had lived his life by the golden rule “You never say something about someone that you wouldn’t say to their face.”

But it was more than that for Liam. He was actually really upset about what had happened. He felt he couldn’t respect or trust these people again. Respect and trust are two of Liam’s most important values. Although he is quite easy-going, he is very values-driven. His values can cause him to become quite fierce. And quite fierce he became when he told the three what he thought about them and their despicable, disgraceful and disgusting behaviour. He said this is not acceptable behaviour from one human being to another, but for it to come from people for whom the very essence of their work is to support their fellow human beings was utterly disingenuous and beggared belief.

In that moment, Liam walked away from the committee, withdrew from that part of his WorkLife, and withdrew into himself.

Around the same time, he had a similar experience in the social activities he had become involved in, in his life outside of work.

Liam had joined a drama group. He thought this would be a good way to meet people. Growing up in a small community in Ireland, he had been involved in his local drama group, and he had really enjoyed the social interaction and fun element of this. So, he thought this could be something that could once again bring social interaction and fun into his life. But, again, he was to come to rue the day he became involved.

Including Liam, there were twelve people in the group. They were also from different cultural backgrounds, and again most were welcoming to Liam. But again, the British born members weren’t — or two of five of them weren’t. They, too, were unfriendly, and they often laughed at him, unkindly in rehearsals. He sensed they were talking about him behind his back, which he discovered to be true, when one evening, he had arrived early and was doing some work backstage, when the two came along, and not knowing he was there, started making fun of him — from his Irish accent to his red hair to the clothes he wore. Their behaviour was unkind and cruel. Liam walked out from behind the curtain. He didn’t say a word to them (he didn’t know what to say, and he didn’t believe they deserved to take any more of his energy than they had already taken.) he walked out of the hall, and he never went back. Instead, he withdrew himself from another part of his WorkLife and withdrew into himself even further.

Liam, of course, could have confided in Dylan and shared everything that had happened, but he didn’t want to burden him. He felt by withdrawing himself from people who by being in their company made him unhappy, that without them in his WorkLife, he would get back to a place of being happy. He didn’t want to dwell on it, and he also didn’t want to bring it into the time he spent with Dylan. He wanted to enjoy those moments, doing the things they shared an interest in — exploring London and taking train journeys to the country and hiking in the countryside. These were simple pleasures that brought Liam happiness, and he was grateful for that.

But then something cruel and shocking happened. Dylan passed away. He had caught the flu, from which he developed a chest infection. It severely impacted his breathing. While waiting for a hospital appointment, he had an attack at home where he couldn’t breathe. He called out to his son, Rhys, who immediately called for an ambulance. Dylan had lost consciousness by the time they arrived. They tried to resuscitate him but sadly were unable to.

Within three hours of speaking to Dylan, when Liam had said he’d drop round later to visit him, he received a call from Rhys, telling him that his dad was gone.

The sadness Liam felt in that moment grew over the days, weeks and months to follow. Having withdrawn himself from the people he no longer wanted to be around, and now without his dearest friend Dylan, Liam was bereft. He had never experienced such unhappiness in his life before. He knew his mental well being was at an all-time low, but alone, he didn’t know how to pull himself out of it.

Then out of the blue, he had a message from Henry, one of the guys from his drama group. Along with two others, Lucy and Fred (the other three British people, all of whom Liam liked) had also left the group. Their reason for leaving was because they were more interested in comedy than drama, and they had enrolled in a class to help them write and perform comedy sketches. The class were about to put on their end of term sketches and were inviting ‘supportive’ friends to be their audience — they didn’t want an ‘unsupportive’ audience. Or an overly critical audience. They just wanted to try out their work to a hopefully friendly and appreciative audience.

At first, Liam said no, going to a comedy night didn’t feel right. He felt it was disrespectful to Dylan. Not knowing what he was going through, Henry pleaded with him, saying he, Lucy and Fred would appreciate his support. Not wanting to let them down, Liam found himself saying yes. This time he wasn’t going to come to rue the day he said yes.

