3 Important Lessons to Recover From Saying Something You Wish You Hadn’t Said 

How to Apologise With Humility Sincerity and Integrity From School of WorkLife 

 How To Apologise With Humility, Sincerity and Integrity. Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.
Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning

I Wish I Hadn’t Said …

Have you ever given feedback that you wish you hadn’t?

Maybe you blurted something out which you later regretted?

Perhaps you were under pressure or at the end of your tether.

Or it could be the person just really irritated you.

Was there anything you were able to do to recover?

I Wish I Hadn’t Said…. are people’s stories of when they’ve regretted something they’d said, feedback they’d given, and how they reacted in the moment to the situation and what they did (if anything) to be able to move forward after at the fact, or what they’d wish they’d done, what they coulda, shoulda, woulda done if only they knew what that was.

“A Monkey Could Do It Better”

Ray couldn’t believe the words that had come out of his mouth. Neither could his team, who at first laughed because they thought it was joke, but seeing the look on Jake’s face, who was on the receiving end of this feedback, quickly realised it wasn’t a joking matter. 

Afraid of what else he might say, Ray decided he needed to take five, removing himself from the situation, and so he took a walk. 

But let’s back up a little to: Ray’s Story: A Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda, Wish I Hadn’t Said … Case Study: 

Ray was the manager of a team of twenty people within Operations in a leading Investment bank in the City in London. He’d been with the bank for over 30 years. In his earlier days and younger years he’d been a trader at the front end of things. It was a demanding role that was high powered and fast paced, which Ray enjoyed for the first few years, but after that the stresses of the job became too much for him and he reached burnout. The burnout was quite severe, and he needed to take a one-year sabbatical.

Ahead of returning from his sabbatical Ray met with his manager to discuss his future with the bank. His manager was very supportive. Ray was a good guy, intelligent, hard-working and brought a lot to the organisation. Ray knew he wanted to get away from trading and from client-facing roles, and wanted to move into what was then known as the back office; and so he took on a role in compliance. Although it was very static and process-driven it suited Ray. He was good with analysis and enjoyed it. More importantly it helped to restore Ray’s confidence in himself. 

But Ray’s WorkLife didn’t remain static. With the support of his manager, over time and over the years Ray worked in a number of different functions within the bank. This allowed him to continue to develop and to learn new skills, which kept him motivated.

In all of these roles Ray was an individual contributor, and this suited him very well. He had no interest in managing people.  Then the financial crisis hit, causing downsizing and restructuring with the bank going through a merger. A number of people Ray had worked with for many years who weren’t on board with the merger jumped ship; and as a result, along with losing good people, the bank also lost years of important knowledge. Because of his in-depth knowledge having worked across several functions, Ray found himself being promoted from individual contributor to manager, 

Some of the positions that had become vacant were filled from the merging company and some were filled by people working in other areas of Ray’s existing bank. This was how Ray inherited Jake. Jake had been working with the bank for over 15 years. He was a good guy and everybody liked him. 

Although known for having a good work ethic, his work from the day he joined Ray’s team was not good. He was continuously missing targets, which impacted the team, and this is what caused Ray’s outburst. He was at the end of his tether with Jake. Another late report ahead of an important meeting was the final straw, and led to those fateful words coming out of Ray’s mouth:

“A monkey could do it better”.

Seeing the look on Jake’s and the rest of the team’s faces following on from his outburst, together with the anger Ray was feeling towards Jake in that moment, Ray knew he needed to take a walk to distance himself from the immediate situation, to calm down and to gather his thoughts. 

Sage Wisdom

“Walking Meditation” is how Ray thought of this practice. It was a strategy his manager Nora introduced him to all those years ago when he was returning from his sabbatical, and one that had served him well at times when he had felt overwhelmed, and when he needed to turn off his self-talk and his thinking. Ray thought of Nora not only as his manager, but also his mentor and friend.  Although she had long since retired her wisdom remained with Ray throughout his WorkLife. It was something that he could tap into when he needed to.

The process was easy. He’d begin his walk by posing a question to himself, something as simple as “What do I need to know about X (situation/person)”? or “What one action can I take today that will help with X.” He would then switch off his mind and self-talk by focussing on the beauty of the park, and when thoughts/self-talk began to filter through, he’d mentally acknowledge them, say thank you, then switch off again by refocusing on the beauty of his surroundings. Ray found this simple strategy quite powerful. It helped to alleviate the sense of feeling overwhelmed, and by not thinking or listening to his self-talk, the answer he needed always came to him: sometimes in the moment or soon after, most often when he was getting on with his daily life, and other times he’d wake up with the solution of knowing what to do. This practice of self-questioning gave Ray the self-feedback he needed to evaluate what he needed to do next.

Ray’s focus on quieting his mind to what had just happened took his walk on autopilot on a route he took each lunchtime, through a nearby park, towards his favourite bookstore where he often spent his breaks browsing the shelves, picking up a book, sitting and reading a chapter or two over a coffee. Ray had received the answer to the question he had posed to himself: “What the hell did I just do, how can I put this right?”

Book Wisdom

Because on becoming a manager this bookshop was where he had discovered the One Minute Manager series of books, which he’d found really helpful, Ray immediately knew which of the One Minute Manager books he needed in this moment: The One Minute Apology. He entered the store, picked a copy off the shelf, got a coffee and settled down in his favourite armchair open to the learning that he knew he was about to receive though the book wisdom of The One Minute Manager.

3 Important Lessons to Recover From Saying Something You Wish You Hadn’t Said 

From the three important lessons of book wisdom that came to him from reading The One Minute Apology, Ray knew:

  1. He had to take full responsibility for his actions, regardless of the outcome;
  2. He had to apologise to Jake, and he had to do this with a sense of urgency;
  3. He had to demonstrate his commitment to making amends beyond this apology.

By the time Ray had finished reading it was too late to go back to the office. He knew everybody would have left for the day, and knowing what he had to do the next morning, he also knew he needed the evening to prepare mentally and this was best done away from the office. 

He just needed to do a couple of things before leaving the bookstore.  He messaged Jake asking him to meet early next morning before the workday began. He suggested a nearby coffee shop because this meeting needed to be away from the bank. He let his assistant know he would be late into the office and asked that she rearrange his morning meeting.

And so at 7.30 am the next morning Ray and Jake met for coffee and a discussion, which Ray knew would not be happening if he’d addressed the issues with Jake earlier on. He knew he’d failed Jake and began the meeting, having thanked Jake for agreeing to meet early, by saying: “Jake I owe you an apology”. 

Jake was taken aback, because of Ray’s angry outburst the previous day and knowing he’d screwed up with the report he was expecting a further balling out.

Ray continued “I’ve let you down in so many ways. You’ve always done great work in the past. That changed in the last year. Your work has been under par for some time and I failed to address it, I failed to talk to you, I failed to ask you why this was happening, I failed to take time to understand what’s been going on for you that was contributing to this. You’ve been loyal to the bank for so many years, you’ve been a great contributor, you’ve done great work and I’ve let you down by not taking the time to talk to you, when clearly something was not right. I am sincerely sorry I’ve let you down so badly.”

Although taken aback for the second time within minutes, Ray’s apology immediately struck Jake as being both sincere and humble, and caused Jake to blurt out everything that he’d been carrying around since he’d taken on his new role. Although Jake was visibly upset, Ray’s apology gave him the courage to speak up, together with a sense of knowing that he needed to do this for his self-esteem and that this was his time to do so. He responded to Ray’s apology by saying:

“I wish you had talked to me; I wish somebody had talked to me instead of making assumptions. I wanted to leave, when the others left. I wanted to leave, but then I was offered a role on your team and told how much I was valued for my loyalty and everybody assumed that’s what I wanted. It wasn’t, but I didn’t have the courage to leave or to speak up. I’ve hated every moment of this merger. The people on our team are all good people but I miss everyone who has left. I was expected to be able to pick up my new role straightaway because of my knowledge of the business, but the work is so different to my old role and I’ve been out of my depth since day one, but nobody said anything and I wasn’t offered any help. I assumed you were OK with me getting up to speed. But I could see by the look on everyone’s face yesterday that they weren’t surprised by what you said. They all looked sorry for me. Why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t anybody say something? I thought you all liked me. You must have all seen that I was out of my depth. If only someone had offered to help. Instead I’ve become a laughingstock, someone to pity.”

Ray knew this was the conversation he should have had with Jake a long time ago, in the same way his manager had taken the time to talk to him all those years ago when he was struggling, when he was in a role that wasn’t right for him. 

Ray spent the next two hours listening and talking to Jake – really listening to understand what was going on for him. By the end of the conversation Ray had learnt so much about Jake that he hadn’t known before. Things he could have, should have and would have known, had he taken the time to have had a WorkLife conversation with him, which would have allowed him to understand his motivations, his longer term dreams and aspirations, how these fitted with his current role and how he could have helped Jake work towards achieving this. The more they talked the more he realised how much he’d failed Jake on so many levels.

