When Your Job Stops You From Being True To Yourself, What Do You Do?

You Plan Your Great Escape – That’s What!

Photo by Ali Kazal on Unsplash

A Case Study: Niamh’s Story:

Your very existence is threatened when you’re not living your WorkLife true to who you really are, as Niamh painfully realised.

Niamh had worked in Employment Law for three years. She had chosen law as a profession because she believed by helping people, she could play her part in making the world a better place. This was important to Niamh. She chose this particular area of law because she wanted to help to make people’s WorkLives better. 

And she did, she had done really good work in helping individuals and organisations achieve better working relationships and conditions. She felt good about that. But, and there was a but, a very big but – her own WorkLife wasn’t reflective of the good WorkLives she had helped those individuals and organisations achieve together.

Niamh worked long hours and found it hard to do or plan anything outside of work because she was at the firm’s beck and call. She felt they owned her. She didn’t like that, nor did she like that her work demanded being desk-bound for hours on end. She tried to speak to Karen, the managing partner who oversaw the development of associates, about what was important to her in her WorkLife. Niamh told her she loved outdoor pursuits and wanted to make time for this because she believed it was integral to her mental and physical health and wellbeing. 

Karen replied by saying she could make time for her hobbies provided they don’t require firm weekday or long-term weekend commitments because she needed to be available at all times to cope with the ebb and flow of her work. She suggested that Niamh needed to be more efficient with her time and that she could use the company onsite gym to maintain good mental and physical health and wellbeing if that was a concern. She finished by saying that would allow her to squeeze in an hour most days, and on really busy days, it would just mean she didn’t take any other breaks and could eat at her desk.

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Every week I write three stories about a topic relevant to helping people live their WorkLife in the best way for them. The topics primarily focus on soft skills. I think soft skills are as important as hard skills in being our best. I believe that soft skills are the unsung heroes that drive fulfilled WorkLives.

Two of these three stories are available to everyone. They are free and always will be. I publish them every Thursday and Friday.

The third story is available to members only. The membership cost is £3.00 p.m. I publish this additional story every Wednesday – so members get four/five additional stories p.m. These stories are not better. They’re just extra.

This approach allows me to honour my 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. 

If you find my work helpful, please consider subscribing to my member’s publication. 

As an independent writer and WorkLife practitioner, I love to create resources to help people manage their learning as they strive to live their best WorkLife. Your contribution allows me to do that and is really appreciated.

How To Overcome Self-Sabotage

“It’s good to be confident but not so confident you always think you’re right — that’s arrogance; it’s good to be humble, but it’s not good to be so humble that you’re discrediting yourself — that’s insecurity.” Anon

Image supplied by author

Self-sabotage is the action or inaction we take to get in our own way, stopping ourselves from achieving our own best intentions and goals. The stories we tell ourselves and our inner voices contribute to our self-sabotage.

Donal’s Story Self-Sabotaging His Own Meetings: A Case Study:

Donal’s reputation for running productive meetings was bad. Why? Well, because they were bad. He had never been taught how to run a productive meeting, he was thrown in at the deep end, and left to sink or swim. He sank, he was simply way out of his depth. He knew it, and everyone else knew it too, and that didn’t help, because people played on his lack of ability.

They turned up if they felt like it, and when they did it was always late, and usually only if they had an agenda of their own. They knew how easy it would be to lead Donal into sabotaging the meeting, by losing control, at which point they’d loudly voice what they wanted, causing complete disruption, which they knew Donal would not be able to manage. And whether or not they got what they wanted, they at least got it across; and once it was presented once, it was easier to get it on the next agenda, simply because it would be referenced in the notes to be followed up on. It was a tough environment and people played tough, or actually they played dirty.

Donal had gotten off to a bad start by sabotaging himself by not asking for help. He felt that there was an expectation that he should automatically know how to run a good meeting. He didn’t, but because he perceived this to be an expectation, he was too embarrassed to say he didn’t know how to run a meeting, and to ask for help.

It came to a head as more and more people were saying: “This was brought up at the last meeting (what they wanted), it’s been documented, and it needs to be discussed further, and therefore is an item to go on the agenda for the next meeting.” It was getting completely out of control, and nobody knew what was going on.

