Quote #13 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 #13 Draw Upon Turning Points to Create the Next Chapter of Your WorkLife Story

Quote #13 “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” George Elliott

Followed by my Chapter Introduction:

When I begin working with a client who is considering a WorkLife change,

quite often, it is because of a particular turning point in their life, and they have come to realise that life is too short for them not to be living it fully.

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.

Willingness to Change is a Strength

Be Mindful Of the Stories You Tell Yourself, Change Your Story, Change Your Work-Life

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash 

Tara lost her job as a retail banker, when the branch she had worked at for thirty years merged with the only other bank in town, resulting in significant job losses. She knew she wouldn’t be able to find a new position within banking close to home. What she didn’t know was what else she could do, because she had never done any other kind of work. While the statutory redundancy payment she’d received bought her a little bit of breathing space to figure this out, she wanted and needed to get back into work as quickly as possible. Having recently been widowed, her work gave her a sense of belonging through social interaction, and she needed to support herself financially.

Then one day there was a notice about a cleaning job on the community-centre board. It was at the local Independent living retirement homes. While Tara really enjoyed cleaning, she wasn’t sure how she felt about cleaning other people’s houses; but she figured the only way she would find out, would be by actually doing it. She successfully applied, and discovered she enjoyed it. 

She really connected with the residents, and the work was flexible. She was required to work sixteen hours a week, and she could choose her hours. She chose to do two, eight-hour days, leaving the rest of the week free. 

Tara also loved to sing, leading her to volunteer to facilitate a sing-along at the homes’ centre once a week. These changes in her WorkLife gave her the social interaction and financial stability she wanted and needed.

It also gave her more free time; and wanting to keep busy on her days off, she joined her local gym, and started doing various classes – one of which was yoga, which she really enjoyed. 

Then one day there was a notice at the gym saying they were going to run yoga teacher-training courses. The idea appealed to Tara; but while she really enjoyed the classes, she wasn’t sure how she felt about becoming a teacher. She figured the only way she would find out, would be by actually doing it, so she signed up and enjoyed the process. During her training she managed to get teacher-training practice at the retirement home, and on qualifying she got a weekly gig there. Everything was going really well, and Tara was really enjoying her WorkLife. 

Then the pandemic hit. For the health and safety of the retirement-home residents, all external workers, other than health care professionals, weren’t allowed to enter the homes.

Tara found herself back at a familiar place: the maze of change. But it was different this time. The changes Tara had gone through had given her a sense of strength and a willingness to change. This time she did know what she wanted to do. She knew she wanted to serve her clients. She knew that the threat to the loss of social interaction would have a negative impact on their lives, in the same way it had for her, when she had lost her job so soon after losing her husband. 

This time it was Tara who put up a notice – well, actually two notices. First, a notice to say she was going to do yoga classes every morning on Zoom. But while she really enjoyed the in-person weekly classes, she wasn’t sure how she felt about Zoom daily classes. She figured the only way she would find out, would be by actually doing it, so she got started; and while initially it felt like a steep learning curve for everyone, adjusting to Zoom yoga, Tara would begin the class by saying: “We’ll just take it one breath at a time.”  And soon it became easy, enjoyable and beneficial for everyone. 

Second, a notice to say she was going to keep the weekly singalongs going via Zoom. Again, while she really enjoyed the in-person singalongs, she wasn’t sure how she felt about Zoom singalongs. Again, she figured the only way she would find out, would be by actually doing; and again, she discovered she really enjoyed it, and it became easy, enjoyable and beneficial for everyone.

Tara shares these:

Words of Wisdom

“When I worked in banking, I told myself it was too late to make a change. I told myself I should stick to what I know. Be mindful of the stories you tell yourself, change your story, change your WorkLife.” 

And this:

Sage Wisdom

“People have more than one passion, so it makes sense people will have more than one career. Think of them as chapters in a book: each one builds on the previous one. These will be the chapters of your WorkLife novel.” 

And this:

Book Wisdom

“In Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Dr Spencer Johnson, cheese is a metaphor for what you want in life, and the maze is where you look for what you want. I learnt that the biggest inhibitor to change was within myself, and that nothing gets better until I changed. I came to realise that there is always new cheese out there, whether I recognised it at the time or not. And I was rewarded with it when I got past my fear and enjoyed the adventure.”

Epilogue

When you find yourself at the maze of change, ask yourself: What do I need to change to move onto the next chapter of my work-life? 

Reflect on this question and allow the self-feedback you receive though the answer to develop a willingness to change, and from there the strength you need will come.

And remember movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese.

Today’s feature book is: Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Dr Spencer Johnson.

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. 

Tara’s story is one of the stories featured in my book: How to Start Something New in Difficult Times from The School Of WorkLife Book series.