From the moment the show began, Liam laughed his head off, his belly ached from laughing, he almost fell off his seat from laughter. Together the group performed twelve short sketches, sketches they had written together, all of which was extremely funny. The evening was so immensely uplifting, Liam laughed so much in the moment, and he was still laughing as he walked home. He hadn’t hung around for too long after the show. He briefly caught up with Henry, Lucy and Fred, congratulated them and their fellow comedians for a very fun and funny evening.

In following up to thank him for coming along and supporting them, Henry, Lucy, and Fred invited Liam to more events. He accepted and always found the evening immensely uplifting — the tears of laugher that streamed down his face were tears of happiness. They brought with them a sense of belonging. He no longer felt like an outsider. Instead, he felt he had found a place where he fitted in, a place where he was accepted for who he was — An Irish man in London, a place where he could be himself and not rub people up the wrong way.

Epilogue

Liam was at the happiest place he had been in his WorkLife for a long time. This had a positive impact on his mental wellbeing. He was in a much better place, and he had gotten there through a LOT of laughter.

Help Your Happiness and Mental Wellbeing By Bringing a LOT of Laughter Into Your WorkLife

How?

By Doing More Of What Makes You Laugh

When was the last time you had a really good laugh? What were you doing? Do more of that.

OK, that sounds obvious, and it is. But, as with Liam, we can sometimes miss the obvious. Times when things in our WorkLife have caused us to be unhappy and have negatively impacted our mental wellbeing. We need a reminder of things we could do to have a really good laugh.

To get you started on what you could do that would guarantee a good laugh, Liam has three suggestions:

  1. Befriend a funny person (or three): Some people are just naturally funny. They may have a way with words, or they may have a wacky way of looking at the world. These people are great. If you find one (or three), befriend them.
  2. Have a Favourite Comedian (or three): There are lots of great comedians out there, and I expect you know of at least one comedian who appeals to your particular sense of humour.
  3. Have More Fun on a Night Out: Go to a comedy club — if you don’t already have a funny friend or favourite comedian, doing this will help you find one (or three).

And remember these:

Words of Wisdom

Laughter really is the best tonic.

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As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

I created The School Of WorkLife book series to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas most important to them. Click on the series to see all the books available and previews of what’s inside each book.

How To Pursue The Superpower Of Happiness is book 7 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

How an Afternoon of Happiness Moved Aisling on From a Place of Being Stuck in Her Thinking to a Place Where Inspired Thoughts Came Flooding Through

And the Words Flowed Onto the Page – An Important Happening as Aisling Is a Writer

Photo by Yuyueng Lau on Unsplash

Aisling had locked herself away from the world – she had to, she had a book to finish and a deadline to finish writing it.

Staring at the empty page on her screen, she just couldn’t find the story idea she needed for the chapter on Happiness. You see, as a writer and a WorkLife Learning Practitioner, Aisling creates resources to help people manage their own learning and their wellbeing – stories, case studies, books, e-learning programmes, tips, techniques and tactics. She writes stories based on real-life situations of people’s struggles and successes in their WorkLife. She shares the exercises that helped them navigate through these situations, which she presents as assignments for people to adopt and adapt to their situation. 

But today, Aisling was stuck. The idea she needed to tell a story about a struggle with happiness just wasn’t coming to her. And without the idea, the words she needed to fill the page weren’t about to flow anytime soon. 

And so, Aisling continued to stare at the blank screen of her laptop. 

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Every week I write three stories about a topic relevant to helping people live their WorkLife in the best way for them. The topics primarily focus on soft skills. I think soft skills are as important as hard skills in being our best. I believe that soft skills are the unsung heroes that drive fulfilled WorkLives.

The stories I bring you are created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow. 

Whatever you want to do, there is a path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to do what you need to do at each step of your WorkLife journey. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to take that next step. The motivation to follow your WorkLife path.

