4 Effective Questions to Help You Learn From Ineffective Feedback 

How I Recovered Being Crushed by Feedback and What I Did Next 

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

Crushing Feedback Took the Confidence I Once Had in My Voice Away. It Took Three Years, an Acting and Performing for Radio, and Voice Over Class to Restore It

I Believe So Much in the Power of Effective Feedback. I Also Believe There’s an Effective and Ineffective Way of Giving and Receiving Feedback.“

You have: 1. hard glottal attacks, 2. breathiness, 3. too much rise and fall, 4. not enough variation, 5. too monotone — you need more light and shade, 6. you’re too softly spoken — you’re not reaching all four corners or the back of the room, 7. you need to drive it more, 8. you need to get out of your head …” There were more, but I lost count after 8.

I was absolutely crushed by this feedback. I was ready to walk.

But let’s back up a little to:

My Story: Crushed by Feedback and What I Did Next

I was doing a Foundation in Drama course. I was doing this in the hope that it would help me overcome the crippling fear I had when speaking in public, and also the woodenness that took over my body and movement — or rather lack thereof.

This involved attending drama school every Saturday over the course of the school year. The day was made up of three classes: 1. Movement, 2. Voice, 3. Acting. I’d successfully auditioned to get a place on the course. For the audition, I was required to deliver a short monologue from a contemporary play. My audition piece was a monologue from Dancing at Lughnasa, a play by Irish dramatist Brian Friel. I’d chosen this because it was set in Ireland and played to my Irish accent.

When we began our voice class, we were required to deliver our audition piece again, and we were given feedback on this. This was our baseline from which, over the course of the year we would work to improve upon. I got great feedback. Actually, I’ve always gotten great feedback on my voice, unsolicited feedback. People would say to me: “You’ve got such a lovely voice”, both in person and over the phone. I’m softly spoken with an Irish lilt. I’ve been told my voice is “warm, welcoming, calming, interesting, it puts people at ease, my voice lets people know I’m interested in them.”

At the end of the first term, we were required to give a short recital of a poem. I chose a passage from The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde. One of my favourite poems by one of my favourite poets. I put a lot of work into preparing my piece, not just learning the lines, but understanding the meaning behind them — understanding what was going on for Wilde at that time in his life. He has always been a man who has intrigued, inspired and influenced me. I really enjoyed all of this preparation, and although nervous delivering my piece to an audience, which was made up of my fellow classmates (I was still working to overcome my crippling fear of speaking in public), I was quietly confident, because of the work I’d put into it, and also because of the good feedback, I’d received on my audition piece.

The following week we all sat around in a circle as one by one we each received feedback on our recital. Mine came at the very end of the class of twenty students. Waiting for performance feedback would normally have been something that would have caused me to become more and more anxious as the time went by, especially feedback that was going to be delivered in front of a group of people. But because of the good work I’d put in, and because of the good feedback I’d always received on my voice, the quiet confidence I had helped to alleviate the anxiety I would normally have felt. So, when my time eventually came, I sat up eagerly awaiting feedback, which I believed was going to be mostly positive with constructive elements to help me improve. Instead, this is what came my way:

“You have: 1. glottal attacks, 2. breathiness, 3. too much rise and fall, 4. not enough variation, 5. too monotone — you need more light and shade, 6. you’re too softly spoken — you’re not reaching all four corners, or the back of the room, 7. you need to drive it more, 8. you need to get out of your head …” There was more, but I zoned out after 8.

Then one of my classmates began to chirp in his tuppence halfpennyworth. I gave him a look that said “kick me while I’m down, why don’t you?”, which he was completely unaware of, and he continued making his points, which I also blocked out. There’s only so much feedback a girl can take. I needed just one thing I was doing well, but that wasn’t forthcoming. I was ready to walk.

I didn’t walk. I didn’t leave the class. I saw the course through, but I did give up. I developed a couldn’t care less attitude. I did what I needed to do, no more. I lost interest really.

As part of our final performance, we had to work in pairs to deliver one of Shakespeare’s sonnets. I was paired with Jon, a wonderful young actor who had a really powerful strong voice. The pairing was quite clever on the teacher’s part. Jon and I complemented each other. He brought his range down to the softness of my voice and I brought power to mine to reach his strength. We also worked well as a double act, drawing out the wonderful underlying humour of Shakespeare, getting laughs in all the intended places from our audience.

I got a distinction on my end of year voice exam. But I didn’t believe it. I didn’t think I’d deserved it. I thought the teacher gave it to me to be nice, and that everyone got a similar grade (which actually wasn’t the case), to make the college look good.

I’d been crushed. This caused me to lose confidence in my voice, and the impact went much wider and much deeper. I lost confidence in myself. The purpose of doing the course was to overcome my anxiety when speaking in public, to become surer of myself and less wooden. To a large extent, I had achieved this through the acting and movement classes.

The acting class particularly because it required us to be vulnerable. Vulnerable because week in week out, we were required to work with and perform to our fellow classmates. I still don’t know why, but the teacher always focused on performances that portrayed negative traits and emotions: i.e. greed, anger, jealously, shame, fear, and so on. It was heavy going, and there were times when we would have appreciated being able to work on something that portrayed positive traits and emotions. I think the teacher really wanted to push us, and to stretch us to really push ourselves. He would say that the Foundation Year in drama was designed to allow students to know if they wanted to follow through with further training towards a career in acting, to know if they had what it took. His feedback was always tough. He would say it’s a tough world out there for actors. This was his way of preparing us in knowing if this is what we wanted, in knowing what to expect. He was in effect toughening us up for the tough world that actors have to face and navigate.

He worked primarily with Stanislavsky’s system, which required us to search for inner motives to justify action and the definition of what the character seeks to achieve at a given moment.

All of this actually helped me get over my crippling fear of speaking in public. I felt that having done everything that was required from me in the acting class week in and week out, with performances that demanded being vulnerable. I felt if I could do that, I could do anything. And the movement class helped me overcome my woodenness. I was a lot more grounded, relaxed and free in how I moved. So, I’d achieved what I had set out to achieve through the Foundation in Drama class.

But I lost confidence in my voice, the most fundamental requirement of speaking in public. The feedback had completely crushed my belief that I could speak to an audience, in a way that would engage them. Being crushed took the confidence I once had in my voice away.

Three years later I did Acting and Performing for Radio, and Voice Over classes. These involved learning about: working on scenes, sound effects, monologues, commercials, audiobooks, voiceovers, and all kinds of microphone techniques.

My reason for doing the classes was because I wanted to develop a podcast, and I also had an idea for a radio programme. My intention wasn’t to speak on the podcast or radio show myself, because I didn’t think my voice was good enough. I wanted to get an understanding of what was involved so I could direct other people.

The classes were amazing. We had so much fun, and I learnt so much. Each week we’d either use the bigger studio to perform a short radio play (we each had our individual roles to include creating sound effects), or we’d record monologues or duologues in the smaller booth. Each week we’d have an assignment to prepare. We’d either have to write a specific piece or we’d have to research a written piece that fitted in with the focus for that week, e.g. commercial, audiobook, monologue, breaking news story. We’d explore voice types from seductive to suspenseful and many, many more.

Our performances were recorded and played back. We’d listen, give feedback on our own work, get feedback from each other, and from David, the teacher. David quickly noticed that I struggled to recognise anything good in my work, and I was dismissive of the good feedback coming from him and my fellow classmates. He gently challenged me on it, and I opened up about what had happened in my voice class. He, and everyone else in the class were genuinely shocked. They were actually slightly outraged on my behalf. They all chirped in to say what a great voice I had. David sensed I wasn’t believing what they were saying, and he was right. I thought they were just being nice.

He had them all put it in context: e.g. that week I’d chosen a passage from a suspense thriller, one of my classmates mentioned how my breathiness really brought that alive. He played back the recording from the previous week, when I’d chosen the L’Oreal ‘Because You’re Worth It’ commercial, and pointed out how the softness of my voice was quite seductive.

I began to recognise and believe what everyone else was hearing in my voice. Slowly over the remaining weeks of the courses, my confidence in my voice returned. I recognised what was good, and also what I could improve upon. This took me back to the textbook I had for the voice foundation class:

Book Wisdom

The Vocal Arts Workbook: A Practical Course for Developing the Expressive Range of Your Voice by David Carey and Rebecca Clark Carey

I returned to the eight points of feedback and began to look at them objectively: e.g.

