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.

Be Grateful to the Naysayers Allow Them to Motivate You When They Something Can’t Be Done

When You’re Following Your Dream, Believe in What’s Possible, and Know if Anyone Can, You Can

Photo by Pelipoer Lara from Pexels 

“Opening a bookstore when everyone buys their books from Amazon is a crazy idea, and in a small town, that’s soon to be by-passed when that new road opens, makes it not only a crazy idea, but a stupid idea too, and in case it hadn’t come to your notice, there’s also that rather big obstacle that the town has never fully recovered from the recession. I’m sorry to say this, Michael, but your idea is crazy, stupid and it’s not going to work, I’m saying this for your own good, before you invest your time and money into something that has no future. What you’re proposing, can’t be done”

To say Michael was dumbfounded by this outburst from his uncle Matt is the understatement of the year. But let’s back up to Michael’s story to how he found himself on the receiving end of uncle Matt’s advice — unsolicited advice that his uncle Matt was prone to dish out rather frequently.

Be Grateful to the Naysayers, Allow Them to Motivate You, to Prove Them Wrong, When They Say Something Can’t Be Done: A Case Study:

Michael had a lifelong love of books. As a young boy he was always first in line when the Books on Wheels mobile library parked up in the grounds of his village school every Saturday morning. Returning the books he’d avidly read, he’d leave with a new collection, with excited anticipation of the places, near and far, that he would soon be transported to. His encounters with the familiar, unfamiliar, and sometimes bizarre, people, places and happenings, continuously opened his mind to new learning and discovery. To what was and what could be, to how the impossible could become possible.

It was with no surprise that Michael went on to study Irish Literature at college. Then on graduating he began working at the library in the town close to the village he had grown up in. The library that served all the neighbouring small village communities with its Books on Wheels mobile library.

That the town had been hit hard by the recession was true. Some businesses didn’t make it, and the businesses that did survive, did so by the skin of their teeth, and were forced to make cuts. Job losses were high and livelihoods were severely impacted. This was followed by government cuts to public spending, the latest of which brought about the closure of libraries throughout the country.

Michael finding himself out of a job, had what uncle Matt labelled as a crazy, stupid idea, that wouldn’t work, that couldn’t be done, and that was to open a bookstore in the town.

Though dumbfounded by his uncle Matt’s outburst, Michael wasn’t deterred, in fact if anything it spurred him on. It motivated Michael to prove his uncle Matt wrong, and that what he was proposing to do, could be done.

It was more than wanting to prove his uncle wrong. Michael believed in his idea, he believed he could make it work, he believed the people of the town wanted and needed it, many of whom were bereft following the closure of the library. There was a gaping hole in the town, and Michael felt he had the ability and capability to fill it. His uncle was right that the new road could cause the town to be bypassed. Michael felt now was the time to ensure that didn’t happen. He was determined to plant the town firmly on the map, and in his mind there was no better way than a bookstore that brought people from near and far. He was under no illusion that it would be easy, but he believed it was possible.

There had been many books that had inspired Michael throughout his life. Books had taken him on a journey of make believe, and also on a journey that was real. It was books that had taken him along a path to college and to study Irish Literature. It was books that had taken him along a path to working at the library, a path that at the time had seemed to have taken him full circle, back to the beginning of where his love of books and love of book wisdom had first begun. Michael now knew that his journey wasn’t over, and he believed that it would be books that would take him along a path to his next destination.

Book Wisdom

The book that motivated Michael to follow the path that he believed he needed to be on at this moment in his WorkLife journey, the path to owning and running his own bookstore was Unstoppable: My Life So Far, by Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova talks about her rise to success, and the disasters that threatened her career and her fight back. She says if there are lessons she could share from her experiences, it would be about the people you surround yourself with, whether that’s your family, (excluding any uncle Matt types of course!), your mentors, your team members. 

Choose people you’d be comfortable to lose alongside. In sport you lose a lot more than you can win. If you can face those challenges in that moment with people you respect and trust, it makes the process so much better, it brings so much light to the situations, it carries you through. We don’t always feel at our best, but if we have people alongside us, paving the way and giving us a platform, giving us a voice, and sharing values that we have, it’s so meaningful. So much about the process is about the people you meet along your path.

