I’m Taking Time Out From WorkLife Stories Publications

I’m Feeling Burnt Out. I Need a Little Rest. I Need to Re-Energise and Re-Focus

Learning Resources from School of WorkLife Learn Through Writing, Reading and Exploring Ideas
Learn Through Writing, Reading and Exploring Ideas

I’ve been writing pretty much non-stop for close to three years.

Just before the pandemic hit, I had published my first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and its accompanying workbook, Your WorkLife Your Way The Workbook.

The book and workbook focus on helping people live their best WorkLife by managing their learning, development and growth through effective self feedback, insightful self questions and the ability to shape and tell their unique stories.

When setting out to write my book, I established three criteria to guide me. 

  1. It had to be helpful.
  2. It had to be insightful.
  3. It had to be inspiring.

This simple approach continues to guide the books and stories I write and the learning resources I create.

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I enjoyed writing the book. I wanted to continue the practice. 

There were two reasons for this:

  1. I wanted to learn, grow and develop as a writer. My approach to learning has always been learning by doing. So that’s what I set out to do.
  2. I wanted to raise awareness to my work as a writer. My writing is an expression of who I am – my values and beliefs. I began to share stories that demonstrated what I stand for and what I stand against.

I did this by writing a blog called WorkLife Book Wisdom. (Later renamed to WorkLife Stories). The idea came from my love of books. 

Reading has always been my go-to place for learning. 

The stories I wrote were based on real-life WorkLife struggles and successes. The protagonists in the stories gleaned the wisdom needed to navigate their challenging situations from the books they read. 

I read or re-read the books featured in the stories.

This also helped my learning, growth and development as a writer because reading is an integral part of being a good writer. 

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Next, I developed the first six chapters of my book Your WorkLife Your WayPART 1: GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF: IT’S AN INSIDE JOB,  into workshop modules.

The Six Chapters:

  1. Living Your WorkLife True to Your Values
  2. Discovering or Rediscovering Your WorkLife Purpose
  3. Your WorkLife Vision and Core Motivation
  4. Living Your Truth
  5. Who Do You Think You Are? Your Identity Your Brand
  6. Your Voice

These chapters represent the focus of my work. It 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 was about to deliver the live workshop modules when …

… The pandemic hit, and all live events had to be cancelled.


My work stopped overnight. 


Not knowing what else to do, I continued to write the weekly WorkLife Book Wisdom stories. (Later renamed to WorkLife Stories).

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Then because I couldn’t deliver the live workshops, I decided to develop each of the twenty seven chapters of Your WorkLife Your Way book into individual e-books by adding more stories about real-life WorkLife struggles and successes. Each book also includes the exercises that helped navigate these situations, which are presented as assignments for people to work through and adapt to their WorkLife situations.

The collection became The School of WorkLife Book Seriesdesigned to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas that are most important to them. 

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I wanted to continue to learn, grow and develop as a writer.

I wanted to continue to raise awareness to my work as a writer.

So, I continued to write. I continued my approach of learning by doing. 

The great thing about learning by doing is the discoveries you make along the way.

I discovered the concept of Content Marketing. It appealed to me because it helps to establish expertise and promotes brand awareness. 

I adopted the approach of Content Marketing by writing stories that connected to the School of WorkLife e-books.

I needed to figure out how to reach the people I wanted to connect with.


So, I continued to write. I continued my approach of learning by doing. 

Writing and learning by doing requires research.

My research led me to discover the concept of Psychographics over Demographics.

Demographics include objective data such as gender, age, income, and marital status.

Psychographics include subjective data. 

Psychographics is about connecting with people through shared values and beliefs. It’s about connecting through a shared sense of identity and belonging. It’s about a group of people spread across all demographic lines, connected by common interests, attitudes and struggles.

This understanding helped me realise, unknowingly, I had naturally applied the concept of psychographics to my writing, creating and marketing. 

This understanding helped me to fine-tune what I was already doing. 

My approach in my work has always focused on the power of soft skills, which I sometimes describe as personal attributes. I’ve always believed in the strength of soft skills. To me, they are a superpower. 

Then my research led me to Attitudes are Skills, a blog post by Seth Godin. In which he wrote:

“Attitudes are skills 

Three words that changed my life

Once you realise that you can improve, amplify and refine the things that other people call attitudes, you may realise that they are skills.

Which is great news, because becoming better at a skill is something we’re able to do.


Some people call these, “soft skills.” That’s because they’re not easy to measure. But for me, they’re real skills. The skills that actually determine how far we’ll go and how it will feel to work with us as we move forward.”

This short post blew me away. Because once again, I realised, unknowingly, I had naturally applied the concept of Attitudes are Skills to my writing, creating and marketing. 

This understanding helped me to continue to fine-tune what I was already doing.

I changed the name of my blog from WorkLife Book Wisdom to WorkLife Stories to describe the range of stories I was now writing.

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I had an idea to develop the first six WorkLife Book Wisdom stories I had written into a book.

So, that’s what I set out to do.

The book is WorkLife Book Club. It takes readers on a journey through the streets of Shoreditch, East London, as the members share culinary experiences, while discussing WorkLife struggles and successes through the wisdom found in the books they read. 

Then I developed the next six WorkLife Book Wisdom stories I had written into case studies which I called WorkLife Book Wisdom Learning Through Reading series. The stories are presented as case studies for group discussion. The case and the recommended book are the required reading for each book club meeting and help to frame the subsequent discussion. 

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Next, I began to write two publications.

  1. WorkLife Book Wisdom – I had taken a break from these stories while writing WorkLife Book Club. The focus of this publication is to help people who enjoy learning through reading and learning by doing by adapting the lessons to their learning needs.
  2. The Art of WorkLife Storytelling. This publication is a series of lessons designed to help people find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations. The focus of these stories is to help people learn through writing, ideas and speaking.

Both publications are part of WorkLife Stories, from which I’m taking time out.

The publications haven’t taken off. Yet (anyway). So I figure now is the best time to take time out. 

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I’ve been writing pretty much non-stop for close to three years.

Ten/Twelve/Fourteen hours a day. Six/Seven days a week.

I’m feeling burnt out. I need a little rest. I need to re-energise and re-focus.

I need to re-group (with myself). I need to figure some things out. I need to take time out to do that.

I hope you will understand.

I hope I will be back before too long to tell you what’s next for me.

Until then, I hope you find the stories and books I’ve written helpful, insightful and inspiring.

That’s my greatest hope.

Carmel 

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PS, I realise this was a long-winded explanation as to why I need to take time out. It was as much to me as to you (actually, probably more to/for me). 

Writing is a powerful way to explore ideas and thinking to help you reflect and communicate what’s important to you.

I consider these words by Patrick Winston to be Words of Wisdom:

“Your success in life will be determined largely by your ability to speak, your ability to write, and the quality of your ideas.” 

That’s the premise behind my Learn Through Writing Publication: The Art of WorkLife Storytelling, to which I’ll hopefully be back to soon. Albeit perhaps with a different approach. That’s one of the things I need to figure out.

Watch this space …

PPS, While I’m taking time out from my publications, I’ll share occasional WorkLife Stories that I hope you will find helpful, insightful and inspiring.

Guidelines for Starting and Running your WorkLife Book Club 

Including Helpful Questions to Enhance the Learning Through Reading Experience 

Learning Resources From School of WorkLife Learn Through Reading and Doing
Learn Through Reading and Doing

The WorkLife Book Club book and The Learning Through Reading series are designed for people who work for the same company, for people who work at different companies, for people who are flying solo (self-employed freelancers, contractors, consultants, side-hustlers, business owners), people who are not working (people who are taking time out), and people who are retired, who although no longer part of the workforce, have curious minds, and a desire to maintain mental stimulation through discussing case studies of WorkLife struggles and successes, and the wisdom that can be gleaned from books.

The WorkLife Book Club book and The Learning Through Reading series are for people from all walks of life and from across all WorkLife stages. The connecting factor is that members have a love of reading and enjoy learning through reading. 

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First, a little background on how The WorkLife Book Club book and The Learning Through Reading series came about.

I began a blog called WorkLife Book Wisdom. (I later renamed it WorkLife Stories because I was writing a wider range of stories). The idea came from my love of books. Reading has always been my go-to place for learning. The stories I wrote were based on real-life struggles and successes. The protagonist in the stories gleaned the wisdom needed to navigate their challenging situations from the books they read. 