While he couldn’t turn back time, Ray knew he needed to do what he could in this moment to help Jake, and that was to help him to move on from the Bank, which is what Jake had wanted all along. You see Jake’s real passion was art. He was an artist. He studied Art at university, but due to pressure from his father who was a banker and who didn’t believe being an artist was a career, he buckled and entered the world of finance. Then he married, had kids and his work afforded his family a good lifestyle. 

He had actually enjoyed his work to a degree because of the people he’d worked with and before the merger the work was actually OK. More importantly it had allowed him to put his children through university. 

His art had become a hobby, but the burning desire to be an artist had never left him and of late it was all he could think about. It was risky, but financially he was in an OK place. He’d discussed it with his wife, and she was supportive; but Jake felt he needed a little more financial security for peace of mind. He had wanted to ask for redundancy before he was offered the role on Ray’s team. This had been offered to other people, but as nobody had asked Jake what he wanted at the time of the merger and instead offered him a secure position, he hadn’t wanted to seem ungrateful, and so he didn’t speak up.

Ray was in a position to secure a good redundancy settlement for Jake for his years of service to the bank. This is how the meeting ended, which was very different from how either Ray or Jake had anticipated it would have gone. 

Ray knew if he’d taken the time to talk to Jake a year earlier to understand his WorkLife aspirations, or if he’d taken time to give him feedback on his work at the given opportunities over the year when Jake messed up, it would never have gotten to this, and he could have helped Jake avoid the anguish and stress he’d experienced. 

He knew he could have been a better manager if he’d taken the time to create a culture of feedback, not just for him but also for Jake’s peers to give feedback to each other. A culture where Jake would have had the confidence to speak up and ask for what he wanted. A culture where it would have been OK for people to say No to something they didn’t want to do.

Ray knew he needed to evaluate if he should in fact be a manager. Maybe he wasn’t cut out for management. Maybe he was best suited to an individual contributor role. While Ray knew he had gotten a number of things right, he also knew he’d gotten some fundamental things wrong. He knew he needed to step back to evaluate his own role.

Epilogue

There’s a happy ending for both Ray and Jake’s stories. 

The time Ray had spent analysing how he should have managed the situation with Jake allowed him to recognise that he did like his job, and that he was good at it. He acknowledged he had gotten it horribly wrong with Jake, and he knew in his heart of hearts he would never allow that to happen again. To ensure it didn’t, he did exactly what he should have done with Jake, with the rest of the team. He set up a time to have a WorkLife conversation with everyone. He now understood their motivations, their longer term dreams and aspirations, and how these fitted with their current roles. He understood how he could support them in their development in achieving this, and how this fitted into the team, department and organisation growth plans. He’s working on developing a team where everyone is responsible for giving feedback to each other, and where people feel safe in speaking up. He’s writing his continuing WorkLife Story chapters.

Six months later Ray received an invitation to the opening of Jake’s first art exhibition at a renowned gallery in the City of London. On Ray’s arrival Jake greeted him warmly. Ray was struck by how good he looked, and he was blown away by Jake’s art and his talent.

Later that evening Jake took Ray to one side and he thanked him for everything he’d done to help him achieve this. He thanked him for forcing the issue. He laughed and jokingly thanked him for almost ‘firing’ him. He thanked him for giving him the courage to speak up and say what he really wanted and for really listening. He thanked him for the financial support he’d arranged, which had made it possible to move onto the new challenge that he had for so long yearned, and which gave him the success he was now experiencing. He told Ray he knew he had been spinning the wheels at work and that he had been too scared to take action, and that the space Ray had given him that morning to talk had allowed him to know what it was he needed to do. 

Words of Wisdom

We can all do or say things that we later come to regret, an in the moment reaction that can leave us and other people feeling anywhere from slightly uncomfortable to totally destroyed. What we do next to be able to move forward will determine how the story ends.

This story has been adapted from chapter 20 of my book: Your WorkLife Your Way: Time For a Little (Or a Lot) of Self-Analysis The Power of Apology and The Power of Speaking Up. It also featured in The School of WorkLife Book Series: How To Apologise With Humility, Sincerity and Integrity and was further adapted for my book, WorkLife Book Club.

Today’s featured book is: The One Minute Apology by Ken Blanchard and Margaret McBride.

A Side Note

This story was originally published on 7/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates.

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.

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POSTSCRIPT

The Continuing Story …

The WorkLife Book Wisdom stories led me to write WorkLife Book Club, which takes you 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. 

Tap the book image to see a preview of what’s inside and to purchase from Amazon. The book is also available to purchase from your favourite book shop.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Motivate Through Self-Respect and Trust

How To Start Something New in Difficult Times 

How To Overcome Your Fear To Live Your Life With Courage

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way

How to Overcome Being Crushed by Unfair Words and Unsolicited Feedback 

3 Insightful Questions to Help Self Feedback and Self Awareness 

Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning
Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

A Case Study: Aisling’s Story: “You’re Not Creative”. The Worst Thing Anyone Has Ever Said To Me.

Has someone ever said something that really upset you? Maybe you felt it was unfair or untrue and that you didn’t deserve it. The person may have had good intentions in saying what they said, or maybe they didn’t. They may or may not have known the in the moment and/or the lasting impact of their words. The chances are the person didn’t truly know or understand you.

What’s the Worst Thing Anyone Has Ever Said To You? are people’s stories of when someone said something to them, that at best upset them in the moment, and took them a little while to let go of and move on from, or at worst it stayed with them for many years,  causing a negative impact throughout their WorkLife.

Words have consequences, they have power, a power that can be used to knock down or to build up. Wisdom, Truth and Self-Awareness are the arch-rivals to words and feedback that have caused a person to be knocked down. They are the superpowers that will build people up again.

“You’re Not Creative”

These words stunned Aisling into silence, she couldn’t believe Max, the person she was having a meeting over coffee with, actually thought this of her. She felt the words were unfair. She hadn’t invited this unsolicited feedback. Although she didn’t speak any words in response, the look on her face obviously spoke volumes, as Max tried to recover from what he said. But let’s back up a bit to her story:

Aisling’s Story: “You’re Not Creative.”The Worst Thing Anyone Has Ever Said To Me

Aisling worked for several years as a WorkLife Learning Practitioner, helping people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives. She was in the early stages of developing her work further, and with a team of performing, visual and literary artists, she had created workplace theatre. Theatrical productions written following research into organisational challenges and desired outcomes. The plays formed the centrepiece of learning and development, stimulating discussion and debate.

The next steps were to develop an online platform bringing learning, the arts and technology together to support individuals in their WorkLife development. Aisling was meeting with Max to discuss how to do this. They had worked together before. He’s an actor with a background in graphic design. 

Aisling was talking about what she could bring to the project. She doesn’t remember exactly what she said, but it was something about creativity, to which Max blurted out those fateful words: “You’re not creative!” As mentioned earlier, while Aisling was stunned into silence and didn’t respond with words, her facial response obviously spoke volumes as Max tried to recover, saying: “I think of you as being honest, trustworthy, caring, I just don’t think of you as being creative.” Aisling was still dumbstruck.

Somehow the conversation moved forward, and as it did she came to realise that Max didn’t actually know her very well; and Aisling realised she was partly responsible for that because she doesn’t tend to talk about her work because she thinks her work should talk for itself. But it was very apparent it hadn’t talked to Max. Anyway, they got through the meeting, discussed what they needed to discuss, agreed what they needed to do next, and said their goodbyes.

As Aisling walked home, she was mulling things over in her mind. During the meeting, it had become very apparent that Max hadn’t taken the time to discover anything about her, over and above the work they had done together, nor did he see beyond what was in front of his eyes. 

How to Overcome Being Crushed by Unfair Words and Unsolicited Feedback 

3 Insightful Questions to Help Self Feedback and Self Awareness 

There was a time when this would have crushed Aisling. But because she practices self-awareness and self-feedback through self-questioning, it didn’t. She asked herself: 

Is what Max said true? 

If yes, why?

If no, why not?

This is the answer that came to her:

I believe what’s most creative about me and my approach to my work, is that I see connections between the detail and the bigger picture, I see what’s possible, I see people’s potential, I enable people to see things in new and different ways. I know this because people tell me, it’s what they say is creative about me. 

Then as Aisling continued her walk home, something that later became very surreal happened. It was late in the evening, and the streets were a little deserted, but on a well-trodden London footpath, there was a book on the ground. There was no one around who could have dropped it, so she picked it up and brought it home.

Book Wisdom

The book was It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, By Paul Arden. It’s quite a quick read filled with quotes and short stories, and so Aisling read it immediately on getting home. This is where the surrealism happened, with these words of wisdom: 

“The most popular conception of creativity is that it’s something to do with the arts.