She believed her earlier years formed a lot of her character, and that the foundation and skills she built when she was young was something she could always go back to. If the core of what you’re doing is so strong and so positive, it drives everything else. Whatever comes your way, at whatever age, it’s how you handle it in the moment that will ultimately set you up in the future. When you face challenges that are not necessarily the same, your life experiences never fail you. 

Stay grounded and real, when other worlds are stripped away from you, by keeping your feet on the ground. This is the belief that allowed Sharapova to successfully establish herself in the world of business.

Although their paths were very different, Michael believed by surrounding himself with good people, people he trusted and respected, he too could achieve his dream. This belief proved to be true. He met all the right people along his path: virtual people in the books he read, who became his mentors; and real people, who he seemed to meet at just the right time. This is where Michael believed the universe conspired — he did a lot of the work, every day he kept on moving, and every day he was directed along his path

Epilogue

Michael succeeded in his dream of owning and running his own bookstore. He succeeded in firmly planting his town on the map. He succeeded in bringing people from near and far to visit his bookstore and his town.

He achieved this by waking up every day and asking himself the questions:

How can I continue to do what I love doing?

What can I do next?

How can I get better or how can I stay level with where I was yesterday?

Reflecting on these questions through self-feedback, the answers always came to him.

Words of Wisdom

You can’t unilaterally try to give people feedback, you have to let them come to you and want that feedback. There are times in a relationship that it’s more welcome than others, and you have to know when to give.

In saying these words to his uncle Matt, Michael wasn’t sure if they were received with the same intention they were given. And in his mind he was thinking, “oh and when someone tells you it can’t be done, don’t believe them, believe in yourself instead”.

Sage Wisdom

When we face challenges, change and uncertainty in our WorkLife, this is the time to ask ourselves how we might take ourselves to a new place, a place that gets us through these difficult times or even a place that is even better.

Today’s featured book is: Unstoppable: My Life So Far, by Maria Sharapova

Today’s story is from my book: How To Use Turning Points To Start Something Different And Better from The School of WorkLife book series.

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.

How to Answer Bizarre Interview Questions such as How Would You Count the Hairs on a Cat?

William Was Asked This Question at an Interview For a Role at an Investment Bank. He Was Given a Pen, Paper, and Calculator to Work It Out!

Photo by John Tyson on Unsplash


Part of a series of stories of weird questions people were asked at interviews, how they answered them, and what the interviewer may have been looking for in asking these questions. This series also considers what makes a question, a good question from the point of view of being an insightful question.

How to Answer Bizarre Interview Questions such as How Would You Count the Hairs on a Cat? A Case Study

William was asked this question when he was interviewing for a project management role at an investment bank in the City of London. He was given a pen and paper, and calculator to work it out! He was thankful for this because it gave him time to gather his thoughts, and while he didn’t calculate, he did scribble down a few thoughts.

His answer was: “I’d weigh one hair, then shave the cat and weigh all the hair I shaved off, I’d then divide the overall hair weight by the individual hair weight to get the number of hairs on the cat.” He got the job!

What the interviewers were looking for was a candidate who could demonstrate their ability to think on the spot, showing creativity and intuitiveness as well as logical and practical thinking, including how they would go about solving difficult and even unusual challenges that might arise, and also to have conviction in their answer and the confidence to communicate this. The interviewers were more interested in how candidates got to an answer, as opposed to what the answer might be.

Such challenging questions are becoming ever more commonplace in interviews it seems, as employers seek to get past the polish to hire the best candidate. With so many self-help websites, candidates can be quite polished on standard interview questions, making it difficult for people to stand out if they ask the routine questions. So doing things differently will help them get to the best candidate, or so the thinking goes.

I asked William how easy it was for him to know how to answer this type of question, and if there’s anything he does to help him prepare. He told me that he loves to think about things in different ways and to explore the hidden side of everything. He went on to share this:

Book Wisdom

The book Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner is described as a rogue economist exploring the hidden side of everything, saying it’s all about using information about the world around us to get to the heart of what’s really happening under the surface of everyday life.

They talk about building the initial two chapters around a pair of admittedly freakish questions: “What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?” and “How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents?”. They say: “If you ask enough questions, strange as they seem at the time, you may eventually learn something worthwhile.”