Willingness to Change is a Strength: Is part of a series of stories where people found themselves in situations where change was needed. Sometimes this need for change came from external influences – situations and conditions outside of their control. Sometimes this need for change came from within themselves – a sense of feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, unmotivated. Sometimes people were able to anticipate change and take time to plan to navigate it. Sometimes people had to adapt to change quickly. This series will feature stories of people who needed to be ready to change quickly, again and again. Stories of how people came to enjoy change. Stories of people who experienced more success in their WorkLife because of a willingness to change.

A WorkLife Change: From the World of Publishing to Companion Animal Practitioner

Oh, And Making Personalised Dinnerware for Discerning Pets, And Dog Walking Too!

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

I’m sharing Janet’s story by way of demonstrating that if you can conceive an idea, you can achieve it. It will take planning, preparation, the necessary training and development, a good business plan and strategy, but as Janet discovered, you just need to take the first step, and the rest of your journey will unfold along the way.

Janet worked in the publishing industry, it was a natural fit because of her love of literature, and she was happy there for many years. However, as time went on, Janet’s interests in other areas grew and developed. Janet is a creative soul and is also passionate about animals and, with her partner, has two beautiful cocker spaniels and a cat called Taj.

It’s always good to make time for your interests and hobbies outside of work, and for most people, this is enough, while for others, this can lead to building a business in line with their passions. This is what happened for Janet.

She first enrolled on a ceramics course making art ceramics. Her obvious talent was recognised early, which resulted in her work being displayed in galleries in the UK and Germany. Although a significant achievement, it didn’t bring in a lot of money. By way of‘ a filler’, as Janet figured out what to do with the art ceramics, she began making dog bowls.

The reason she focussed on this specifically was because her own two dogs being cocker spaniels, had long floppy ears which got in the way when they were eating, and so she designed a bowl that helped to overcome this problem. The bowls proved to be so popular that Janet decided to let the arty stuff fall by the wayside and focus on building the bowls (for both dogs and cats) as a business.

She developed a website to market her wares, and this took off overnight, and the orders came flooding in, and her business was featured in Vogue magazine.

Because she was doing this alongside her day job, she had a waiting list, and her clients were quite happy with this. After all, they were getting a unique gift for their much-loved pet.

Phase one of Janet’s new career and business was underway, and although it wasn’t exactly planned, it had in essence evolved from nurturing her creative ability.

Then through her love of animals, she came across TTouch, which is a therapy used in training, handling and rehabilitation of companion animals. She undertook the training needed to develop her skills and ability to set herself up in practice as a TTouch Therapist.

Having gone through the process, she has now established herself and has developed a new website to market her services. Along with word of mouth, it’s incredible how quickly the word is spreading, and her business is growing, and she is working as a Companion Animal Practioner.

As phase two was developing, Janet had the realisation that she was now in a position to move away from her publishing career and become self-employed.

She needed to develop her business plan and strategy to ensure the timing was right and she had everything in place she needed to make a smooth transition.

Obviously, for anyone leaving a secure job where they know they have a salary at the end of each month, they need to take financial considerations into account and be comfortable with their projected income.

Because Janet established her business alongside her current work, she was in a good position to understand the potential demand and income from her products and services. So it was from an informed standpoint, she planned her transition.

Once she began to talk to people about her plans, she actually secured another piece of work to add to her portfolio.

As both she and her partner were working full time, they engaged the services of a dog walker to exercise their dogs during the week. This is another successful business, and once the woman who did the dog walking learnt that Janet was moving on from her permanent job, she asked if she’d like to join her business and do some dog walking when time permitted.

This was a win/win situation for both women. Janet has regular paid work on top of her earning potential from her products and services, along with getting paid for her daily exercise! And the other woman can focus on developing her business in the knowledge her client’s dogs are in good hands.

The moral of this story is: even if you don’t know where your journey is taking you, take the first step. I like to use the analogy of driving in a fog: you need to travel from Cornwall to Scotland, but you can only see a few yards ahead as you begin your journey. But somehow, that’s enough as you know the fog will clear, and you move towards your destination at a pace that’s safe and manageable.

You may eventually come to a crossroads, and when you do, the time you’ve taken thinking and reflecting during your journey will help you figure out which road to take.

Some people will say to me, if you don’t know where you’re going, how you will know when you get there, others will say not knowing where they’re going may take them along more interesting paths. Just remember we’re all different, and there’s no right or wrong path to your destination.

This story was featured in my book: Your WorkLife Your Way.

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.

What to Do When Uncertainty is a Certainty. What You Can Learn from Actors and the 3 Rs of Drama:

(The Big) Reveal, Realisation and Reaction and How to Manage Your Present While Creating Your Future

Photo by Joonas Kaariainen from Pexels

If the year 2020 taught us anything, it taught us the need for independence, which comes from the ability to be self-reliant, which supports creating our own security, and ultimately our freedom.

What to Do When Uncertainty is a Certainty. What You Can Learn from Actors and the 3 Rs of Drama: (The Big) Reveal, Realisation and Reaction and How to Manage Your Present While Creating Your Future: A Case Study:

The Big Reveal for Jonny, is that uncertainty is a certainty for actors. He learnt that one great job is no guarantee of another one, and when the job ends there’s no knowing how long it will take to land the next.