Nonsense.

Creativity is imagination, and imagination is for everyone.”

Sage Wisdom

Aisling shared what had happened with Max with her dear and wise friend Christina, who knew her and her work very well. Christina was a little outraged on Aisling’s behalf, asking if he actually knew anything about her work. Wanting to ensure she didn’t dwell on this, Christina also pointed out other areas where she considered her to be creative, e.g. Aisling enjoys cooking and when she has friends round, she likes to make it an experience: the setting, the food, the drinks, and so on. Christina was, in effect, reinforcing Aisling’s belief that there are many ways in which people are creative.

Words of Wisdom

Creativity exists in people in every walk of life, at every WorkLife stage, not just in the creative industries. Creativity means something different to different people. 

Today’s Featured Book is: It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden

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.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 5/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you …

… The Continuing Story …

The WorkLife Book Wisdom stories led me to write WorkLife Book Club, which takes you 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. 

Tap the book image to see a preview of what’s inside and to purchase from Amazon. The book is also available to purchase from your favourite book shop.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Embrace The Superpower of Self-Awareness 

How To Fine-Tune The Superpower of Observation 

How To Use Your Voice To Express and Protect Your Identity 

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

How Reminiscing Gave Insight and Inspiration in Knowing I’m Where I Need to Be 

How a Good Thing Happening in a Bookshop Took Me Down Memory Lane 

Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning
Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

A Case Study: A memory gave me insight into how I got to where I am in my WorkLife and inspiration in knowing I’m at the right place – the place my WorkLife journey was meant to take me to.

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We didn’t have a bookshop in the village I grew up in, but we did have a revolving bookstand in one of our local stores. It was an everything kind of store – from groceries to hardware, from toys to clothing. My childhood memories are of it being a treasure trove – you really could find anything there. My earliest memory, at seven years old, was of it being a magical place of discovery.

The most magical discovery for me was the revolving bookstand, nestled between pots of paint and freshly laid duck eggs.

It was there I discovered Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Secret Seven and Malory Towers book series. I’d while away the time waiting for my mum to do her shopping, avidly reading the back covers, deciding which would be my next purchase – for when I’d saved enough money to buy it. 

I don’t remember how much each book cost, but I do remember it took me weeks to save for the next one. That wait somehow made each book even more valuable. I can still remember the excitement I felt when I had enough money to buy my next book; running down the hill to the store; re-reading the back covers of all the books to make sure the book I’d already painstakingly decided on was really the best choice; running up the hill back home; disappearing into my bedroom with excited anticipation of the new adventure I was about to be taken on, the magical world I was about to be transported to.

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I sometimes hear people asking the question: 

  • How did who you were as a seven-year-old shape what you did with your life?

I could never answer that question. As a seven-year-old, I was just a regular child, doing what regular children do. Life was good, and I was happy. But there was nothing about anything I did at seven years old that shaped what I did with my life, so I always thought that question is not relevant to me.

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I fell into my job in High Street Banking a few years after leaving school. Then in my 30’s, when I moved to London, I fell into a job in Investment Banking. I always enjoyed my work, but it was just that – work. It afforded me a good lifestyle and allowed me to embrace my love of travel. But I wasn’t passionate about it, nor did it give me a sense of purpose. But I was OK with that, and I didn’t feel I was missing out on anything. I worked with good people in good environments. Life was good, and I was happy. 

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It wasn’t until my 40’s that I discovered my WorkLife purpose and passion. 

Because of an economic downturn, my banking role was made redundant. While I was figuring out what I was going to do next, and what my continuing WorkLife story was going to be, my friend Pauline asked me to deliver the job search element workshop of a programme she was running to help people launch their WorkLife in Logistics. I had no experience in creating and delivering workshop learning programmes, but Pauline persuaded me all I needed was a common sense approach. I was curious, and so I said yes.

This was the early days of the Internet, so I couldn’t find what I needed online. Instead, I went to my nearest bookshop and bought enough books to develop a year-long course (a tad excessive for the two days required!). Then set to work learning what I needed to know.

The people attending the workshop had also been impacted by the economic downturn. They, too, had lost their jobs. They were also figuring out what their continuing WorkLife story was going to be and were having to reinvent themselves to get back into the workplace. 

Having developed a two-day workshop which focussed on the elements of the job search programme, when I turned up to deliver it, I discovered before we could get to that, I needed somehow to help restore people’s confidence and self-esteem, which had been crushed when through no fault of their own their jobs and livelihoods had been taken from them. 

I asked them about things they’d achieved in their WorkLives that they felt good about. As each person began talking and their story unfolded, we all sat back in awe as we listened to one amazing story after another.

Although I’d never run a workshop learning programme before, I somehow knew that the key to help people regain their confidence and self-esteem was to ask them to talk about their achievements – in essence, to tell their WorkLife stories.

I remember writing down their stories as I journeyed home. I had experienced a magical moment. I had been transported along their journey through their amazing WorkLife stories. I didn’t know what this meant at the time. I just knew I needed to capture it – so I wrote down their stories.

What I did know, though, through the journeys they had taken me on, was the answer to the question I was trying to figure out:

What do I want my continuing WorkLife story to be? 

The stories I’d heard and the workshop experience allowed me to know I wanted to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLife. 

I didn’t know how I was going to do this. I thought curiosity would help me figure that out. 

Because saying yes to something, I was curious about when my friend Pauline had asked me to deliver the workshop when I was trying to figure out what I wanted my continuing WorkLife to be, had helped me do just that, or rather it got me to the first chapter. I both discovered and wrote the continuing chapters as I embarked on my journey, letting curiosity be my driving force. 

One Chapter Leads to Another – a Whirlwind Journey Through the Chapters of my Continuing WorkLife Story That My Curiosity Lead Me To:

Chapter 1: Developing and Delivering my First Workshop

Chapter 2: Undertaking a Degree in Career Coaching and Management

Chapter 3: Joining a Career Consultancy Agency as a Career Coach and Workshop Facilitator

Chapter 4: Undertaking Studies in Performing Arts

Chapter 5: Launching my Own Business as a Freelance WorkLife Learning Practitioner

Chapter 6: Becoming a Writer, telling people’s powerful stories about their WorkLife struggles and successes. 

Chapter 7: Becoming an Author, Publishing Your WorkLife Your WayThe School of WorkLife Book SeriesWorkLife Book Club and Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.

My WorkLife Story continues. I’m already working on my next chapter …

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I’d been a collector of stories ever since that first workshop. My profession allowed me to immerse myself in the world of people’s learning, and I got to participate in their WorkLife journeys. Journeys from places of exploration and discovery. I continue to learn through the amazing WorkLife stories of the people I work with, from whom I draw inspiration daily.

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But as I sit here and write this story, I realise my love of stories goes back even further than that. It actually goes back to my seven-year-old self, back to those magical moments of discovery that had begun on a revolving bookstand nestled in the treasure trove of my local store. Those magical moments of discovery were the beginning of the many adventures I’ve been taken on through the magic of books and the power of stories.

Because a prerequisite of being a writer is being an avid reader, and that’s something that began at the age of seven.

So, now when I think of the question: “How did who you were as a seven-year-old shape what you did with your life?” I think it is relevant to me.

It was relevant as a banker because my work enabled me to embrace my love of travel and adventure – a love that had come from the books I’d read.

It was relevant to me when I developed that first workshop because I learnt everything I needed to know from the books I picked up at the bookshop.

It has been relevant to me throughout my education in my new profession and in launching my business – reading has always been my go-to place for learning.

And it is relevant to me as a writer because reading is an important part of my craft as a writer.

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I leave you with three questions to ponder upon:

1. How did who you were as a seven-year-old shape what you did with your life?

2. What is something you’ve achieved in your WorkLife that you feel good about?

3. Do you have a memory of something good happening in a bookshop?

And also a mission, should you choose to accept it … Or an assignment, actually.

Take one, two or all three of the questions and write down your answer/s. Write down that part of your story – that chapter of your continuous WorkLife story.

Why? Because there’s magic in writing, there’s magic in telling your story. 

It helps to bring up answers to something you may or may not know you were seeking answers on – as it did for me, in making sense of how who I was as a seven-year-old shaped what I did with my life. 

It helps to regain confidence and self-esteem at times in your WorkLife when you’re crushed through no fault of your own. 

… But, before you take on the assignment, I want to add a twist. 

Why?

Because twists help you to be a better storyteller.

Let me explain.

When I began writing this story, all I had was a headline I liked: Good Things Happen In Bookshops – it was actually a quote written on a board outside a bookshop in London. Of course, it caused me to walk through the door, to browse the shelves. But then something a little surreal happened. As I walked around, I began to notice revolving stands located at different places throughout the shop. In that moment, I was right back in the local store of my childhood, reminiscing about the treasure trove that had been my magical place of discovery. 