Two of these three stories are available to everyone. They are free and always will be. I publish them every Thursday and Friday.

The third story is available to members only. The membership cost is £3.00 p.m. I publish this additional story every Wednesday – so members get four/five additional stories p.m. These stories are not better. They’re just extra.

This approach allows me to honour my Purpose: To help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride, by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone. 

If you find my work helpful, please consider subscribing to my member’s publication.

As an independent writer and WorkLife practitioner, I love to create resources to help people manage their learning as they strive to live their best WorkLife. Your contribution allows me to do that and is really appreciated.

Quote #24 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 #24 It Takes Courage To Be Vulnerable

Quote #24 “Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and a struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” Brené Brown

Followed by my Chapter Introduction:

We live in a vulnerable world, and one of the ways we deal with our own vulnerability is to numb it — grief, shame, doubt, anxiety, fear, sadness, disappointment, loneliness, the list goes on, we don’t want to feel these, so we numb them. The thing is we can’t numb these hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. We cannot selectively numb because in doing so, we also numb joy, gratitude, happiness, and then we’re unhappy because we feel vulnerable.

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.

How to Find Your Voice When You’re Breaking Away From Employment to Go It Alone

And as Importantly How to Have It Heard

Photo by Reuben Juarez on Unsplash 

A Case Study: Simon’s Story

Making a WorkLife change will always be risky. While Simon’s love of extreme sports makes him a risk-taker in his life outside of work. When it comes to his work, he’s always played it safe. An avid book reader, his love of books led him to a Bachelors degree in Library Sciences and onto a WorkLife as a Librarian. He certainly wasn’t your typical solopreneur – well, not yet anyway – but that was about to change.

You see, Simon had written a book, and a pivotal thing happened when he toured the country promoting it. It was a book that had been a side hustle project of sorts – a book that had been years in the writing – a book that regaled readers with stories that contrasted his living on the edge side with his playing it by the book safe side. 

A couple of things struck Simon every time he pitched up to a new location to do a book reading. The First: The rooms were filled with women. The Second: These women had one thing in common – they had all either taken time out or wanted to take time out and wanted their return or their departure to have an element of risk to it. They wanted to do something different, and they wanted that something different to have an edge to it. Something that was as far away from ‘Same Ole, Same Ole’ as they could get. While they didn’t necessarily know what they wanted, they did know what they didn’t want – the same thing that is always done or the thing that always happens – the boring or the monotonous.

The thing the women had been struggling with was being taken seriously when they wanted to do something different. Simon was curious as to why this was. 

Some said they had been told they’d spent a life playing it safe. Doing something different required taking a risk. They were told they hadn’t demonstrated they had the ability or the makeup to do this. Others said their ability to juggle many balls worked against them because it was believed they didn’t have a strong enough single focus that’s required for risk-taking. When they tried to challenge this thinking, they were told: “This is the way it is. This is the way it always has been, and this is the way it always will be. This is the way it’s always been done.”

Simon began to realise that his story was what was bringing these women to his book readings. They had long since bought into his story, long before they bought his book. You see, before Simon published his book, he had been sharing his stories through his blog. Although he had grown a large following, he hadn’t really paid it much attention. He actually had never interacted with his audience – he just loved putting his stories out into the world. He hadn’t the time or the inclination to do anything more – after all, by weekday, he was busy being a librarian, and by the weekend, he was busy being a thrill seeker.

That realisation was significant to Simon because it gave him an understanding of what he could do to bring about change in his WorkLife. He knew his time had come to move on from being a librarian. 

He had enjoyed finally bringing his book together and putting it out into the world. He had enjoyed meeting all the people who turned up to his events. He had enjoyed learning that his stories had helped them. 

This is what he wanted to do more of – putting more stories and books out into the world, meeting more people and continuing to inspire them through his work. He wanted to build on his work as a writer and now as an author. 

