Why is it Important to Put Your Interests and Hobbies on Your CV?

Because You Need to Share a Holistic Insight Into Who You Are 

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

this-is-your-life-red-bookClients will often ask me if they should put interests/hobbies on their CV. Without hesitation, I respond ABSOLUTELY. I believe it’s so important when people are being interviewed that the interviewer/s take time to understand who they are as individuals.

Having an insight into what’s unique and different about a candidate over and above their skills and experience allows an understanding of how they will perform in the role and in being an ambassador for the company. And as importantly provides an insight into how the company can support the candidate’s learning, development and growth in line with what is important to them, both professionally and personally. 

After all, we spend so much of our time in our job that there is a need to have a holistic view of what makes people tick. What motivates and inspires them and keeps them energised in their work and their life outside of work.

Good companies will want to understand and support this, and quite frankly, if I was being interviewed by an organisation that showed little interest in me other than my capability to perform on the job, I would make a very quick exit. Simply because I need to know that the company values my happiness and well-being, and in order to do that, they need to have this insight and understanding.

This allows me an understanding of how they value their employees. This is important to me because the core of my work is supporting individuals and teams in being fulfilled in their WorkLife. I help people manage their WorkLife learning, development and growth, which in turn positively impacts the company’s vision and business strategy.

Remember, an interview is a two-way process. As much as you need to sell yourself to the company they need to sell themselves to you too. Good interviewers will give people the chance to tell their story, which in turn allows them to see an individual’s real potential.

I’ll share a story about Mary to demonstrate what I mean.

A Case Study: Mary’s Story Wearing the Mask of Chief Financial Officer

When Mary and I began working together, she was ready to move on from her current organisation because it no longer inspired her. It was in a sector that was quite progressive in a commercial sense, but it wasn’t in line with Mary’s values. Her internal fire for this type of organisation had burnt out, and she felt she was putting on the mask of Chief Financial Officer every day, whether with her team or at board meetings.

To facilitate her impending WorkLife move, she began to connect with head hunters, all of whom were eager to represent her by either putting her forward for a role they were already recruiting for or putting her forward as a strong candidate to organisations they had a relationship with who might not have been actively recruiting for a specific position but were undergoing some changes that would benefit from having Mary on board. And of course being in a position to put forward a candidate of Mary’s calibre would strengthen the head hunters’ credibility and relationship with the organisation.

However, as with many headhunters and recruitment consultants, they were considering Mary for organisations similar to the one she wanted to move on from rather than taking the time to understand who she was as an individual to take into account her interests and potential across other industries and sectors.

Unfortunately, this is a sign of the times, and in a competitive market, this is how headhunters and recruitment consultants are forced to operate, simply because they have a stronger chance of securing a role for a candidate who is a better fit for the job specification in terms of their current experience.

Among Mary’s passions are a love for English Heritage and a love of animals. She supports charities in both her areas of interest through donations, and she is also a trustee and board member of her chosen charities. She does this in a voluntary capacity.

She had also taken a two-month sabbatical, during which time she lived in a small community in remote Africa and worked alongside the local people offering her financial expertise to support them in developing a sustainable business strategy for the community, which allowed them to be self-sufficient in promoting their social enterprise. At the end of the two months, the community held a carnival in celebration of Mary’s support, and she was crowned queen of their village!

Along with all of this, Mary also has her pilot’s licence, and at weekends you’ll find her navigating the skies of Britain along with her husband, a fellow enthusiast.

Now Mary is quite unassuming, and so you’d never really know these things about her, and it would be unusual for it to come up in an interview situation unless, of course, she had it on her CV (which Mary didn’t) and the interviewer is interested in finding out who she really is. Then, of course, the interviewer would see Mary’s true potential and would understand why she should be considered as a serious candidate for a role in an organisation or sector different to where she’s come from.

Epilogue

Mary’s story does have a happy ending. Putting her interests and hobbies on her CV opened up a greater range of roles for her. She interviewed but was pipped at the post for a role in a charity that provided care for donkeys in developing countries. This may bring a smile to your face (the visual image of a donkey race), but the role of these donkeys is integral to the community, and their owners needed to take better care of them to allow them to work at their best and to be taken care of when they could no longer work. 

Although Mary was disappointed not to secure the role, the experience gave her the belief that she could transition into a sector that has more meaning for her in line with her values. She has since secured a role working for an organisation within the National Heritage.