I developed the first six WorkLife Book Wisdom stories I had written into the WorkLife Book Club book. The book takes readers on a journey through the streets of Shoreditch, East London, as the members share culinary experiences, while discussing WorkLife struggles and successes through the wisdom found in the books and case studies they read. 

Then I developed the next six WorkLife Book Wisdom stories I had written into case studies which I called WorkLife Book Wisdom Learning Through Reading series. The stories are presented as case studies for group discussion. The case and the recommended book are the required reading for each book club meeting and help to frame the subsequent discussion. 

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The Guidelines for Starting and Running your WorkLife Book Club, Including Helpful Questions to Enhance the Learning Through Reading Experience, are applicable for book clubs where members read a selected book only and also for book clubs where members read the selected book and the case study.

The Guidelines for Starting and Running your WorkLife Book Club

Whether your WorkLife Book Club is going to take place in person at your workplace or home, remotely via an online meeting platform or in a more social setting, the following guidelines will help you establish your WorkLife Book Club Chapter: 

• Decide on a regular meeting time – as a suggestion, monthly is good – but meetings can be closer together or further apart as appropriate to the group’s WorkLife needs and demands while allowing time to read the book and, if relevant, the accompanying case study (the prerequisite reading for the School Of WorkLife Learning Through Reading series for book club meetings); 

• The optimum length of the meeting needs to fit in with the group’s needs – i.e. if it needs to fit in around a lunch hour, allow time to get from and back to work. If there are no time restraints, longer meetings may work better for members; 

• The optimum number of members can vary. As a suggestion, if numbers go above ten, consider setting up two or more groups. Also, a group can be as small as two people; 

• Meet over food and drinks (this applies for remote meetings too); 

– it can be anything from coffee or tea and cake, to slices of pizza and beer or wine, to a potluck supper, to canapés and cocktails, to recipes from a specific cookbook, to cuisine from a particular culture; 

  • At the first meeting (or before), to help people get to know each other in the context of reading, a good question to ask everyone is: What do you enjoy about reading?
  • Take turns to choose the WorkLife case study and featured book; 
  • When reading the case study and accompanying book, noting particular areas of interest is good practice – simply highlighting them on the page or making brief bullet point notes is sufficient; 
  • Begin the meeting by having the person who chose the case study read it aloud. If there is no case study, you can get straight into the book discussion; 
  • At the end of the meeting, each person summarises the WorkLife lesson they took from the experience – the case study, the book, the discussion; 
  • It is good practice for the person choosing the WorkLife case study and featured book for the next meeting to let everyone know their choice before wrapping up the meeting. 

Below are suggested questions for people to ponder while reading the book and case study (if relevant). These can also help to structure the discussion and to keep the flow going – if needed. Feel free to add your own. And please note there are no hard and fast rules – dip in and out as and if you see fit. 

Helpful Questions to Enhance the Learning Through Reading Experience for your WorkLife Book Club

The following questions are designed to enhance your WorkLife Book Club learning through reading experiences (and the flow of conversation, if needed). They can help develop a rhythm and flow as a group. In the beginning, they may be helpful to guide different areas, but it’s also OK to go with the flow and see where that takes you. A more structured or a more free-flowing approach is up to you individually and/or collectively as a group to figure out what works best for each and all of you. 

Questions to Ponder

What are the main themes of the story? 

What are the underlying themes of the story? 

Can I connect to aspects of the story through my WorkLife story? (my experiences) 

Do I have thoughts and emotions that are consistent with the storyline?

Am I having emotional responses and insights into the character’s emotions? 

Are there valid and competing viewpoints that I find interesting?

Was there anything that caused me to look at things differently?

Has anything brought about thoughts or ideas for change?

Has anything brought about thoughts or ideas for remaining constant?

Does the reading apply to my WorkLife? If so, how? 

Does the reading apply to my organisation/network? If so, how? 

What did I enjoy about the book? 

What did I enjoy about the case study? 

What was my impression of the protagonist of the story? (sometimes, there can be more than one protagonist) 

What was my impression of the antagonist of the story? (sometimes, there can be more than one antagonist) 

What were the struggles and successes for the protagonist? 

How did the book wisdom help the protagonist? 

Were there support characters? If so, what was my impression of them? 

Who were the heroes in the story? (heroes can sometimes be abstract, e.g. circumstances) 

Who were the villains in the story? (villains can sometimes be abstract, e.g. circumstances) 

What piqued my curiosity?

Where did the reading take my imagination? 

It’s important to remember that nothing is set in stone and that there will be meetings where people say more and other meetings where those same people say less. It doesn’t have to be precisely measured – just fairly balanced. The important thing is that everyone has an opportunity to speak while not feeling forced to do so or to say more or to be shut down to say less. Mutual respect among members in listening and speaking will help get the balance right. This is not a place for hard and fast rules. This is a place for a relaxed and enjoyable discussion. 

And finally: make it easy for people to participate. 

Many companies have book programmes that people who enjoy learning through reading can tap into. It’s quite simple: the company covers the cost of the books and, if relevant, accompanying case studies. This represents a meaningful investment by the company to support people who enjoy learning through reading to continuously learn, develop and grow personally and professionally in their WorkLife. 

Happy Reading and Happy Learning. Carmel 

Between The Lines of Shared Learning and Personal Development

A WorkLife Book/Film Club Experience of Self Directed Learning

Learn Through Reading & Doing
Learn Through Reading and Doing

Between The Lines Book/Film Club moves through the streets of Shoreditch each month for a showing of the film of the book the group had all just read, followed by their discussion of both book and film.

It had been a hot day, and the group welcomed Antoine’s suggestion of an alfresco screening in his garden. A small but beautiful garden that looks wonderful all year round, thanks to Antoine’s gardening and design skills.

As Antoine set up the screen, Lily, Ben and Emily laid out their picnic blankets with the pot luck picnic food they had each brought (made at home or picked up from the nearby Mediterranean Deli), which comprised of crudités and hummus, olives and cheeses, a selection of sandwiches, roasted tomato, basil and parmesan quiche, fig and serrano ham picnic bread, scotch eggs and sausage rolls, a summer allotment salad with English mustard, an epic summer salad, a chickpea salad and chocolate dipped strawberries. Ciara and Juan filled their glasses with the perfect accompanying rosé wine.

The book they read this month was The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War by Marcia Mitchell and Thomas Mitchell. The book was the inspiration for the motion picture Official Secrets.

Their chatter died down as the film started rolling. There was a quick burst of applause for the wonderful home garden screen Antoine had set up — the film was being projected onto a sheet held up by a clothesline of sorts, followed by an attentive silence, which was only broken to welcome sighs of relief, every time a fresh breeze rolled in.

As the credits rolled, the group’s attention was brought back to the room — the garden room, that is. As Ciara and Juan refilled their glasses, Lily rather pensively said, being reminded how brave Gun was in breaking that story is humbling. What I mean is, she was a regular person, like any one of us, not a covert spy.

And so, the discussion began. Here’s a flavour of what each of them had to say:

WorkLife Book / Film Club

Emily: I think both the book and the film got across who Gun is — a regular person, as you say, who was also a frustrated citizen. I read she worked closely with the film crew, which perhaps helped Knightley portray her so truthfully.

Antoine: Yes, that life-changing moment when she drops the letter to the press in the postbox. It was perhaps a relief to have made the decision, but terrifying too, because she didn’t know what was to come.

Ciara: And what was to come was terrifying. Those people in power were willing to stop at nothing.

Ben: That she did know. Because it was the classified memo from the NSA asking her and her colleagues to dig up dirt on several United Nations delegates, with the hope the US could blackmail them, that began the stirring of her conscience and the sequence of events that followed.

Juan: I think the story told through both the book and the film captures not only what was going on behind the scenes in the governments, the intelligence agencies, and the press, but also the mood of the public, many of whom were opposed to the war.

Lily: I think the story shone the camera on our values as a society, those fighting against what they believed was the injustice of the war, fighting by taking a stance through the anti-war protests, and the media fighting to bring the truth ahead of the crucial vote to invade Iraq. Well, the part of the media that questioned the powers that be.

Emily: Exactly, and the story also shone the camera on those who were willing to look away from the truth and those who were spinning the truth through whatever means it took. It was dirty, and it got even dirtier for Gun.