  1. Hard glottal attacks: I was tightly clamping shut my vocal folds before any breath got to them — think words from the German language e.g. Nacht (Night) words from the Irish language too Buachaill (Boy);
  2. Breathiness: I was letting a little bit of breath escape before closing my vocal folds — think Marilyn Monroe.

The book has exercises to help connect the voice and breath to overcome these challenges. It’s also filled with exercises to overcome the remaining six points.

Of course, I knew when I’d received the feedback that the book had the solutions to overcome all of these points. But because I’d received only negative feedback I was totally crushed, and instead of working to overcome them I gave up.

This book brings together all the factors that are needed to find one’s own authentic voice.

Words of Wisdom

I believe so much in the power of effective feedback. I also believe there’s an effective and ineffective way of giving and receiving feedback. I’ve never liked the feedback ‘sandwich’, because the crux of what needs to be said and heard can be lost within what is said around it — the dressing that surrounds it.

I believe feedback should be given context. For example, when the teacher said I had had glottal attacks and breathiness, she could also have drawn my attention to particular words on which these happened, e.g. in the English language, words beginning with a vowel tend to cause these problems. Of course, I could have found this out for myself by simply reading the textbook, but I didn’t have an awareness I was doing this until I got the feedback; and because I hadn’t received feedback to this effect when I performed my audition piece or throughout the first term, when I must have been doing it, I struggled in knowing what to do. I actually couldn’t hear myself doing it. This to me would have been constructive feedback. I also think it should have been limited to no more than three points. Three is a good and achievable number to work with. Any more makes it too challenging.

Sage Wisdom

My teacher David and my classmates did put the feedback in context, e.g. how my breathiness brought the suspense needed for the story I was reading, how the softness of my voice brought the seductiveness needed for the commercial voiceover. David gave me feedback on my pacing which helped with many of the other points of feedback my voice teacher had given me, e.g. speeding up, slowing down, pausing, helped overcome points 3 (too much rise and fall), 4 (not enough variation), 5 (too monotone — needing more light and shade — different parts are different in tone and mood) and 7 (needing to drive it more — pace).

He did exercises with us that drew awareness to working with our diaphragm, which helped with point 6 (being too softly spoken, and not reaching all four corners, or the back of the room); and he made the class fun, which helped with point 8 (needing to get out of my head). I prepared well for the class, undertaking the weekly assignments. Then I let go by being present in the moment, which took me out of my head. I had fun and enjoyed the moment.

Epilogue

Because of my renewed confidence in my voice, I continue to work on improving it. I do this by working through exercises in The Vocal Arts Workbook. Sometimes I record myself speaking so I can actually hear myself speak. I then give myself feedback on what’s good about my voice and areas that I need to work on to improve.

4 Effective Questions to Help You Learn From Ineffective Feedback

The questions I continue to ask myself in WorkLife situations – good, bad, and challenging:

  1. What have I learnt from this?
  2. What does this mean in the context of my WorkLife?
  3. What do I want and need to do next?
  4. How can I devise a plan to make what I’ve identified happen?

Sometimes your greatest challenge can become your driving motivation, to get you to where you want to be. That has certainly been true for me. Beginning from a place of wanting to overcome my crippling nervousness when speaking in public, and my woodenness, followed (eventually!) by wanting to embrace what was good about my voice, and to work towards improving what wasn’t has led me to where I am in my WorkLife.

I’ve created a WorkLife that allows me to combine my knowledge and experience of WorkLife learning and development with drama-based techniques, by collaborating with performing artists. Our work enables individuals and teams to be more active, spontaneous and flexible, freeing their minds to use their imagination in being inventive and original. The intrinsic nature of our work helps foster creativity, team spirit and emotional intelligence. I work with so many interesting people, helping them manage, develop and transition their WorkLives, and I work with an amazing team of artists in delivering the work.

Today’s featured book is: The Vocal Arts Workbook: A Practical Course for Developing the Expressive Range of Your Voice by David Carey and Rebecca Clark Carey.

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

his story was originally published on 9/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

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.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.

……………………………………………………………………………

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 Recover From Rejection and Build Strong Resilience  

How To Get To Self-Realisation and Self-Acceptance  

How To Overcome Self-Doubt Through Self-Appreciation 

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

Founder of School of WorkLife, 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.

3 Simple Signs That Got Me Back on the Path of Health and Happiness 

Do You Believe in Signs That Can Save You From Yourself? I Do

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

Oftentimes the most simple of things are also the most beautiful of things, and it’s this combination that has the power to bring and maintain health and happiness to our everyday WorkLife.

First, a little background to my story …

I’d found the last, long, what seemed like a never-ending pandemic lockdown in the UK hard going. I coped by spending my days writing, learning and creating — easily whiling the hours away from early morning till late night. I love writing, learning and creating, and as a writer and WorkLife learning practitioner, that’s great — right?

Well, YES and NO.

YES — Because I’d been spending my days creating resources to help people self direct their own WorkLife learning. Over the years, I’ve supported many people through times of change and uncertainty brought about by external influences — in the past, it was economic crashes; in the present, it’s the pandemic.

During these times, many people who find themselves losing their jobs, through no fault of their own, also find they have to diversify their skills and experience to get back into an ever-changing world of work.

And those who find themselves surviving the culling of jobs also find they too have to diversity their skills and experience to survive the demands of their role as they are expected to step up and step in to take on the responsibilities of their departed colleagues in an ever-changing work environment.

The people who lost their job also lost the learning and development programmes that were one of the benefits of their job.

The people who remained in their job (or a version of it) oftentimes also find that they too have lost the learning and development programmes that were one of the benefits of their job. This is because, often, one of the first things to be taken away, or frozen as companies struggle to survive economic downturns, are training budgets.

This throws a curveball for people, they’re trying to adapt to the situation they find themselves in, but their learning and development support that helped them in the past has been taken away.

But my work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from us is our learning. Because WorkLife learning doesn’t need a training budget, because it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, there’s so much we can learn that costs little or no money. And as importantly, there’s also so much we already have within us — knowledge, attributes, skills and experience that we can utilise to navigate through times of change and uncertainty.

It was this learning that deepened my WorkLife purpose: “To help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride, by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.”

So, a lot to be said in favour of YES to whiling away my days writing and learning and creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes to help people self direct their own WorkLife learning.

So that’s all OK then, right?

Well, NO, it’s not, because it’s not all good. Let’s hear why it’s also a NO.

NO — Because those days spent writing, learning and creating were spent sitting. From early morning till late night, while on the one hand, I was very productive; on the other hand, I was living a very sedentary lifestyle.

I had also stopped taking my daily walks, and I love walking. But somewhere along the way of the last, long, what seemed like never-ending pandemic lockdown, I’d stopped walking. Initially, I told myself it’s winter, it’s too cold, too wet, too windy, too icy, too dark, too this, too that, whatever the excuse of the day was. But these were just excuses. I love walking before sunrise and after sunset. I love the change of seasons, and walking in all weathers has never stopped me before.

As the days drifted into weeks, then months, before I knew it, March was upon us, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been for a walk. Add that to sitting for hours on end each day, and things began to take their toll because I hadn’t been spending time taking care of my health or my happiness.

It wasn’t big drastic warning signs, but the signs were there. I had no energy or motivation, not only for walking but for anything else other than writing, learning and creating. I’d tell myself I’m in the flow, and I don’t want to interrupt that because it’s important — writing, learning and creating is my work; my livelihood, I need to do this. That’s all true, of course, but my health and happiness are important too, and for some reason, I’d justified interrupting that as being OK.

I began to feel lethargic, but I just couldn’t seem to push through it. Going for a walk should be so simple; after all, it just takes putting one foot in front of the other. Also, I know the amazing mental and physical health benefits walking has always given me. But regardless of all of this, I was fighting pushing through to get back on a better path of health and happiness with every fibre of my being.

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And now to the … 3 Simple Signs That Got Me Back on the Path of Health and Happiness 

Simple Sign 1. Then one day, a promotional image of a standing desk popped up on my Instagram page, out of seemingly nowhere. It wasn’t something I’d been googling or looking for, but it was something that had crossed my mind before. I remembered hearing or reading good things about them.

This was the first sign.

I was curious, and so, I had a look to see what the benefits are.

My research led me to Just Stand and to a shocking discovery. There’s such a thing as a ‘Sitting Disease’!, “a term coined by the scientific community, commonly used when referring to metabolic syndrome and the ill-effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle.” Yikes!

Thankfully having gotten that bad news out of the way, the site quickly got to the good news: “standing up, sitting less and moving more, are the simple lifestyle changes to get back on track to better wellbeing for our minds and bodies.” Phew!