This revelation came to Jonny early into his WorkLife, and gave him the insight into knowing he had to somehow find independence that would allow him to pursue his passion through the tough times — the times of uncertainty.

So he developed the following criteria of what that needed to be in terms of his WorkLife:

  • Work he undertook needed to be flexible, in allowing him to take time off for auditions (some of which were very last minute), and time off for rehearsals and performances when those auditions were successful;
  • Work he undertook needed to pay the bills, and help to maintain his sanity when those auditions weren’t successful;
  • Work he undertook needed to provide ways to help him hone his craft, by continuously learning, developing and growing as an actor.

In his search for work that met with this criteria, he came across a gig handing out fliers for a local Italian café. It looked easy, was close by, and most importantly wouldn’t interfere with the rest of his schedule. When he had a schedule, that is, of auditions, rehearsals and performances. 

He was actually quite surprised at how much he enjoyed the work. Beyond the money which helped to pay the bills, which in turn helped his sanity, it also provided ways to help him hone his craft, and to continuously learn, develop and grow as an actor. 

This is because it gave him the opportunity to perform in a different way: To get people to take fliers, he had to be likeable, energetic and entertaining. His personality, skills and attributes worked well with those requirements. And of course, it gave him the flexibility he needed to attend auditions, rehearsals and performances. So, his criteria was not only met, it was surpassed, because he also got free coffee and a meal at the end of his gig.

This gig led to another slightly different piece of work. The cafe needed someone bright and bubbly to be their sampler — someone to grab the attention of passers-by and offer them a taste of the delicious coffees that awaited inside. He fitted the bill, complete with a fake Italian accent. Once again, he really enjoyed the work. Once again it fitted in with his criteria that met his wants and needs between acting jobs. Once again, he turned out to be a natural.

Then the cafe offered him a gig at their sister restaurant in another part of town. Because it didn’t meet his criteria of being close by, he suggested a fellow actor fill the gig. His personal recommendation was welcomed because of the good reputation he’d established. Once again, the actor turned out to be a natural, which is when Jonny had his Big Realisation — that creative performers like himself were well suited to this type of work.

Now although Jonny had this Big Realisation, he didn’t act on it immediately. His Big Reaction comes later in his story. This was because he had a Big Acting gig. He had successfully auditioned for a part in a West End production, and was busy rehearsing, ahead of his performance.

Then the pandemic hit, and all theatres closed, bringing his acting gig to an abrupt halt. That same halt affected any café and restaurant gigs he might have fallen back on, as they too were closed.

However, there were a few cafés and restaurants that were able to diversify quickly, and as a result were able to reopen. This was because they began to serve frontline workers with both take outs and deliveries of coffees and meals. Jonny knew it was time for his Big Reaction. These cafes and restaurants needed help in sharing and spreading the word of their new initiative, and Jonny knew he was the right man for the gig.

And it went much further than that, as Jonny began to connect the dots all across London, looking at what he could achieve for himself and his friends. He began to connect cafés and restaurants and his fellow actors, ensuring a win/win for everyone. The cafés’ and restaurants’ initiatives attracted great attention through the creative marketing that the actors brought to their work. Like Jonny they were likeable, energetic and entertaining. And the security of the work allowed the actors to keep the bills paid, and the lights on, during this time of great uncertainty.

Jonny knew he could go even further with this initiative, because he had another Big Realisation, and that was that recruiting actors in this way was a legitimate business model. He already had the supply chain for businesses who wanted to hire, and he had the workers, or partners, as he preferred to think of them, in his fellow actors.

Needing help in managing his present, while creating his future, he reached for the:

Book Wisdom

Of Mission Possible by Ken Blanchard and Terry Waghorn. The following words from the back cover resonated with Jonny: “Managing your present organisation while you’re creating a world-class future — that’s your mission — should you and your organisation choose to accept it.” The book is written as a parable.

Sage Wisdom

“The quickest way to increase dignity, meaning and community in a workplace is to involve people in redesigning their work. That is also the shortest route — in the long run — to lower cost, higher quality, and more satisfied customers.” Marvin Weisbord.

These words from the first chapter spoke to Jonny, as did the following thinking from Blanchard and Waghorn: “We think the only way leaders and working people can effectively enter the future is as partners. People who work must become full participants in the process of determining how their working conditions and the nature of their tasks can be improved in the short run (the present) and the long run (the future).”

In the parable, the manager says to the interviewee: “We’ve learnt over the years that most people in the world of work have more creative energy and brain power than they use on the job. If we can tap into and focus some of this discretionary energy on improving our present operation or designing our future, the payoff can be tremendous. 

Consequently, we say that everyone in our organisation has two jobs. One is his or her ‘day job’ — in some way helping to provide customers with high quality products and services. Second, each person has a ‘transformation job.’ In this capacity you’d be playing on one of two teams. If you join our company, we want to offer you a choice of which of these two teams you wish to join.”