Antoine: That’s what made those who were willing to take a stance stand head and shoulders above those who cowered in the background. When Gun was asked why she leaked the memo to the press, she replied: “I work for the British people. I do not gather intelligence so the government can lie to the British people.” Although she didn’t consider herself to be brave, that was extremely brave.

Ciara: Yes, and, although surprising, it also didn’t come out of nowhere which I liked. We got a sense of her strong moral backbone throughout the story. When she posted the letter. When she owned up to the leak to save her colleagues from a witch-hunt. Her behaviour was in character. What I mean is her bravery came from a good moral compasses as opposed to, for example, a noble cause.

Ben: I think that can be said for many of the characters — the Observer journalist and the team at the newspaper fighting against time to get the story out there, the human rights lawyer and his team, fighting to defend Gun when the government tried to charge her with treason and also fighting to save her husband from deportation. That sense of strong moral backbone ran throughout the story, as did the bravery of so many of the characters that were fighting to do the right thing.

Juan: And yet they couldn’t stop the war. This raises the question, are we powerless against those in charge?

Lily: Sadly, no, Gun’s whistleblowing and the collective fight weren’t enough to stop the war. But the story didn’t go away either. It’s taken time, but truth has a habit of finding a voice, which is what brought this film to our screens. There are questions to be answered as to the legality of the invasion.

Emily: Answered, yes, but too late for the hundreds of thousands of people who died and were injured in the war. The Chilcot report proved the belief of those who opposed the war to be true — the invasion happened before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. But I’ve strayed from the book and film.

Antoine: I like stories based in truth that can be picked up after the book and film end, many years after in the case of this story.

Ciara: Yes, while we knew that Gun lost her job and the case against her was dropped, we, of course, also knew her story didn’t end there. I later read her response to being asked about how she felt when the case against her had been dropped, and she replied saying, “On the one hand, I was relieved because my life wouldn’t have to be scrutinised in court. But a part of me thought: ‘Damn — we could have put the war on trial’.

Ben: I think I read the same article. When asked how she rebuilt her life, she said, “It was very difficult initially. Just trying to figure out what to do next. I was very concerned about joining any kind of organisation like Stop the War and being used as a focal point or something. I didn’t want to be that. So I tried to look for work. I took up teaching. I was teaching Mandarin in the local college in Cheltenham. I ended up, bizarrely, teaching a couple of my former colleagues at GCHQ. In the very typical British manner, we just pretended we had never met.”

Words of Wisdom

Juan: All these years later, and we’re still faced with mendacious people, companies and governments. I don’t know if it can ever be stopped, but I think this story serves as a reminder to people not to take things at face value, to ask questions, to be willing to take a stand in search of the truth and to be brave in sharing that truth to hold people to account.

Epilogue

Juan’s words were the perfect summation of the group’s shared experience of reading the book, watching the film and the ensuing discussion. Each lost in their thoughts, they lingered just a little longer, appreciative of the cool night air that had descended upon them, before journeying home through the streets of Shoreditch.

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The book featured in the story is The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War by Marcia Mitchell and Thomas Mitchell. The film featured is Official Secrets.

The story was further informed by articles from the Guardian, The Independent and The New York Times.

The Mediterranean Deli mentioned in the story was featured in my book, WorkLife Book Club Volume One Shoreditch.

This story is part of a series of stories that share insights into the characters in my book WorkLife Book Club Volume One Shoreditch. Stories that share insights that aren’t shared in the book to the main characters, the support characters and the behind the scenes characters. While the characters in the stories are not based on real people, they are representative of the people who are an integral part of Shoreditch life, the neighbourhood I live in, which is full of people with different WorkLife experiences.

Shoreditch is a special place, and I believe what makes it so is the incredible diversity of life paths that cross here, spanning the whole globe and many walks of life.

You may also like my Learning Through Reading Series: A collection of stories inspired by real WorkLife struggles and successes presented as case studies for group discussion. The case and the recommended book are the required reading for each book club meeting and help frame the subsequent discussion.

6 Tips to Help You Craft Great Opening Lines That Hook Your Audience the Moment You Begin Your Story

Many Stories Grow From a Single Sentence  #Lesson3 … Passion Tells The Story 

Learn Through Writing, Ideas & Speaking
Learn Through Writing, Ideas & Speaking

INTRODUCTION

The opening line to your story can be simple, eloquent, informative, contradictory, startling, thrilling, curious, suspenseful … But it should propose a contract to your audience: If you keep listening, I’ll tell you a certain kind of story.

In this lesson, you will take time to think about an intriguing way to begin your Passion Story.

You will learn to craft the beginning, the middle and the end of your story.

Through Aisling’s story (the protagonist in the story/case study in this lesson), you will learn how to use the 6 Tips to Help You Develop Great Opening Lines That Hook Your Audience the Moment You Begin Your Story. You will also use the #6TIPS as a tool to both structure and test your story.

The #6TIPS:

#TIP1. State your theme at the outset: Consider the central theme of your story idea and brainstorm ways to distil it down to a single sentence;

#TIP2. Begin with a strange/unusual/interesting detail: A great opening line hooks your audience and captures their attention the moment you begin your story;

#TIP3. Establish your character’s voice — that’s your voice: The best stories are truthful, simple and consistent. Those are the three frame words of delivering great storytelling — truthful, simple and consistent. Over time that’s how brands are built — you are your own brand.

#TIP4. Introduce your narrative style: While each story has its own voice, the attitude, the soul, that’s all you. Let your signature style shine through;

#TIP5. Convey the stakes: Demonstrate the impact of a loss or potential loss of something the protagonist believes is crucial in achieving their story’s goal — Remember, everyone’s story is different. Everyone also has different stories — some will have higher or lower stakes. The important thing is that the stakes need to be high enough to give the audience a sense of the impact of the loss or potential loss to the protagonist;

#TIP 6. Set the scene: Setting the scene gives your audience an insight into what is about to unfold. It also helps you craft the beginning, middle and end of your story.

You will learn to write great stories. You will learn to increase the quality of your ideas. You will learn to share your unique stories by speaking them aloud. 

That’s important because, as Patrick Winston shared in his:

Words of Wisdom

“Your success in life will be determined largely by your ability to speak, your ability to write, and the quality of your ideas.”

LECTURE

“Perhaps the story you finish is never the one you begin.” Salman Rushdie.

You may have an opening line going into your story, or you may discover it as you discover your story. Mostly you won’t know your entire story (or I don’t). You will write it to find out what happens.

But you need to have something going in. All stories begin with an idea. You need to have a general sense of where your story is going to go. You need to know the theme of your story. And to know that, you need to ask the question:

What is my story about?

END OF LECTURE

Let’s look at this in the context of Aisling’s Story: A Case Study:

A TALE OF THREE FUNDAMENTAL WORKLIFE STORIES #LESSON3 … PASSION TELLS THE STORY

Aisling works independently as a WorkLife learning practitioner and writer. She had taken a year out to write her latest book. Turning up at her laptop every day, creating learning resources and writing stories is her happy place. Oftentimes she’ll write from dawn to dusk, stopping only briefly to eat before continuing late into the night.

But as much as she loves the solitude of creating and writing, she’s very aware that so much time alone is not good for her well-being and that she needs more social interaction. She’s also very aware that the other side of working independently as a creator is needing to promote herself and her work, and to do that, she needs to get out and about and mingle more. After all, she has a new book to tell people about.

That’s OK because Aisling loves to meet people. She loves to hear their stories, and she loves to tell her own story. But having been out of circulation for so long, she felt her storytelling techniques needed a little fine-tuning, and so that’s what she set out to do.

THE ART OF INSIGHTFUL QUESTIONS AND EFFECTIVE FEEDBACK

Aisling is a reflective soul and loves pondering on simple yet insightful questions that bring about ideas and enables effective feedback to test the quality of those ideas. 

So, she began by asking herself:

What type of stories do I like to listen to?

I love short stories that draw me in from the very first sentence because they give an insight into the person and what makes them interesting, leaving me curious to want to learn more about their story.

Aisling knew these were the type of stories that she wanted to tell.

But she needed to know more. She felt she needed the bigger picture. So once again, she posed a question to herself:

What type of stories do I want to tell?

She thought about the stories she enjoyed listening to and why:

Success Stories — people talking with a sense of pride about something they consider to be an achievement in their WorkLife.

Failure Stories — people talking about a time when a failure or perceived failure came close to destroying them and how they moved beyond that to pick themselves back up.

Passion Stories — people talking about their passion, the thing that inspires them and keeps them actively engaged and motivated in their WorkLife.