They go on to say: “The first trick of asking questions is to determine if your question is a good one. Just because a question has never been asked does not make it good. Smart people have been asking questions for quite a few centuries now, so many of the questions that haven’t been asked are bound to yield some uninteresting answers.

“But if you can question something that people really care about and find an answer that may surprise them — that is, if you can overturn the conventional wisdom — then you may have some luck.”

In researching this story, and as part of my ongoing research into considering what makes a question an insightful question, I came across these:

Words of Wisdom

If you’re on the other side of the table (the interviewee) you’ll need an arsenal of questions, too. Because at some point you’ll be asked: Do you have any questions for me? Lori Goler, VP of People at Facebook.

Goler goes on to share the following:

Sage Wisdom

The question “What is your biggest problem and can I help solve it?” is a question she posed when she cold-called Sheryl Sandberg. She was hoping to land a job, any job at Facebook. When Sheryl responded “Recruiting, we have amazing people, and we want to continue to build the team.” Despite never having worked as a recruiter, Goler jumped at the opportunity; and after a few months working as a recruiter, when the head of HR moved to a different team, Goler moved into the role. She has been Facebook’s head of Recruiting and HR ever since.

Epilogue

William’s interview was some years ago now. A more recent HubSpot blog post, says: “Hiring managers have heard about using these curveball questions to identify the best candidates. Fortunately, for intelligent and qualified candidates everywhere, studies have found that the brainteaser interview questions made famous by Silicon Valley and Wall Street are just as silly as they sound.” It goes on to say: “There’s a need to get creative in asking questions to understand if, for example, a candidate is a team player.”

Because of my interest in insightful questions, this is a subject I’ll come back to again.

Today I leave you with the question:

What is an important question for you to have in your arsenal of questions to get your foot in the door of a company you aspire to work at?

Use the self-feedback that comes to you through reflecting on this question, to build your arsenal of questions for all of the opportunities you want to pursue in your WorkLife.

Today’s featured book is: Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

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.

How To Be Creative In Your Thinking

“Creativity Is Imagination and Imagination Is For Everyone.” Paul Arden

Image supplied by author

I believe for every problem or question we have, we also have the ability to find the solution and the answer within us, and to demonstrate this I’ll tell you a story about Jack.

Some years ago when Jack was just seven, his primary school decided they were going to form a school council with two representatives from each class. This was announced in the morning at school assembly, and the students were told that anyone who wanted to be considered would have an opportunity after lunch to speak in front of their class to be considered for nomination.

Jack relayed this to me at the end of the day when he told me he was among the candidates nominated from his class. I asked what he’d done, and what he’d said that resulted in his success at this initial stage. He said at lunch time he’d found himself a quiet corner in the playground, and thought through what he might say. But when he stood in front of his class and saw everyone staring at him, he froze and couldn’t remember what he was going to say. I asked what he did then, and he said: “Well I just started talking and I don’t remember what I said but at the end everyone clapped and I was nominated.”

He was on a high and went about developing his campaign strategy. Then one day when he came home from school he seemed quite subdued, and when I asked what was wrong, he said: “Today Owen (one of his opponents) brought cookies to school and gave one to anyone who promised to vote for him”. He asked his dad and me what he should do. We just looked at each other and wondered if we should perhaps go out and buy chocolate for Jack to give to his friends. We didn’t do this, nor did we have the answer to give Jack, and so he went about working on his campaign.

At the time Jack was into both The Simpsons and The Rugrats, and he made up stickers, leaflets, posters and banners saying ‘Vote for Jack’ using these animated characters. He had the whole family involved in his campaign. Jack took himself away from the immediate problem of how to compete against Owen and his cookies by busying himself with his campaign.

Then the morning of the election came, and when I dropped Jack at school I asked what he was going to say in his election speech. He said he didn’t know, but he was concerned that his classmates would vote for Owen because they would get another cookie.

I waited with bated breath all day, hoping he wouldn’t be too disappointed if he wasn’t successful. When I picked him up in the evening, I asked tentatively what happened. And Jack said “Oh yeah, I was elected”, in a no big deal sort of way. “But what did you say?” I asked.

