Improvisation Classes Career Change And Hiking in The Alps: A Tale of WorkLife Courage

“Courage Is Resistance to Fear, Mastery of Fear, Not Absence of Fear”. Mark Twain.

Photo by Maja Kochanowska on Unsplash

During an improvisation workshop, one of the exercises was for the group to work in pairs and to tell a story by each saying one word at a time. They did this by moving around the room, and they began to step into the story and played out the actions and emotions as the story unfolded. The instruction was to go with it even if it took them to a scary place and to then go beyond that and experience where it took them from there.

Every single pairing ended up dying and then coming back to life in a different capacity, and that was where their stories became even more interesting and great fun as they began to explore unknown quantities in respect of the pathways ahead of them as they unfolded in the moment.

I collaborate with performing artists to deliver workplace learning programmes. I find so many parallels in Corporate Drama workshops and role-play scenarios and real-life work-based scenarios, from career development and management through to career change and transition. The techniques, methods, and structure of performing arts, which are at the core of our work, are significant in the ever-evolving world of WorkLife learning, development and growth.

I have conversations all the time with people who have reached a scary place in their WorkLife, and they are struggling to go beyond that, and this reminds me of a Mark Twain quote “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear”. Metaphorically speaking, the courage needed to go beyond that barrier of fear to the other side of your WorkLife can be compared to the fear felt before dying and crossing over to the other side or spiritual world.

Richard’s story is one of many in terms of people who have come to this place in their WorkLife. Richard was a language teacher, his first language was English, and he was fluent in French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

His whole career had been within private schools teaching young adults, and while he had enjoyed his work, he felt he needed a change and wanted adventure and excitement in his life. Unlike some people who reach this stage but don’t know what to do next that will give them what it is they’re seeking, Richard did know. However, nonetheless, it was still a scary prospect because to take this step beyond would take him away from the security and stability he had in his current role and into the unknown.

Richard wanted to move into the travel industry with a specific focus on educational travel languages and cultural programmes within Europe. This would allow him to use his language skills and to nurture his knowledge and love of medieval and 20th-century European history. He was experienced in designing school trips and had established strong collaborative working relationships with partners in a number of countries. He had also spent many holidays skiing and hiking in the Alps, and so all in all, he was in a pretty good place in knowing the possibilities that could be out there.

But it kept coming back to giving up a full-time job and everything that went with that, it would also mean leaving his home in the UK for part of the year at least, as well as the social world he’d established for himself, and he had a pretty good life in London embracing his cultural interests and had a good circle of friends, and so he fought this urge to move beyond where he was, which was actually pretty good but at the same time lacking that sense of excitement and adventure that he yearned for.

It was actually three years after I first met Richard, and when he shared his WorkLife dream with me that it finally came to fruition. He admitted to having being scared to take the step he so wanted to, and of course, he needed to consider the reality of the situation, particularly around the financial implications, relocating and what he would do with his home in the UK and moving away from his friends.

During these three years, however, he did work towards his WorkLife goal and spent his holidays exploring the countries of his choice before narrowing it down to specific regions. All the time talking to people and building relationships and friendships. Once he began to open up to people about what he aspired to do, he began to have some interesting conversations and more and more ideas opened up to him around how he could make this work and the opportunities that were out there.

For peace of mind, he wanted to secure enough work for his first year, and the good groundwork he put in place throughout his three-year research enabled this to happen. He got his first assignment in a ski resort in the French Alps, working with Japanese business people to ensure they experienced the cultural highlights of the area. He has further work, which will take him into the summer and autumn organising hiking exhibitions throughout the Alps.

Richard has now resigned from his teaching position, he’s rented his home for one year, his friends have all promised to visit him, and he’s already established a good circle of friends in France. He’s stepped beyond that place of fear and is ready to embrace what lies ahead.

Richard’s story has been adapted from one of the stories featured in my book How To Overcome Your Fear To Live Your Life With Courage from The School Of WorkLife book series.

Tap on the title link to see an inside view of the book, to see all the featured stories and accompanying assignments. Tap on the series link to see all of the books in the series. 

The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles and successes. In some stories, I share my own experiences, and with permission, stories of people I’ve worked with, whose names have been changed to protect their anonymity. Other persons and companies portrayed in the stories are not based on real people or entities.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

Carmel O’ Reilly: WorkLife Learning Practitioner & Writer Author of WorkLife Book Club, Your WorkLife Your Way and The School of WorkLife book series. Created to help you manage your WorkLife Learning. Blogger & Podcaster: Telling people’s powerful stories about WorkLife challenges & successes Founder of My guiding statement is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.