Aisling believed that SuccessFailure and Passion stories were the three fundamental stories in all WorkLife communication and situations. — from everyday conversations (including career and feedback conversations) to interviews and presentations to talks and negotiations to leadership and management to networking and building relationships.

She had the answer to her question:

What type of stories do I want to tell? — her big picture answer — Success, Failure and Passion stories.

She now wanted to get more into the detail about what she wanted to tell in each of her stories. So, once again, she asked herself:

What type of story do I want to tell?

Thinking about the stories she loved to listen to and why she thought the most engaging stories are the personal stories people tell. They’re meaningful simply because it’s clear they have meaning to the storyteller. That makes them unique, which in turn makes them interesting.

These were the type of stories that Aisling wanted to tell.

Aisling now had the answers to knowing the type of stories she wanted to tell — both the big picture and the detailed answers that would help her to craft her stories.

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In lesson, #Lesson1, you learnt the Art of Crafting your Success Story.

In #Lesson2, you learnt the Art of Crafting your Failure Story.

In this lesson, #Lesson3, you will learn the Art of Crafting your Passion Story.

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PASSION TELLS THE STORY

Aisling set about crafting her Passion Story by pondering the question:

What is the favourite passion project I’ve worked on?

Aisling considered the question in a way that demonstrates her thinking – her ideas and the quality of those ideas, in a way that shows her uniqueness and tells her truth.


An Aside: Thoughts are a mental process that keep on going in your mind unbated. Ideas are the formation of a plan or process that occur in your mind in relation to a possible course of action to achieve an objective. 

She took out her notebook and wrote down everything that came into her mind.

She went with the free flow of being in the moment, getting her thoughts out of her head and onto paper.

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CRAFT YOUR PASSION STORY WRITING ASSIGNMENT

To write your Passion Story, Ponder the question:

What is the favourite passion project I’ve worked on? (If you don’t have one, yet. Ask: What is the favourite passion project I would like to work on?)

Consider the question in a way that demonstrates your thinking – your ideas and the quality of those ideas, in a way that shows your uniqueness and tells your truth.

Take out a notebook, or on your device, write down everything that comes into your mind.

Go with the free flow of being in the moment, getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.

What You’ve Accomplished: By getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper, you’ve begun to structure your ideas to help you figure out your story. 

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Aisling then went about her day, letting her mind wander and wonder on the question:

What is the favourite passion project I’ve worked on?

She carried her notebook with her to gather her thoughts and ideas and to notice connections.

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LET YOUR MIND WANDER AND WONDER THINKING AND OBSERVATION ASSIGNMENT

As you go about your day, let your mind wander and wonder on the question:

What is the favourite passion project I’ve worked on? OR

What is the favourite passion project I would like to work on?

This can be both consciously and subconsciously.

For example, by tapping into the Three B’s of Creativity, you can consciously pose the question, and then you can allow your subconscious mind to wander and wonder.

THE THREE B’S OF CREATIVITY

BUS: (Which represents any form of travel and movement, including, for example, walking). Consciously pose the question to yourself, then allow your mind to switch off by focusing on your surroundings, allowing your subconscious mind to wander and wonder.

BATH: Consciously pose the question to yourself before switching your mind off and doing nothing other than soaking in the wonderfully relaxing environment of your bathroom.

BED: Consciously pose the question to yourself before drifting off to sleep, allowing your subconscious mind to wander and wonder.

Remember to have your notebook or device with you. The process of writing is really important because even in the process of writing something simple — words, sentences, thoughts, ideas, your mind starts to notice connections, and connections are what stories are made out of.

What You’ve Accomplished: By adding more ideas to the mix, you’ll see your story take a clearer shape.

Continue to tap into both of these assignments to help build your Passion Story.

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When Aisling was at a place where she was ready to craft her story, to test her opening line and to help structure and test her story, she used the 6 Tips to Help You Craft Great Opening Lines That Hook Your Audience the Moment You Begin Your Story.

Aisling went through her story line by line, section by section, using the Six Tips as a tool to both structure and test her story. This helped her to craft her opening line. It also helped her notice if a section was too busy and needed to be broken up or simplified. Or if it was too dull and needed to be eliminated. It also helped to keep her story short because, after all, that was Aisling’s aim. And it helped to control the pacing of the story.

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AISLING’S PASSION STORY

The Opening Line — The Beginning

My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning.

(#TIP2. Begin with a strange/unusual/interesting detail: A great opening line hooks your audience and captures their attention the moment you begin your story — Aisling believed she had accomplished this).

The Continuing Story — The Middle

My inspiration in creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning.

(#TIP1. State your theme at the outset: Consider the central theme of your story idea and brainstorm ways to distil it down to a single sentence — Aisling believed she had accomplished this).

A long time ago, I began a passion project 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.

#TIP 6. Set the scene: Setting the scene gives your audience an insight into what is about to unfold. It also helps you to craft the beginning, middle and end of your story. — Aisling believed she had accomplished this).

She believed that this reminded the audience of what her story was about. It brought them back to the beginning of her story, and it helped her craft her continuing story — the middle and the end.)

My passion project began from a place of learning that every downturn in the market brings about not only the loss of jobs but also the first thing to be cut is the learning budget for the people who remain in their positions. The people who find themselves out of work, also find they no longer have access to learning resources. And the people who go on to become self-employed — establishing a business of their own, or setting themselves up as freelancers, consultants or contractors have to finance their own continuous learning.

(#TIP5. Convey the stakes: Demonstrate the impact of a loss or potential loss of something the protagonist believes is crucial in achieving their story’s goal — Aisling believed she had accomplished this).

Remember, everyone’s story is different. Everyone also has different stories — some will have higher or lower stakes. The important thing is that the stakes need to be high enough to give the audience a sense of the impact of the loss or potential loss to the protagonist;

This learning led me to help people navigate their WorkLife journeys through stable times and times of change and uncertainty. I do this from a place of having changed direction myself — a place of understanding that comes from challenges, obstacles, failures and successes I’ve encountered along the way. Together with experiences, knowledge and skills gained throughout my journey. All of which come from a place of exploration and discovery. I continue to learn through people’s amazing WorkLife stories, from which I draw inspiration every day.

(#TIP4. Introduce your narrative style: While each story has its own voice, the attitude, the soul, that’s all you, let your signature style shine through — Aisling believed she had accomplished this.)

The Closing Line — The End

I love that I’m actively engaged in the art of learning. I love that my profession allows me to immerse myself in the world of people’s learning and that I get to participate in their WorkLife journeys.

(#TIP3. Establish your character’s voice — that’s your voice: The best stories are truthful, simple and consistent. Those are the three frame words of delivering great storytelling — truthful, simple and consistent. Over time that’s how brands are built — you are your own brand. — Aisling believed she had accomplished this.)

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Aisling then began to speak the words out loud. Slowly at first, and then on fast forward. This helped her to identify words and parts of her story that could potentially trip her up. It helped her to recognise what needed more or less emphasis. It helped her to consider how pacing and pausing could help her tell her story in a more interesting way to draw her audience in.

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Use The 6 Tips to Help You Craft Great Opening Lines That Hook Your Audience the Moment You Begin Your Story To Both Test Your Opening Line and To Structure and Test Your Story Assignment

When you are at a place where you are ready to craft your story, to test your opening line and to help structure and test your story, use The Six Tips to Help You Craft Great Opening Lines That Hook Your Audience the Moment You Begin Your Story.

Go through your story line by line, section by section, using the #6Tips as a tool to both structure and test your story. This will help you to craft your opening line. It will also help you notice if a section is too busy and needs to be broken up or simplified. Or if it is too dull and needs to be eliminated. It will also help you to keep your story short. And it will help you to control the pacing of the story.

The #6TIPS

#TIP1. State your theme at the outset: Consider the central theme of your story idea and brainstorm ways to distil it down to a single sentence;

#TIP2. Begin with a strange/unusual/interesting detail: A great opening line hooks your audience and captures their attention the moment you begin your story;

#TIP3. Establish your character’s voice — that’s your voice: The best stories are truthful, simple and consistent. Those are the three frame words of delivering great storytelling — truthful, simple and consistent. Over time that’s how brands are built — you are your brand;

#TIP4. Introduce your narrative style: While each story has its own voice, the attitude, the soul, that’s all you. Let your signature style shine through;

#TIP5. Convey the stakes: Demonstrate the impact of a loss or potential loss of something the protagonist believes is crucial in achieving their story’s goal — Remember, everyone’s story is different. Everyone also has different stories — some will have higher or lower stakes. The important thing is that the stakes need to be high enough to give the audience a sense of the impact of the loss or potential loss to the protagonist;

#TIP 6. Set the scene: Setting the scene gives your audience an insight into what is about to unfold. It also helps you to craft the beginning, middle and end of your story.