I was in a little bit of a daze, and I don’t remember much else other than writing down the headline/quote that had drawn me into the store. I’m a collector of headlines, and quotes, too. It comes from being a collector of stories, I think. I didn’t know where the headline/quote was going to take me. I just knew I really liked it. I knew it would somehow allow me to tell my story. I didn’t know what story it was going to be. I didn’t know where it was going to take me as the writer or you as the reader of the story. All I knew was that it was a headline/quote that would allow me to explore and discover what I needed along the way. 

… And here comes the twist in your assignment:

Take a headline/quote you like and answer the question/s in relation to that. Adapt it however you want to – as I did in my headline – which became my subheading. The great thing about headlines/quotes that you like is that they allow you to tell your story or a part of your story, and that’s important because it helps you to tell the chapters of your Continuous WorkLife Story.

And that’s really important because, throughout your WorkLife, you’ll be expected to tell your story or a part of your story: In day-to-day conversations, at interviews, in giving presentations or talks, in networking situations, in social settings; and so on, and so on. 

Taking a headline/quote and developing it into a story that tells where you came from and how you got to where you need to be, is a good skill to develop to enable you to have the perfect story to tell for whatever WorkLife situation required. Because it gives you, the storyteller, the insight and inspiration to craft a story that tells your audience who you are and what you’re about. by taking them on a journey through the magical moments of your WorkLife.

A Side Note

This story was originally published on 4/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates.

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School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Let Curiosity Be Your Driving Force 

How To Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages and Inspires You  

How To Turn Your Story Into a Powerful Presentation 

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

A Simple Feedback Technique in 3 steps to Self Direct Meaningful Learning 

How Effective Self Feedback Turns Your WorkLife Story Into a Work of Art 

Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning
Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

A Case Study: How I took an invaluable lesson in feedback practice from an acting class and adapted it to help people self direct meaningful learning in their WorkLife to turn their continuous story into a work of art.

Actors in training receive more feedback than most other people do in their entire WorkLife. That’s a fact. And it doesn’t stop there. Their training enables them to build a finely-tuned self-feedback muscle from the powers of self-awareness and observation. This helps them to take on a character by understanding their persona in helping to tell their story truthfully. This practice also allows them to know in the moment, or soon after, how an audition, rehearsal or performance went.

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Some years ago, I did a Saturday afternoon acting class called Actors Studio. It was a class that attracted both actors in training on their path to launching their WorkLife as performing artists and experienced actors who had already made their debut treading the boards on Westend stages, in film and on tv — including an actor from Games Of Thrones! (To namedrop, just one of the people I met — without fully namedropping!).

The actors in training wanted to develop their toolbox of skills and techniques to support them in launching their acting WorkLife. The seasoned actors wanted to hone their skills and techniques in-between jobs.

I was neither an actor in training nor a seasoned actor. I qualified for the class because I had completed a year-long Foundation In Drama course. A one-day-a-week class that differed in nature from other part-time acting classes I’d attended because it demanded that everyone turned up every week, on time, fully prepared. Other classes were more relaxed on those fronts. Not because the school didn’t want people to take the classes seriously. But because they were part-time classes, open to the general public, who did them outside of their work and other life commitments. The teachers understood and worked with this.

As its name suggests, the Foundation in Drama course sets the foundation of what is required and expected from anyone who is thinking of pursuing a WorkLife in performing arts. Having taken this class was important because it demonstrated I had the commitment needed to participate in the Actors Studio class.

Now, here’s the thing, I had never wanted to follow a WorkLife in acting. I began taking acting classes in the hope that they would help me overcome my nervousness when speaking in public and delivering learning programmes in my role as a WorkLife learning practitioner. The part-time classes helped, but my fear was so crippling that I needed more time, and I needed to be pushed even more to take me out of my comfort zone. The Foundation In Drama course gave me all that because, week on week, I was expected to show vulnerability in my work. Achieving this demanded tapping into my most deepest feelings and emotions. It was hard-going for sure, but together with my fellow classmates and teachers, we created a safe, supportive environment for each other to be at our most vulnerable.

I got so much from that class over and beyond, overcoming my extreme nervousness when speaking in public and delivering learning programmes. Although I knew I didn’t want to follow a WorkLife in acting, I also knew I did want to continue to learn, grow and develop through the skills and techniques I would gain in the Actors Studio class, in the same way the actors in training and experienced actors did. Their skills level was so much higher than mine, and the wonderful thing about that class was how generous everyone was in supporting the learning, growth and development of each other. Many of the experienced actors were alumni of the school, and I think it was their way of giving back to the school and the teachers who had helped them get onto their WorkLife path and in giving forward to the actors in training, ahead of them getting onto their chosen path.

Depending on the school year, each term ran for ten to twelve weeks, during which we worked on three or four very different performances from modern-day and contemporary to the classics, from Miller to Chekov to Shakespeare to Greek Tragedy. This included solo performances, two-handers, three-handers and bigger ensemble pieces. We would spend two to three weeks rehearsing each piece, and then the following week, we performed our pieces to our audience of fellow classmates.

Our performances were filmed and played back at the end of the class. We were each required to give feedback on our own performance, then we each got feedback from the person sitting to our right, and finally, we got feedback from the teacher.

Each piece of feedback began with something we liked about our performance, that we thought was good, that we’d like to keep. Then one thing that could be better that we’d like to improve upon. And finally, one thing we didn’t like, that we’d like to let go of or change in some way. So, we each came away with three pieces of feedback for what was good that we’d like to keep. For what could be better that we’d like to improve upon. And for what we didn’t like, that we wanted to let go of or change in some way.

I really liked this Feedback practice. It became yet another technique that I drew from the skills and experience I gained in the acting classes I did, which I went on to use in my work as a WorkLife learning practitioner.

But I wanted to adapt it to a technique that would allow people to give themselves self-feedback (myself included). Of course, there wouldn’t be a camera on hand to capture teaching/learning moments, or a classmate or teacher, or necessarily a colleague or boss, for that matter.

That’s OK because I’m a firm believer in being self-reliant. 

I believe that we all have the knowledge and wisdom – the resources we need, within us to be our own best champions and best critics in being self-reliant in self directing meaningful learning.

I also believe we all have the ability to fine-tune our potential to be more self-aware and observant – the superpowers we need to be self-reliant in self directing meaningful learning.

Self-awareness and observation are simple yet profound and powerful strategies to help you develop and fine-tune your self-feedback muscle. A practice that will allow you to know in the moment or soon after how you did in WorkLife situations. You may not have auditions, rehearsals and performances as actors do. But it’s likely you’ll have interviews, presentations, and talks, and many other situations that you’ll want to reflect upon and evaluate to enable you to know what you liked and thought was good, that you’d like to keep, what could have been better, that you’d like to improve upon, and what you didn’t like, that you want to let go of, or change in some way.

The following assignment is designed to allow you to develop and fine-tune your self-feedback muscle to be your own best champion and critic in your WorkLife learning, development and growth.

A Simple Feedback Technique in 3 steps to Self Direct Meaningful Learning Assignment

Step 1. Re-Wind/Re-Play Your Day: Self-Awareness and Observation Assignment

A Day in The Life of … Drumroll … You!

To develop your power of self-awareness and observation, begin by taking something that happened in your day. I like to suggest a two-minute event, but it can be shorter or longer. It could be a brief interaction you had in a coffee shop or in a meeting. It could be something you observed as you went about your day without interacting with anyone. It could be a moment when you were at home alone doing something.

Now replay that in your mind. The idea is to observe yourself when you were in that moment, along with being self-aware of everything else that was going on around you.

Simple? — Yes! The power of self-awareness and observation really is that simple.

Step 2: Developing Your Power of Self-Awareness and Observation Assignment

The power of self-awareness and observation becomes more and more powerful the more self-aware and observant you become as you go about your daily WorkLife.

Find something to capture every day. Working with Step 1, begin with one-moment building to many moments.

Maybe there will be days when you think there is nothing that demands my powers of self-awareness and observation, because they are very normal days. But actually, normal days are great days because they force you to be a little more mindful, a little more aware, and a little more creative.

Step 3: Building Your Power of Self-Awareness and Observation Assignment

At the end of your day, consider your most important moment/s that you want to give yourself self-feedback on, that will help your WorkLife learning, development and growth. 

Work with Steps 1 and 2 to take yourself back into the moment/s.

Then ask yourself:

  • What did I like and think was good, that I’d like to keep?
  • What could have been better, that I’d like to improve upon?
  • What did I not like, that I want to let go of, or change in some way?

Write down your response, and then let it go.

I like to suggest the practice of journaling by way of reflecting on these questions.

Then the following day, sit down and journal on anything further that has come to you through self-feedback in response to the questions you asked yourself. Anything that comes up through your stream of consciousness. Self-expression in your journal will help you to tap into your powers of self-awareness and observation, to fine-tune your self-feedback muscle, and, ultimately, to turn your WorkLife story into a work of art.