“The first team we call a ‘P Team.’ The P stands for Present. A P Team has the job of revising our present organisation so that we can be more responsive to our customers today. Its focus is on improvement. The second team is an ‘F Team.’ The F stands for Future. The task of an F Team is to create the future by imagining what customers and markets will be like then. Its focus is on innovation. Both teams operate at the same time. We see the work of these two teams as being the only way we can achieve our goal of becoming a world-class organisation. You can help us do that.”

The manager then hands the interviewee a card and says: “To help you decide which team you want to play on, read over this list of questions and see what you think.”

FOCUS QUESTIONS 

  • Which has more appeal for you — improving what is or creating what isn’t?
  • Do you see yourself as more of a maintenance engineer or an architect?
  • Are you more interested in doing things right or doing the right things?
  • Would you prefer to tune a carburettor or build a rocket ship?
  • Would you rather implement a direction or determine it?
  • Would you rather produce results now or design how they’ll be produced in the future?

The manager goes on to say: “If you prefer the first choice in each question, you would probably want to join a P Team, but if the second choice is more enticing, membership on an F Team might be more attractive. Both teams are vital to our organisation. You can only be on one team, though, so take some time to think it over. If you decide to join us, I’ll need your answer within a few days.”

Epilogue

This is exactly the approach Jonny took in building his team. Drawing from the wisdom, learning and knowledge he gleaned from the book, he posed these questions to his fellow actors, asking them to allow the self-feedback they received through the answers to inform them whether they wanted to join the P Team or the F Team, in their quest to manage their present and create a world-class future together, in navigating the uncertainty, that is a certainty for actors.

Today’s featured book is: Mission Possible by Ken Blanchard and Terry Waghorn.

This story is from my book: How To Self Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively from the School of WorkLife book series.

This story is part of a series of stories of how people took ownership of their WorkLife to: utilise their skills beyond the scope of their industry; gain confidence in a new skills set; create opportunities outside of their main work; make connections and build relationships; generate an additional income stream; build financial security; spread risk; develop independence; and much, much more.

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

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

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

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

How To Get To Self-Realisation And Self-Acceptance

To the Complete Realisation of One’s Potential, Which Involves the Full Development of One’s Abilities and Appreciation for Life (Maslow)

Image supplied by author

By day, Kane, worked in eco technology, a job that allowed him to pursue a goal he had established for himself in his WorkLife, which was to play his part in helping to conserve the environment. By night he was a sushi roller, a job he had taken on to put himself through university. Kane took great pride in how he had mastered the art of sushi making, and he believed it was an art, one which came down to detail — Kane loved detail.

However, that pride was about to take a fall. One evening, Kane watched the documentary Sushi: The Global Catch. He was shocked to learn how the global love and demand for sushi exceeded sustainability; how there is no species that has fared worse than blue-fin tuna at the hands of humans; and how there was a growing need to put them on the endangered species list, because the population had been taken down by eighty percent — so that only twenty percent of blue-fin tuna are left.

Kane made the decision there and then to walk away from rolling sushi. Learning about the environmental impact of his industry, he needed to step away and do some soul searching. He just couldn’t believe that as someone who prided himself in being environmentally conscious, he had been totally unaware of how he was playing his part in contributing to the devastating impact on our oceans. This was the polar opposite of playing his part in conserving the environment. Overnight he went cold sushi.

As the weeks away from sushi turned into months, the deep questioning of the negative contribution on his part turned into a deep realisation of the steps he could take to a positive course of action.

When he could bring himself to watch the documentary again without self-judgement — of having contributed to environmental damage, albeit unknowingly — he slowly began to see different elements in the programme that he had blocked out before. From that his perspective changed.

 He quite clearly still heard the alarm bells ringing the danger of, and to, the sushi industry; but he now also saw a love letter to the cuisine. He began to realise that if he was going to play his part in saving the art of sushi, he must also play his part in helping to adopt more environmentally conscious and responsible practices throughout the industry.

The truth remained that the oceans were in crisis and that it was imperative that somehow a way needed be found to to rekindle the honour and reverence that first inspired the creation of this unique delicacy.

Kane always believed that somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world, or our part of the world, however small or big that may be — and that is what he set out to do. His calling in helping to conserve the environment, from which he had set his WorkLife goal, was real. This had guided him to the work he was doing in eco-technology. Kane had a new calling, and that was to find a way to share the knowledge he had gained about sustainable sushi.

And so, one year later, Kane was back to devoting his evenings to sushi. He didn’t return to the restaurant to roll it, instead he began to share his knowledge. He did this by first creating a web- site where he published blog posts and articles about ethical sushi. He was once again embracing his love of detail, in researching and sharing facts.

Quite quickly he gained a following of fellow sushi lovers, made up of restaurant owners and workers, and consumers. All of whom wanted to seek to address the challenges being faced, so that blue-fin tuna and fish stocks in general would remain healthy for future generations to come. This resulted in him being asked to write articles and blog posts for various publications and platforms, to include sushi-restaurant websites. He was once again back to earning money from sushi in his night job.