When you have crafted your story, speak the words out loud. Slowly at first, and then on fast forward. As with Aisling, this will help identify words and parts of your story that could potentially trip you up. It will help you to recognise what needs more or less emphasis. It will help you to consider how pacing and pausing could help tell your story in a more interesting way to draw your audience in.

What You’ve Accomplished: You’ve just structured your entire story, crafted a great opening line and ran your lines. 

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YOUR CONTINUOUS LEARNING ASSIGNMENTS

THE ART OF JOURNALING AND THE ART OF THINKING: OBSERVATION AND WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS

Develop your storytelling ability by making storytelling part of your daily life. After all, storytelling is the best communication tool in all WorkLife situations. Whenever you want to connect to people, tell a story.

Do this by simply connecting with people through conversations. Listen to their stories. Ask insightful questions — remember the old adage: “To be interesting, be interested.” Dale Carnegie.

By being observant, your mind will start noticing connections, and connections are what stories are made out of. Write down your observations. Journaling on your thoughts enables you to increase the quality of your ideas.

This, in turn, will enable you to build a range of stories that you can then tap into to tell the right story at the right time. Your authentic stories because they’re coming from your thoughts and ideas, your feelings and emotions, your beliefs and values, and your learning through your WorkLife experiences. All of which makes you, your voice and your stories unique because they come from your authentic truth — who you are, what you’re about. What’s important to you, what you stand for and what you stand against.

What You’ll Accomplish: Stories will come to you easily and effortlessly. You’ll become an active participant in your own WorkLife story.

COLLECTING LINES ASSIGNMENT

Start collecting lines — something that someone once said to you that has always remained with you. A line overheard. A line in a performance — film, tv, theatre. A line from something you read in a book or article, or blog. A line you heard on the radio or in a podcast. Wonderful lines that draw you in are everywhere. Start paying attention to both remember old lines that have impacted you in your WorkLife, and to notice new lines that you can add to your repertoire of great opening lines.

What You’ll Accomplish: You’ll build that wonderful repertoire of great opening lines.

AFTERWORD

Keep a notebook devoted solely to this course. While the assignments are designed to help you craft your story in line with the topic of each lesson, you will likely want to continue to build on each individual story and to also build a collection of stories. Having a collection of stories that are unique to you that you can tap into to tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations is what The Art of WorkLife Storytelling is all about.

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This story is from my Publication: The Art of WorkLife Storytelling created to help you Learn To Craft Your Unique Stories.

Every Tuesday, I publish a new story. On the last Tuesday of each month, I make the story available to all readers. The stories I publish on the other weeks are available to subscribers only. Subscribers have access to the full archive. The subscription is £5 p.m.

This allows me to honour my commitment to create WorkLife learning resources that are accessible to everyone, that also reflect the value at a fair price to all — individuals who are responsible for their own learning, companies who want to invest in the learning of their people, and me as the creator.

If you think this story would be helpful to someone you know, please feel free to share it.

If you found this lesson helpful and would like to receive all the weekly lessons, just tap below on any of my ‘subscriber only’ stories below.  The sign-up to The Art of WorkLife Storytelling is within each weekly ‘subscriber only’ publication.

The stories featured in my Publication: The Art of WorkLife Storytelling this month are:

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Resources

The Coffee Break Screenwriter by Pilar Alessandra.

The 6 Tips to Help You Craft Great Opening Lines That Hook Your Audience the Moment You Begin Your Story was adapted from: https://www.masterclass.com/articles/tips-for-writing-the-opening-line-of-your-novel#6-tips-for-writing-a-great-opening-line.

Aisling’s learning was inspired by www.masterclass.com, and Neil Gaiman Teaches the Art of Storytelling Class.

Words of Wisdom was inspired by: https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/emotional-intelligence-mit-patrick-winston-how-to-communicate-effectively-how-to-write.html.

Let’s Go and Fika – Why? Because Fikas Refresh the Brain and Strengthens Relationships

A WorkLife Book Club Experience of Shared Learning and Personal Development

Learn Through Reading & Doing
Learn Through Reading & Doing

Lars introduced his team to Fika, a ritual he had grown up with in his native Sweden. He told them that although it’s often translated as a coffee and cake break, it really is much more than that. It’s a concept, a state of mind, an attitude and an important part of Swedish culture. He said Swedes believe it’s important to make time to stop and socialise because it refreshes the brain and strengthens relationships.

On his team, the host now rotates and has responsibility for planning the fika break for the rest of the group. They’ve played games, had show-and-tells, and more. At their last company offsite, they did an activity which they called ’Ten Pictures.’ Everyone shared ten pictures from the parts of their life that were important for them to share. They then each had five minutes to tell the stories behind the snaps. It had been a fun way to help the team to get to know where each of them had come from and what had been important to them along the way that had led them to become who they are today.

Today they were back in the office, and Lars was hosting once again. According to Lars, exactly what you eat during fika is not really important and that it’s more about spending quality time with friends and colleagues. However, whatever food the host chooses should be fresh and well presented. For Lars, that meant baking a cake at home to bring to work for fika. This time his cake of choice was a cardamon cake, baked using a beloved spice from the Swedish kitchen, making for an exotic-tasting cake that paired perfectly with the cups of coffee he had delivered from his friend Florian’s nearby cafe.

Smelling the coffee and the cake, his team arrived to fika (fika is also a verb). The theme of this fika was for each of them to share a book they enjoyed and what they liked about it.

WorkLife Book Club

Hugo: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. I read it as a wonderful travel fantasy as a child. I remember the imaginative storyline taking me on an amazing adventure of strange and fantastic lands.

I was surprised when I learned some years later that it was intended for an adult audience. What I found fascinating when I re-read it as an adult was how a book written in the 18th century still has meaning for society today and encourages readers to think about topics such as politics, morality and ethics. And to further reflect on our role and purpose in the world.

Eva: Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle by Dervla Murphy. I loved when Murphy received a bicycle and an atlas for her tenth birthday; she decided she wanted to cycle to India. And how some twenty or so years later, she set out to achieve her ambition. I also loved how she gave short shrift to people who said how brave she was, with her response, “fear itself is the only thing to be feared.”

Her account of her epic journey that takes her readers through Europe, Persia, Afghanistan, over the Himalayas, and into India is captivating. She had a unique commitment to the value of human experience through her writing. She beautifully portrays the diversity of people and landscapes along her journey.

I love her love of travel and how she documented her experiences in exquisite detail. I also loved her humour and how she weaves it through her aptitude for beautiful descriptions. For example, “This is the part of Afghanistan I was most eager to see, but in my wildest imaginings, I never thought any landscape could be so magnificent. If I am murdered en route, it will have been well worthwhile!”

I enjoy cycling, and I’ve read many books on the subject. But they tend to focus on the cycling, whereas Murphy focuses on the experience of travelling. Travel is one of my preferred ways of personal development because I learn so much through different experiences. Whether through actual travel experiences or the experiences books take me on. Reading in general and travel books, in particular, enable my personal development because they open my mind to possibilities. This book is classic travel writing at its best. It is thoughtful, detailed and fascinating. I loved it for that reason.

Lena: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I was introduced to this book by my American friend, Mich, who told me that book had blazed the trail that led Morrison to win the Nobel prize for literature. She said it was the first book by a black American woman writer to be chosen for the powerful Book of the Month Club, a recognition that had been unknown to the black community for many years.

On reading it, I understood why. It’s beautifully written, with a lyrical flow that pays homage to African American speech and song. I liked how she used lots of characters, stories and conversations to explore the complexity of the black American experience in the 20th century. And I liked how she used the main character to also go in search of a better understanding of African American heritage.

She said this use of voices enabled her to break away from what she identified as a “totalising view” “totalised — as though there is only one version. We are not one indistinguishable block of people who always behave the same way … I try to give some credibility to all sorts of voices, each of which is profoundly different. Because what strikes me about African-American culture is its variety.”

I’m so grateful to my friend for introducing me to Morrison’s work, which I’ve loved ever since.

