How to Be Observant in a WorkLife World That’s New to You

Hint: Observing a Skilled Observer Is a Good Place to Start

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Fintan had self-published his first book. He had loved the process. The writing — getting the words from his head onto the page. The self-publishing — learning everything he needed to know to get the book ready to hit the printing press. He had loved when he had received his first copy — his author copy — he could call himself a writer and an author now — because he had published and sold his work — albeit sales were to his family and friends.

But now what?

How could he get his book into the hands of readers who would enjoy his work?

That was the million-dollar question.

Did he need to work on his social media following?

He had been putting a little effort into this and combined his chosen platforms — which was pretty much all of them — because he didn’t know which platform was best for writers and authors — his following was close to 1,000.

What did this mean?

Fintan didn’t know.

Was it good?

Fintan didn’t know that either.

He realised that he didn’t actually know how to be observant in the world of books — the world of writers and authors — the world he wanted his next WorkLife chapter to be part of — the world that was entirely new for him. He realised he didn’t know how to be observant because he didn’t know what to observe, that would enable him to understand what he needed to do to get his books into the hands of readers who would enjoy his work.

To say he was feeling stuck is a pretty big understatement. So big, it was laughable. Except laughing was the last thing Fintan felt like doing. Crying would be a better way to describe that.

Then into his inbox popped an email from a very skilled observer. Seth Godin, a writer and author whose work Fintan admired and respected. He had read all of his books and had signed up for his blog, which came to him daily via email.

The blog, which was both extremely short and extremely helpful, was also extremely well-timed, arriving just when Fintan was ready for his morning espresso. He savoured the moment — the learning he took from the blog and the wonderful cup of coffee — it was an uplifting experience that inspired him in the moment and throughout his day.

And today, a day when he needed any inspiration he could get, Seth’s blog and his cup of coffee didn’t let him down.

In fact, the blog post: Zero Percent Market Share was what Fintan believed to be the:

Words Of Wisdom

He needed in that moment:

“If you have a million Twitter followers, that means that 99.9% of the people on Twitter are ignoring you, which, with a little rounding, means you have 0%.

If you write a book and it sells a million copies, it will be one of the bestselling books of the year. It will also reach far fewer than 1% of the country’s population, never mind the world.

There are very few things that ever rise to 1% of the market. Not only don’t you need everyone, the act of chasing everyone is probably keeping you from reaching anyone.

Zero (rounded) is enough.”

Fintan needed these words because they reminded him that in the world of books, a WorkLife world that was new to him. What he needed was the same as people who had been part of this world for much longer than him. Or rather what he didn’t need — he didn’t need everyone, and he didn’t need to chase everyone — readers or social media followers.

He knew he couldn’t compete with even the less than 1%, which, as Seth had pointed out with a little rounding, was zero anyway.

These words of wisdom coming from a skilled observer allowed Fintan to know what he needed to do next. Because they served to remind him of Godin’s book: Tribes. In the book, Godin argues that now, for the first time, everyone has an opportunity to start a movement — to bring together a tribe of like-minded people and do amazing things.

That was what Fintan needed to be reminded of.


And so, Fintan picked the book off his bookshelf, made himself another espresso and began reading, in the knowledge that his next lesson in observation from the master was about to unfold, following on from which he knew he would know the next steps he needed to take to get his books into the hands of the readers who would enjoy them — his tribe.

How to Be Observant in a WorkLife World That’s New to You Assignment

This is a short and helpful lesson.

Observe a skilled observer in the world that’s new to you. A World that you want to begin the next chapter of your WorkLife in.

Maybe, like Godin, they too have written on your subject of interest — books, blogs, articles. Maybe they have a podcast that you can listen to. Or maybe they’ve given a talk or an interview that you can catch somewhere.

You just need to observe where they hang out — remotely or in-person (talks) and observe what they have to say.

To get started, it’s as simple as that, and from there, you will learn the next steps you need to take to find and connect with your tribe in your new WorkLife world.


As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times.

The focus of my work begins by helping people identify a WorkLife path that’s true to their core values, purpose, and motivation. This is followed through by creating meaningful short and long-term WorkLife plans while enabling self-coaching, self-directing, and self-leadership to drive these plans.

I bring you stories created from questions and answers drawn from WorkLife lessons. What I’m trying to do is to highlight different solutions, to provide you with a pathway so that even if a particular story doesn’t apply to you, you understand there is a path to follow.

Whatever you want to do, there is a clear path to it, and once you understand those steps, it becomes much more intuitive, and hopefully, it motivates you to get started. Because that’s what you need most, the motivation to get started. The motivation to follow your vision.

My book, Your WorkLife Your Way, focuses 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. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

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.