I was sold. I ordered my standing desk.

On the first day I set out to use it, I set it up ready to go — complete with laptop, a cup of coffee, a colourful glass filled with water and a pot of flowers. I took a photo and posted it on Instagram. In the post, I mentioned how flowers make me happy.

A Standing Desk is a simple lifestyle change to better wellbeing. Flowers bring beauty into your everyday WorkLife.

A Standing Desk is a simple lifestyle change to better wellbeing 

Simple Sign 2. The WorkLife posts I make on Instagram are set up to go to my Facebook business page directly, and I always check they’ve gone OK. When I did this, I saw the photo memory below, which had popped up on my personal page — My mum standing next to flowers. I re-shared the photo, and my niece Elaine commented that they had those flowers in their garden, that my dad, her grandad, had planted them.

My dad passed away in 1992. I was touched that he lived on through the flowers he took great pride in growing and nurturing — hydrangeas. I shared this with my niece, telling her, having planted them outside his and my mum’s bedroom window, how when he passed, they were the first thing my mum saw each morning as she pulled across the curtains. My dad’s hydrangeas were one of the ways he remained with her. These flowers made my mum happy.

The photograph of my mum standing next to the flowers was my second sign. — although I didn’t know it yet.

Standing among flowers is a simple every day practice that bring health and happines

Standing among flowers is a simple everyday practice that brings health and happiness

Simple Sign 3. At this point, lunchtime was fast approaching. My lack of energy or motivation for doing anything other than writing, learning and creating included food shopping and cooking. Instead, I was nipping out to pick up some takeaway or other every day as soon as the hunger pangs began to kick in. My rumbling tummy was my cue to walk the five minutes to my nearest supermarket to pick up something to satisfy those pangs.

The walk was a familiar one, one I took most days. But that day, for the first time, I saw something unfamiliar. I saw the window box of flowers, pictured below. Had they just appeared? or had they been there before? I actually didn’t know. All I knew was I had never seen them before. I took a photo.

The window box of flowers was to be my third sign.

They reminded me of an assignment I’d given myself when we entered the first lockdown in the UK, pretty much to the day, one year earlier. That assignment was to capture the beauty of everyday WorkLife on my daily walks — the days when I did walk every day.

Capturing the beauty in everyday WorkLife - a window box of flowers

 Capturing the beauty of everyday WorkLife – a window box of flowers

As soon as I got home, I looked through my camera roll and discovered one of the first photos I took when I began capturing the beauty in everyday WorkLife on my daily walks was a window box of flowers. OK, it’s springtime, so that in itself is not so extraordinary, and that’s the whole point, window boxes filled with flowers are an ordinary, yet simple and beautiful thing.

And that simple thing opened my eyes to the beauty that surrounds us in our everyday WorkLife.

That beauty of the flowers I had placed on my standing desk, the photograph of my mum, that reminded me of the beauty of the flowers that my dad had grown, the beauty of the window boxes of flowers, they all had one thing in common, they all had the superpower to bring happiness into people’s lives.

In that moment, I knew I wanted to have that beauty as a constant in my WorkLife because it made me happy. I also knew in that moment that by making endless excuses to myself to justify the interruption to my daily walks, I had been depriving myself of something that had helped me maintain good health and happiness.

It was time to get back to my daily WorkLife walks and to recommence my assignment to capture the beauty in everyday WorkLife. My daily walks to health and happiness, capturing the beauty of flowers and so much more along the way.

As with so many areas of our WorkLife, health and happiness are so intrinsically linked, they cannot be separated, nor should they be. I believe we need to take a holistic approach to our WorkLife because therein lies the secret to good health and happiness.

I’ve always believed health and happiness are superpowers, and I’ve also always believed it’s the simple yet beautiful things that help us maintain good health and make us happy. I just had to follow the signs to get back on track to my path of health and happiness.

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POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 8/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

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.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.

.……………………………………………………………………………………………..

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 Pursue The Superpower of Happiness 

How To Embrace The Superpower of Self-Awareness 

Your WorkLife Your Way 

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

Founder of School of WorkLife, 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.

Chapter 9 I’m Taking Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast on A Moveable Feast Chapter by Chapter

Chapter 9 (of 20) Ford Madox Ford and the Devil’s Disciple

A Moveable Feast Chapter Nine, Ford Madox Ford and the Devil’s Discipline, Accompanied by a savoury crèpe and coffee.
A Moveable Feast Chapter Nine, Ford Madox Ford and the Devil’s Discipline, Accompanied by a savoury crèpe and coffee.

Chapter 1 (of 20), A Good Café on the Place St-Michael, will 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 9 (of 20) Ford Madox Ford and the Devil’s Disciple accompanied by a savoury crèpe and coffee, at Crepeaffaire, Camden Passage, Islington. 

Notes From Chapter 9: Ford Madox Ford and the Devil’s Disciple

A WorkLife Book Club For One

Notes on Being Interested and Interesting

The Closerie des Lilas was the nearest good café.

It was one of the best cafés in Paris.

People from the Dôme and the Rotonde never came to the Lilas. There was no one there they knew, and no one would have stared at them if they came. In those days many people went to the cafés at the corner of the Boulevard Montparnasse and the Boulevard Raspail to be seen publicly and in such places anticipated the columnists as the daily substitutes for immortality. 

The Closerie des Lilas had once been a café where poets met more or less regularly and the last principal poet had been Paul Fort. But the only poet I ever saw there was Blaise Cendars.

Most of the clients were elderly bearded men in well worn clothes.

We thought of them all hopefully as scientists or savants and they sat almost as long over an apértif as the men in shabbier clothes.

These people made it a comfortable café since they were all interested in each other and in their drinks or coffees, or infusions, and in the papers and periodicals which were fastened to rods, and no one was on exhibition.

These words that Hemingway wrote, reminded me of words written by Ryan Holiday. I follow him on Twitter where he shares Stoic wisdom for everyday life. 

What do we want more of in life? That’s the question.

It’s not accomplishments. It’s not popularity. It’s moments when we feel like we are enough. More presence. More clarity. More insight. More truth. More stillness.

The instinct is to look for answers, but the truth is that questions teach us most. 

Who do you spend your time with?

Goethe said, “Tell me who you spend time with and I will tell you who you are.”

It’s not just people. What you read, what you watch, what you think about—your life comes to look exactly like your surroundings. Choose wisely.

Wise words. That’s what makes people interested and interesting. Wise words that are true of now and also true of that time in Paris. Indeed wise words true for all times.

Notes on Class

‘Oh here you are,’ he said.

It was Ford Madox Ford.

At that moment a rather gaunt man wearing a cape passed on the sidewalk.

‘Did you see me cut him?’ Ford said.

‘No. Who did you cut?’

‘Beloc,’ Ford said. ‘Did I cut him!’

‘I didn’t see it, ‘ I said. ‘Why did you cut him!’.

‘For every good reason in the world.’ Ford said.

He was thoroughly and completely happy. 

‘Tell me why one cuts people,’ I asked.

‘A gentleman,’ Ford explained, ‘will always cut a cad.’

‘Would he cut a bounder?’ I asked.

‘It would be impossible for a gentleman to know a bounder.’

‘Then you can only cut someone you have known on terms of equality?’ I pursued. 

‘Naturally.’

‘How would one ever meet a cad?’

‘You might not know it, or the fellow could have become a cad.’

‘Is Ezra a gentleman?’ I asked.

‘Of course not,’ Ford said. ‘He’s an American.’

‘Can’t an American be a Gentleman?’

‘Perhaps John Quinn.’ Ford explained. ‘’Certain of your ambassadors.’

‘Are you a gentleman?’

‘Naturally. I have held his Majesty’s communion.’ 

‘It’s very complicated.’ I said. ‘Am I a gentleman?’

‘Absolutely not,’ Ford said.

‘Then why are you drinking with me?’

‘I am drinking with you as a promising young writer. As a fellow writer in fact.’

‘Good of you.’ I said.

After Ford left it was dark and I walked over to the kiosque and bought a Paris-Sport Complet. 

A great friend of mine who rarely came to the Lilas came over to the table and sat down, and just then as my friend was ordering a drink from Emile the gaunt man in the cape passed us on the sidewalk.

‘That’s Hilaire Beloc,’ I said to my friend. ‘Ford was here this afternoon and cut him dead.’

‘Don’t be a silly ass,’ my friend said. ‘That’s Alestair Crowley, the diabolist. ‘He’s supposed to be the wickedest man in the world.’ 