Ida: The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett. My introduction to Pratchett was through his first book, The Carpet People, and it was the perfect starting place. I remember it being both funny and scary, and although I don’t think I recognised it at the time, it also introduced me to Pratchett’s sense of humanity. I remember that point came back to me when Philip Pullman said, “There is nothing spiteful, nothing bitter or sarcastic in his humour.”

I also remember being saddened when I learnt he had been diagnosed with a very rare form of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, which seemed such a cruel twist of fate for someone who had the ability to fire the imagination of millions.

I loved The Carpet People because it took me on an adventure and kept me intrigued. I also loved it because it led to my discovery of Pratchett and his other books. And I loved discovering his story: How he fell in love with science fiction and fantasy at a young age, perhaps at the age I was when I first read his work. How he published his first story in a school magazine when he was in his early teens. How that story was published later in Science Fantasy magazine. How he worked in publishing and public relations for many years before becoming a full-time writer. How it took time for him to realise a dream that had begun at a very young age and how he had remained steadfast in his pursuit of his dream.

Lars: Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday. I follow Holiday’s blog. I find his writing and thinking inspiring and insightful. In many ways, he has what I believe are old-fashioned values that go against the new age values that I consider to be the bandwagon that so many authors are jumping on with their books. Carriages that are full of noise. In contrast, I think of Holiday’s writing, and this book in particular, as the slow and quiet train, on a journey along which there will be many stops to get off at and explore with wonderment that comes from seeing things with fresh eyes.

For me, the book serves as a reminder to be humble and persistent. To value discipline and results. To recognise and own my ability and my shortcomings. Because that’s where improvement becomes possible. That’s where meaningful learning and development can take place. Through the book, I discovered the practice of seeing myself with a little distance by getting out of my own head. Detachment is a natural ego antidote.

I’ve read the book a few times now. In fact, I get on that slow train at least once a year. I go on a journey which begins by asking myself: “What is it that I want to accomplish in my WorkLife?” It’s a question that brings me back to earth from the place I’ve built myself up to be at, and grounds me in reality and humility — which Holiday says are the cure for the symptoms of ego.

Epilogue

Words of Wisdom

The group ended their fika by saying what they took from the experience:

Hugo: I liked that we shared books that had impacted us at different stages of our lives and the world they had opened up to us.

Eva: I liked being reminded that it’s good to go back and re-read a book. I don’t know why but I tend not to do that, but I will, and when I do, I’ll be interested to discover what remains the same for me and what changes or impacts me in a different way.

Lena: I like how we’re learning about each other through our fikas. Things that don’t come to light in our day-to-day WorkLife. It’s really interesting, and I love the concept of fikas — that it requires us to be fully present for each other, and when we are, learning comes naturally, learning about each other and also learning something new through each other’s experiences.

Ida: I like the variation of our fikas — the ‘Ten Pictures’ we did last time and today’s ‘WorkLife Book Wisdom’. I feel I would like to do this again, but not every time, not as a book club per se, but simply repeating this experience while also mixing it up with other experiences as we have been doing.

Lars: I liked learning about everyone’s book choices, and I also liked learning about the stories of the authors — whether it was the time in which they lived or how they pursued their craft and their dream.

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Florian’s cafe was featured in my book, WorkLife Book Club Volume One Shoreditch.

This story is part of a series of stories that share insights into the characters in my book WorkLife Book Club Volume One Shoreditch. Stories that share insights that aren’t shared in the book to the main characters, the support characters and the behind the scenes characters. While the characters in the stories are not based on real people, they are representative of the people who are an integral part of Shoreditch life, the neighbourhood I live in, which is full of people with different WorkLife experiences.

Shoreditch is a special place, and I believe what makes it so is the incredible diversity of life paths that cross here, spanning the whole globe and many walks of life.

You may also like my Learning Through Reading Series: A collection of stories inspired by real WorkLife struggles and successes presented as case studies for group discussion. The case and the recommended book are the required reading for each book club meeting and help frame the subsequent discussion.

4 Steps to Creating a Strong Premise for Your Story

From the Beginning, Through to the Middle and Onto the End of Your Stories

Learn Through Writing, Ideas & Speaking
Learn Through Writing, Ideas & Speaking 

INTRODUCTION 

The premise of a story is the foundational idea that expresses the plot in simple terms. A good premise will communicate your story’s essence in a brief statement. 

Because of the universal truths, premises tend to express, a story premise can usually be stated in one sentence. Example premises you may be familiar with:

Words of Wisdom

Honesty is the best policy;

Be careful what you wish for;

What goes around comes around.

In this lesson, I share my personal story in the case study. Through my story, you will learn how to use:

THE #4STEPS TO CREATING A STRONG PREMISE FOR YOUR STORY

#Step1: Begin with a theme. Your theme will inform both your point of view and the premise of your story. 

#Step2: Start by asking yourself simple questions. One of the most basic steps you can take to generate story ideas is to ask yourself simple questions.


#Step3: Ensure that your character (you) has a strong motivation. Many great premises are borne from a character’s motivation or primary goal.

#Step4:  Be able to explain your premise in as few words as possible. Once you’ve settled on your basic story idea, make sure it can be explained simply and quickly.

LECTURE

Establishing what your premise is at the outset will help you craft a story that works. That’s because it gives you the framework you need to express your driving idea from the beginning through to the middle and onto the end of your story.

END OF LECTURE

PREMISE TELLS THE STORY 

In this lesson, you will learn how to use premise as a framework to craft your story in a way that communicates your message simply and effectively. Throughout the steps, you will practice The Art of Insightful Questions and Effective Feedback.

Let’s look at this in the context of my Story:

LIFE IS TOO SHORT NOT TO BE LIVING IT FULLY: PREMISE TELLS THE STORY: A CASE STUDY: 

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As a subscriber, you get access to The Art of WorkLife Storytelling. A weekly publication created to help you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations. This is in addition to the free WorkLife Book Wisdom story I share weekly and other occasional WorkLife Stories.

I love 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.

Your contribution allows me to do that and is appreciated.

The publication subscription is £5 p.m.

I’ve Heard It Said, ‘A Book Is Worth Reading if It Gives You Just One Idea You Can Use’

WorkLife Conversations Over Breakfast 

Learn Through Reading & Doing
Learn Through Reading & Doing

As the founder of a Print Media business, it is important for Lacey to take time to get to know the growing team at her company and to help them get to know each other away from the office. She regularly hosts breakfasts bringing small groups of people who have different responsibilities and functions within the business together.

Lacey always invites people to share something about what they enjoy doing outside of work. She believes WorkLives need to be considered holistically because each has an impact on the other and are so intrinsically linked they cannot be separated. She also believes that what people choose to do in their time outside of work when there are no external influences helps to understand them at a deeper level. This is important to Lacey because she wants to support their personal and professional learning, development and growth.

Each breakfast meeting always brings about interesting WorkLife conversations from both the combined and different interests of the groups, as Lacey invites them to share something about what they enjoy outside of work that has helped them in their work — an idea, a piece of knowledge or wisdom, skill or attribute. This also gives the group an insight into their colleagues ‘softer’ skills or attributes, which are less visible or harder to define at work — for example — creative problem-solving, rational judgement, learning agility, and physical and mental wellbeing, when doing something that requires a different approach than carrying out the responsibilities of their role.

Lacey loves to read and believes that a book is worth reading if it gives you just one idea you can use — she thinks she might have read that somewhere, she doesn’t remember where, but it’s what gave her the idea to ask people to share their ‘something’ from what they enjoy doing, and how it has helped them in their work. While many of her colleagues enjoy reading and enjoy learning through reading, Lacey is aware that many others enjoy different things and enjoy learning in different ways. It is important for her to acknowledge and be respectful of people’s preferred choices of what they enjoy doing and how they enjoy learning.

Based in Shoreditch, there is an eclectic dining scene for Lacey to take people to, and this morning they were meeting at a boutique hotel that is popular for its Breakfast Club.

Here’s a flavour of the ‘something’ each of the group shared over breakfast.

WorkLife Book Club

Lacey: I recently re-read The Listening Book by W.A Mathieu. I first read the book over ten years ago, and I remember being drawn to it because of the description, ‘The Listening Book is about rediscovering the power of listening as an instrument of self-discovery and personal transformation.’ Re-reading it reminded me how that is as true now as it was then.