Jack answered: “Well I stood up and everyone was staring at me, and I said, Owen has promised you cookies if you vote for him. These cookies will last a couple of minutes. I can promise to help make your dreams come true. These will last forever.” My god, Jack! I asked him where that had come from. “I don’t know,” he said, “it just came to me”.

Therein lies my belief that if we have a problem or a question that we think we don’t have the ability to cope with or the answer to, we actually do. Quite often the solution comes to us when we take ourselves away from the immediate problem or question, and busy ourselves with some- thing perhaps related to the issue — as Jack did by working on his campaign — or we may just need to distance ourselves from the issue. I find I have my most inspirational thoughts in the bath, or when I sleep on it, or when I go for a walk. The 3 Bs of creative thinking: Bath, Bed and Bus.

At the time Jack was successful in being elected to represent his class on the school council he loved Jackie Chan films and earned himself the nickname among his classmates as “Jackie Chan the first school council man”.

Develop a Practice of Insightful Self-Questioning Assignment

Insightful self-questioning unlocks your imagination, and helps you to explore your options and look at your possibilities. Probe your thought processes with questions that encourage creativity:

If it were possible, how would I do it?
 If I knew the answer, what would it be?

This story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Be Creative In Your Thinking, from The School Of WorkLife Book 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.

I Knew I Was Having an Identity Crisis When I Realised I Had Become Two Different People

It Took a Milestone Birthday, and a Charming and Funny Memoir to Bring About This Realisation, and With It a Turning Point in Sally’s Life

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels 

Sally had lost herself in the process of years of keeping her work and her life outside of work separate. She had somehow become two different people. The world wasn’t coming to an end, but the world that she knew was. She was facing a real identity crisis. She had completely changed her persona: not only did her work colleagues not know her, but she no longer actually knew herself. She felt depressed, she felt not only was she broken, but her identity was broken, who she was, was broken. Asking herself: Who am I? What am I? She realised she couldn’t answer.

But let’s back up to:

Sally’s Story: I Knew I Was Having an Identity Crisis, When I Realised I Had Become Two Different People. A Case Study:

Born in 1960, Sally had grown up in a small town in the north of England. On finishing school, she went on to her local polytechnic and achieved a Diploma in Secretarial Practice. Throughout all of this time, Sally had been very involved in her community. She knew everyone, and everyone knew her. She was a big fish in a small pond, but she no longer wanted to be. She wanted to be a small fish in a big pond.

And so, Sally left her hometown for the bright lights, and perhaps even more importantly the anonymity of London. The reason was far greater than not being somewhere where everyone knew her, and knew everything about her, because that wasn’t actually true anyway. 

People might have thought they knew her, and everything about her, but actually Sally had been hiding who she was for some time now, or rather the part that she knew she was. She had been hiding that she was gay, and she wasn’t ready to tell anyone, because she didn’t know who or what else she was. She was finding keeping her secret exhausting and mentally draining. She figured it would be easier to be the part of herself who she knew she was, and to discover and uncover the rest in London.

She soon came to discover that was both true and untrue. While she was unable to be herself in any situation in her hometown, in London she very quickly established a social life, where she could both be herself and learn about herself, and have lots of fun along the way.

But at work it was very different. Sally had gotten a job in the public sector. It was the late 1970s and the attitude towards gay men and women in the workplace was cruel; and Sally quickly came to realise that for her self-protection she had to continue to hide who she was at her workplace and with her colleagues.

On reflection, Sally feels this is where becoming two different people had begun, although at the time she didn’t think of it in that way. It was the normal practice of that time for most of Sally’s gay friends to keep their work and their life outside of work separate, to be different people in each of these situations. 

And at the time, Sally felt OK with it, because she felt she could compartmentalise her life. She didn’t even consider that it would impact on her identity, because she felt in control; and choosing to be a different person in and out of work was her choice, and it didn’t mean she would become a different person, or persons for that matter.

Fast forward to 2010, as Sally was nearing her milestone birthday of turning fifty, when it suddenly struck her like a lightning bolt that she had in fact become two different people.

One year earlier, after a whirlwind romance, she had married Naomi. It was just ahead of the wedding that she had finally come out to her family. Up until then she had kept her London life — or rather her London double life — secret from her family. But she really wanted them to be at her wedding, and so she opened up to them about her sexuality, and who she really was. Her family were absolutely fine about it. Sally wasn’t sure if they were surprised, or if they had suspected or known all along. They didn’t actually indicate anything. They handled it in an “it’s no big deal, now let’s get to the important stuff of planning this wedding party” way.