Simon had another realisation. One that was profound. That was that he had already found his voice – through his stories and his book. Moreover, he was having it heard. He was blown away by this realisation. Because here’s the thing, Simon had never felt the need to find his voice and to have it heard in his WorkLife to date – not as a librarian and not as a pursuer of extreme sports. He was someone who loved going unnoticed. Even in publishing his book – it was never about having a voice in the world. To Simon, it was just about sharing his experiences. He actually felt he was an ‘accidental’ voice. In the same way, he felt he was an accidental writer and author. 

He felt that because he had actually gotten to this place in his WorkLife by playing it safe, he hadn’t been a risk-taker in any way. Which is something in his mind he had associated with going it alone. He hadn’t even had a strong focus on getting to this place. He had taken a side-hustle approach to his writing – he wasn’t even sure if that was the right term – after all, he hadn’t made money from putting his stories out into the world through his blog. But it led to building an audience of people who liked his work, which led to immediate sales on publishing. – so, it had been a side hustle in the making. 

His story disproved what the women had been told about needing to be a risk-taker to be able to do something different. It disproved what they had been told about needing to have a strong single focus. It also disproved the “This is the way it’s always been” thinking.

Once again, Simon had accidentally found his way. He had found his own way, a different way. Having found his voice and having it listened to, Simon knew he could now use it to help others do the same, and he had a group of aspiring women ready to find their own way, ready to find and take their WorkLife in a different way.

Epilogue

Simon was now ready to go from side-hustler to solopreneur. He had gone it alone in putting his book out into the world, learning what he needed to do at every step of the way. He now wanted to set himself up as a one-person business, helping others to achieve what he had achieved. He wanted to run it on his own. To do this, he needed to learn all aspects of business. Simon was ready to embark on a new quest – would it involve being a risk-taker, or would he be playing it safe? That was what Simon was about to uncover and discover as he took the next steps of his WorkLife journey.

Finding Your Voice and Having It Heard Assignment 

Whether you’re an employee, a side-hustler, a solopreneur or running a bigger company, you can follow the same two simple steps that Simon followed – albeit it unwittingly in his case.

Step 1: Talk about who you are and what you do – whether through writing as Simon did or through speaking – day-to-day conversations, social interactions, networking situations. Share something about your WorkLife – both in and out of work. Give people a personal insight into what makes you tick, what’s unique and different about you. Who you are, both personally and professionally.

Step 2: Always be open to finding a way to help others – you may not know what this means to you … Yet. Simon didn’t. He discovered it along the way because he was open to discovery.

Words of Wisdom

That’s it. These two simple steps will help you first to find your voice and then to have it heard.  Why? Because they come from a place of wanting to help. Wanting to help is the simple secret to many great things in life. 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

My book, Your WorkLife Your Way, focuses on helping you live your best WorkLife by managing your learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful questions and the ability to shape and tell your unique story. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

How To Help Others to Use Their Voice to Express and Protect Their Identity

You’ll Find It Has a Domino Effect in Helping Individuals, Collectives, and Communities Achieve Their Potential

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

A Case Study: Mary’s Story

Mary is the Chief Financial Officer at English Heritage. Before joining the organisation, she took a three-month sabbatical, during which time she lived in a small community in remote Africa.

There she worked alongside the local people offering her financial expertise to support them in developing a sustainable business strategy for their community, which allowed them to be self-sufficient in promoting their social enterprise.

But let’s rewind a little to learn what led Mary to do this.

Mary had visited Africa once before — it had been on her honeymoon, when as newlyweds, she and her husband, Clive, had spent three unforgettable weeks on an African Safari adventure. Mary loved the experience, the people, the culture, the land. She vowed to go back one day. When she did, she wanted to go into the heart of the country, where she could meet the people who were at the heart of one of the many small communities.

When she was planning her return, it had been twenty years since she had honeymooned there. During that time, she had followed with great interest positive social change programmes that were driven at community level, which were helping the region’s economy.