It’s a book of little essays and exercises about listening. For me, it helped call attention to sounds I hadn’t noticed to become more aware of what I was hearing in conversations beyond the words being spoken to understand the true meaning of the communication. For example, the rhythm of people’s voices to recognise when they are engaged or disengaged, when they are excited or when they are just going through the motions. This helps me to go deeper into conversations by calling what I’m hearing, and it helps those conversations to be more meaningful because people feel they are being heard and understood, which enables more openness.

Words of Wisdom

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” Aristotle

Chris: I did a 10k run at the weekend. I pushed myself to do it because, having been recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I didn’t want to put limitations on what I can and can’t do. I built up to it, and I listened to my body, and I felt good. I feel I combined strength of mind and strength of body. I can’t think of a situation when I’ve had to do that before, and it feels good to know I can do it, and it feels good to have learnt something new about myself that perhaps I wouldn’t have learnt without my diagnosis.

Robin: I saw a ballet recently — it was a contemporary adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. I love the power of dance to tell a story without words. I love it because it allows me to take my own meaning from it. What I mean is, although I know the story, the production made me go deeper into my imagination as to the meaning of the story in today’s world. I went with a friend, and we’ve been talking about it ever since we saw it. We took similar but also different things from it, and that’s what I love about the power of dance and learning through dance. It opens up my thinking through my experience and also through my friend’s experience. Outside of work, I volunteer at a charity that helps young people turn their life around. I’m exploring how I can connect the world of dance to help the people we work with at the charity.

Mel: I never thought I had green fingers, but I’m discovering that perhaps I do. It started when I moved into my flat which doesn’t have a garden. I think because of that, I became very aware of how many of my neighbours have beautiful flower window boxes, and then there was a fete at our building complex, and I discovered many were also growing their own vegetables, which they sold or entered in a competition at the event.

The people I chatted to encouraged me to grow my own flowers and vegetables and helped me learn what I needed to know. I started with flowers and herbs before advancing to growing a wider selection of vegetables. So far, I’ve grown carrots, peppers, tomatoes and strawberries. I’m becoming rather self-sufficient, and we have a system where we can swap our produce. I always have the freshest of vegetables to hand, and I very rarely buy them now. I’ve also learnt to make jams, and my strawberry jam won a prize at this year’s fete. Learning I have an aptitude for growing flowers and vegetables is so fulfilling. It has also been good for my well-being because it relaxes my mind, which also helps my creative thinking because my mind is more free. I’ve gotten to know people that I was only on nodding terms with through a shared interest, and for the first time since I moved to London, I feel I’m part of a community which I like.

Bailey: My passion is cycling. I love going out on the road, alone or with friends. I love walking too, but cycling I can go so much further and so much quicker. In London, I go everywhere on my bike, which saves me hundreds of pounds every year on public transport, which I then spend on cycling short breaks and longer holidays here in the UK and throughout Europe. Cycling allows me to see so much more than other forms of transport. If something catches my attention, such as wildlife or nature, which is more easily visible because of the slower speed of cycling than driving, I stop and explore.

This year I’m taking part in a charity bike ride from John O’ Groats to Lands End — 1,000 miles in just 9 days. I know it’s going to be tough, and it’s really going to push me physically and mentally. I’m training alone and also as part of a group, which means I can go for a ride when I can, and I also have the help of fellow riders. The cycling community is wonderfully supportive and friendly. I love that cycling is an activity that I can keep improving at, and I love that I can push myself both physically and mentally to take on steeper hills that I then breeze down, enjoying all of the ride.

Jody: My thing is cooking, or rather it has become my thing since I discovered Masterclass. I love that I can learn from chefs I admire and respect in my own space and in my own time. I’m learning so much about food and cooking, and I’m also learning so many other skills — how to use knives — there’s an art to cutting and chopping, there’s also an art to table setting and to planning a meal, from preparation through to serving, including drink pairings. I’m also developing my sense of taste and smell.

I’ve learnt so much, and yet I have so much more to learn, and that excites me. The wonderful thing about Masterclass is that there are always new classes being added, and so I know my learning will be continuous.

What perhaps has surprised me is how I’ve developed my ability to talk about food and drink. Every time I complete a class, I prepare the dishes I’ve learnt to make, and I invite friends around to share them with me. In the past, I’ve at times felt awkward socially, and I’ve always hated small talk that’s contrived and banal and would avoid networking situations. Now I’m beginning to enjoy them, and I can contribute that to learning about cooking.

Epilogue

As the group finished breakfast and headed back to work, it was with a collective greater appreciation and deeper understanding as colleagues. They had learnt things about each other that might never be shared in the workplace.

Lacey’s mind was already mulling over how she and the company could help each of them continue to learn, develop and grow personally and professionally in line with what was important to them both in and out of work.

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

The book featured in the story is: The Listening Book by W.A. Matieu

The Boutique Hotel and Breakfast Club was featured in my book

WorkLife Book Club Volume One Shoreditch.

This story is part of a series of stories that share insights into the characters in my book WorkLife Book Club Volume One Shoreditch. Stories that share insights that aren’t shared in the book to the main characters, the support characters and the behind the scenes characters. While the characters in the stories are not based on real people, they are representative of the people who are an integral part of Shoreditch life, the neighbourhood I live in, which is full of people with different WorkLife experiences.

Shoreditch is a special place, and I believe what makes it so is the incredible diversity of life paths that cross here, spanning the whole globe and many walks of life.

You may also like my Learning Through Reading Series: A collection of stories inspired by real WorkLife struggles and successes presented as case studies for group discussion. The case and the recommended book are the required reading for each book club meeting and help frame the subsequent discussion.

How To Craft Great Turning Points Into Your Story

One Simple Technique to Make The Turning Point In Your Story Inspiring 

INTRODUCTION

Learn Through Writing, Ideas & Speaking
Learn Through Writing, Ideas & Speaking

The turning point in a story where decisive change takes place can linger in people’s minds far more than any other part of the narrative.

Through Lulu’s story (the protagonist in the story/case study in this lesson), you will learn how to use:

#1 Simple Technique to Make The Turning Point In Your Story Inspiring 

#1 Build up to the turning point of your story: While turning points shouldn’t be predictable, they should be realistic. To achieve this, sprinkle in a set-up so that your character arc is believable and your turning point is inspiring.

LECTURE

A turning point is a moment in a story when a major narrative shift takes place, and the rest of the story will be different.

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot 

END OF LECTURE

TURNING POINT TELLS THE STORY

In this lesson, you will learn how to craft turning points that inspire your audience.

Let’s look at this in the context of Lulus Story:


THE HEALING POWER OF KINDNESS AND FLOWERS RESTORED MY WELL-BEING: TURNING POINT TELLS THE STORY: CASE STUDY:

Subscribe to get access

As a subscriber, you get access to The Art of WorkLife Storytelling. A weekly publication created to help you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations. This is in addition to the free WorkLife Book Wisdom story I share weekly and other occasional WorkLife Stories.

I love 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.

Your contribution allows me to do that and is appreciated.

The publication subscription is £5 p.m.

An Evening of Fictitious Dishes 

With the Contemporary and Classic Literature Book Club

Learn Through Reading & Doing
Learn Through Reading & Doing

Jasmine welcomed Alessio, Cali, Noah and Selena to the first meeting of the Contemporary and Classic Literature Book Club. All based in Shoreditch, they planned to take turns hosting the club in their homes over supper with a theme or a twist.

The first supper had a little bit of both and was inspired by the book they had read for the meeting: Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried — An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals.

The book ‘serves up a delectable assortment of photographic interpretations of culinary moments from contemporary and classic literature.’ That’s where the group got the idea for the name of their book club.

In the book, each dish is paired with ‘text from the book that inspired its creation.’ That’s where the group got the idea for the theme/twist for their first supper and book discussion.

They each chose a book to suggest reading for future meetings and then prepared the accompanying dish to share over their first supper.

Here’s a flavour of the first Contemporary and Classic Literature Book Club. Featuring Fictitious Dishes by Dinah Fried, accompanied by a selection of literature’s most memorable meals as featured in their individual choice of future books to read.

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

WorkLife Book Club

Jasmine had chosen The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald and had prepared harlequin-designed tomato and beetroot salad and pig-in-a-blanket canapés, which she served with glasses of fizz as an accompaniment to her book choice, which the group delighted in as Jasmine told them why she was drawn to the book.