And so yes, do include your interests and hobbies on your CV and make your decision about joining an organisation based on how interested they are in understanding who you are as a person both in your work and your life outside of work.

Words of Wisdom

I also think by doing this, you will demonstrate your attributes, and I believe this is an important consideration for employers alongside the skills and experience represented on your CV.

I have shared this story with my client’s permission. I’ve changed some details to protect anonymity. Mary’s story was featured in my book Your WorkLife Your Way. The book 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 in all your WorkLife situations, both in your written and verbal communication.

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POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 16/2/15. 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.

How To Live True To Who You Really Are (Mary’s story also featured in this book).

How To Use Your Purpose To Help Others 

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.

How To Effectively Manage your WorkLife in Turbulent Times

9 Simple Steps To Help You Self Direct Your Learning and Development 

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

????????????????????????????????????????There’s an old story about two shoe salesmen whose company sends them to a remote village in Africa. Upon arrival, one sends home a message saying, “No one here wears shoes; will return shortly.” The other salesman sends this message: “No one here wears shoes; send inventory!” The point of the story, of course, is that your perspective influences your behaviour.  If you consider it is all doom and gloom, and there’s nothing you can do to change a situation, you act one way. But if you see the world as a series of opportunities, you act differently.

This is a (slightly) updated version of an article I wrote for Communication Director Magazine about what Communications Specialists need to do to be in a position to manage and develop their career in times of uncertainty. Here’s a link to the original article: Managing a career in turbulent times

If I were to consider what has come out of the great recession to date, I think it would be that individuals across all WorkLife stages are reconsidering the next steps in their WorkLife.  They are taking control of planning their own WorkLife management and development, ensuring that with a long-term plan, they can refocus their development wisely to make the most effective impact on their WorkLife. The recession has forced us all to focus on what matters and to use limited resources wisely to make the greatest impact. The key is to have a mindset that focuses on the opportunities evolving as a result of the current economic environment as opposed to dwelling on the problems. After all, a positive approach could help you sell a lot of shoes!

It’s all too easy to let the urgent demands of the workplace and the ailing economy trample over your need to focus on your own growth and job satisfaction. Yet, especially during lean times, if you don’t manage yourself, no one else will. Taking a step back and acknowledging the environment has shifted, and while you may not be doing the work you were expecting to be doing, ask:

‘What can I do in this context to make sure that I’m still growing toward my vision?

You need to come up with a WorkLife plan that’s two-fold, both short-term and long-term. A natural tendency for people is to overestimate what can be achieved in one year and underestimate what can be achieved in five years. One benefit of keeping a strong focus on your vision is that it makes it easier to find alternate routes when you encounter roadblocks. Map out alternate pathways in advance before there is a roadblock.

In the short term, you can advance your learning agenda in this current climate by keeping the vision of where you want to be and take advantage of every opportunity to gain the knowledge and experience that will move you closer to that vision.

Areas where communications currently play a key role and where you, the corporate communications professional, can make a difference include:

Company Business Strategy

The economic downturn forced organisations to scale back, sometimes quite dramatically, but growth will again reappear on the horizon, and when it does, it will bring a new challenge of how to develop a team in sync with a business that’s operating in a very different environment. A strong business strategy will need to be in place to allow this growth.

But even the most brilliant strategy is worth nothing if it isn’t executed well.  Communications is unilaterally deemed critical to the success of strategic initiatives.  Historically communicators placed their role in an advisory capacity and not beyond. However, to support the powerful convergence of strategy, communications should act as an integral and active component of strategy development and execution.

There is no strategy without communications.

The strategy needs to be communicated across the organisation. Strategy communications need to be accompanied by metrics to help front-line employees take ownership over their roles in the execution. The message should be two-fold: this is what we are trying to achieve, and this is how we will measure if we are achieving it.

To drive your own growth in this current climate, you need to seek perpetual education and development, and this is not necessarily by going to college but by putting yourself forward for new and perhaps demanding assignments.

▪ Demonstrate that you are willing and able to support business strategy from implementation through to execution
▪  Establish the role of communications as a resource for strategists
▪ Find ways of gaining exposure to new people and ideas by being a participant in the strategic task force
▪ Develop a strong collaborative working relationship with strategic planners and leaders
Understanding the intersection of strategy, leadership and communications by capturing all three of these viewpoints and different perspectives will provide a richer, more complete and holistic approach to your role as a corporate communications specialist.