Through her research, Mary had learnt that many of the entrepreneurs launching these initiatives were women. She learnt that Africa has the highest concentration of female entrepreneurs, accounting for almost a third of all businesses on the continent. She learnt it is the only region in the world where more women than men choose to become entrepreneurs. According to World Bank figures which show that African women are half as likely as men to hold salaried jobs. She also learnt, despite that, female-led businesses

tend to be smaller, and their owners often struggle to secure financial investment.

Mary felt she could use her financial expertise to help overcome the challenges they were facing. She wasn’t sure how she could do this. This is what she wanted to find out. So she contacted a social enterprise that ran a Beadwork Project, letting them know about her love of their country, her financial background, and her desire to help them. She asked if she could come to meet them, to get to know more about their enterprise, their community, about each of them individually, and also as a collective. She was met with a resounding yes. Please come. We would love to meet you, and we would appreciate your support. Signed by Eunice, Kemi and Vanessa.

And so that’s how Mary ended up in a remote African village for three months.

Learning about the project, Mary came to understand how the skills of the bead workers is equivalent to that of a master craftsperson. Currently, the project generates sustainable income for ten women. The women ranged in age from their early twenty’s through to their sixty’s and had all leant their craft, beginning at a young age. The aspiration for their project is to create greater economic freedom and independence for more women, their families, and their community. Individually and collectively, they want to share their pride in their culture and their skills by reaching a global-wide community with their jewellery range.

To do this, they needed investment. Eunice said it was taking them longer to grow their project because of their gender.

Kemi added that they needed to benefit from the same opportunities as men for their country’s growth and development goals to be achieved.

Vanessa said to do that, they needed to be part of the conversation, but they struggled to have their voices heard.

Mary believed she could help with that. She was aware of a UK investment initiative where investors want to partner with entrepreneurs from African countries. There was a UK-Africa Investment summit taking place in London in three months. Mary believed they needed to have a seat at that table, or rather their feet on that stage, to pitch their social enterprise to a roomful of investors who wanted to help female entrepreneurs deliver positive social change.

So Mary set to work with the women to give voice to their project. Helping them to tell their individual and collective stories. The story of their craft and the vital role it played within their culture and how it represented their identity. She worked with them to prepare financial reports to include in their application to be accepted to attend the event — which was successful. And then the necessary numbers to include in their presentation.

Three months later, as Mary boarded the plane to return to the UK, she was joined by Eunice, Kemi and Venessa, who together were on a mission to secure the investment they needed to launch their project globally.

Epilogue

Together the three women delivered a successful pitch. They secured investment to develop four jewellery ranges each year for export to Europe. To achieve this, they needed to expand their team of ten to a team of twenty. This has made a significant positive impact to the economic circumstances of those involved and to their community. And this is just the beginning. They are working on expanding into more markets.

Words Of Wisdom

Scaling and making women-run businesses profitable helps everyone in our community because it allows us to create impact, create jobs and create ongoing growth and development through a sustainable enterprise. We just need your help to get started. We’ll do all the rest. (An excerpt from their pitch).

Identifying How You Can Help Others to Use Their Voice to Express and Protect Their Identity Assignment

Mary travelled to Africa because she felt she could use her financial expertise to help female entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they were facing in having their voices heard in expressing and protecting their identity.

You don’t need to travel so far, and you don’t need to have the same expertise Mary had. All you need is a willingness and a desire to want to help others to use their voice to express and protect their identity.

To get started in understanding what you can do, ask yourself one simple question:

How can I use what I have to help someone?

Think it through—Journal on it. Do what you need to do to allow the answer to come to you – Sleep on it. Take a bath. Take a walk. – The 3Cs of Creative Thinking – Bed, Bath, Bus (moving in some way). Trust the answer will come to you. Then you just need to follow through with whatever you’ve identified you can to to help someone.