Recognising Donal was completely out of his depth, his colleague and friend, Sarah suggested they take a walk during their lunch hour, to see if there was anything she could do to help out. Sarah had a reputation for running good meetings; but as with Donal, she too had struggled when she first ran them.

This had been at her previous company, and she had been fortunate that her manager, Abi, had reacted quickly when she saw she was out of her depth, taking Sarah aside, and working with her to help her get up to speed with what was required to run a good meeting. She had helped Sarah to save face, something she was really grateful for; and in seeing Donal in the same place she had been, she wanted to share what she had learnt from Abi with him, to help him save face, and to help him to stop sabotaging himself — something else that she recognised he was doing, and which she had done too.

As they walked Sarah shared what she saw was happening, that was causing things to get out of control, which in turn was adding to Donal’s self-sabotage. She also shared how he could regain control, in a way that would allow him to manage the meetings effectively, which in turn would stop him from sabotaging himself.

Sarah told Donal that to achieve this, he simply needed to follow these three steps:

Step One: Document Decisions

The immediate problem as Sarah saw it, was that there were a number of loud voices at the end of the meeting, getting their point across, followed by them saying something along the lines of: “It sounds like we’ve come to a decision of what needs to be discussed at the next meeting.” And in so doing, they were ensuring it got on the agenda — their agenda. But the truth is, no-one was clear what has been decided.

Sarah went on to say to Donal:

“As the person running the meeting, you and only you get to say what has been decided to be discussed at the next meeting. There is no ‘We’, and people need to know that. You can do that by simply and firmly saying: This is the decision I believe we’ve made. Is my understanding accurate? Can someone else confirm the decision, to ensure we have the same understanding, and for the record?”

Sarah went on to say:

“You then need to pin down what the next steps are. Actual next steps need to be captured and articulated, and the responsibility to follow through assigned to someone.”

She finished by saying:

“In doing that, everyone will be clear walking out of the meeting, what was discussed and agreed upon, and who is responsible for the next steps. This then needs to be documented and circulated to everyone involved, soon after the meeting, and included in the agenda for the next meeting.”

Step Two: Inviting People

Sarah Continued:

“The right people, and the right number of people, need to be invited to the meeting. This requires thought, because it’s too easy to invite the wrong people and too many people, which means it will become a free-for-all. You need to be firm with whoever has asked you to run the meeting about who needs to be there.

Once that’s decided, the only acceptable reasons for people to decline or not turn up are if they’re out of the office, unwell, or already booked. Turning up late is simply not acceptable. Everybody needs to take responsibility for themselves, and they need to know that in not doing so, they’re letting themselves, their colleagues and the company down. You need to state this firmly and you need the support of whoever asked you to run the meeting to ensure this is taken seriously. The most productive meetings are the meetings where the right people, and the right number of people, are in attendance.

It’s also important that these people bring the right information to the room. To ensure this happens, you need to check in ahead of the meeting, that people know what is required of them. You can do this by simply referring them to the notes from the last meeting. The responsibility to bring what is required of them is on them.”

Step Three: Taking Good Notes

Sarah finished by saying:

“The notes from the previous meeting will give them the clarity they need in knowing what is required from them to bring to the next meeting, and of course any actions required of them, if any of the next steps requires input from them. The notes don’t need to be long and detailed, but they also shouldn’t be random bullet points. A few bullet points that outline the decision taken, and the next steps, are sufficient.”

Sarah then worked with Donal to help him to become confident with these three steps. It required him to be firm in asking for what he needed ahead of each meeting with regard to knowing who to invite. Then during the meeting saying what needed to be said, firmly and succinctly. He rehearsed this with Sarah, and she would challenge him by being loud and obstructive, which helped him work to remain calm, while having a strong presence. He followed the meeting by sending brief notes that communicated what was decided, and what was required from people; sending an even briefer reminder ahead of the meeting, to ensure people took responsibility for themselves. Doing all of this stopped his self-sabotage, and in an environment that was tough, he too learnt to be tough, and he achieved this by never playing dirty.