A Couple of Side Notes

  1. This is a variation of a technique that a couple of actors shared with me when they described how they got into character for the roles they were playing. They said reliving moments of their character’s day through self-awareness and observation enabled them to understand their persona in helping to tell their story truthfully. You can use the technique to tell your WorkLife story and turn it into a work of art in the same way the actors did in telling the story of their character.
  2. This story was originally published on 3/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates.

This story and assignment have been adapted from my books: Your WorkLife Your WayHow To Embrace The Superpower of Self-Awareness and How To Fine-Tune The Superpower of Observation from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

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School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Be Autonomous in Your Development and Growth 

How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively 

How To Be Creative in Your Thinking 

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

What is Unique About Your Family That Makes a Great Story to Tell? 

What Quirky Things Do People Do or Say Where You Come From? 

Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning
Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

Remembering Dad on his birthday with a couple of stories he used to tell.

And one story that he could never bring himself to tell … 

But we could …

A keen gardener, my dad used to tell the story of when he was out digging in the garden, a robin would land on his shovel and stay awhile. He would greet the robin with the time of day, and the robin would chirp a greeting back to him.

Come blackberry season, and my dad had a team of blackberry pickers from whom he’d buy blackberries and then sell them on. He paid by weight and would tell the story of how some pickers would weigh down their buckets with stones.

Every Sunday, our next-door neighbour Mrs Hayes would make bacon and cabbage for the family lunch. She would pop her head over the garden hedge, and my dad would pick her a fresh head of cabbage. 

Except for one Sunday, when he wasn’t there, and so my mum picked the biggest head of cabbage she could find for Mrs Hayes. Then they proceeded to have a conversation about what a fine head of cabbage it was. 

And it was indeed a fine head of cabbage. It was the fine head of cabbage that my dad was going to enter into some show or other … 

Suffice it to say that Sunday lunch was a very sombre affair in the O’ Reilly household on that fateful Sunday. 

My dad could never bring himself to tell that story … 

But we could  …

Words of Wisdom

I like to tell stories about my family. They make a great story to tell because they’re unique to me. And also because they’re important to me.

I also like to tell stories about quirky things people do and say from where I come from. Again, they make a great story to tell because they’re unique to me. And also because they make me reminisce. 

What is Unique About Your Family That Makes a Great Story to Tell? 

What Quirky Things Do People Do or Say Where You Come From? 

I would love to hear your stories. Tap Contact to get in touch if you would like to share them.

Epilogue

I also like to tell stories about what I’m curious about … 

But I’ll save those stories for another day … 

Today’s stories are in memory of my dad.

Stories that are important to me.

And stories that make me reminisce.

Happy Birthday Dad xx

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School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Your WorkLife Your Way 

How To Build Your True Personal Brand Identity 

How To Turn Your Story Into a Powerful Presentation 

You can view the complete collection of books here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club.

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

Thank You Queen Elizabeth II

From John Simpson on Twitter, “An Irish friend says that when the news of the Queen’s death came through, ‘I was drinking in an Irish Republican Socialist pub here in Dublin… To a man & a woman, everyone raised a glass to a woman who loved Ireland & did so much to bring about peace on our islands.’”

Being Irish, I had never given thought to the Queen during her life. But in her death, I have. 

I’ve done it by trying to get a sense of what it means to my fellow countrymen and women. People who identify with being Irish through birth or heritage, living in the UK but perhaps more so those living in Ireland. Simply because having lived in the UK almost as long as I lived in Ireland, I felt disconnected from what Irish people thought of the Queen. I sensed that by and large, like me, in her life, they never gave her much thought – she really wasn’t anything to do with us – she wasn’t our Queen, it was as simple as that. 

Except it wasn’t simple.

It’s only in her death that I realised she was something to do with us. And that something is significantly important. 

I learnt it through the instinctive response of people enjoying a drink and raising their glass to the Monarch they believed had helped the peace process on our island. 

When you live in a country divided by war, peace means more than possibly words can ever communicate. A solemn moment of silence can perhaps express this far more profoundly. 

She helped put the long and troubled past between our nations behind us. I learnt this through these words in the statement by President Higgins on the death of the Queen:

“As we know, the Queen often spoke of how much she enjoyed her own historic State Visit to Ireland in 2011, the first such visit by a British monarch since Irish independence, and during which she did so much through eloquent word and generous gesture to improve relations between our two islands.

“Queen Elizabeth’s Visit was pivotal in laying a firm basis for an authentic and ethical understanding between our countries. During those memorable few days eleven years ago, the Queen did not shy away from the shadows of the past. Her moving words and gestures of respect were deeply appreciated and admired by the people of Ireland and set out a new, forward looking relationship between our nations – one of respect, close partnership and sincere friendship.”

President Higgins is a man I admire and respect for his integrity – a man who also doesn’t shy away from the shadows of the past. I know him to be a man who calls a spade a spade.

I learnt it through the words the Queen spoke at the State Dinner:

“Speaking here in Dublin castle, it is impossible to ignore the weight of history, as it was yesterday when you and I laid wreaths at the garden of remembrance. Indeed so much of this visit reminds us of the complexity of our history, its many layers and traditions, but also the importance of forbearance and conciliation of being able to bow to the past but not be bound by it. Of course, the relationship has not always been straightforward, nor has the record over the centuries been entirely benign. It is a sad and regrettable reality that throughout history, our islands experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss. These events have touched us all. Many of us personally, and are a painful legacy. We can never forget those who have died or have been injured and their families. To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past, I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight, we can all see things that we would wish had been done differently or not at all. But it is also true that no one who looked to the future over the past centuries could have imagined the strength of the bonds that are now in place between the governments and people of our two nations.”

These weren’t empty words. This wasn’t lip service. This was a commitment to the spirit of partnership and lasting rapport between our nations. 

This wasn’t a promise to be broken. These words were followed through by action—action through diplomacy. 

I’ve adapted the following from an article by Reuters (For the most part, I’ve kept their words but just shared an excerpt):

The queen’s use of the Irish language, once banned under British rule, to begin her landmark address at the State Dinner brought about a spontaneous round of applause from the guests.

Other symbolic moments included the laying of a wreath to those who died fighting for the British crown and stepping out onto Dublin’s Croke Park stadium, the scene of a massacre of 14 people by British forces almost a century earlier.

Across Irish politics, the Queen has been recognised and remembered as a bridge builder in repairing relationships between our countries.

A year after her visit to Ireland, the Queen shook the hand of former IRA guerrilla commander and then deputy first minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness in Belfast, one of the last big milestones in a peace process studied around the world.

The Queen’s cousin, Lord Mountbatten and three members of his family party were killed in 1979 by Irish Republican Army (IRA) militants.

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In writing these words, I’m not inviting discussion or debate. These are simply my thoughts. My way of making sense of things. 

Some may share in my thinking. Others may not. And that’s OK. As with everything I share, I do so to simply express my thinking. I’m not assuming to think and speak for Irish people. I have never and will never assume to think or speak for someone else. People are extremely capable of doing that for themselves. I believe whether we agree or disagree, it’s important that we don’t silence the voice of others. 

I’m simply sharing the words, actions and events that helped me make sense of things as an Irish person living in the UK in understanding my thoughts and emotions brought about by the death of a Monarch who, during her life, I thought had nothing to do with me. And yet, in her death, I have come to learn of the importance of her role in bringing peace to the island of Ireland.

That has everything to do with me.

And for that, I say: 

Go raibh maith agat – Thank you. 

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Afterword

On reflection, I felt the need to add that I hope English people will understand why I felt the need to write and share this.

I write to make sense of my thoughts and emotions when I’m struggling to understand what I’m thinking or feeling about something. It’s simply my way of processing things.

While Ireland will always be my true home, the UK has been my adopted home for many years. The country and the people have been good to me. In no way do I want to be disrespectful of that. The country, in general, and London, in particular, have become a part of me, and that’s why I needed to share my story. I hope English people will understand that.

Over the last several days, I’ve learnt a little about the history of both Scotland and Wales and their relationship with England. In doing so, I learnt of the historic similarities both countries share with Ireland. Because of this, I feel Scottish and Welsh people will understand why I felt the need to write and share this.

I talk about Ireland and the Irish people as a whole. I include people living in the Republic of Ireland and people living in Northern Ireland. As a nation, we were both divided and connected by war, and because of that, I feel the people of Ireland as a whole will understand why I felt the need to write and share this.

Go raibh maith agat a chairde – Thank you, friends.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

I’m Taking Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’ on A Moveable Feast. Chapter by Chapter. 