But Sally hadn’t told anyone in work about her wedding. She hadn’t told anyone she’d gotten married. The biggest event of her life and she hadn’t told anyone in work about it. Over thirty years after arriving in London, and she was still keeping her work life and her life outside of work separate.

The thing that was really bothering her, was that she didn’t want to tell anyone at work. She didn’t feel she should have to announce her sexuality, because she didn’t feel it was anyone’s business. But at the same time, she felt she was living a lie. She wasn’t being true to who she was. She wasn’t being her full self. But it was more than that, she had actually become two different people. She was leading two very different lives in and out of the workplace.

Sally had lost herself in the process of years of keeping her work and her life outside of work separate. She had somehow become two different people. The world wasn’t coming to an end, but the world that she knew was. She was facing a real identity crisis. She had completely changed her persona. 

Not only did her work colleagues not know her, but she no longer actually knew herself. She felt depressed. She felt not only was she broken, but her identity was broken, who she was, was broken. Asking herself: Who am I? What am I? She realised she couldn’t answer.

Book Wisdom

Bertie, who Sally had met when they both moved into their first flat share in London, and who had become a great friend, gave her a copy of Beautiful People by Simon Doonan for her birthday.

Reading the book, Sally laughed and cried. As the back cover put it: “For anyone growing up in the fifties and sixties it feels like our lives”. It took Sally back to how she had found her way out of the confines of her home town by escaping to London on her quest to be the part of herself that she knew she was, and to find the rest of herself. 

She realised that while she had gone far in that discovery in her personal life, she had in fact halted her full discovery by not allowing herself to be her true self in her work life. In the beginning, this was for her own self-protection; but over the years, the cruel behaviour towards gay people had changed, and she could have safely come out, but she chose not to. She had in effect become a different person, or two different people, and she hadn’t even realised.

It took a milestone birthday, and a charming and funny memoir to bring about this realisation, and with it a turning point in Sally’s life.

By self-protecting herself and her identity at work, she had become hard and broken. For a long time in her personal life, she was able to be soft and strong, but the battle of her two personas had over time worn her down, and had caused her feminine side to die.

She finally knew the answer to the Who am I? And What am I? Questions she had posed to herself.

She was a sensitive, emotionally passionate woman, who was both soft and strong. She had denied herself this for so long because somewhere inside of her she was hiding from who she really was, she was holding herself back. She didn’t know why, but that wasn’t important anymore. The important thing was that she now knew who and what she was, and she was determined to bring this to all aspects of her life — both in and out of work.

Words of Wisdom

Take time to reflect on the questions: 

Who am I? And What am I?

Through self-feedback allow the answers to inform you what that means in your WorkLife, and what you need to do to live your WorkLife true to who are what you are.

Sage Wisdom

As long as you know who you are and what you are, it doesn’t matter what other people know about you.

Epilogue

By getting to know herself, Sally also got to know people both in and out of work, and people both in and out of work got to know her.

Today’s featured Book is: Beautiful People by Simon Doonan.

Today’s story was featured in my book: How To Build Your True Personal Brand Identity from The School Of WorkLife book series.

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.

Writing Helps Me To Learn From My Mistakes

Writing Helps Me Know What To Do Next

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

I love mistakes. I learn so much from them.

I love mulling over mistakes in my journal, where I write my Daily Musings.

I’m a reflective soul.

It takes me time to know what I’ve learnt from a mistake.

Writing gives me that time.

I need space to think things through — to mull them over.

Writing gives me that space for mulling.

I need to figure out what went wrong.

Writing helps me to do that.

I need to figure out what I could have done differently.

Writing helps me to know that.

I need to figure out what I need to do next.

Writing helps me to know that too.

Writing is my superpower.

Writing gets me from a mistake to a place of learning and onto a new way ahead.

Writing takes me along a journey of discovery.

I love journeys, and I love discoveries.

I love writing.

WorkLife Book Of The Week: How To Let Curiosity Be Your Driving Force

Welcome to WorkLife Book Of The Week. Every week Monday through Sunday I serialise a story from the School of WorkLife book series. I do this each day in under 280 characters, which I post across my social media channels. Then at the end of each week, I bring all 7 daily posts together here as 1 weekly blog post, which I also share on my podcast: WorkLife Book Wisdom.