Growing up in Ireland, I wasn’t aware of the hierarchal social classes – upper, middle and lower. Everyone I knew was the same. It was only when I moved to the UK that I became aware. And so I read the interaction on the subject with perhaps the same bemusement as Hemingway as he teased out Ford on ‘why one cuts people.’

Once again,these words that Hemingway wrote reminded me of words written by Ryan Holiday. 

Words of Wisdom

We forget: In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given.

Those words are enough to satisfy my bemusement. And to move on. Fast.

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 I walk and explore and discover, it may not. …

I can now share where Chapter 10 (of 20)… Birth of a New School took me …

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Today I enjoyed a Savoury Crèpe (tomato and cheese) and a coffee at Crepeaffaire, Camden Passage, Islington.

Se souvenir de toi, Norma.

#FUNFACT1 During the Middle Ages, watered down wine was used instead of milk to prepare the batter. (Source Crepe Delicious).

#FUNFACT2 Crepeaffaire’s story began in 2004, when the first family-owned Crêpeaffaire opened in London. Ever since then, they’ve been going places and spreading the joy with stores from Brighton to Newcastle, and the Netherlands to Kuwait! (Source Crepeaffaire).

#FUNFACT3  Camden Passage has made regular appearances on ‘Cash in the Attic, ‘Bargain Hunt and many other TV programmes both in the UK and abroad. It’s an interesting place to search out an unusual gift, find fine antiques and furniture, 20th Century design, period and costume jewellery, contemporary and vintage clothing and affordable stylish objects for the home. (Source Camden Passage).

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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.

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 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

Founder of School of WorkLife, 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.

1 Effective Strategy to Help You Think About Your Most Important Values 

How to Make Your Values Matter From School of WorkLife 

How To Make Your Values Matter Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.

Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning

A Case Study: A WorkLife Change is Needed when Values are Out of Sync. Ted’s Story Nuclear Research Engineer to Urban Planner 

Ted was working in nuclear research. Having gained his degree in mechanical engineering he joined a nuclear-energy and engineering consultancy in Europe. There was a lot about his work and training that he enjoyed, except for one fundamental element: ‘nuclear energy’ really went against his values. He had joined the organisation straight out of university, and was grateful to secure the role and gain experience working in a leading engineering consultancy. When he took on the job, he had not given much thought to how he felt about environmental issues; but as his work evolved, he realised this was a serious consideration for him and his values.

Our work really does need to sit well with our values along with our skills, interests, attributes and motivated abilities. Ted’s WorkLife coach took him through a Values Assignment to understand what all of this meant to him in considering a WorkLife change. He was at the point where he knew a change in his WorkLife was necessary to allow him to feel more satisfaction in his work and to have a job that he was proud of.

He wanted a WorkLife that was progressive. He was at the beginning of his WorkLife journey, and his professional and personal development were important to him. He also wanted to move from Europe to Australia, having fallen in love with Anna, an Australian girl, and having spent time holidaying there. He loved the lifestyle, and they both agreed this was where they wanted to settle and, in time, raise a family.

Although Ted did not know exactly what his next WorkLife move was going to be, he knew it made sense to utilise the skills and experience he had gained throughout his training and work to date. After all, there were a lot of elements to his work which he enjoyed. These included the project work he had been involved in, the problem solving and the team working that supported the constant exchange of ideas and knowledge. He had developed strong presentation and communication skills, and was comfortable interacting at all levels. His leadership ability had been nurtured and his WorkLife development supported, enabling him to improve his soft skills along with his technical abilities.

He began to explore options through researching what was going on in the world of engineering, with his focus on Australia, reading any news stories he could get his hands on. The various engineering publications were a good source of information, and he began to build a spreadsheet of organisations operating in Australia. He then researched each one further to uncover what projects they were becoming involved in, and who was hiring.

He talked to recruitment consultants in Australia, and while they were interested in his CV, he needed to have a work visa before they could put him forward for a role. He had various choices as to how he could do this. He could apply for an initial visa, which would allow him to stay in Australia for one year and work for a set period during this time. He hoped that this would allow him to be employed by an organisation that would be impressed with his work, and as a result want to sponsor him in gaining a full-time visa. Alternatively, he could try to connect with an organisation that was willing to sponsor him from the outset. He was open to either option.

He also began to talk with people in the industry both in Europe, through people he knew, and through forum discussion groups, allowing him to connect with people worldwide. He utilised LinkedIn to facilitate this. His research and conversations opened up his thinking to urban planning, and although this was a new area to him, his skills, experience, interests, attributes, motivated abilities and potential were quite a good fit and extremely transferable. The more he researched what this actually meant in terms of the work he would be involved in and where his WorkLife could take him in this field, the more appealing it became, and so he shifted his focus to getting a role in this industry.

He decided that because he was moving into a new industry it was unlikely that an organisation would sponsor his work visa at the outset, so he chose to travel on a one-year visa, which allowed him to work during his stay. People he had connected with throughout his research were happy to make introductions when they could, and he discovered it is quite a small world in terms of who knows who where. When he had the clarity he needed, he had a conversation with his boss — who, although sorry to lose him as part of his team, was very supportive and helpful in connecting him with people he knew in Australia.

And so Ted set off on his adventure to Australia to establish himself in a new career and a different lifestyle. He has secured an interim role working within urban planning, and I have every confidence this will lead to a full-time position sponsored by the organisation.

1 Effective Strategy to Help You Think About Your Most Important Values 

Values Assignment

The purpose of the following assignment is to help you think about your key values. This greater awareness this strategy provides is valuable for when you consider what type of job role, sector and work environment will suit you best, along with what is important to you in your life outside of work that you need to take into consideration.

Hereunder is a list of subject headings. Look through them and choose between four and eight that matter the most to you. Add others that have more meaning to you if you wish. Then under each heading, write a short description to express the meaning it holds for you.

This is the Values Assignment that Ted’s WorkLife coach took him through. Below are Ted’s most important values, which have helped guide him in his WorkLife decisions:

Environmental Issues: Living in a world that is safe, clean and has a sustainable future is important to me. I want to play a part in making a positive impact in this area, through how I choose to work and live my life.

Love: I want to be with Anna, to create a life together, to live in the moment and share experiences, and to plan our future.

Professional and Personal Development: I want to continue to grow professionally and personally in both my technical abilities and soft skills. I want to be empowered to be myself, and encouraged to take risks, to learn and to grow. It is important that whatever organisation I join is fully supportive of this.

Progressive WorkLife: I want to be part of a company that inspires me to find new and better ways to move my industry forward.

Project Work: I love that design is at the heart of engineering, and it’s important that I continue to be involved in projects that expose me to different problems and situations to stimulate my imagination while continuing to develop my systems thinking.

Team Working: The constant exchange of ideas and knowledge is important to me. I also want to develop my leadership ability and to continue to interact at all levels within my industry.

Subject Headings

Adventure, Autonomy, Beauty, Challenges, Compassion, Competition,

Confidence, Courage, Create. Creativity, Communication, Education,

Environment, Equality, Excitement, Faith, Family, Finding Solutions,

Friends, Happiness, Harmony, Health, Helping Others, Helping Society

Honesty, Hope, Independence, Influence, Inspiration, Integrity, Joy

Kindness, Love, Making A Difference, Money, Openness, Passion

Patience, Peace, People, Personal Development, Professional Development

Problem Solving, Purpose, Recognition, Resilience, Respect, Security

Serenity, Strength, Success, Survival, Taking Risks, Technology, Trust

It is important to note that some values may carry more weight or importance than others, and may be deal breakers. For example, in Ted’s case the job he was in met many of his values, but was completely out of sync with how he felt about environmental matters. That was Ted’s deal breaker.

Develop a Practice of Continuous Self-Feedback Assignment

In the WorkLife Values Assignment, you awakened or re-awakened your self-awareness to what is most important to you. To continuously strive to live your WorkLife true to your values, it is good practice to check in with yourself on a regular basis to understand what this means as you go about your Worklife. This will help you to understand the good and bad reactions you have in different situations and towards different people, and what this means by way of being able to make the best and right choices for you to be able to live your Worklife true to your values. This will allow you to make the best decisions based on what’s important to you.

Journalling is an excellent way to do this. Writing in a journal is a way to record the raw thoughts and observations you have during the day. Consider it a short daily investment in yourself.