Chapter 3 (of 20) Une Génération Perdue

A Moveable Feast Chapter Three, Une Génération Perdue, Accompanied by Coffee and a Brioche Bun.
A Moveable Feast Chapter Three, Une Génération Perdue, Accompanied by Coffee and a Brioche Bun.

Chapter 1 (of 20), A Good Café on the Place St-Michaelwill take you back in time to the story that began my French culinary experiences while reading A Moveable Feast, chapter by chapter. From there, each chapter will take you to the next chapter and culinary experience. 

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway.

Chapter 3 (of 20) Une Génération Perdue, accompanied by coffee and a brioche bun, consumed at L’eau à La Bouche Delicatessen & Café on Broadway Market.

Notes From Chapter 3: Une Génération Perdue

A WorkLife Book Club For One

Notes about Writing and Reading

“When I was writing, it was necessary for me to read after I had written. If you kept thinking about it, you would lose the thing you were writing before you could go on with the next day. It was necessary to get exercise to be tired in the body.”

“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

There’s a lesson in Hemingway’s words for me. One that I learnt the hard way.

Because, unlike Hemingway, I didn’t know to stop writing. Instead, when I was in the flow, I wrote from dawn well into the night. 

I stopped exercising. I stopped taking time to shop for and cook healthy food. Instead, I consumed store cupboard staples with little nutrition. I had pasta with a processed tomato sauce for more days than I care to remember. 

The impact of lack of exercise and nutritious food took a toll on my physical and mental health and wellbeing, and I became quite unwell. 

It’s taking time for me to recover fully. 

I wish I had Hemingway’s insightful wisdom when I began writing.

But I do now, albeit through a lesson learned the hard way …

And as for reading when I’m writing.

When I’m writing short stories, I very much take Hemingway’s approach of reading after I’ve written.

But when I’m working on a book, I don’t stop to read. Unlike Hemingway, I want to keep thinking about it, and perhaps I’m scared if I stop, I will lose the thing I was writing. And so I will empty the well of my writing and will remain in the deep part of the well into the deep part of the night until I’ve done that. And then wake up and do it all over again the next day. 

But now that I’ve finished my book and I’m back to writing short stories, and I’m back to walking and reading, I’m discovering that I’m not losing what I was writing. In fact, it’s the opposite. I’m having new thoughts of ways to continue with a story or thoughts for a new story.

I now recognise Hemingway’s insightful wisdom in his approach to writing and taking time to read, exercise and sleep in the knowledge that these actions fed the springs of the well of his writing.

Albeit I came to recognise that wisdom the hard way, I’m OK with that. Because I needed to make that discovery for myself.

“If you don’t want to read what is bad, and want to read something that will hold your interest and is marvellous in its own way, you should read Marie Belloc Lowndes”.

“I had never heard of her, and Miss Stein loaned me The Lodger, that marvellous story of Jack the Ripper and another book about murder at a place outside Paris that could only be Enghien les Bains. There were both splendid after-work books”.

I love being reminded of how I so often find the next book in the current book I’m reading or through a recommendation.

I also love being reminded suspense books are splendid after-work reading.

“Suspense fiction – thrillers and mysteries are my favourite night-time read. They help me to switch off. It seems contradictory, but they help to relax my mind and unwind and feel ready for sleep. I couldn’t understand why this was at first, as with all paradoxes, I had to figure it out. What I figured was that in the same way we need physical exercise to maintain good health and wellbeing, we also need to work out our brain to keep it in peak condition. Thrillers and mysteries help achieve this because they provide puzzles to work through. A good workout – physical or mental – aids better sleep”. These words are from the character Maggie in my book,  WorkLife Book Club.

Notes about Character

“It was when we had come back from Canada and were living in the rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs and Miss Stein and I were still good friends that Miss Stein made the remark about the lost generation. She had some ignition trouble with the old Model T Ford she then drove and the young man who worked in the garage and had served in the last year of the war had not been adept, or perhaps had not broken the priority of other vehicles, in repairing Miss Stein’s Ford. Anyway he had not be serieux enough and had been corrected severely by the patron of the garage after Miss Stein’s protest. The patron had said to him, ‘you are all a génération perdue’.”

“That’s what you are. That’s what you all are,’ Miss Stein said. ‘All of you young people who served in the war. You are a lost generation.” 

“That evening as I was walking home … I thought of Miss Stein … and egotism and mental laziness versus discipline and I thought who is calling who a lost generation?”

“I thought that all generations were lost by something and always had been and always would be.” 

… “and I thought, I will do my best to serve her and see she gets justice for the good work she has done, as long as I can, so help me God and Mike Ney. But to hell with her lost-generation talk and all the dirty, easy labels.”

I, too, cannot abide ‘dirty, easy labels’. 

I, too, cannot abide generalisations, such as … all of you young (or old) people … but I, too, can now recognise the truth in Hemingway’s words, “that all generations were lost by something and always had been and always would be.” 

Through the development of the story, I’m enjoying learning more about Miss Stein’s character.

I’m also enjoying learning about Hemingway’s character as both writer and man – in his determination to do his best to serve her in getting justice for her good work while in no way accepting her ‘dirty, easy labels’. 

We all have good and bad characteristics. 

I recently read Discipline is Destiny: 25 Habits That Will Guarantee You Success by Ryan Holiday. The following habit stood out to me as:

Words of Wisdom

Habit 16. Be a little deaf. We have to develop the ability to ignore, to endure, to forget. Not just cruel provocations from jerks, but also unintentional slights and mistakes from people we love or respect. “It helps to be a little deaf,” was the advice that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was given by her mother-in-law. It helped guide her through not just 56 years of marriage, but also a 27-year career on the court with colleagues she adored–but surely disagreed with on a regular basis.

I love learning about this habit. I also love being able to connect these stories through that habit. And I love recognising this characteristic which I admire in both Hemingway and Ginsburg.

It’s a characteristic I would like to develop within myself because while I’m accepting of people for who they are, I’m inclined to walk away from behaviours I don’t like.

I’ve lived my life by the principle that if I choose to spend time with people, I accept them for who they are. If they behave in a way I don’t like, I have a choice of walking away or speaking up. I believe whatever has to be said needs to be said directly to the person. Then both parties can respond and can make the decision of what happens next in the relationship.

People are surprised when I share this. They say, “but you’re so easy-going, you get on with everyone”. It’s true, I am easy-going, but I’m also very values-driven, and if something goes against my values, I can become quite fierce—much to people’s surprise.

While I like this characteristic about myself, I can’t help but think that perhaps adopting or adapting, Being a little deaf, to develop the ability to ignore, to endure, to forget, could be helpful. Because, after all, other people’s behaviour is about them, not me. And besides, being fierce is draining, whereas being easy-going is rather restoring.  It serves to refill the deep part of the well that is my joie de vivre approach to life and living.

Epilogue

I’m not sure when I’ll read the next chapter of A Moveable Feast over a glass and a plate. 

It most likely will be another spontaneous happening. It may take a little planning to keep the French theme going, or, as with today, it may not.

… Let’s see where A Moveable Feast is going to take me …

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Today’s coffee was from L’eau à La Bouche Delicatessen & Café, Broadway Market. A wonderful new discovery, and I shall return soon to sample the très délicieux food in their delicatessen. Broadway Market is one of my favourite streets in London. Located next to London Fields, it’s filled with interesting shops, cafés and restaurants. Motor traffic free, it was beautiful to sit in the early autumn sunshine, reading a chapter over coffee and a brioche bun, glancing up from time to time, catching walkers and cyclists passing by.

Se souvenir de toi, Norma.

#FunFact1 Une Génération Perdue – The Lost Generation was the generational cohort that was in early adulthood during World War I. “Lost” in this context refers to the “disoriented, wandering, directionless” spirit of many of the war’s survivors in the early postwar period. The term is also particularly used to refer to a group of American expatriate writers living in Paris during the 1920s. Gertrude Stein is credited with coining the term, and it was subsequently popularised by Ernest Hemingway, who used it in an epigraph for his 1926 The Sun Also Rises: ”You are all a lost generation.” The Lost Generation became the driving force behind many cultural changes, particularly in major cities during what became known as the Roaring Twenties. (Source Wikipedia)

#FunFact2 Broadway Market is a working Victorian street market. In more modern times, Broadway Market, and specifically the barber shop, was the location for David Cronenberg’s 2007 film, Eastern Promises. The opening scenes of the 1988 movie Buster were shot at the Regent’s Canal end of the market. It was also used for filming some scenes in the 1947 film Odd Man Out. Along with many squares and streets in the East End of London, it is rumoured that the old Broadway Market partly inspired Eastenders. (Source Broadway Market).

Broadway Market is a great resource to learn more about the cafés, bars & restaurants, shops and stalls that make this street so special. You’ll also be taken through time from 1,000 BC to learn about the history of the market. 

#FunFact3 The Regent’s Canal runs under Broadway Market in Hackney and then curves along Andrews road with industrial views of warehouses, rail bridges and gasometers. (Source Canal & River Trust).