The great thing about his writing was that it was evergreen. This meant as his library of work built, he had time to devote to the second thing he wanted to do. And that was to get back to rolling sushi, which was also a calling. But he wanted to do it in a different way. He wanted to show people how to make sushi, while all the time talking about ethical sushi.

And so he launched a YouTube channel, set up a camera in his kitchen, and recorded lessons. Once again he quickly gained a following of fellow sushi lovers, and once again this led to further work. He was invited by a TV channel to do a cooking class, where once again he could share his sustainable sushi knowledge, together with the art of his sushi-rolling technique.

Kane had gotten to a place of self-realisation, by exploration, which had brought him to self-acceptance.

Two Steps to Pick Yourself Back Up from a Fall Assignment

We all fall down in our WorkLife. Regardless of how self-aware we are, we can unknowingly take a wrong turn or do something that goes against who we are or what we stand for. To pick yourself back up follow these two steps:

Step One:

Take time out for self-reflection. Ask yourself questions without self-judgement about what happened and what steps you can do to move on from this.

Step Two:

Take the first step you identified, and then the next, and the next.
 A step-by-step approach is all you need to pick yourself back up from a fall.

Kane’s story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Get To Self-Realisation And Self-Acceptance, 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.

Speaking Listening Understanding, The Impact of Ism’s

The Power of Listening to Hear People’s Stories to See New Possibilities: New Ways to Make the World a Fairer and Kinder Place for Everyone

Photo by Third Serving on Unsplash

Along with many people throughout the world I’m shocked, sickened and saddened by inequality, discrimination, and so many kinds of ism’s: racism, homophobism, sexism, ageism, bodyism, machoism, egoism, and so on. I believe in equality for everyone, and I don’t like anything that discriminates against any person or any group of people.

In trying to understand the atrocities so many people are experiencing throughout the world because of some despicable ‘Ism’, I thought about my life.

The Impact of Ism’s: A Case Study:

Born in the 1960s I grew up in Ireland. I had a simple and idyllic upbringing. I’m one of ten children — five boys and five girls. We were all treated equally, at home, within our community and within our country. Of course, Ireland is a small country and the population when I was growing up was around three million people, the majority of whom were Irish. That has now grown to a population today of five million. This is attributed to international businesses setting up operational plants in Ireland.

So, growing up in Ireland I wasn’t exposed to, or really aware of isms. My experience was that people thought of each other as equal, and treated each other as such. But then there wasn’t much diversity, and maybe had there been, my experience would have been different.

I’ve lived in the UK since 1993, and so I can’t talk from experience of changes brought about by a larger population, and as a result more diversity. Of course, staying connected to family and friends allows me to have a sense of how Ireland has navigated though this.

I believe Irish people are by and large, open, accepting and welcoming, but as with every country in the world I also believe there are exceptions to this. In particular around religion, being a largely Catholic country, there remains strong held beliefs that same sex relationships are wrong. But thankfully I believe that’s among the few and not the many.

Growing up in many ways I was even oblivious to the troubles in Northern Ireland, which ran from 1968 to 1998. In the beginning I was too young to understand, and in later years, I was busy growing up, living and loving my life. I really never gave it much thought.

I think like many, I became conditioned — it was on our TVs daily, but it was almost as though it was happening somewhere else. Living in the south of Ireland, it felt as though we were removed from it. Very few people from the Republic of Ireland actually went across the border from the south to the north.

During those years I only crossed the border twice. The first time was uneventful. I was taking a return flight from Belfast to Spain, and caught a bus which took me across the border.

The second time I was visiting a friend in Drogheda — a town just south of the border. We decided we’d go shopping to Belfast and so drove across. The journey there was uneventful but on the way back we took a wrong turning, got completely lost, and ended up at a barricade in what to us was the middle of nowhere.

This was manned by British soldiers, we were asked to get out of our car, and we were questioned at gunpoint, as to who we were, and what we were doing there. It was unnerving, but being in our 20’s we were quite naive, and though a little bit frightening, I think our naivety served us well, in that we didn’t panic in any way. So after a while we were allowed to continue our journey. We were in fact escorted to the border.

It was only on our return when we shared our story with our friends, that we began to realise the potential danger we had put ourselves in. It’s widely believed in Ireland, both then and now, that there was a shoot-to-kill policy by the British police and army stationed in Northern Ireland throughout the Troubles. Our friends believed that had we said the wrong thing, or given a wrong glance, that we wouldn’t have been in the pub that night sharing our story.

Over the years as I’ve become more politically aware, that belief has crossed my mind from time to time. When it does, I’m thankful for our naivety, because had we had this awareness back then, we may well have behaved differently, resulting in me not being here today, telling this story.

A few years later I dated a guy from Northern Ireland. He always travelled south, I never travelled north. I’m Catholic, he was Protestant. It wouldn’t have been safe for either of us to have been together in Northern Ireland.