Develop Your WorkLife Story Chapters

Taking a long hard look at how you are self-sabotaging is both insightful and painful. It requires you to look in the mirror at who you are, and what you do that at its worse is destructive or at its best slowing you down, preventing you from fully being who you should be.

Donal’s story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Overcome Self-Sabotage, from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

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

Quote #21 That Helped Shape The Chapters Of My First Book

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

Image supplied by author

Chapter #21 Respect and Trust Yourself

Quote #21 “Respect is the greatest motivator” Carmel O’ Reilly

Followed by my Chapter Introduction:

I’ve always believed that respect is the greatest gift you can give to another human being, and to yourself. I’m not actually sure if I did coin the phase: ‘Respect is the greatest motivator’ but it is something that I live my life by, it’s perhaps my most important value.

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

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

What’s your preferred learning style?

Bigger picture, more detail, or both?

First shared in my book: Your WorkLife Your Way.

What If Your Vision Seems Impossible? How Do You Achieve It?

3 Steps to Motivating Yourself and Others To Reach For The Stars In Believing The Impossible Is Possible

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

A Case Study: Aiden’s Story:

Aiden’s vision was to make his town a great place to live, work and visit.

Originally both a port town and a market town, over the years, it had gradually gone into decline. The town had been hit badly by the recession throughout the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. The fertiliser plant that had once employed the majority of the community had gone into liquidation. This had a domino effect in closing down many of the town businesses. People had been forced to leave in search of work. 

While Aiden loved his town because it was his home, there was nothing particularly special about it. But he believed there could be. He believed the town had potential to be a great place to live, work and visit. 

He also knew it would take a lot to make that happen, and he knew he couldn’t do it alone. He needed support from the community. And so, he took the first step of what would become the three steps that motivated himself and others to reach for the stars in believing the impossible is possible.

1. Aiden articulated his big vision: To make their town a great place to live, work and visit.

Aiden presented his plan of where he believed they could go in making this happen and how they would get there. He had defined a clear starting point and detailed action steps along the way that would help to keep them focussed on the big picture. 

When challenged with arguments such as; ‘we’ve tried this before, it never worked.’ He responded by stressing that it would take time. How in the past, attempts were abandoned because people had overestimated what they could accomplish in one year, and when they didn’t achieve that, they became despondent and gave up. He believed this had caused people to underestimate what together they could achieve in three, five years or ten years. He said the missing link for previous attempts was connecting every step to form a clear path to their end destination. Keeping their big vision at the forefront of people’s minds was imperative to ensure everyone knew what they were striving for.

2. Aiden broke his vision into smaller steps.

Aiden’s starting point, he believed, was both simple and achievable. The town needed a makeover. It looked and felt very dreary. It emitted a sense that people didn’t care or take pride in the place they lived. He suggested the community come together to first tidy and clean and then repair and paint to give the town a facelift. 

Aiden knew that the only way to reach a big vision was to take small steps. These small steps empowered people. Over the course of just four weekends, the work they had done together in brightening up the town gave them a sense of pride, accomplishment and drive in believing they could make their town a great place to live, work and visit.

Aiden then began what would become a continuous practice. He made sure they celebrated each win. This led to step:

3. Aiden led them in focusing on what went right.

Together they acknowledged this. People focused on the positives, praising what had worked. Recognising their combined success at this initial stage empowered them to know that come hell or high water, they were going to make it work.

Epilogue

And make it work they did. Fast forward five years, and with every step along their journey, they are getting closer to achieving their vision. The town now has a lovely vibe to it. It looks and feels great. Local people continue to invest their time in the different projects that contribute to that. The local council and businesses continue to invest the money needed to fund those projects. 

Each initiative along the way is opening up more employment and bringing jobs and people back to the town. 

The community is supporting their local businesses. The town is attracting visitors coming to see the boats that are once again docked in the port, spending time in the revamped marina with its restaurants, bars and coffee shops.

Their next step is to reopen the train station that had served both passengers and freight back in its heyday. It had once been an important link to other parts of the country. A link that the townspeople now want to restore.

Words Of Wisdom

Because of the three simple steps that Aiden had initiated in motivating himself and others in reaching for the stars, the vision that once seemed impossible no longer seems that way. 