Develop a Practice of Insightful and Effective Self-Questioning Assignment

Begin this practice by simply asking yourself:

  • Did I live my WorkLife today true to my values?
  • If Yes, what was great about this?
  • If No, why not?
  • What do I need to do differently?
  • What needs to change to allow me to remain true to my values?

Words of Wisdom

While things do not always change on a daily, weekly, monthly or even a yearly basis, this simple practice of regularly checking in with yourself, by posing these questions, demands that you stay in tune with your values. Then if something goes out of sync, you will be in a position to identify what that is and take the necessary steps to do what is right for you in realigning your WorkLife true to your values.

This story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Make Your Values Matter. 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 link below to see the other books in the series. 

The stories I write are based on real WorkLife challenges, obstacles, failures 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.

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POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 6/4/21 I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

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.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

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 Pursue The Superpower of Happiness 

How To Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages and Inspires You  

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

Founder of School of WorkLife, 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.

Why I Brought My Love of the Arts to My Worklife Learning Programmes and Resources

How It Helped to Have Clarity on My Worklife Purpose and Became My Driving Force

Learning Through The Arts

My love of the arts goes back a long way. Even further than this photo — and that’s close to 40 years!

I can attribute it to my dad and his love of Irish music and community theatre. And to my mum, who loved singalongs and classic films. She was also an avid Miss Marple, Murder She Wrote and Columbo fan.

I can also attribute it to growing up in a small community where everyone came together to fill the village hall in support of every show performed, including the Pantomime this photo is from … (drumroll) … Cinderella.

And I can attribute it to being Irish — the arts are a big part of our identity — we are the only country in the world that has a musical instrument — the Harp, as our national emblem — having a musical instrument as a symbol to represent our country is pretty unique, and cool, in my book.

Looking at this photo, I know it was taken side of stage. I know this because I can see the look of relief on my face. Because as much as I loved being part of the shows, I was always more comfortable as part of the chorus line or behind the scenes. Playing the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella was my one and only speaking role, and I can still remember how nervous I was ahead of each performance. Seeing myself with a bunch of flowers means it was the final performance, and that I had gotten through it. I had gotten through my crippling stage-fright — I can still feel the relief of that moment, all these years later.

Fast forward from when that photo was taken to when in my 40s, I left Investment Banking to become a WorkLife coach and learning practitioner, having gained my degree in Career Coaching and Management. On beginning my new WorkLife, the one-to-one coaching and creating learning resources came easily to me. Group training and presentations didn’t. I was so incredibly nervous talking in front of people that I wouldn’t sleep ahead of an event, and I would be physically ill on the day.

I shared this with my dear friend Norma, who suggested an acting class to help me overcome my nerves. So, I took a class, actually, because my nervousness was so bad, I took several classes, including a year-long foundation in drama course, which demanded extreme vulnerability in portraying the characteristics of the roles we played.

Having done everything that was required to make those performances real, I felt I could do anything, and the thought of delivering group training sessions or presentations no longer freaked me out.

But the experience, skills and learning I gained in those classes went much further beyond helping me overcome my stage-fright. The acting classes helped me portray more emotion, and through this greater understanding of the different topics I spoke about. The movement classes gave me much more presence and freedom in my movement when on stage. The voice classes helped me develop a range that made what I had to say more interesting, in a way that drew in my audiences.

All of this allowed me to know that if the techniques and skills I’d gained through the classes had helped me not only overcome my crippling fear of speaking in public but had also helped to enhance my delivery, it could also help many more people in their WorkLife learning and development.

It was from here the idea of bringing the arts to WorkLife learning germinated. Over time I gained more clarity on how I could do this. This clarity gave me my WorkLife purpose: To bring the world of arts to the world of WorkLife learning. It has been my driving force ever since.

“If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it.” Muhammad Ali. 

These words hold so much truth for me and help to explain how I got from a germination of an idea to gain the clarity I needed that gave me my WorkLife purpose.

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Alongside the acting classes, I also did a directing class. This led me to be Assistant Director on a Performing Arts College production of Hamlet that went on to be performed at the RSC Open Space in Stratford Upon Avon – my claim to fame!

It was then I had my eureka moment of how the techniques, structure and methods of theatre making are significant in the world of WorkLife learning and development: the unique skills performing artists have had to develop in their craft brings learning alive. This is ‘learning by doing’, enabling the practice of new skill sets and behaviours in a safe, supportive, challenging and creative environment.

I could now combine my knowledge and experience of WorkLife learning and development with drama-based techniques, collaborating with performing artists. 

I wrote this Marketing Copy: “Our work enables individuals and teams to be more active, spontaneous and flexible, freeing their minds to use their imagination in being inventive and original. The intrinsic nature of our work helps foster creativity, team spirit and emotional intelligence”.

Then I needed to show what those words actually meant.

To do that and as a way to promote our work, I worked with a team of actors and film makers to create four short films to demonstrate our work. 

This is where two more forms of the arts came into play:

  1. Visual Arts through the filmmaking and also through the photos taken that captured our rehearsals and performances. We continued this practice of capturing our rehearsals and performances on camera, both through filming and photography, when we took our work to the stage – workplace stages where we performed work that was a combination of short plays written to mirror the reality of difficult workplace situations – dilemmas or conversations and Forum Theatre, where the audience became directors in helping to change the behaviours of the characters in the scenes to try to get better outcomes to resolve the dilemmas and to say what needed to be said in managing the difficult conversations.
  2. Literary Arts through writing film scripts for the short films we created. Then later, longer scripts for the Workplace Theatre short plays we performed. From the beginning of my work as a WorkLife learning practitioner and coach, I became a collector of people’s amazing WorkLife stories. To capture them, I began to write them down. A few stories I shared with client permission, having anonymised them. But mostly, I took spoken and unspoken words – a line here, a glance there, then followed the writing to see where the stories took me. So, when it came to writing scripts, because of the stories I had already written that evolved from real-life Workplace scenarios, together with the stories I read and listened to daily on publications and podcasts about real-life workplace scenarios, I had a body of work that I could tap into. I needed to learn how to adapt my writing for screen and stage. As always, I took the approach of learning by doing, and as always, that served me well.

I was no longer taking centre stage as an actor. I was back at side of stage. 

For the short films, I did a little directing, but mostly I left it to the film makers to direct the scenes. It’s part of their craft, and they’re far more skilled than me. 

For the short plays, I also did a little directing, but mostly I left it to the actors to perform the scenes. We had improvised and devised the scenarios, from which I had written scripts, which we then rehearsed and tweaked. Lines were learnt, and characters were explored. Rehearsals continued, and once we got to the performance, there was little direction needed from me. So, once again, I retreated to side of stage and watched the actors do their thing – rather magnificently, it has to be said.

Epilogue

From side of stage, I retreated to behind the scenes. My happy place writing and creating.

My love of the arts and learning have been passions for as long as I can remember. Passions that in bringing together have helped me to have clarity on my WorkLife Purpose. Combined, they became my driving force. 

That’s my story of why I brought my love of the arts to my WorkLife learning programmes and resources. 

Do you have a love, a passion, that has first given you clarity on your WorkLife purpose, which has then become your driving force? 

If so, I would love to hear your story. Tap CONTACT to get in touch if you would like to share it.

Managing Upwards: Difficult Conversations is one of the short Corporate Drama films we made

The other three films are within these stories:

Corporate Drama: Role Storming for Problem Solving: 5 Creative Steps to Apply Role Storming to Problem Solving for Self Directed Learning

Corporate Drama: Role Play for Real Play: Hire for Potential : How to Know Whether to Hire From the Inside or Outside to Build Back Stronger

Corporate Drama: Change Management:  How to Strengthen Low Morale Brought About by Survivor’s Syndrome

.

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POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 1/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

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.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.

………………………………………………………………………………

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 WorkLife Around What Engages and Inspires You 

How To Use Your Purpose To Help Others 

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

Founder of School of WorkLife, 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.

Change vs Constant Constant vs Change The Argument in Favour of Both Part 2

Part 2 The Argument in Favour of Both Constant and Change 

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

Change vs Constant, Constant vs Change, The Argument in Favour of Constant: 

Jeff Bezos said: “I very frequently get the question: What’s going to change in the next 10 years? And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: What’s not going to change in the next 10 years? And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.” 

Change vs Constant Constant vs Change The Argument In Favour of Change:

In his talk about Finding Your Purpose, Tim Cook said:  “As you go out into the world, don’t waste time on problems that have been solved, don’t get hung up on what other people say is practical. Instead, steer your ship into the choppy seas. Look for the rough spots, the problems that seem too big, the complexities that other people are content to work around. It’s in those places that you will find your purpose.”