This week’s WorkLife Book of The Week is: How To Let Curiosity Be Your Driving Force

This week’s WorkLife Story of The Week: An Endless Source Of Inspiration From Curious Conversations

Travis’s Story: How he got to a place of greater creativity and wellbeing 

MONDAY

Travis had written songs for as long as he could remember. It was something that had always come naturally to him. He followed a simple and effective approach, which was always to write the lyrics first, and then create the melodies, which had always flowed from that. His songs 

TUESDAY

were recorded by many artists. He had always enjoyed the solitude of working solo, but it was also very isolating. Two things set him on a path to change that. 1. He was beginning to question if the amount of time he spent alone was good for his long-term wellbeing. 2. Lately he

WEDNESDAY

was feeling blocked in writing lyrics, which in turn was stopping the flow of melodies. This led him to think that he needed more interaction with people. He felt he needed to be open to new perspectives, or rather, in-person perspectives. Up until now a lot of his perspectives

THURSDAY

came from his love of reading, and the world that had opened up to him. But now he was feeling that he needed to get out into the real world too and talk to real people about day to day life. Travis set out to meet new people. he didn’t have an agenda or structure. His intention

FRIDAY

was to be in the moment and to let his curiosity guide him. Travis had an innate sense of curiosity. His intention was to broaden his perspective through meeting people, to learn about who they are – their interests and perspectives. Did this help his songwriting? Well actually, 

SATURDAY

yes. Within a short space of time, his lyric writing was flowing again and from this, the melodies also flowed. Travis believed this was because he got out of his bubble, exploring the wider world around him, with open eyes and ears and a receptive mind, leading to conversations

SUNDAY

that came from a place of curiosity. Travis now has an endless source of inspiration that inevitably finds its way into his songs. Did this help his wellbeing too? Well, yes. he came to believe that human interaction has a positive impact on his happiness and wellbeing.

That’s a wrap on this week’s WorkLife Story of The Week: 

An Endless Source Of Inspiration From Curious Conversations, from the School Of WorkLife book: How To Let Curiosity Be Your Driving Force

If you enjoyed Travis’s story, you may also like to learn about his fuller WorkLife story and the exercises that helped both his creativity and wellbeing, along with the other stories and assignments in this week’s WorkLife Book of The Week: How To Let Curiosity Be Your Driving Force

Click on the above image to see a preview of what’s inside, along with the main ideas and the meaning behind these.

Come back next Sunday for next week’s WorkLife Story of The Week: Vulnerability is a Strength and an Important Attribute of Effective Leaders from the School Of WorkLife book: How To Vulnerable And Courageous 

Click on the above image to see a preview of what’s inside, along with the main ideas and the meaning behind these.

You can also catch each weekly story as it’s released daily. Just tap the link below to:

The School of WorkLife book series are designed to help you manage your own WorkLife Learning.

Each book tells real WorkLife stories of the successes and challenges 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.

The stories I share are based on real life WorkLife situations – case studies of the challenges and successes people experienced in navigating the chapters of their WorkLife Story.

I believe stories are a powerful mechanism for teaching, a powerful medium to learn through, and also a powerful way to communicate who you are and what you stand for.

I hope you enjoy the stories and find them helpful in navigating the chapters of your WorkLife story.

To view all the books in the School of WorkLife series and to learn about my Affiliate Programme click the link below: 

Quote #11 That Helped Shape The Chapters Of My First Book

To Give People an Understanding Into What the Chapter Was About. To Open Their Thinking without Telling Them How or What to Think

Image supplied by author

Chapter #11 Become an Autonomous Self-Developing and Growth Agent through Three More Superpowers: Learning, Knowledge, Experience

Quote #11 “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created by the transformation of experience.” David A. Kolb

Followed by my Chapter Introduction:

Learning is a superpower we all have within us. We learn from people and situations, and we can also learn to apply what already exists within us: knowledge. Knowledge alone is not a power because there are a lot of people with knowledge who are not powerful. It is only potential power but becomes a superpower when we use it. Applying the learning and knowledge you have within you through experiences, exploratory assignments, both inside and outside of your workplace, will enable you to fine-tune your learning, knowledge and experience superpowers in becoming an autonomous self-developing and growth agent and advance your WorkLife.