Three Steps to Motivating Yourself and Others To Reach For The Stars In Believing The Impossible Is Possible Assignment

Use Aiden’s story to guide you through the three steps.

Step 1: Articulate your big vision

Step 2: Break your vision into smaller steps

Step 3: Lead yourself and others by focusing on what went right

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


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

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

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

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

My book, Your WorkLife Your Way, focuses on helping you live your best WorkLife by managing your learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful questions and the ability to shape and tell your unique story. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.

How to Drive Your Vision Through Your Motivated Abilities

We All Have ‘Can Do’ Abilities. But It’s Our ‘Motivated’ Abilities That Drive Our Vision

Photo by Barbara Kyrsztofiak on Unsplash

A Case Study: Una’s Story:

“Everyone deserves an opportunity to succeed.” 

Those words had impacted Una as a teenager and have remained with her ever since. 

They went on to be the words that represent her Vision statement at the volunteering coaching company she founded to help people from less advantaged backgrounds do well in their WorkLife.

Together with the words: 

“Do what you can do to make a positive difference in someone else’s life.”

These words have been Una’s motivation in driving her vision. Because she believes we all have the ability to follow this motivation to drive our vision. 

Una grew up in a farming community in a remote part of Ireland. She was part of a loving family, but life was hard, and they often struggled to make ends meet.

Una and her two older siblings had no expectation that they would go to university. They simply couldn’t afford it. As soon as they reached sixteen, which was both the age they would finish secondary school and the legal working age, they would need to get a job to support the family. Una’s sister, Bridget, got a job at their local grocery store, and her brother, Seamus, got night shifts at their local pub, allowing him to help out on the farm during the day.

Una was expected to follow suit, and she was fine with that. That was how life was, and she wanted to play her part in helping her family survive financially.

In her final year at Secondary school, the Head Mistress brought in Deirdre, a Career Coach, to work with the students to help them gain perspective on what they wanted to do in their lives on leaving school. Most of Una’s classmates were planning on going to university. Some knew their course of study. Others didn’t. Deirdre’s role was to help the students gain the clarity they needed that would help them get the most out of the next steps they were all about to take as they embarked on their WorkLife journey. 

Before working with each of them in one-to-one coaching sessions, Deirdre addressed the class to talk about her work and answer any questions they may have.

It was the answers Deirdre gave in response to these two questions that deeply impacted Una:

Question: Why did you become a career coach?

Answer: Because I believe regardless of a person’s background, everyone deserves an opportunity to succeed. I believe I can play my part in supporting that.

Question: How do you support that?

Answer: I do what I can do to make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

Fiona shared a short story of how when she was growing up. Her family didn’t have money for extras, such as outings. She never asked to go anywhere or do anything that would cost extra money because she didn’t want her parents to feel bad. 

Continuing her story, she said: “I loved to play camogie as a girl, and I was picked to play for our local team. There was a bus to take us and from the matches, and we always came straight home afterwards. Until the day we won the county final, when on the way home, we stopped at a restaurant to have something to eat by way of celebrating our win. As all the other players trooped off the bus, I remained in my seat. I didn’t have money to pay for the meal. I hadn’t asked my parent’s as the rest of my team had asked theirs. I knew they didn’t have the money, and I didn’t want them to feel bad.

Then our coach came to get me and said he was getting my dinner. At first, I said no, because I couldn’t repay him. He told me he didn’t need me to repay him, that I just needed to do something to help someone else whenever I could. The kindness he had shown me through his words and actions made such an immediate positive impact on me that I vowed to myself that I would show the same kindness to someone else whenever I could, to honour what my coach asked me to do.

Una loved Deirdre’s story, and she loved their coaching sessions.

Deirdre took time to get to know Una. She asked what she enjoyed most about school and what her dreams were. Una shared how she loved the Irish language, and she also loved the arts. She talked about the Irish college summer camp that ran each year, where students from all over the world came to learn to speak Irish. Irish students who did Irish language classes as part of their curriculum went to improve their ability. They learnt and improved their language skills through song, music and dance. Una said she dreamed of going, but it was just a dream, and she knew it would never become a reality. This being her final year at school would be the last opportunity she would have to go, and that just wasn’t going to happen.