Change vs Constant Constant vs Change The Argument in Favour of Both:

The story that led to the:

Book Wisdom 

Of Historic Heston by Heston Blumenthal.

I don’t remember how Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant ‘The Fat Duck’ came on my radar, but I do remember I bookmarked pages from the website and immediately put it on my Joie De Vivre list. It was their Christmas Experience that spoke to me. Like Heston, I have wonderful Christmas memories from growing up, and I become very nostalgic at this time of the year.  Here is some of what I saved from those bookmarked pages:

The Trip: Your Itinerary

“The whole experience is a Journey, centred around a nostalgic trip full of playful memories, filled with curiosity, discovery and adventure. This nostalgic trip is based on a collection of some of my favourite childhood holiday memories, taking place over the course of a day. The menu is your itinerary for the day, represented on the map you’ve just seen on the homepage.

“I don’t know about you, but I always got really excited in the build up to going on holiday; for me, this is where the journey begins.

“My story is only there to act as a catalyst to help bring your childhood holiday memories to life: where you were, who you were with, what you ate and how you ate it. Hopefully, it’ll get you reminiscing, making connections, sharing experiences, and bringing back some wonderful memories.

“Nostalgia is a key element that lies at the core of what we do at The Fat Duck. Our role is to help our guests recall their happiest memories. We aim to be the spark that ignites nostalgia. This is the most exciting thing we have ever done.

“Through storytelling, we have been able to build human relationships based on the observation and exchange of real emotions. Over the past 25 years, we have taken our guests on a journey through food and emotions, enhancing our understanding of nostalgia. This has allowed us to create new experiences and embrace hardwired human shared beliefs.

“This year The Fat Duck will mark the festive period by bringing to life the story of Christmas in a wondrous experience revolving around the focal role played by the Christmas tree. Evolving from the story of Heston’s childhood holiday journey, The Fat Duck will devote the entire experience to a celebration of Christmas and the stories that revolve around it.

“Our Fable Tree is a celebration of Christmas, with nostalgia and traditions at its core. We aim to evoke nostalgic memories following the life of a Christmas tree, our deep rooted connection to it and what it symbolises. It is a celebration of the childlike excitement, anticipation and positive memories of the festive period that leads to elevated emotions and human connectivity.

“Our story begins in nature where seeds turn into a Christmas tree and we are then transported to our magical Christmas memories where we celebrate with family and friends around the tree. Following the journey of the Christmas tree from the woods into our home, we explore our connectivity with nature, the symbolism of the tree and the emotional connections between friends and family during a special time of the year.”

These words, this description, I think will help you to understand why I immediately put a visit on my Joie De Vivre list.

I explored the website further because I wanted to learn more about Heston, his work and what else he did. This is what I discovered: 

Events

“We love creating new experiences and if there is such a word as Wonderosity, then this is the feeling we want our guests to have at the end, beginning and middle of their time with us…and far, far into the future too! We like to think of ourselves as storytellers, creating fantastical edible stories and in the job of narrator, our events team are here to guide you through – carefully planning your story from the first page to the very end. So, if you are sitting comfortably, then let us begin… 

“The Mountain Gourmet Ski Adventure 

“Join Heston’s chef friends for another journey of friendship, food, fine wines and the best fun on the mountain.”

Yep, that went on my Joie De Vivre list too.

I wanted to know more about the man, so I explored further, this is what I discovered:

He’s entirely self-taught, over a period of ten years he worked in a number of relatively undemanding jobs by day and taught himself the French classical repertoire by night. His interest in cooking had begun at the age of sixteen on a family holiday to Provence, when he was taken to the three Michelin-starred restaurant L’Oustau de Baumanière. He was inspired by the quality of the food and “the whole multi-sensory experience: the sound of fountains and cicadas, the heady smell of lavender, the sight of the waiters carving lamb at the table.” 

A pivotal moment came when reading On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee. This challenged kitchen practices such as searing meat to seal in the juices, and it encouraged Heston to “adopt a totally different attitude towards cuisine that at its most basic boiled down to: question everything.”

He advocates scientific understanding in cooking, for which he has been awarded honorary degrees from Reading, Bristol and London universities and was made an honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. He is a pioneer of multi-sensory cooking, food pairing and flavour encapsulation.

Blumenthal uses British history in his dishes. He became interested in historical cooking in the late 1990s upon obtaining a copy of The Vivendier, a translation of a fifteenth-century cookery manuscript that contained unusual recipes, such as a chicken that appears roasted but wakes up as it is served. He said, “I’d had little idea the cooking of the past could be so playful, audacious and creative.”

The opening of Dinner presented him with far greater scope for historical cooking, and its menu is composed solely of dishes inspired by the recipes of the past. 

Book Wisdom

This brings me to his 2013 book Historic Heston 

Blumenthal, a renowned chef who has made his name creating such original – and some might say bizarre – dishes as Snail Porridge and Nitrogen Scrambled Egg & Bacon Ice Cream, decided it was time to go back to his British roots and to focus his creative talent on reinventing dishes that represent the essence of British culinary heritage. 

Blumenthal, whose name is synonymous with cutting-edge cuisine, chartered a quest for identity through the best of British cooking that stretches from medieval to late-Victorian recipes. 

Sage Wisdom

“Question Everything.” Heston Blumenthal 

Epilogue

In researching this story, I came across an article by Esquire magazine in which Heston returned to the source of where his journey had begun for him: L’Oustau de Baumanière.  Waiting to be seated, a waiter approached and wondered if he would prefer to eat his lunch in reverse, beginning with petits fours, then pudding, followed by cheese, then main courses, starters, finally amuse bouche. The wine would go backwards, too: dessert, red, white. 

Blumenthal was immediately taken by the idea of the backwards lunch. The notion had a whimsical, topsy-turvy, Lewis Carroll eccentricity to it, which is very Heston Blumenthal. Also, it offered a chance to experiment on the taste buds, to surprise them into action, offer them something unexpected, and confounding, and fun, all of which is quintessentially Blumenthalian. 

For Blumenthal, it was a homecoming which took him back to the summer of 1982, to when he first fell down a rabbit hole, as he puts it, into a world of multi-sensory wonder. The rest as the saying goes is history, well history the Heston way that is – where throughout the burrows history and science converge. 

Words of Wisdom

Blumenthal advocates the notion of the “monomyth’ – the idea that all our foundational stories tell of a hero’s journey. That was why he felt he needed to go back to the beginning, so that he could start again.

He says in questioning everything, that it’s about the journey, the process of discovery, the curiosity. And that turned out to be his drive.

Maybe you can take a page out of Blumenthal’s book, and question things in your WorkLife. His favourite questions include:

  • What if I do it this way? Then,
  • What happens if I do the exact opposite?

Try it, reflect it on it, let the feedback inform you what it is that you want to change in your Worklife and what you want to keep constant. 

The contrast between old and new, modern and historic has been the secret to Blumenthal’s success. He recognises and appreciates what is good about ‘constant’ and ‘change’. His story demonstrates the argument in favour of both.

This story began in Change vs Constant Constant vs Change The Argument in Favour of Both Part 1 The Argument in Favour of Both Constant and Change 

Today’s book of the blog is: Historic Heston By Heston Blumenthal 

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog 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 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 27/9/20. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

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.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

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 

Guidelines for Starting and Running your WorkLife Book Club Including Helpful Questions to Enhance the Learning Through Reading Experience 

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 Make Your Values Matter  

How To Use Your Purpose To Help Others 

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.

Change vs Constant Constant vs Change The Argument in Favour of Both Part 1

Part 1 The Argument in Favour of Both Constant and Change 

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

Change vs Constant Constant vs Change The Argument in Favour of Constant: 

Jeff Bezos said: “I very frequently get the question: What’s going to change in the next 10 years? And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: What’s not going to change in the next 10 years? And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.” 

Change vs Constant Constant vs Change The Argument In Favour of Change:

In his talk about Finding Your Purpose, Tim Cook said:  “As you go out into the world, don’t waste time on problems that have been solved, don’t get hung up on what other people say is practical. Instead, steer your ship into the choppy seas. Look for the rough spots, the problems that seem too big, the complexities that other people are content to work around. It’s in those places that you will find your purpose.”