Jasmine: I enjoy books that capture historical moments, and this book does that vividly — the economic boom of postwar America, the new jazz music, the free-flowing illegal alcohol in a time of prohibition. Fitzgerald, when speaking about the era, said it was ‘a whole race going hedonistic, deciding on pleasure.’

I also enjoy books that present contradictions. It can be read as a pessimistic examination of the American dream, but at its centre is a remarkable rags to riches story. It goes deeper into this by raising awareness of the challenges to break into the secret society of those who were born wealthy, and the tensions in society between “new money” and “old money”, and how those who had inherited their wealth frowned upon people who had made their money during the economic boom.

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

Noah had chosen The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. He served the group the accompanying avocado and crabmeat salad dish he had prepared, which the group also delighted in as Noah talked about why he was drawn to the book.

Noah: It was a quote from Plath that first drew me to the book when she said, for her, The Bell Jar was ‘an autobiographical apprentice work which I had to write in order to free myself from the past’. And also, Fried mentioning in the chapter footnotes in Fictitious Dishes that ‘Like Esther (the character in the book), Plath struggled with mental illness.’

I was drawn in further by this description from Wikipedia: “The Bell Jar addresses the question of socially acceptable identity. It examines Esther’s ‘quest to forge her own identity, to be herself rather than what others expect her to be.’ Esther is expected to become a housewife, and a self-sufficient woman, without the options to achieve independence.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

Selena had chosen To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf and served up plates of Boeuf en daube. Jasmine poured glasses of red wine as Selena explained why she was drawn to the book.

Selena: I’m drawn to the book because of the themes:

The Theme of Relationship: between the characters and how the characters are viewed from different perspectives. Also, the relationship between individuals and society as a way of realising the psyche of the characters from different points of view.

The Theme of Art and Nature: How the story begins with the artist unable to complete her painting because there is a lack of harmony between her mind and her canvas to sketch an idea, and how nature helps brings the harmony and the clarity of mind she was seeking to finish her painting by the end of the story.

The Theme of Change: How the character, Mr Ramsay, who loves his family, but at the beginning of the story, often acts like somewhat of a tyrant by being selfish and harsh. By the end of the story, he’s changed to become more patient, kind and diplomatic towards others. It seems he has adapted the attributes of Mrs Ramsay, which has brought about a change in his behaviour.

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

Alessio had chosen The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and served the accompanying dish of boiled new potatoes, which was also the perfect accompaniment to Selena’s Boeuf en daube, which the group savoured as Alessio explained his choice of book.

Alessio: While I’ve seen several tv adaptations of the story, which I’ve always enjoyed, I haven’t read the book. And while it’s a children’s book, I’m drawn to it because of this chapter footnote by Fried: ‘The once wealthy Burnett began writing at the age of nineteen as a means of earning extra money, as her family, which included two brothers and two sisters — struggled financially after her father’s premature death.’

Burnett’s story strikes me as a story of fall, rise, renewal, and transformation, which perhaps mirrors the stories of the characters in the book; Mary, the ill-tempered orphan, her invalid cousin, Colin, and the abandoned garden. I’m drawn to stories of renewal and transformation and also stories about the healing power of nature on the human spirit.

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

Cali had chosen On the Road by Jack Kerouac and served the group the accompanying apple pie and vanilla ice cream he had prepared. Jasmine poured cups of coffee as Cali explained why he was drawn to the book.

Cali: Robert McCrum’s description of the book in the article he wrote for the Guardian, titled 100 best novels, describes perfectly why I want to read the book: ‘On the Road pulsates to the rhythms of 1950s America: jazz, sex, drugs, and the desperate hunger of a new generation for experiences that are passionate, exuberant and alive to the heartbreaking potential of the present moment. Kerouac was an artist, but he was not immune to the charms of the American dream. On the Road is perhaps the supreme American romance, a contemporary version of Huck Finn’s longing to “light out for the territory”. Indeed, although acclaimed as a prophet of 1960s counterculture, Kerouac’s own idea of himself and his work was to reclaim the gritty individualism and frontier spirit of the pioneering days of the American past.’

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Epilogue

Words of Wisdom

The group ended the first meeting of the Contemporary and Classic Literature Book Club by saying what they took from the experience — Fictitious Dishes, the featured book, which they had all read, the snippets shared from their individual choices of books to read for their next meetings, and the food they’d shared.

Jasmine: I loved how Fictitious Dishes shares interesting food facts and entertaining anecdotes about the authors, their work, and their culinary penchants.

Noah: I enjoyed learning about everybody’s choice of book to read and why we were drawn to a particular book. It instilled in me a greater sense of interest and curiosity for each book.

Selena: Fried sums up the experience for me, “Just as reading great novels can transport you to another place and time, meals can conjure scenes very far away from your kitchen table.”

Alessio: I relate to Fried’s words, “Some of my favourite meals convey stories of origin and traditions’” I think food is the perfect entree to learn about different cultures and customs.

Cali: I love the work that Fried put into creating the book, which she said brought her deeper into the books she read, and that she hoped her work, particularly the photographs, would spark a memory and transport readers back into the fictional worlds. For me, it did spark a memory for the books I’d read, and it sparked a desire to read the books I haven’t yet read. A desire to be transported to a new fictional world, to create a new memory.

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

This story is part of a series of stories that share insights into the characters in my book WorkLife Book Club Volume One Shoreditch. Stories that share insights that aren’t shared in the book to the main characters, the support characters and the behind the scenes characters. While the characters in the stories are not based on real people, they are representative of the people who are an integral part of Shoreditch life, the neighbourhood I live in, which is full of people with different WorkLife experiences.

Shoreditch is a special place, and I believe what makes it so is the incredible diversity of life paths that cross here, spanning the whole globe and many walks of life.

You may also like my Learning Through Reading Series: A collection of stories inspired by real WorkLife struggles and successes presented as case studies for group discussion. The case and the recommended book are the required reading for each book club meeting and help frame the subsequent discussion.

3 Techniques To Use Metaphors to Make Your Stories More Personable, More Memorable and More Intriguing … 

From the Beginning, Through to the Middle and Onto the End of Your Stories

INTRODUCTION

Learnt Through Writing, Ideas & Speaking
Learn Through Writing, Ideas & Speaking

Metaphor is a figure of speech in which something is regarded as representative or symbolic of something else. 

WorkLife is a highway. Carmel O’ Reilly

Through Jason’s story (the protagonist in the story/case study in this lesson), you will learn how to use the #3TECHNIQUES To Develop Great Stories to Make Your Stories More Personable, More Memorable and More Intriguing From The Beginning, Through to the Middle and Onto The End of Your Stories.

THE #3TECHNIQUES TO DEVELOP GREAT METAPHORS

#TECHNIQUE1 Make Your Story More Personable: You can add an extra dose of personality by focusing your metaphors on one or two topics that are close to your heart. And by using your personal experiences to tell your story.

#TECHNIQUE2 Make Your Story More Memorable: Imagery is the core of metaphoric language. You can make your story more memorable by creating vidid images in the minds of your audience. 

TECHNIQUE3 Make Your StoryMore Intriguing: You will take leaps naturally if you follow your thoughts because the mind spontaneously takes great leaps. This will help you intrigue your audience in a way that a mere explanation will not.

LECTURE

Your choice of metaphors provides a simple way to connect with your audience. They provide a glimpse into your WorkLife and help people connect to you. 

Developing your metaphors from personal interests hint at who you are. 

Developing themes from personal experiences allow you to go deeper with your stories, bringing about a deeper connection with your audience. 

When you find one way to associate your personal interests and experiences with your topic, you will discover many more metaphors and many more personal stories.

Words of Wisdom

Metaphors release the cork from the bottle of your stories. Carmel O’ Reilly

END OF LECTURE 

METAPHOR TELLS THE STORY

In this lesson, you will learn how to use metaphor at the beginning, middle and end of your story by connecting two things that are important to you in your WorkLife to help you make your stories more personable, more memorable and more intriguing.

Let’s look at this in the context of Jasons Story:

LIFE IS A WALK IN THE PARK: METAPHOR TELLS THE STORY: A CASE STUDY:

Subscribe to get access

As a subscriber, you get access to The Art of WorkLife Storytelling. A weekly publication created to help you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations. This is in addition to the free WorkLife Book Wisdom story I share weekly and other occasional WorkLife Stories.

I love 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.

Your contribution allows me to do that and is appreciated.

The publication subscription is £5 p.m.