Una was about to be proved wrong. Because of an intervention by Deirdre. The Irish college offered two scholarships every year to the summer camp. To apply, Una was required to do a written and oral exam. She aced both. Then she was required to have an interview. She aced that too. The interviewers recognised Una’s ability and her love of the language and the arts. 

But going would mean that Una couldn’t apply for a job immediately on finishing school, and she’d also need pocket money while she was there. Una didn’t feel she could go. She hadn’t actually told her family about the scholarship. At first, it was because she didn’t know if she would get it, and now it was because she felt her family needed her support, and it would be selfish of her not to do what she could to help them. 

This time Una’s Irish teacher, Ciarán, intervened. Knowing Una’s family needed her financial support, he figured he had a way that would enable Una to help them, and to also attend summer college. 

Ciarán ran weekend Irish language classes for young people who had moved to Ireland and needed support in learning the language, and for students who wanted to improve their ability. He needed help, and he had a budget to bring someone on. He suggested Una for the job, which she happily accepted. He planned to expand the classes to offer after school classes and model the work they did at the summer college to teach the language through the arts. Once again, he suggested Una for the job, and once again, she happily accepted.

So, Una found a way to go to summer school and support her family too.

Una’s natural ability in both learning and teaching the Irish language through song, music and dance was very apparent to everyone. This led to a further intervention. This time it was by Gráinne, the headteacher at the summer school. She believed Una would be perfect for their team, and she suggested Una might like to become a teacher. To do this, she would be required to do teacher training at the nearby college. Gráinne said her college would sponsor her and welcome her onto their team when she had completed her studies, and she could gain experience working with them in the holidays. Once again, Una happily accepted. 

It was too late for her to apply for that year, and that was fine because, during that time, she would work with Ciarán, gaining practical experience and also earning money to help her family. This was an arrangement that she continued when she went off to college, working with Ciarán at weekends during school term and working with Gráinne and the team during the holidays—all the time, gaining experience and earning money to help her family.

Epilogue

On graduating, Una went on to work full time at the Irish college. 

Outside of her work, she founded a volunteering coaching company to help people from less advantaged backgrounds do well in their WorkLife.

Deirdre, Ciarán, Gráinne, and many more people who Una has met along her WorkLife path, have joined her company in volunteering their services and support. 

The Vision statement that guides everything they do is: “Everyone deserves an opportunity to succeed.” 

Together with the words: “Do what you can do to make a positive difference in someone else’s life.”


These words guide everyone’s motivation in driving the company vision because they remind everyone that each of them has the ability to follow this motivation to drive their vision. 

Identifying Words That Drive Your Motivation Assignment 

Have there been words that have remained with you and have had a positive impact on your motivation in your WorkLife? These words may have been spoken directly to you. They may be words you observed as you went about your daily life – words overheard, words in a book, a film, a tv show.

i.e. Una’s words are: “Do what you can do to make a positive difference in someone else’s life.”

If you already know the words, write them down. 

If you don’t know them. Yet. Be observant as you go about your daily life, listening for words that positively impact your motivation, then write them down.

Words Of Wisdom

These words will guide you in your WorkLife to first discover and then follow your Vision.

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

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

I created The School Of WorkLife book series to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas most important to them. Click on the series to see all the books available and previews of what’s inside each book. 

How To Drive Your Vision and Motivated Abilities is book 3 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book. 

Following Your Vision and Going It Alone Can Be Extremely Lonely

But, Along With Your Motivated Abilities, Knowing How To Go It Alone Is Also The Secret To Getting There

Photo by Jorge Luis Ojeda Flota on Unsplash.

A Case Study: Andreas’s Story:

Andreas had experienced severe burnout in his position as a recruitment consultant within the insurance industry. 

He had been working long hours. Not only had there been excessive demands on his time, but there had also been unreasonable demands for the people he was expected to recruit. They, too, were expected to work long hours and do whatever they had to do to achieve the excessive targets set by their companies.

Something had to give. That something was Andreas’s job. And with it went his health and wellbeing. 