However, despite the use of the terms Catholic and Protestant to refer to the two sides, it wasn’t a religious conflict. A key issue was the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. Unionists, who were mostly Protestants, wanted Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. Irish nationalists, who were mostly Catholics, wanted Northern Ireland to leave the United Kingdom and join a united Ireland.

I still remember his amazement at the freedom we had going out together, when he came to stay, and how different he’d say it was to how he lived his life on a daily basis at home. There were places he couldn’t go, people he couldn’t be with, ways in which he had to behave, so as not to draw any untoward or unwanted attention to himself. I also remember how his mother used to call me: “The wee girl from the free state”. Referring to a freedom of living that I had always taken for granted, and because of that I had never questioned it.

I moved to the UK in 1993 and began working in London. I immediately loved the diversity. I didn’t experience any isms. Perhaps I was oblivious because I was living and loving life, meeting great people and having great experiences.

Then I met my ex-husband Carlos, who is from Ecuador, and I began to notice things. For example, if we were driving through London and there was a checkpoint, every time I was driving we’d be waived through — no stops, no checks. Every time Carlos was driving, we’d be stopped, and asked questions — where we’re going, does he live here, and so on.

I’d become really angry within myself, and I’d voice that by asking, why when I’m driving are we never stopped, but when my husband is driving, we always are. Carlos would quietly say to me: “just leave it Carmel”. He was extremely polite and respectful in answering all the questions, and we’d be allowed to continue our journey. I would say to him, you shouldn’t let them treat you like that, they shouldn’t treat you differently to how they treat me.

He would calmly respond, that’s just how it is Carmel, to them we are different, our appearance allows them to know that, they may not know immediately you’re Irish, maybe they think you’re British, but with me they immediately know I’m not British, and so immediately they treat me differently. I would be angry on his behalf, he would just be accepting of that was how it was. There were ways in which he had to behave, so as not to draw any untoward or unwanted attention to himself.

So, I suppose I can say I have some experiences in my life that allow me to begin to understand the atrocities so many people are experiencing throughout the world because of some despicable ism. But it is just the very beginning of an understanding. There is so much more for me to learn.

I believe because of my upbringing, the values, and beliefs that have grown with me throughout my life, that I’ve never practised isms, I certainly hope I haven’t in any way. But nowadays I question if by something not existing within me, in my heart, my mind, or at the core of my very being, has that made me obvilous to it, until I experienced it myself, and is that OK? The conclusion I’m coming to, is that it’s not OK, and that I need to be a lot more aware of the atrocities people are experiencing through the practice of isms.

Book Wisdom

Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World by Jacqueline Novogratz provides a benevolent tonic for those looking to rise above the troubled waters of the age and embrace the ‘beautiful struggle’ of rebuilding a broken world. When we look at the world’s problems, it’s easy to be discouraged, and maybe even conclude that positive change is futile. Positive change isn’t just possible, it’s happening all around us. Novogratz introduces the quiet warriors for a better world, and shows how each of us can be part of the moral revolution.

Sage Wisdom

Novogratz shows the power of listening to everyone who can help you to see new possibilities.

Words of Wisdom

Whether or not we’ve witnessed, experienced or suffered a despicable ism in our lives, the last few months have been a time to reflect and assess. We’ve wondered how our lives will change in the coming months and years — what will change around us and how do we want to change our lives. We’ve come to realise when we don’t make connections, we don’t build communities. To build strong communities we have to have a really good conversation with each other, to build a sense of calm, a sense of reassurance that we can take the right action to move the road together.

Ask questions such as:

What would you like to see more of?

What are challenges or struggles you’ve faced?

To help understand each other.

Then listen and allow the answers and feedback you receive to allow you to know what you can do to help, what you can do to make a difference in the world in ridding it of despicable isms.

Epilogue

People are talking, they’re speaking up, and speaking out, and sharing their stories. Conversations are taking place. I’m determined to listen and to learn. Because I believe things happen through talking, through conversations, without which nothing happens. Through better conversation we listen to connect and to understand each other, as opposed to listening to reply.

I believe this because of the Northern Ireland peace process. In 1993, the Joint Declaration on Peace was issued on behalf of the Irish and British governments. In 1994 talks between the leaders of opposing parties in Northern Ireland led to a series of joint statements on how the violence might be brought to an end. These talks had been going on since the late 1980s. The Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998. At the beginning I was sceptical, after thirty years of war, thirty years of injuries, violence, murders, bombings, massacres, thirty years of so many atrocities. I wasn’t sure if the peace process would last. 

But there is one ism I subscribe to, and that’s optimism. I wanted to believe it would last and thankfully it has.

Today’s featured book is: Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World by Jacqueline Novogratz.