It’s that’s easy. But then the best things in life often are. It doesn’t get much better than knowing you were able to help someone use their voice to express and protect their identity.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

I created The School Of WorkLife book series to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas most important to them. Click on the series to see all the books available and previews of what’s inside each book.

How To Use Your Voice To Express and Protect Your Identity is book 6 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

How Using Your Voice To Say No Expresses And Protects Your Identity

Because It Shows What You Stand For and What You Stand Against


Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash.


In making the move from being employed to setting up her own business, Aisling felt she needed support to understand how to do this well. By well, she meant establishing a company that earned a good reputation because it delivered good work. By good work, she meant work that made a positive impact to people’s WorkLives, because it served their learning wants and needs. 

You see, Aisling is a WorkLife Learning Practitioner. Her purpose and passion is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride, by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone. Actually, that’s her guiding statement that, well, guides everything she does as a WorkLife Learning Practitioner. Her inspiration in creating her work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. Her work has taught her that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning.

Aisling has a strong sense of identity. She is very clear about who she is and what is important to her. She is very values-driven, which has always helped her to know what is right and what is wrong for her. That was about to stand her in good stead as she began to work with a ‘Specialist’ to help her establish her business. Aisling was about to understand how she needed to use her voice to say “NO” to express and protect her identity. To show what she stood for and what she stood against.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Every week I write three stories about a topic relevant to helping people live their WorkLife in the best way for them. The topics primarily focus on soft skills. I think soft skills are as important as hard skills in being our best. I believe that soft skills are the unsung heroes that drive fulfilled WorkLives.

The stories I bring you are created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow. 

Whatever you want to do, there is a path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to do what you need to do at each step of your WorkLife journey. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to take that next step. The motivation to follow your WorkLife path.

Two of these three stories are available to everyone. They are free and always will be. I publish them every Thursday and Friday.

The third story is available to members only. The membership cost is £3.00 p.m. I publish this additional story every Wednesday – so members get four/five additional stories p.m. These stories are not better. They’re just extra.

This approach allows me to honour my Purpose: To help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride, by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone. 

If you find my work helpful, please consider subscribing to my member’s publication. 

As an independent writer and WorkLife practitioner, I love to create resources to help people manage their learning as they strive to live their best WorkLife. Your contribution allows me to do that and is really appreciated.

How To Turn Your Story Into A Powerful Presentation

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.”Robert McKee

Image supplied by author

Turning Your Story into a Powerful Presentation

Truly great stories and presentations live on in the hearts and minds of audiences the world over, that’s a fact. Everyone has an innate storytelling ability, that’s another fact.

You just need to think about a time when you were with friends (or strangers!) in a bar or other social setting to know that you’re a natural born storyteller.

Why is that? Because when you’re in a friendly setting, you can be yourself, and you’ll use really direct language (no jargon) to make sure what you say is engaging.

These experiences show that we all have that innate sense of what makes a good story, but we tend to forget that a great presentation is simply a great story and we can also at times struggle to express our natural and true self.

Carmel’s Story: Turning My Story into a Powerful Presentation: A Case Study:

The first step is finding your unique story. But how do you do that? Let’s go to a social setting and work through the following five steps, and I’ll share how I used these steps to find my story.

First a little background

My area of work is people development. I work with a team of performing and visual artists to deliver training programmes that combine learning and development strategies with skills and techniques from the Arts. So, working with the five steps:

Five Steps to Finding Your Unique Story

Step 1: Begin by Thinking about Where Your Passions Lie

What topics are you most likely going to be talking about?
What are the things that excite you?
What are the subject matters that make you feel you have something to say?

For example, I’m passionate about learning and development — my own and other people’s. I’m also passionate about the Arts, and this is what excites me and what I’m most likely going to be talking about — and I happen to have a lot to say on these matters.

Step 2: Look Where You Spend Your Time

What is it you do outside of your work, when your time is valuable? Where do you choose to spend it?

