Or Maybe a Better Question Who Are You Going to Be at Your Next WorkLife Stage?
Roisin had never really found her place in her WorkLife. She had stumbled from one thing to another. She had reinvented herself so many times along her WorkLife journey, all the time she felt she was constantly reinventing herself for everyone else. People didn’t see her for who she really was, and Roisin couldn’t see it either.
But that was about to change, because there was a lot more to Roisin, as she was about to discover. But let’s back up a little to learn more about Roisin’s story.
A What Are You Going to Be When You Grow Up? Or Maybe a Better Question Who Are You Going to Be at Your Next WorkLife Stage? A Case Study:
From a young age, Roisin had always been very sociable. She loved bringing people together, and she had a talent for connecting people. She also loved entertaining people through music, song, dance and performing. People would laugh, and say: “Here comes Roisin, she belongs on the stage. She should be an actor, she just loves being the centre of attention.”
So Roisin went to the School of Musical Theatre, and although the idea was planted by what other people thought she should be when she grew up, Roisin really enjoyed it. And as much as she really enjoyed learning the different performance elements of acting, music, song and dance, what she enjoyed maybe even more was sharing her learning with the young students who attended Saturday classes at the Youth Music, Dance and Theatre School she taught at each weekend, which she’d undertaken to help fund her way through school.
The children and teenagers loved her bright, bubbly personality, and the attention she gave them, and they would gravitate towards her. Her colleagues would laugh and say: “She should be a Children’s Entertainer, she just loves all the attention.”
So on graduating, Roisin became a Children’s Entertainer, and was soon booked up for months in advance for parties. And although the idea was planted by what other people thought she should be when she grew up, Roisin really enjoyed it. And as much as she enjoyed the performance elements of the party, what she enjoyed maybe even more was that she was continuing to share her learning. Because her parties had a little twist: Roisin not only dressed up and performed herself, but all the children did too. She’d teach them a few techniques, giving each child a part to play, that drew out their skills and abilities, that would allow them to create a performance together.
This culminated in an end of party performance, played to the adults attending. People would say: “She should go into Entertainment Events, then she would be in her element, surrounded by people who also love attention.”
So Rosin went into Entertainment Events. She got a job as an entertainer, with responsibility for helping out with the organisation of events on a cruise ship. And although the idea was planted by what other people thought she should be when she grew up, Roisin really enjoyed it. And as much as she enjoyed the entertaining element of her work, what she enjoyed maybe even more was connecting people to each other, and also to different roles, which she did in organising the events. She always seemed to know who would work well together. She had a knack of seeing different parts of people, that perhaps they or other people didn’t see. All the while, Roisin was waiting for people to come up to her and tell her what she should be when she grew up, but nobody did this time.
This left Roisin with a sense of uncertainty and questioning for herself who she should be when she grew up. She shared this with Agnes, a woman in her eighties, who Roisin had gotten to know throughout the cruise. They always sat at the same table for breakfast, and Agnes had attended all of the performances Roisin had been involved with.
Agnes asked Roisin:
Who are you? And how did you become who you are? What makes you different?
A little uncertain how to answer, Roisin said: I’m an entertainer”, and went on to share what people said she was, or what she should be when she grew up, at her different life and WorkLife stages up until now; and that this was how she had become who she was. She couldn’t answer what made her different.
Words of Wisdom
Agnes responded: “It’s great who you think you are, now here’s who you really are. You’re an educator and a connector. You create learning experiences and you bring people together. The experiences you’re creating are helping people change their entire lives, because you’re helping them find their essence. You’re unlocking the parts of people that are at the core of who they are, and you’re connecting them from that place. You’re connecting people from who they are vs what they do. That is who you are, and that’s what made you who you are, and that’s what makes you different. And you do it by observing people, by really seeing who they are. You ask questions, you listen, you help them to tell stories where they’re the hero of their own story.”
Agnes went on to remind Roisin of the:
Of Pygmalion by George Bernhard Shaw, on which the musical production of My Fair Lady by Jay Lerner was based. There had been a screening on the ship, which they’d both seen, and they’d also both read the play text, which they’d discussed over breakfast one morning. Agnes said: “To Professor Higgins Eliza will always be a Cockney flower girl, to Freddy she will always be a lady. When people think they know who you are, you tend to live up to their expectations.”
Agnes continued with her words of wisdom: “This time no one came up to tell you who you should be, because they saw and appreciated you for who you already are, and that was far more than an entertainer. They recognised you as someone who could see what is truly inside of each of them, and because of what you saw within them, you set them off in being active participants in their own lives. You used your insights as a fuel to change how other people think of themselves. You created that: an environment where you were working with friends.
“In knowing who you’re going to be at your next WorkLife stage, that’s important to remember. Remember to create environments where you walk in and you’re working with your friends. If you’re going to spend time doing something that perhaps may require working long hours, as events do, it should be around people you love and like.”
Agnes finished by sharing this:
“In a completely rational society, the best of us would be teachers and the rest of us would have to settle for something else. Because passing civilisation along from one generation to the next ought to be the highest honour and the highest responsibility anyone can have.” Lee Lacocca
Recognising she knew how to do something that not everyone knew how to do — which was how to unlock those parts of people and connect them from that place, that allow people to go to a deeper place of what makes them who they are — caused Roisin to look deeper into who she was.
When she dug within herself to who she already was, and found that truth within her, she allowed that to lead and guide her. It didn’t feel like another reinvention, it felt like she’d already been doing this the whole time. She now just needed to step into it. She wasn’t trying to be something she wasn’t, or something other people thought she should be. She felt the difference by not trying to be something, by simply being something. She had gone from trying to reinvent herself for others to stepping into her own power, to tapping into who she already was — an educator and a connector.
In continuing her WorkLife, words Roisin often finds herself sharing are:
Just because someone tells you you’re something, don’t take that to be true. Instead believe in yourself, believe you have the answer within you, and believe that, that discovery is yours alone. So all the time you have to be experimenting, and asking yourself:
Who am I?
How did I become who I am?
What makes me different?
Reflect on this and give yourself feedback that will allow you to know who you are going to be at your next WorkLife stage, and the steps you need to take to become that.
Today’s featured book is: Pygmalion by George Bernhard Shaw
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.