Canal & River Trust is a Charity. In their own words, this is what they are about:

“We care for a 2,000-mile-long, 200-year-old, network of canals, rivers, reservoirs and docks because we believe that life is better by water.

Our vision is to have living waterways that transform places and enrich lives.

We provide a space where people can feel happier and healthier, nature is recovering and history is alive. A space for boating, angling, cycling, walking, paddling or just watching the world drift by”. 

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School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning?

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may want to self-direct your learning by starting your WorkLife Book Club For One, For Two, or for more people. Guidelines for Starting and Running Your WorkLife Book Club will help you do that. 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Your WorkLife Your Way

How To Use Your Voice To Express and Protect Your Identity 

How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively

You can view the complete collection here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.

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Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers), it helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

2 Stories About the Effect of Speaking Up and Speaking Out About Bodyism 

One Had an Immediate and Long Lasting Effect the Other I Don’t Know 

Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning
Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

I was walking along the street the other day, and I saw a young man who thought it was OK to take a photo of a young woman’s breasts. He then proceeded to share the photo – I know this because his friend tried to speak to him, and he said, “Hang on a sec, let me send this.'” (Before he took the photo, he had nudged his friend to look at the young woman’s breasts). The friend, in fairness, didn’t participate in this pervy behaviour, but nor did he speak up.

So I did.

I said to him, “They’re called breasts. People who leer at them are called perverts.” 

And then I ran! 

Nah, not really.

I stood my ground and waited for his response ..,

Which was … 

… Wait for it …

… A vacant look.

Or a non-response, really.

Why do people think it’s OK to objectify people for how they look? 

Whether it’s positively or negatively. 

THAT’S NOT OK. 

It’s an Ism – Bodyism. 

It stops people from being seen for who they truly are – what’s inside their minds and hearts (the good, the bad and the banal). 

All Isms are wrong – whether it’s Bodyism, Racism, Ageism, Sexism … 

They are unkind, and they are ignorant. 

They can cause hurt, and they can cause harm. 

THAT’S NOT OK. 

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Funny how one thing reminds you of another …. 

A Story from Times Gone By …

I once worked in a Builders Merchants – so, lots of guys, and lots of ‘banter’.

It was the 1980s when page 3 girls hung on canteen walls … 

Not much has changed in forty years, eh!  When it comes to objectifying women and perving over their breasts … 

But I digress … back to the story I was reminded of …

One of my colleagues was a guy called Eddie. Eddie had a rather large bottom, and without fail, every time he walked past one of the guys (colleague or customer), they would shout after him …

“G’wan Eddie with you big, fat arse.” 

Until one day when …

Eddie stopped, slowly turned and calmly said, …

“It takes a big hammer to drive a big nail.” 

It brought about laughter in the moment. 

But more than that, it had a long lasting effect of quickly shutting the guys down. 

Because as soon as one of them said it again, Eddie, without needing to repeat the words, would glance in the direction of their derrière, sigh and give them a knowingly, pitiful look. 

Because well, none could ever match the magnificence of Eddie’s rather splendid bottom. 

Everyone knew what his pitiful glance really meant, and the perpetrator became the butt of their own joke. 

……………………………………………………………………..

Eddies words had an immediate and long lasting effect.

That’s the great thing about bringing humour to a situation.

It has the power to call out and cut through all kinds of bad behaviours.

But, alas, my wit failed me in the moment … 

Or maybe my words did or will have some effect … or maybe not …  I don’t know …

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This story is about one human being objectifying another human being (and perving). 

It’s not about singling out men or women. 

Today’s stories just happen to be about men objectifying/perving women and men. 

But women do it too – they also objectify/perv women and men for their appearance. 

They also engage in the practice of Bodyism. 

Fellow Human Beings, THAT’S NOT OK.

In 2 Stories of Bodyism Objectifying People Because of Their Appearance, I shared the stories of women practising bodyism towards women and men. 

And now I’ve now shared today’s stories too. 

I hesitated at first for fear of getting into trouble with the ‘Bottom and Breast police.’ 

‘Butt’ I’ve managed to escape that ‘Boobie’ trap.

So Far …

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School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning? 

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Live True To Who You Really Are 

How To Build Your True Personal Brand Identity 

How To Use Your Voice To Express and Protect Your Identity 

You can view the complete collection of books here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

25% Sale Discount Now Available on My Book Your WorkLife Your Way 

Thanks to Amazon Helping Readers and Learners Writers and Teachers Out 

Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.
Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning

Amazon is offering a 25% discount on my book Your WorkLife Your Way and a 10% discount on Your WorkLife Your Way Workbook. The book is now £14.99 (reduced from £19.99), and the workbook is now £8.99 (reduced from £9.99). 

I’m not sure how long the offer will last – Amazon do this from time to time to help you, the reader and learner, and me, the writer and teacher, out. 

Authors still get royalties based on the original listed price – so all good (thankfully!).

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

Throughout this book and workbook, you will explore your imagination, you will go deep within yourself by asking yourself insightful questions, and you will give yourself continuous feedback. You will write short stories: the stories of your WorkLife chapters.

The series of lessons throughout the book/s are designed to help you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. 

As a self directed learner, you will learn to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

That’s important because the stories we tell enable us to get our sense of character across in a meaningful and truthful way. Stories in which we share our values and our beliefs, our thinking and our ideas, our individuality and our uniqueness. Stories that demonstrate what we stand for and what we stand against. Stories that enable us to speak our truth because we are telling stories that matter to us.

Tap the book/s title or image to be taken to the book/s on Amazon, from where you will be able to see a preview of what’s inside. Then if you believe the book/s will be helpful to you, you can make your purchase from there. 

And if you believe the book/s will be helpful to someone you know, I’d appreciate it if you could share this message – thank you.

Please note you don’t need to buy the accompanying workbook. I created it for people who like to have a dedicated formatted resource to work through the assignments set in the book. Your WorkLife Your Way (the book) is a standalone book. You can work through the assignments on paper (I like to suggest having a separate notebook or journal to do this). Or you can create online documents to work through the assignments. 

……………………………………………………………………………………

School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning?

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may find the books from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner.

The School of WorkLife Book Series is designed to help you continuously fine-tune your learning, development and growth in the areas that are most important to you.

I developed each of the 27 chapters of Your WorkLife Your Way (the book) into individual e-books that form the School Of WorkLife book series.

Each book tells real WorkLife stories of the struggles and successes 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 and adapt to your WorkLife situations.

You can view the complete collection of books here: The School of WorkLife Book Series. From there, you can tap on each individual book to be taken to a preview of what’s inside.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers), it helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

I’m Taking Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’ on A Moveable Feast. Chapter by Chapter. 

Chapter 2 (of 20) Miss Stein Instructs

A Moveable Feast Chapter Two, Miss Stein Instructs, Accompanied by Coffee and a Croissant
A Moveable Feast Chapter Two, Miss Stein Instructs, Accompanied by Coffee and a Croissant 

Chapter 1 (of 20), A Good Café on the Place St-Michaelwill take you back in time to the story that began my French culinary experiences while reading A Moveable Feast, chapter by chapter. From there, each chapter will take you to the next chapter and culinary experience

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Ernest Hemingway.

Chapter 2 (of 20) Miss Stein Instructs, accompanied by coffee and a croissant, consumed on a bench in Elder Gardens, Spitalfields London.

Notes From Chapter 2: Miss Stein Instructs

A WorkLife Book Club For One

Notes about Writing 

“You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know. So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone say.”

In this passage, Hemmingway was talking about how sometimes, when he was starting a new story and could not get it going, he would use this approach of writing one true sentence. 

I, too, have had times when starting something new – a story, a chapter, a book, an assignment, a project … when I couldn’t get it going. I have my own ways of pushing through – at times, that’s literally pushing through and getting words on the page

At other times I take myself away from what I’m working on and tap into The Three B’s of Creative Thinking. 

Bus – which for me is moving, i.e. I take a walk and let my mind wander and wonder, and ideas will seep in.

Bath – I turn my bath into a sanctuary with wonderfully fragrant bubbles, and ideas will bubble up.

Bed – I sleep on it, and Ideas will come to me in my dreams or on awakening.

The Three B’s of Creative Thinking are part of my toolbox as a writer, creator and storyteller.

It’s my toolbox that helps me self-direct my learning.

I love adding to that toolbox,

I love anything that helps me self-direct my learning.

I especially love anything that helps the learning by doing approach I’ve always taken in my WorkLife.

Writing one true sentence. Writing the truest sentence I know and then going from there is going into my toolbox of self-directed learning – my learning by doing collection of tools.

“Up in that room I decided that I would write one true story about each thing that I knew about. I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and severe discipline.”

I liked learning how Hemingway wrote one true story about each thing he knew about.