Change vs Constant Constant vs Change The Argument in Favour of Both

Part 1 The Argument in Favour of Both Constant and Change

The story that lead to the:

Book Wisdom 

Of The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen

My first introduction to Steven Raichlen was as a man who is half historian and half chef. This is his story of how he earned that description, which I’ve adapted from his interview on the Big Questions podcast with Cal Fussman 

in 1975, Steven Raichlen earned a Bachelor of Arts in French literature from Reed College. He received a Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship to study medieval cooking in Europe, and was offered a Fulbright Scholarship to study comparative literature. He trained at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris. Raichlen said the beauty of the Watson Fellowships is that they can’t be academic: so he couldn’t’ say he was going off to Oxford to study medieval literature, instead he proposed to study medieval cooking in Europe. This was because he had written his thesis on a medieval poet, and he was into all things Middle Ages. When he was researching the poet, he found a medieval cookbook and thought that it was amazing that people were handwriting recipes in cookbooks six-hundred years ago.  

Each year the Watson Foundation looks for someone that burns with a passion, who has enough street smart and worldly wiseness to make it happen. He was given $7000 to eat and drink his way through Europe – in 1975 that was a lot of bucks. And so off he went to study medieval cookbooks in all the great libraries of Europe. 

The language in the books would say: “Add a bit of this and a bit of that”, but he wasn’t sure how much of this and how much of that. So he figured he needed to go to cooking school and learn the grammar and vocabulary of cooking. He enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools in Paris. He said to him cooking is a language and vocabulary needed grammar, and that was how he learnt what he needed to know; and  with that he was able to go back to the medieval recipes and figure out how the stuff went together. 

On his return to the US, he went on to become a food writer and a restaurant critic. It was, he said, a continuing education. Every time he went out, he learnt about food.

During his restaurant reviewing years he developed a cholesterol problem, so he developed a style of cooking that was low in fat. He said the barbecue idea just came to him, and that grilling is one of the oldest and most universal cooking methods; but that everywhere you go, in every country it’s done differently. And so he thought: “wouldn’t it be cool to travel around the world and document those differences.”  His work eventually became the book: The Barbecue Bible.

Book Wisdom

The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen is big and it’s filled with recipes from all over the world, and that’s where the wisdom comes in. It takes you, your taste buds and your mind to different places, all the time nurturing your curiosity. 

To give you a flavour of what to expect:

“… On the end of a barely inhabited island located a few miles off the Côte d’Azur. The lle de Porquerolles is where to go to escape the crowds and traffic of the Riviera. Immortalised by the mystery writer Georges Simenon …”

“… I’d heard that Sunda Kelapa was one of the best restaurants in Jakarta, but I would never have guessed it by the neighbourhood. The ride there took me through a dilapidated stretch of the port section of Batavia, past derelict warehouses, down trash-strewn streets lined with shanties …”

“… Duckling a l’orange … the traditional preparation calls for oranges, but I also like the exotic flavour you get with tangerines…”

Words of Wisdom

Raichlen became dedicated to one subject that he became a master in, devoting his whole WorkLife to barbecue, and to spreading all of his knowledge.  He said that he writes recipes because that’s what sells the books, but that what really interests him is the history, the anthropology, the culture behind the food. 

Sage Wisdom

“Some critics say they go into a restaurant with the thinking: prove to me that you’re not a terrible restaurant. I go in cup half full, my thinking is: I’m here, I’m excited, show me what you can do.” Steven Raichlen 

Epilogue

Raichlen said he’s a big believer in lists, and so on posing the question to himself, “what else do I want to do with barbecue,” the self-feedback that came to him was: 

  • He needed a website – check out Steven Raichlen for recipes and programmes; 
  • He could do a TV show – he’s done a few now, including: Barbecue University, Primal Grill and Project Smoke;
  • He could publish his work internationally – his books have been translated into 17 languages;
  • He could create products – you can check those out on his website;
  • He could speak about his work – he says he gets sent to nice places all around the world to speak;
  • He could start an international barbecue community – He’s the founder of Barbecue University, which offers courses on live fire cooking;
  • He could write more books – He’s written quite a few by now.

Eventually all of this became a business. He says: “the beauty about barbecue is that it’s a subject that is very broad and very deep and you can instantly form a bond with people over barbecue.” 

As a man who is half historian and half chef, Raichlen recognises and appreciates what is good about ‘constant’ and ‘change’. His story demonstrates the argument in favour of both.

This story continues in Change vs Constant Constant vs Change The Argument in Favour of Both Part 2 The Argument in Favour of Both Constant and Change 

Today’s book of the blog is: The Barbecue Bible By Steven Raichlen 

WorkLife Book Wisdom 

The intention of this blog 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 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. 

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 20/9/20. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you

The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

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.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

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 

Guidelines for Starting and Running your WorkLife Book Club Including Helpful Questions to Enhance the Learning Through Reading Experience 

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 Make Your Values Matter  

How To Use Your Purpose To Help Others 

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.

The 3 Important Ps Persistence Passion Purpose

An Inspiring Story Serving to Remind Us That Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight

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

The HubSpot Growth Show podcast is great. The stories are truly inspiring and serve to remind us that success doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes persistence, a lot of pulling ourselves back up, following a path when we don’t know if and when it’s going to happen for us while remaining true to our passion, gut instinct and purpose.

images-1 I saw the actress Denise Gough give what has been credited as the West End performance of the year in People Places Things. I read afterwards that in 2012 when she received the Critics’ Award for most promising newcomer, she respectively said she’d been around for 10 years.

Despite the award, she then went on to have a period of 1 year before People Places Things where she had no work. She applied for and didn’t get a cleaning job and was about to give up on her dream when it finally happened for her.

Was it a lucky break?

NO.

It was sheer Persistence, a lot of pulling herself back up, following her path and staying true to her Passion, gut instinct and Purpose.

………………………………………………………………………………………

POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 26/4/16. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

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.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

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 Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages and Inspires You

How To Recover From Rejection and Build Strong Resilience 

How To Drive Your Vision and Motivated Abilities 

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.

Chapter 8 I’m Taking Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast on A Moveable Feast Chapter by Chapter

Chapter 8 (of 20) Hunger Was Good Discipline

A Moveable Feast Chapter Eight, Hunger Was Good Discipline, Accompanied by Crèpe La Classique paired with a glass of white wine
A Moveable Feast Chapter Eight, Hunger Was Good Discipline, Accompanied by Crèpe La Classique paired with a glass of white wine

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 8 (of 20) Hunger Was Good Disciplineaccompanied by Crèpe La Classique paired with a glass of Mon Roc Blanc, Colombard, France, at La Petite Auberge, Islington. 

Notes From Chapter 8: Hunger Was Good Discipline

A WorkLife Book Club For One

Notes about Hunger and Money 

You got very hungry when you did not eat enough in Paris because all the bakery shops had such good things in the windows and people ate outside at tables on the sidewalk so that you saw and smelled the food. When you had given up journalism and were writing nothing that anyone in America would buy, explaining at home that you were lunching out with someone, the best place to go was the Luxembourg gardens where you saw and smelled nothing to eat all the way from the Place de l’Observatoire to the rue de Vaugirard. There you could always go into the Luxembourg museum and all the paintings were sharper and clearer and more beautiful if you were belly-empty, hollow-hungry. I learned to understand Cèzanne much better and to see truly how he made landscapes when I was hungry. I used to wonder if he were hungry too when he painted; but I thought possibly it was only that he had forgotten to eat. It was one of those unsound but illuminating thoughts you have when you’ve been sleepless or hungry. Later I thought Cèzanne was hungry in a different way. 

By the time you reached 12 rue de l’Odèon your hunger was contained but all of your perceptions were heightened again. The photographs looked different and you saw books you had never seen before. 

‘It’s dammed funny that Germany is the only place I can sell anything.’

‘You can sell stories to Ford,’ she teased me.

‘Thirty francs a page. Say one story every three months in the Transatlantic. Story five pages long make one hundred and fifty francs a quarter. Six hundred francs a year.’

‘But, Hemingway, don’t worry about what they bring now. The point is that you can write them.’ 

‘I know. I can write them. But nobody will buy them. There is no money coming in since I quit Journalism.’

‘They will sell. Look you have the money for one right there.’

It is necessary to handle yourself better when you have to cut down on food so you will not get too much hunger-thinking. Hunger is good discipline and you learn from it. 

I knew I must write a novel. But it seemed an impossible thing to do when I had been trying with great difficulty to write paragraphs that would be the distillation of what made a novel. It was necessary to write longer stories now as you would train for a race. When I had written a novel before, the one that had been lost in the bag stolen at the Gare de Lyon, I still had the lyric facility of boyhood that was as perishable and deceptive as youth was.