There had been a ‘restructure’ within his department, and Andreas was told his job was being made redundant. He believed the ‘restructure’ was simply a way to get rid of him and engineered as such.

For months Andreas had been pushing himself to the limit. He had been exhausted but had somehow kept going. But the moment he stopped working, that exhaustion suddenly hit him with a bang. He was totally wiped out. He experienced extreme physical and mental burnout. 

He needed to take time out to rest and recuperate. But his recovery time needed to be fast because he had to get back to work and earn a living as soon as possible. 

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Every week I write three stories about a topic relevant to helping people live their WorkLife in the best way for them. The topics primarily focus on soft skills. I think soft skills are as important as hard skills in being our best. I believe that soft skills are the unsung heroes that drive fulfilled WorkLives.

Two of these three stories are available to everyone. They are free and always will be. I publish them every Thursday and Friday.

The third story is available to members only. The membership cost is £3.00 p.m. I publish this additional story every Wednesday – so members get four/five additional stories p.m. These stories are not better. They’re just extra.

This approach allows me to honour my 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. 

If you find my work helpful, please consider subscribing to my member’s publication.

As an independent writer and WorkLife practitioner, I love to create resources to help people manage their learning as they strive to live their best WorkLife. Your contribution allows me to do that and is really appreciated.


How To Be Vulnerable And Courageous

“Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and a struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.” Brené Brown

Image supplied by author

We live in a vulnerable world, and one of the ways we deal with our own vulnerability is to numb it — grief, shame, doubt, anxiety, fear, sadness, disappointment, loneliness, the list goes on. We don’t want to feel these, so we numb them. The thing is we can’t numb these hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. We cannot selectively numb because in doing so, we also numb joy, gratitude, happiness, and then we’re unhappy because we feel vulnerable.

Whether or not your truth is easy to share, and whether or not you know what speaking your truth will bring about as an outcome, being vulnerable requires courage to be honest about who you are and where you are — the good, the bad, and the emotionally challenging. In sharing what is real for you, you allow people to process your truth, and to respond by showing who they are: their truth.

Kaye’s Story: Vulnerability is a Strength and an Important Attribute of Effective Leaders: A Case Study:

Kay learnt from an early age that vulnerability is a strength. On graduating, straight out of university she joined her family’s long-established department store business, with responsibility for overseeing ladies’ fashion for the company. She was asked to manage a team of buyers, each of whom had been in the industry for several years. While she was fresh out of college, with a degree in business studies, she had absolutely zero buying or management experience. Granddaughter of the founder, she had just walked into the job, and at twenty-three she was very aware that she was far younger and much less experienced than the people she had responsibility for managing.

Kaye wanted to be respectful of this, and so she decided to be honest and transparent about what she didn’t know. In her first meeting with her new team, she acknowledged their experience, and her lack of it. She made it clear that she had so much to learn, and that she would appreciate their help in sharing their knowledge and expertise. She had taken time to learn about each of their backgrounds, and acknowledged each person individually, and the role they had played in successfully building the ladies’ fashion department into a viable part of the business, yielding good profits year on year.

From the very outset Kaye’s intention was to build rapport with each person individually and as a group, and from this gain mutual respect and trust.

She did by:

  • Asking questions and listening before committing to embarking on new initiatives or continuing with old initiatives;
  • She walked in their shoes, which she did by working alongside them, in order to learn the ins and outs of the fashion industry. She was like a sponge soaking up the knowledge and skills that she was gaining at the hands of experts in their fields;
  • When she had to make tough decisions, she took full responsibility for the consequences and learnt from her mistakes. While sharing the credit with others for the successes they achieved together.

The outcome was that Kaye and her team developed a strong rapport built upon a foundation of mutual respect and trust. This led to establishing a complementary working dynamic that allowed the team to grow the department and the business, resulting in them exceeding their goals.

The experience taught Kaye the value of showing vulnerability, and also that it is possible to be an effective leader, even when she was beginning from a place where she lacked the same depth of industry expertise held by her team. She had been nervous at first about showing her vulnerability, because of her age, her lack of experience, and her connection to the family business. But intrinsically she knew that was not only what she needed to do, but was also the right thing to do. From that she learnt that practising vulnerability is a sign of strength, and an incredibly powerful leadership tool.