I’m a reflective soul. I like to think things through. Writing them down helps me to do that. It’s my natural way of doing, of being, and it comes easily to me.

Speaking those words aloud, succinctly, clearly and in an interesting manner that draws people in doesn’t come as easily and naturally to me.

Impromptu speaking is certainly not my forte. It takes me out of my comfort zone, that’s for sure.

There was a time when giving a talk or delivering a workshop caused many a sleepless night because I was so incredibly nervous when speaking in front of people that I would be physically ill.

Writing down what I wanted to say and then learning it helped me overcome the crippling fear I had of speaking in public.

Writing it down and then speaking the words aloud (at home to an audience of nobody) helped me craft a talk or workshop in a way that drew people in because it was succinct, clear and interesting.

It’s a practice that has worked well for me. It’s also a practice that I want to get better at. To do that, I will adopt Hemmingway’s approach of writing one true story about everything he knew about.

I want and need to do this because I want to expand my range of stories. I want to develop them in a way that I can tap into the right story at the right time in all my WorkLife situations.

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.” 

For me, that’s all connected to self-directed learning. My preferred way of learning.

That’s going into my toolbox to help me self-direct my learning by doing.

I liked learning about how Hemingway developed discipline in his work.

It’s something I’ve had to learn as a writer and creator and also as someone who works independently.

It hasn’t always come easily, and there are still times when I could do better, that’s for sure.

I like Hemingway’s words as a reminder to myself about the importance of discipline because I’ve learnt that discipline enables freedom.

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“It was up in that room that I learned not to think about anything I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything. I hoped; learning, I hoped; and I would read so that I would not think about my work and make myself impotent to it. Going down the stairs when I had worked well, and that needed luck as well as discipline, was a wonderful feeling and I was free then to walk anywhere in Paris.”

I struggled to stop to write.

It’s what led me to write 10/12/14 hours a day, 6/7 days a week.

It’s what led to not taking care of my health and well-being.

It’s what led to my burnout.

In time it’s what led me to prioritising three hours a day to take care of my health and wellbeing.

In time it’s what led me to walk for three hours a day.

Sometimes I walk for three hours first thing in the morning. And that’s wonderful because it sets me up in such a positive way for the rest of the day.

Sometimes I work first and then walk in the afternoon. And that’s wonderful because I walk freely, knowing I’ve done good work.

Sometimes I walk late evening. And that’s wonderful because, in a slow and relaxed way, I soak up the nighttime atmosphere of the city.

I’ve reduced my time at my laptop to six hours, during which I research, write and create.

I also read for one to three hours a day. It’s still work because as a writer, learning practitioner and creator, reading is an important part of my craft. It’s just that it’s away from my laptop. 

As with Hemingway, it also helps me not to think about my work.

I’m striving to work no more than 8 hours a day, 5 days a week – I’m not quite there with it, but I am getting better.

Anyway, getting stuck in and writing for six hours first thing in the morning means that by early afternoon I’m free to walk anywhere in London. 

It’s that discipline enabling freedom principle again.

I still like to mix it up by also walking first thing in the morning or last thing at night to experience the city at different times of the day. And for me, I already have the discipline of writing. I know that will happen. It’s the discipline of stopping to write and the discipline of walking that I need to get better at. Because that discipline, too, will enable freedom – the freedom that comes from a clear mind and the freedom that comes from good mind and body health and wellbeing. 

Unlike Hemingway, I’m not quite there with not thinking about anything I’m writing until I start again the next day.  It’s a work in progress and that’s good enough for now.

Hemingway’s practice is a good practice, and it’s one that I want to adopt. I’m doing that by adapting The Three B’s of Creativity in my approach. That’s helping my subconscious mind to work on it, as opposed to my conscious mind.

There’s still a lot of room for improvement. But I am getting there. And that’s good enough, for now.

Notes about Miss Stein

“That afternoon she told us, too, how to buy pictures.”

“You can either buy clothes or buy pictures, she said. It’s that simple. No one who is not very rich can do both.”

“But even if I never bought anymore clothing ever, I said, I wouldn’t have enough money to buy the Picasso’s that I want.”

“No, he’s out of your range. You have to buy the people of your own age. You’ll know them. You’ll meet them around the quarter. There are always good new serious painters.”

I like the character, Miss Stein, and her way of thinking about how to buy pictures.

I love art, and I would love to have more art hanging on my wall.

But I always thought I couldn’t afford it.

Miss Stein has challenged that thinking for me.

I live in Shoreditch, London. It’s a wonderfully creative neighbourhood that draws an eclectic mix of amazingly talented artists – the good new serious painters that Miss Stein talks about. I need to follow Miss Stein’s advice and get to know them.

Then, I, too, can buy pictures.

Notes about a Park

It was sad when the park was closed and locked and I was sad walking around it instead of through it.

Elder Gardens, where I read today’s chapter over a coffee and a croissant, is a London pocket park, or actually a little garden. It was closed during the pandemic, and that made me sad.

Sometimes it takes something we enjoy and love but perhaps take for granted to be closed and locked before we fully appreciate it. Then we become sad because it is no longer.

I liked having that lesson which I learnt during the pandemic, reinforced through Hemingway’s words as I sat and read this morning in Elder Gardens over coffee and a croissant. 

I like that I’m making connections because that’s what storytelling is about.

I like learning through reading. Learning through and from other people and their WorkLife experiences, and also relating that learning to my WorkLife experiences and learning about myself through that. 

I like to then apply those lessons to my WorkLife to embrace my learning by doing approach of self-directed learning. 

Epilogue

I’m not sure when I’ll read the next chapter of A Moveable Feast over a glass and a plate. 

It most likely will be another spontaneous happening. It may take a little planning to keep the French theme going, or, as with today, it may not.

… Let’s see where A Moveable Feast is going to take me …

POSTSCRIPT

The Continuing Story …

… I can now share where Chapter 3 (of 20) Une Génération Perdue took me …

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The Three B’s of Creative Thinking are from chapter 15 of my book (and accompanying workbook), Your WorkLife Your Way: Creative Thinking: If You Have a Problem or Question you also have the Ability to Cope and the Answer is Within You. It also featured in The School of WorkLife book: How To Be Creative In Your Thinking. (Tap on the titles for inside views of the books).

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Today’s coffee was from Black Sheep Coffee, Principal Place (nestled underneath the Amazon flagship office building located on the cusp of Shoreditch and the City in London). I chose it because it’s really good coffee. There’s nothing particularly French about it, but their slogan “Leave The Herd Behind, somehow, for me, connected to Hemmingway’s time in Paris. “He recalls the time when, poor, happy and writing in cafes, he discovered his vocation.”  To keep the French Theme of A Moveable Feast I savoured a croissant. 

Se souvenir de toi, Norma.

#funfact1 Elder Gardens is a public garden located close to Lamb Street and Folgate Street near Old Spitalfields Market. London City Gardens (parks, gardens & church yards) are sometimes known as ‘pocket parks’.

Old Spitalfields Market is a great resource to keep up to date with what’s happening in the market and wider in East London too  – In their own words – “From Castles and City Farms to community-centred galleries, we have you covered for a well-rounded day out in East London”.

#funfact2 Elder Gardens is bisected by Nantes Passage. Nantes Passage was built for Huguenot weavers. (Source The Underground Map).

Spitalfields Forum is a helpful resource if you want to discover and explore Parks and Gardens in Spitalfields.

Spitalfields Life by the Gentle Author is an excellent resource to learn about the history of East London – its people, its landmarks and its culture.

#funfact3 French Huguenots, a religious group of French Protestants, fled persecution in France. Those who settled in Shoreditch built houses distinguishable by their elegant wooden doors and shutters and have especially high attic windows. These were built for a very specific purpose, the Huguenots were mainly master silk weavers, and by placing their spinning wheel in the attic, they could benefit from natural daylight, allowing them to work as long as possible into the evening. One particular house of note is Dennis Severs’ House in Folgate Street. Woven through the house is the story of the fictional Jervis family, Huguenot silk weavers who lived at the house from 1725 to 1919. (Source WorkLife Book Club – my book). 

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School of WorkLife helps you self-direct your WorkLife learning through resources that have been created to help you to take ownership of your learning in your own space and in your own time. 

What is Self Directed Learning?

Self-Directed Learning is when an individual is motivated to take the initiative and responsibility on decisions related to their own learning. It is a series of independent actions and judgements free from external control and constraint. 

Resources to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning 

You may want to self-direct your learning by starting your WorkLife Book Club For One, For Two, or for more people. Guidelines for Starting and Running Your WorkLife Book Club will help you do that.

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in meeting your learning needs as a self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Your WorkLife Your Way

How To Be Creative In Your Thinking

How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively

You can view the complete collection here: The School of WorkLife Book Series

 Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

 Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club. 

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers), it helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.