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

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

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

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

WorkLife Book Of The Week: How To Be Vulnerable And Courageous

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

This week’s WorkLife Book of The Week is:  How To Be Vulnerable And Courageous 

This week’s WorkLife Story of The Week: Vulnerability is a Strength and an Important Attribute of Effective Leaders 

Kaye’s Story: How she learnt the value of showing her vulnerability 

MONDAY

Kaye learnt from an early age that vulnerability is a strength. On graduating she joined her family’s department store business, with responsibility for overseeing ladies’ fashion. She was asked to manage a team of buyers, each of whom had been in the industry for several years. 

TUESDAY

While she was fresh from college, with a degree in business studies, she had absolutely zero buying or management experience. Granddaughter of the founder, she had just walked into the job, and at twenty-three she was very aware that she was far younger and much less experienced 

WEDNESDAY

than the people, she had responsibility for managing. Kaye wanted to be respectful of this, and so she decided to be honest and transparent about what she didn’t know. In her first meeting with her new team, she acknowledged their experience and her lack of it. She made it clear 

THURSDAY

that she had so much to learn. That she would appreciate their help in sharing their knowledge and expertise. She had taken time to learn about each of their backgrounds, and acknowledged each person individually, and the role they had played in successfully building the ladies’

FRIDAY

fashion department into a viable part of the business. Kaye intended to build rapport with each person individually and as a group to gain mutual respect and trust. She asked questions and listened before committing to embarking on new initiatives or continuing with old ones. 

SATURDAY

Kaye worked alongside them to learn the ins and outs of the industry. She was like a sponge soaking up the knowledge and skills that she was gaining at the hands of experts in their fields. When she had to make tough decisions, she took full responsibility for the consequences

SUNDAY

and learnt from her mistakes. Sharing credit with others for the successes they achieved together. The outcome was that Kaye and her team developed a strong rapport built upon a foundation of mutual respect and trust. The experience taught Kaye the value of showing vulnerability 

That’s a wrap on this week’s WorkLife Story of The Week: Vulnerability is a Strength and an Important Attribute of Effective Leaders, from the School Of WorkLife book: How To Be Vulnerable And Courageous 

If you enjoyed Kaye’s story, you may also like to learn about her fuller WorkLife story and the exercises that helped her to be both vulnerable and courageous in her leadership, along with the other stories and assignments in this week’s WorkLife Book of The Week: How To Be Vulnerable And Courageous

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

Come back next Sunday for next week’s WorkLife Story of The Week: Self-Sabotaging His Own Meetings from the School Of WorkLife book: How To Overcome Self-Sabotage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Write To Understand Why I Care

It’s My Way of Making Sense of Things

Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

I’m very easy-going.

I’m also very values-driven.

When something goes against my values, I become very fierce.

Inequality, Injustice, Unkindness, Unfairness all go against my values.

These behaviours make me angry.

I’m not an angry person.

Writing helps me to work through that.

Writing helps me to make sense of what I’m feeling.

Writing helps me to understand why I care.

Writing helps me to write about why I care.

Writing helps me to put my thinking out into the world.

Writing gives me a voice to say what I want to say.

Writing is my way.

Writing gives me my way — Always.

Quote #12 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 #12 Explore Multiple WorkLife Pathways Through Self: Coaching Directing and Leadership

Quote #12 “You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.” Michael Jordan

Followed by my Chapter Introduction:

Self-Coaching is the process of driving your growth and development, particularly through periods of transition, in both the professional and personal realms.

Self-Directing is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. Independent Individualism from an independent mind, without interfering factors or intermediaries.

Self-Leadership is having a developed sense of who you are, what you can do, where you are going, coupled with the ability to influence your communication, emotions and behaviours on the way to getting there.

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.

What Are You Going to Be When You Grow Up?

Or Maybe a Better Question Who Are You Going to Be at Your Next WorkLife Stage?

Photo by Gun Fotografi from Pexels

Roisin had never really found her place in her WorkLife. She had stumbled from one thing to another. She had reinvented herself so many times along her WorkLife journey, all the time she felt she was constantly reinventing herself for everyone else. People didn’t see her for who she really was, and Roisin couldn’t see it either.

But that was about to change, because there was a lot more to Roisin, as she was about to discover. But let’s back up a little to learn more about Roisin’s story.

A What Are You Going to Be When You Grow Up? Or Maybe a Better Question Who Are You Going to Be at Your Next WorkLife Stage? A Case Study:

From a young age, Roisin had always been very sociable. She loved bringing people together, and she had a talent for connecting people. She also loved entertaining people through music, song, dance and performing. People would laugh, and say: “Here comes Roisin, she belongs on the stage. She should be an actor, she just loves being the centre of attention.”

So Roisin went to the School of Musical Theatre, and although the idea was planted by what other people thought she should be when she grew up, Roisin really enjoyed it. And as much as she really enjoyed learning the different performance elements of acting, music, song and dance, what she enjoyed maybe even more was sharing her learning with the young students who attended Saturday classes at the Youth Music, Dance and Theatre School she taught at each weekend, which she’d undertaken to help fund her way through school. 