Develop Your WorkLife Story Chapters

Sharing your story makes you vulnerable. To tell your truthful personal story requires you to reveal a flaw, a mistake, or a difficulty in your WorkLife. This may open you up to being judged. You need to have trust in the people you’re opening up to, a trust that gives you confidence that you’ll be safe, secure and supported. Remember you’re in control of how much you want to reveal.

Kaye’s story is one of the stories featured in my book: How To Be Vulnerable And Courageous, from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

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

Quote #20 That Helped Shape The Chapters Of My First Book

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

Image supplied by author

Chapter #20 Time For a Little (Or a Lot) Of Self-Analysis The Power Of Apology And The Power Of Speaking Up

Quote #20 “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start from where you are and change the ending.”Anon

Followed by my Chapter Introduction:

We can all do or say things that we later come to regret, an in the moment reaction that can leave us and other people feeling anywhere from slightly uncomfortable to totally destroyed. What we do next to be able to move forward will determine how the story ends.

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

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

What’s your preferred learning style?

Bigger picture, more detail, or both?

First shared in my book: Your WorkLife Your Way.

The Creative Freelancer Who Came in From the Cold

Then Brought Her Fellow Creatives With Her to a Space Where Their Work Was Valued and Fairly Compensated

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash 

A Case Study: Juliet’s Story:

Juliet had found herself out in the cold when she had walked away from a job at a company that didn’t value or fairly compensate her work as a creative. But then something extraordinary happened. When alone in that cold place, she took time to consider her bad situation in line with her values. This led her to finding her way back to a space of warmth that served her values, wants and needs.

Juliet had always felt her purpose was to write compelling stories that capture moments, meaning and magic to make sense of the world while sharing facts and research to challenge how people process information. Her recent experiences – the cold and the warm, led her to feel her purpose was even greater than that. She now believed her purpose was to create a workspace for creatives where their work is valued and fairly compensated. 

Subscribe to get access

Read more of this content when you subscribe today.

Every week I write three stories about a topic relevant to helping people live their WorkLife in the best way for them. The topics primarily focus on soft skills. I think soft skills are as important as hard skills in being our best. I believe that soft skills are the unsung heroes that drive fulfilled WorkLives.

Two of these three stories are available to everyone. They are free and always will be. I publish them every Thursday and Friday.

The third story is available to members only. The membership cost is £3.00 p.m. I publish this additional story every Wednesday – so members get four/five additional stories p.m. These stories are not better. They’re just extra.

This approach allows me to honour my 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. 

If you find my work helpful, please consider subscribing to my member’s publication.

As an independent writer and WorkLife practitioner, I love to create resources to help people manage their learning as they strive to live their best WorkLife. Your contribution allows me to do that and is really appreciated.

Purpose Wins Over Profit Every Time. In The End. That Is.

But It Can Take Time and It Can Also Demand Courage

Belonging is a collective purpose
Photo by Amer Mughawish on Unsplash

A Case Study: Sabina’s Story:

It was 2010, and Sabina was reeling from failing in her first (and only) contract as an independent recruiter in the restaurant industry.

She had, in fact, walked away from the job because she felt she couldn’t deliver on the contract without compromising on her Purpose: To bring good people together to foster connectivity between workers, companies and communities.

A purpose born from the philosophy that workers want to feel a sense of belonging to their company, companies want to feel a sense of belonging to their community, and the community want to feel a sense of belonging to the place they go out to eat.

Sabina had sourced a pool of excellent candidates, but she had concerns about the company fostering that sense of belonging within its workforce and its community. While Sabina understood the importance of businesses being profitable, she didn’t understand why it needed to be profit over purpose, which she believed the company’s aggressive growth plans demanded. Sabina believed truly profitable businesses in industries that relied on bringing people together as a crucial part of both the economy and the emotional fabric of society. Sabina believed purpose and profit could and should co-exist.