As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I know the importance of serving people’s preferred learning style. Some people like the bigger picture — quotes allow that. Other people like more detail — the chapter introductions allow that.

I like the bigger picture, to begin with, then I like detail. So I like both.

What’s your preferred learning style?

Bigger picture, more detail, or both?

First shared in my book: Your WorkLife Your Way.

Acts of Kindness and Generosity, Transformations, Pivots and the Domino Effect

Acts of Kindness and Generosity in Times of Crisis Are Transformational, Not Just for You as the Agent, but Also for Everyone Around You

Photo by Andrew Thornebrooke on Unsplash

Acts of kindness and generosity in times of crisis are transformational, not just for you as the agent, but also for everyone around you. Because they can cause the domino effect, that can lead to in the moment pivots, that make a real and meaningful difference to people’s WorkLives and well-being, while bringing individuals and communities together.

Acts of Kindness and Generosity, Transformations, Pivots and the Domino Effect A Case Study:

Sam Polk, co-founder of Everytable, being completely purpose-driven on the first day of lockdown, sent a message across social media saying: “Our mission is to bring affordable, healthy, nutritious food to whoever needs it. You can’t come to the restaurant, but if you need a meal let us know and we’ll deliver it. If you can pay great, if you can’t afford it, let us know and we’ll deliver it anyway, and if you can pay it forward so we can deliver this food to a family that needs it, here’s the link.”

Here is where acts of kindness and generosity in times of crisis are transformational not just for you as the agent, but for everyone around you. And here’s how this message brought about the domino effect, leading to a powerful pivot that made a meaningful difference to people’s WorkLives and well-being.

Within a few weeks of this message, people of LA had donated enough money that meant Everytable could deliver 160,000 meals.

Then the domino effect happened. The governor made a partnership between homeless people and hotels, and they partnered with Everytable; and so Everytable served that community, then they partnered with elderly homes and by the next month or so they were on track to deliver 1 million meals in LA.

So, when everyone else was having to cut jobs, Everytable was increasing jobs. More than that they were increasing a sense of purpose and possibility and changing their business model in the process. It really was a transformational pivot, that happened because of the power of acts of kindness and generosity. That is the spirit of social entrepreneurship.

Sam Polk and his Los Angeles-based team at the pioneering social enterprise Everytable had been quietly creating a revolutionary model: healthy nutritious food available for lower prices in underserved communities, subsidised by higher prices in more affluent communities.

Los Angeles is a deeply segregated and unequal society. There have been neighbourhoods that have been left out of the functioning economy, education system, and certainly the food system.

Until Everytable came along, there was a huge tidal wave of demand for healthy food, and no one to meet it. Their mission was formed to meet a need: to make healthy food affordable and accessible to every community. They sell incredibly high-level, delicious, fresh food, for basically less than the price of fast food. They provide their employees with opportunities for true economic ownership. As one of their employees puts it: “The more people get to know us and the community, I can see us expanding to every community. It’s exciting and we know we are making a difference. We are helping people improve their lives.”

This wasn’t the first transformational pivot Sam Polk had gone through in his life.

Book Wisdom

For The Love Of Money by Sam Polk is part coming of age, part recovery memoir and part exposé of a rotten, money-drenched Wall Street culture. Sam Polk’s unflinching account chronicles his fight to overcome the ghosts of his past — and the radical new way he now defines success.

At just thirty years old, Sam Polk was a senior trader for one of the biggest hedge funds on Wall Street, on the verge of making it to the very top. When he was offered an annual bonus of $3.75 million, he grew angry because it was not enough. It was then he knew he had lost himself in his obsessive pursuit of money. And he had come to loathe the culture — the shallowness, the sexism, the crude machismo — and Wall Street’s use of wealth as the sole measure of a person’s worth. He decided to walk away from it all.

For Polk, becoming a Wall Street trader was the fulfilment of his dreams. But in reality it was just the culmination of a life of addictive and self-destructive behaviours, from overeating, to bulimia, to alcohol and drug abuse. His obsessive pursuit of money papered over years of insecurity and emotional abuse. Making money was just the latest attempt to fill the void left by his narcissistic and emotionally unavailable father.