The children and teenagers loved her bright, bubbly personality, and the attention she gave them, and they would gravitate towards her. Her colleagues would laugh and say: “She should be a Children’s Entertainer, she just loves all the attention.”

So on graduating, Roisin became a Children’s Entertainer, and was soon booked up for months in advance for parties. And although the idea was planted by what other people thought she should be when she grew up, Roisin really enjoyed it. And as much as she enjoyed the performance elements of the party, what she enjoyed maybe even more was that she was continuing to share her learning. Because her parties had a little twist: Roisin not only dressed up and performed herself, but all the children did too. She’d teach them a few techniques, giving each child a part to play, that drew out their skills and abilities, that would allow them to create a performance together. 

This culminated in an end of party performance, played to the adults attending. People would say: “She should go into Entertainment Events, then she would be in her element, surrounded by people who also love attention.”

So Rosin went into Entertainment Events. She got a job as an entertainer, with responsibility for helping out with the organisation of events on a cruise ship. And although the idea was planted by what other people thought she should be when she grew up, Roisin really enjoyed it. And as much as she enjoyed the entertaining element of her work, what she enjoyed maybe even more was connecting people to each other, and also to different roles, which she did in organising the events. She always seemed to know who would work well together. She had a knack of seeing different parts of people, that perhaps they or other people didn’t see. All the while, Roisin was waiting for people to come up to her and tell her what she should be when she grew up, but nobody did this time.

This left Roisin with a sense of uncertainty and questioning for herself who she should be when she grew up. She shared this with Agnes, a woman in her eighties, who Roisin had gotten to know throughout the cruise. They always sat at the same table for breakfast, and Agnes had attended all of the performances Roisin had been involved with.

Agnes asked Roisin: 

Who are you? And how did you become who you are? What makes you different?

A little uncertain how to answer, Roisin said: I’m an entertainer”, and went on to share what people said she was, or what she should be when she grew up, at her different life and WorkLife stages up until now; and that this was how she had become who she was. She couldn’t answer what made her different.

Words of Wisdom

Agnes responded: “It’s great who you think you are, now here’s who you really are. You’re an educator and a connector. You create learning experiences and you bring people together. The experiences you’re creating are helping people change their entire lives, because you’re helping them find their essence. You’re unlocking the parts of people that are at the core of who they are, and you’re connecting them from that place. You’re connecting people from who they are vs what they do. That is who you are, and that’s what made you who you are, and that’s what makes you different. And you do it by observing people, by really seeing who they are. You ask questions, you listen, you help them to tell stories where they’re the hero of their own story.”

Agnes went on to remind Roisin of the:

Book Wisdom

Of Pygmalion by George Bernhard Shaw, on which the musical production of My Fair Lady by Jay Lerner was based. There had been a screening on the ship, which they’d both seen, and they’d also both read the play text, which they’d discussed over breakfast one morning. Agnes said: “To Professor Higgins Eliza will always be a Cockney flower girl, to Freddy she will always be a lady. When people think they know who you are, you tend to live up to their expectations.”

Agnes continued with her words of wisdom: “This time no one came up to tell you who you should be, because they saw and appreciated you for who you already are, and that was far more than an entertainer. They recognised you as someone who could see what is truly inside of each of them, and because of what you saw within them, you set them off in being active participants in their own lives. You used your insights as a fuel to change how other people think of themselves. You created that: an environment where you were working with friends.

“In knowing who you’re going to be at your next WorkLife stage, that’s important to remember. Remember to create environments where you walk in and you’re working with your friends. If you’re going to spend time doing something that perhaps may require working long hours, as events do, it should be around people you love and like.”

Agnes finished by sharing this:

Sage Wisdom

“In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else. Because passing civilisation along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honour and the highest responsibility anyone can have.” Lee Lacocca

Epilogue

Recognising she knew how to do something that not everyone knew how to do — which was how to unlock those parts of people and connect them from that place, that allow people to go to a deeper place of what makes them who they are — caused Roisin to look deeper into who she was.

When she dug within herself to who she already was, and found that truth within her, she allowed that to lead and guide her. It didn’t feel like another reinvention, it felt like she’d already been doing this the whole time. She now just needed to step into it. She wasn’t trying to be something she wasn’t, or something other people thought she should be. She felt the difference by not trying to be something, by simply being something. She had gone from trying to reinvent herself for others to stepping into her own power, to tapping into who she already was — an educator and a connector.

In continuing her WorkLife, words Roisin often finds herself sharing are:

Just because someone tells you you’re something, don’t take that to be true. Instead believe in yourself, believe you have the answer within you, and believe that, that discovery is yours alone. So all the time you have to be experimenting, and asking yourself:

Who am I?

How did I become who I am?

What makes me different?

Reflect on this and give yourself feedback that will allow you to know who you are going to be at your next WorkLife stage, and the steps you need to take to become that.

Today’s featured book is: Pygmalion by George Bernhard Shaw

Today’s story is from my book: How To Embrace The Superpower of Self-Awareness, from The School of WorkLife book series.

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

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

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

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