And so, Sabina walked away, which meant zero earnings. She didn’t have any other contracts in the pipeline, and there wouldn’t be any good recommendations for her work coming from the restaurant owner. To say the outlook was looking bleak would be a fair assessment of Sabina’s situation.

But this story isn’t about how Sabina turned her WorkLife around and changed company cultures within her industry for the good of all (which she did). This story is about how a clear purpose became the driving force behind all of the decisions and judgements she made — as a result, making a real difference in the WorkLives of the people she served. In so doing, Sabina helped drive profits through purpose.

Fast forward ten years.

Covid-19 pandemic hits, and restaurants are forced to close their doors. Their very purpose for existence, and the thing they do best — bringing people together, is the very thing they’re not permitted to do.

Then as soon as it became safe enough to bring people back to work, the industry came up with as many safety protocols as they possibly could. The restaurants Sabina worked with asked every single one of their people what they could do that would bring hospitality to people, even if they couldn’t bring people into their restaurants.

They came up with ideas, such as: preparing and delivering ready to heat meal boxes; turning restaurants into grocery meal kit kind of stores and into wine stores, canning craft beers for takeaways, delivering baked goods from restaurants to grocery stores and to homes, figuring out ways to have QR codes so no-one would have to touch a menu.

At each step of the way, as they began to open up, first with outside dining and then the different capacities allowed for inside dining, they figured out how they could make it work.

They did this from a place of believing they had to be the change they wanted to see. They wanted their community to start to look, and feel, and smell, and taste like the neighbourhood that had first attracted them. To do this, they needed to get out there and be part of making that happen.

All of this was possible because Sabina had followed her Purpose: To bring good people together to foster connectivity between workers, companies and communities.

Because Sabina had done this from a place of considering soft skills being as important as the hard or technical skills needed to deliver on the job and do good work.

In connecting people, she looked for the following attributes:

Pride: People who take pride in carrying out their work to the very best of their ability;

Optimism: People who are open to giving new ideas a go, in the belief that it could work;

Integrity: People who have the judgement to do the right thing even when it may not be in their own self-interest, and even when no one else is looking;

Curiosity: People who see every day as an opportunity to learn and contribute something new;

Kindness: People who understand how integral kindness is in creating a good environment for everyone;

Self-Awareness: People who are aware of how their behaviour impacts other people’s feelings.

These core attributes formed the foundation that drove Sabina’s decision making in her WorkLife to follow her purpose to connect good people.

These core attributes, and Sabina’s single purpose, now formed the foundation in rebuilding WorkLives, companies and communities.

These core attributes and purpose helped individuals, companies, and communities survive at a time when it wasn’t possible to make profits.

Over time these core attributes and purpose helped once again to drive profits in an industry that relied on bringing people together.

These core attributes and purpose played a crucial role in rebuilding both the economy and the emotional fabric of society.

Epilogue

Purpose had won over profit — In the end, that is.

It had taken time, and it had demanded courage.

But this time, Sabina wasn’t alone in following and living true to her purpose.

This time it was the collective purpose of the people she served. A collective that believed purpose and profit could and should co-exist.

One Simple Step To Consider Soft Skills Needed To Deliver On The Job And Do Good Work Assignment

Whatever your WorkLife Purpose is, the soft skills you need to deliver on the job and do good work are as important as your hard skills. This simple step will allow you to know what those are for you:

Step 1: Identify what those are for you and the meaning they hold. i.e. one of Sabina’s soft skills is Pride: People who take pride in carrying out their work to the very best of their ability.

Words Of Wisdom

Whether you work alone or as part of a small team or a bigger company, you likely will at times need to collaborate on projects. The outcome you want to achieve will guide you in knowing the hard or technical skills needed in this collaboration. The outcome you want to achieve will also guide you in knowing the soft skills needed in this collaboration. These collaborations or projects are connected to purpose – yours, your team, your company, your community. 

This simple exercise will enable bringing good people together to foster connectivity between workers, companies and communities, driven by individual or collective purpose. 

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

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

I created The School Of WorkLife book series to help people continuously fine-tune their learning, development and growth in the areas most important to them. Click on the series to see all the books available and previews of what’s inside each book.

How To Use Your Purpose To Help Others is book 2 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what’s inside the book.