What did I know best that was not written about and lost? What did I know about truly and care for the most?

I sat in a corner with the afternoon light coming in over my shoulder and wrote in the notebook. 

In my pocket was the money from Germany so there was no problem. When that was gone some other money would come in. 

All I must do now was to stay sound and good in my head until morning when I would start to work again. 

I enjoy Hemingway’s ‘Musings’ about his situation. I think perhaps because I dip in and out of a practice I call “Daily Musings’. I dip in and out of writing them down, but I ‘Muse’ all the time in my thinking. And also in my reading, particularly throughout reading this chapter. Because Hemingway’s ‘Musings’ are very much aligned with my own ‘Musings’ at this particular time.

Not on the hunger for food that he wrote about, but more on the hunger for success he wanted and needed in his work. I can certainly relate to that.

I suppose, in a way, I’m at the same place in and with my work as Hemingway was at that time in his life. 

He had given up journalism to become a writer of stories and, in time, a novel. He wanted and needed to financially support his living and lifestyle wants and needs from this work.

Because the pandemic brought about an abrupt halt to the coaching and training work I’ve done for many years, I moved towards writing and creating learning resources. I had, in fact, written my first book, Your WorkLife Your Way, just before the pandemic hit, and so, in a sense, the shift had already begun. The pandemic served to escalate it when with no other work, I set about building both a body of work and also to develop my skills in what was a new craft to me. 

What would you do if you didn’t have to work for a living? 

This is a question that’s often asked to determine a person’s passion or purpose in life.

For me, the answer is Writing. I love it. I can easily write from dawn to dusk, having to remind myself to stop and eat. And it’s true, my perceptions are higher then, and when I stop to eat, they become a little dulled.

So I’ve found the thing I love doing. But I do need to earn a living from it. And I’m not.

I feel I’ve served my apprenticeship to becoming a writer. I took a learning-by-doing approach by writing and sharing 100s of stories on my website and other writing platforms and also publishing 30 books over the course of three years. I’ve had a little success, but nothing close to what I want and need to support my living and lifestyle wants and needs. 

While I know, I’m at the beginning of my WorkLife journey as a writer. I feel I’ve done enough to embark on the next chapter. For me, that means to somehow begin to earn that elusive monetary success that I so want and need.

I’m mulling over some ideas of what that could be. My books are already out in the world, and so I will continue to work towards helping people find them amongst the millions of new books that are published each year. But I want and need to do something else alongside this. 

Whereas Hemingway began by selling stories first and then his books, I did it the other way around. And now I think I would like to sell stories. I actually can’t think of anything better than having regular paid work writing stories that would financially support me. 

That would be a dream come true for me. It would mean I could work and live anywhere in the world. That would be another dream come true for me. A dream I began to strive towards when I wrote my first book, even before the pandemic brought about the change in my WorkLife. It’s a dream that, for me, answers the question:

What will I be doing at the pinnacle of my WorkLife, when I feel challenged, engaged and not wanting anything else?

I feel I’m at the place where Hemingway was at, in that I know I can write stories. But I fear nobody will buy them. There is little money coming in since I quit delivering live learning events. But that said, I haven’t tried to sell stories yet, and people (albeit only a relatively few people) have bought my books. 

So I’m really at a place where I need to try to sell stories, and I need to figure out how to do that. Hemingway’s ‘Musings’ have helped me to get to this place through my own ‘Musings’ in reading this chapter and writing my chapter notes.

Yet again, my Worklife Book Club For 1 is helping me self direct my WorkLife learning, which brings me to Hemingway’s question:

What do I know about truly and care for the most?

The hunger I have for success in my work is good discipline, and I am learning from it, which makes that question easy for me to answer.

The stories I’ve always written are based on real WorkLife struggles and successes. In creating these stories, I follow the criteria that they have to be Helpful, Insightful and Inspiring to readers in navigating through their WorkLife ups and downs.

So I know what I want and need to do. I now need to get on with it.

Words of Wisdom

As with Hemingway, I will continue to muse in my notebook. I’ll choose to believe that some other money will come in when what I have now is gone. And all I must do now is to stay sound and good in my head until morning when I will start to work again. 

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 I walk and explore and discover, it may not.

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

… I can now share where Chapter 9 (of 20) Ford Madox Ford and the Devil’s Disciple took me …

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Today I enjoyed Crèpe La Classique paired with a glass of Mon Roc Blanc, Colombard, France at La Petite Auberge, Islington.

Se souvenir de toi, Norma.

#FUNFACT1 In France, crêpes are traditionally served on the Christian holiday Candlemas (La Chandeleur). On February 2. In 472, Roman Pope Gelasius offered Crispus (Crêpes) to French pilgrims that were visiting Rome for the Chandeleur. They brought the dish back to France, and the day also became known as “Le Jour des Crêpes” (“The Day of the Crêpes”). The day is also celebrated by many as a day marking the transition from winter to spring, with the golden colour and circular shape of crêpes representing the sun and the circle of life.

#FUNFACT2 There are various superstitions surrounding making crêpes for Le Jour des Crêpes. Holding a gold coin or ring in one’s left hand while successfully flipping a crêpe in a pan with one’s right hand is said to bring the person wealth for the upcoming year. (Maybe I should try that at home!).

#FUNFACT3  Eating and sharing crêpes with others on Candlemas is another tradition based on popes giving food to the poor every year on February 2. A French proverb describes the tradition of eating crêpes on Candlemas, “manger des crêpes à la chandeleur apporte un an de bonheur” (eating crêpes on Candlemas brings a year of happiness).

Source Wikipedia 

Here’s a pic of my pancake on the griddle, ready to be sprinkled with sugar and a squeeze of lemon.

Pancakes on the griddle
Pancakes on the griddle

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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.

WorkLife Book Club

How To Successfully Invent and Reinvent Yourself 

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

Founder of School of WorkLife, 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.

3 Simple Steps to Craft Your Inspiring Stories to Share at Interviews 

How to Answer The Tell Me About Yourself Opening Question at Interviews 

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

Image 14-03-2016 at 12.52

INTERVIEW #TIP1

The Opening – Setting the Scene – 3 Simple Steps to Craft Your Inspiring Story

Words of Wisdom

“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” Oscar Wilde.

Many interview questions and answers will draw on common interview questions. For example:

Many interviews will start with the same prompt “Tell me about yourself”

Standard interview responses are along the lines of: “I studied (Major X) because I really wanted to make a difference in (Industry Y), and as you can see from my CV through my last job at (Company Z) I …

To move beyond this standard response to stand out from the crowd from the outset, you need to craft “Your Inspiring Story” to show who you are as a person, not just a professional. To give meaning to what you will bring to the role and organisation.

The way your life has evolved, the things you’ve learned, your successes and failures, achievements and setbacks, dreams and visions – these things are unique to you and make you more interesting than you perhaps realise. A good story is not a replication of your CV or LinkedIn profile. You need to go beyond that.

3 Simple Steps to Craft Your Inspiring Stories to Share at Interviews

Step 1. Take an inventory of the chapters of your life – turning points that shaped who you are – what you learned, accomplished and experienced;
Step 2. Focus on memorable “aha” moments – vivid dimensions so people experience that moment with you;
Step 3. Uncover the themes in your story – what emerges as your passion – mentoring, research, relationship building, advancing knowledge …

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POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 14/3/16. I needed to republish it to add updates and also to tell you

… The Continuing Story …

The pandemic brought about a change in my WorkLife from delivering in-person individual coaching sessions and group workshops to creating resources to help people self direct their WorkLife learning.

In the last three years, I’ve published 30 books and over 200 stories.

Each book and each story is based on real life struggles and successes that people have encountered in their WorkLife. They also detail the exercises that helped navigate through these situations, which are set as assignments for readers to adapt to their WorkLife situations and learning needs.

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.

My inspiration for creating my work comes from a lifelong passion for learning. My work has taught me that the one thing in life that can never be taken away from you is your learning. 

School of WorkLife Guiding Statement: To create resources that are helpful, insightful and inspiring in helping people to pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, purpose, passion and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes and resources that are accessible to everyone.

The resources I create will help you take ownership of self directing your learning in your own space and in your own time.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

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 

Fast Company, First Round Review, Inc., and Wired are good sources to help you navigate all your WorkLife transitions successfully.

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 Turn Your Story Into a Powerful Presentation

How To UseTurning Points to Start Something Different and Better  

Your WorkLife Your Way 

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

Founder of School of WorkLife, 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.