“Vivid, picaresque…riveting” (NewYorker.com), For the Love of Money brings you into the rarefied world of Wall Street trading floors, capturing the modern frustrations of young graduates drawn to Wall Street. Polk’s “raw, honest and intimate take on one man’s journey in and out of the business…really gives readers something to think about” (CNBC.com). It is “compellingly written…unflinchingly honest…about the inner journey Polk undertakes to redefine success” (Forbes).

Words of Wisdom

“Over six months, I had written a book but no one would buy it. I started this new nonprofit and nobody really cared about it, and I would, every night before bed, close my eyes and say, ‘I am enough, and my life is enough.’ I then expressed gratitude for everything good I had in my life, which at that time was my wife and the baby we were expecting together. While in time, all of this led to numerous media and speaking opportunities, I still practice this ritual.” Sam Polk

Sage Wisdom

“My challenge has been to — instead of viewing my life as some deficit until I reach a bizarrely high level — my challenge is to accept with total gratitude the life I have already and how perfect everything is.” Sam Polk

Epilogue

In 2014, Sam and his wife Kirsten welcomed their daughter Eveline into their lives. Polk says: “This is what I know: I know of all the things I do in my life, the most important will be how I love Kirsten and Eveline. There is no higher aim, for me, than to become the father I never had, and the kind of husband I never saw. Hopefully Eveline will know in the depth of her being that she is loved unconditionally. And will pass that love on to her children, and they onto theirs, and so on and so on until that love is the only remaining vestige of our brief but meaningful lives.”

I leave you with a question to reflect upon, and to give yourself feedback on:

Of all that I know, of all the things that I do in my life, what will the most important thing be?

Today’s featured book is: For The Love Of Money by Sam Polk

Today’s story was featured in my book: How To Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages And Inspires You, from The School Of WorkLife book series

.Click on the above title for an inside view of the book, where you will see the stories and assignments. Tap The School Of WorkLife link below to see the other books in the series. 

The story was inspired by Jacqueline Novogratz, author and CEO of Acumen.

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.

“What If? What and If Are Two Words That Are as Non-threatening as Words Can Be”

“But Put Them Together Side by Side, and They Have the Power to Haunt You for the Rest of Your Life.” (Letters to Juliet)

Photo by Marcel Heil on Unsplash

In the film Letters to Juliet, the character Sophie becomes mesmerised by the wall of letters in Juliet Capulet’s Courtyard, where people come from all over the world to write their burning question about their romantic dilemma, which is answered diligently by the secretaries of Juliet.

Behind a brick in the wall, Sophie finds an unanswered letter written fifty years ago by a 16-year-old English girl called Claire who had fallen in love with a young Italian boy named Lorenzo, Claire’s parents were taking her back to England, and away from her Lorenzo, she wrote to Juliet asking her advice on what to do.

Sophie writes to Claire and poses the question, ‘What If? The letter resonates with Claire and brings her back to Italy fifty years later in search of her Lorenzo, and both women are swept along in a romantic venture that neither could ever have imagined.

Sophie’s letter began: “What If?’ What and If are two words that are as non-threatening as words can be, but put them together side by side, and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life.”

It’s a question I pose to my clients when they’re considering a change in their current circumstances to allow them to move away from a career that is uninspiring and de-motivating for them, to follow a WorkLife path that will enable them to be more fulfilled and energised in their work and their life.

In essence, they’re looking for their Lorenzo. Some will know what the Lorenzo of their WorkLife is, while others will discover it along the way.

Either way, in a similar way to Claire, they will need the courage to follow their heart and, metaphorically speaking, cross oceans to achieve their dreams. While they don’t always know where their story will end, the important thing is to know that it’s never too late to be true to themselves in their quest for happiness in their WorkLife.

I leave you today with just one question: What is the Lorenzo of your WorkLife and happiness?

The reviews I write are my way of reflecting on cultural experiences to include performing and visual arts that touched my heart and my mind and making sense of them in the context of learning and development in both the workplace and community.

I first shared this story many years ago on my original, now-defunct blog: Evolving Careers. I’m sharing it again because I believe it’s as relevant today, and it was all those years ago.

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.