For example, I’m always learning, whether I’m listening to podcasts, reading or taking a course, and this together with visiting galleries, museums, going to the cinema and theatre is where I choose to spend my time. As learning and the Arts are my work, this is what I do on a daily basis and at weekends for both work and leisure.

Step 3: Look Where You Spend Your Disposable Income

What are the things you spend your money on? — your interests or hobbies.

For example, this is also where I spend my money: learning and the Arts. I recently did a course on Radio Theatre, which was so interesting and great fun. Other recent spends include a preview screening of Liar (a new TV show) at the BFI followed by a Q&A with the writers, director and leading actor. I’ve just booked tickets to see Glengarry Glen Ross, which is coming to the West End, and Girl from the North Country — written and directed by Conor McPherson with music and lyrics by Bob Dylan.

Step 4: Think about Your Struggles

In tough times, what did you do?
What kind of uncertainties did you feel?

For example, I changed my WorkLife from investment banking to career coaching, going to university as a mature student. That was a struggle because it was a juggling act initially. I worked to bring in much needed income while studying and gaining practical experience to launch my new WorkLife. I felt great uncertainty about whether I could make that transition and if I could make a living from it.

There have been many tough times, getting things started and keeping them going. I’ve gotten through those by persistence, determination and a positive attitude — I keep on going because I believe my work has a positive impact in helping people develop; and working with learning and the Arts, makes it easy to remain positive.

Step 5: Think about Your Struggles

What was the moment you had your greatest realisation?

For example, there was a further struggle that led me to discovering my ‘Eureka’ moment: once qualified, while individual WorkLife coaching came easily to me, group workshops and presentations didn’t. I was so incredibly nervous that I would be physically ill before talking in front of people. I was also very inhibited and not my natural self and to top all of that off I became very wooden!

To overcome this I undertook a Foundation year in Drama along with several shorter acting courses and a year long directing course, which led me to being Assistant Director on a production of Hamlet that went on to being performed at the RSC Open Space in Stratford Upon Avon (that’s my claim to fame!).

This is when I had my ‘Eureka’ moment of how the techniques, structures and methods of theatre making are significant in the world of people development. The unique skills sets per- forming artists have had to develop in their craft brings learning alive. This excited me because I knew with my background in learning and development I could collaborate with artists to create meaningful learning programmes.

That’s how I found my story and it has been helpful in establishing my company brand, and in business and networking situations helping me to talk about what I do. It’s also been helpful in developing presentations and pitches for work.

But what about presentations? How can you adapt your unique story to help you deliver a great presentation that people are going to want to listen to?

Making Your Story into a Powerful Presentation

You need to think about the single purpose of your presentation, the one principle that is most central to what you want to accomplish.

Let me demonstrate with a presentation I’m currently working on. This is part of an application process for funding to deliver community projects.

First a little further background

As well as working with the Arts in the workplace through people development programmes, I’m also passionate about bringing the joy and benefits of the Arts to the community. This includes retirement homes and to people who are living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Here’s how my Story/Presentation is shaping up:

“My love of the Arts came from my parents, music, song and dance, film and theatre.

“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.

“Every couple of weeks a singer would go into the home and have a sing-song with the residents, and when she did, my mum would sing along, and she’d remember every single word of every single song, and she’d talk about it for days afterwards. It lifted her mood immediately, and she was so much happier and calmer.

“This is why I want to work with a team of performing artists, to create a programme of events bringing music, song and dance to the lives of people who live with dementia and Alzheimer’s. I know the joys, benefits and well-being it will bring.

“My one purpose: To help people understand the immediate and lasting impact these programmes will have on people’s lives.

“Wish me luck!”

Develop Your WorkLife Chapters

“A story is based on what people think is important, so when we live a story, we are telling people around us what we think is important.” Donald Miller

Carmel’s story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Turn Your Story Into A Powerful Presentation, from The School Of WorkLife Book 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.