Sustainability and Social Responsibility
How, as a corporate communications professional, are you taking advantage of the stronger focus on Sustainability and Social Responsibility?

Companies are being more proactive towards the social pressure of protecting the environment, placing an emphasis on good employee relations and human rights as well as the business interest in assuming a leadership role in society and the economy. It is linked to the long-term sustainability of businesses.

▪ The key role of corporate communications is to establish ways of tying sustainability to a brand’s core business to ensure it resonates with customers.  This needs to be authentic by connecting the vision and execution in a credible and meaningful way. For example, car brands must focus on making more fuel-efficient, cleaner cars – not saving the rainforest. Honesty and transparency go a long way with consumers. Disclosing what you’re doing well and what you could be doing better will instil trust, and trust breeds loyalty.

▪ Communications play an important part in supporting your organisation in having a competitive edge when price and quality are equal. Work collaboratively with the team to ensure all sustainability efforts are in place, functioning and measurable before being announced. This will allow you to communicate a message that is credible, has clarity and is engaging – all of which are key to sustainable brand success.

▪ Social media offers great opportunities to support communication around CSR and Sustainability, and there is clearly potential in digital communication to advance the sustainability dialogue for stakeholder engagement. But before getting on the social media bandwagon and focusing on the technology and the tools/platforms offered (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Youtube etc.) consider the best practices of social media, which are primarily about conversations and relationship building. Revolving around trust, social media also requires openness, transparency, accountability and two-way engagement with an ability to listen, and this is even more important in the field of communications as all of these elements are fundamental principles of CSR and Sustainability strategies.

CSR/Sustainability programs, when appropriately communicated, demonstrate the actualisation of values that are becoming more prominent in society. The emphasis here needs to be on appropriate communication. People tend to know when they are being “played” or when actions simply do not match the messages from to top. It is important then that the messaging around CSR/Sustainability focus on realistic activities and objectives while celebrating actual successes and activities. An effective and effectively communicated CSR/Sustainability program can demonstrate improved quality of process and organisational management and can improve the quality of use of corporate resources.

But you also need to stay focussed on working toward your long-term WorkLife goals. Most professionals should be looking three years ahead and thinking about the ways in which they can make their actual day-to-day responsibilities more congruent with their deepest interests. This includes thinking about what kind of culture you want to have around you and how you can do more of the more meaningful aspects of your work. You should try to imagine as deeply as possible your vision for your work reality. Then you need to work backwards from that to determine what you need to learn or experience over the next one or two years to be seen as a highly desirable candidate to step into that role.

As organisations prepare for growth, a number of key areas that employers will focus on are:
▪ Ensuring an adequate pipeline of future leaders
▪ Retaining high-potential employees and those with critical skills
▪ Understanding the key roles and workforce segments that drive business success
▪ Linking employee performance to business goals
▪ Attracting the right workforce for the right roles

So, as well as surviving the current economic climate, you also need to take responsibility for your own talent management and find ways of developing yourself in order to secure that competitive edge that is vital to your long-term success.

How can you position yourself within your organisation to ensure you have an opportunity to leverage your skills, talents and motivated abilities? There are a number of ways in which you can you take control of your WorkLife to ensure you are motivated, stretched, inspired, and your talents are nurtured through meaningful development opportunities. These include Self-Directed Learning and Development.

What is Self Directed Learning and Development?

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. 

9 Simple Steps to Help You Self-Direct Your Learning and Development 

  1.  Increasing your self-awareness – Having clarity about who you are and what you want empowers you to consciously and actively make those wants a reality.
  2.  Have focussed one-to-one coaching – An effective coach will support and challenge you to enable you to achieve what’s important to you.
  3. Role model authentic leadership behaviours – Identify people you admire and respect and model their behaviours.
  4. Make mentoring work – engage with people across all levels for WorkLife wisdom.
  5. Take responsibility through benchmarking – Benchmarking allows you to compare yourself with others (the people you admire and respect), identify their comparative strengths and weaknesses and learn how to improve.
  6.  Embrace learning through experience – be open to learning and change. Talent needs to be nurtured and developed through the right experiences, and this will support meaningful work.
  7. Use assignments and secondments creatively – bring your personal insights and creative abilities to each assignment. This is your opportunity to shine.
  8. Demand inspirational leadership – support your manager in being innovative with leadership programmes.
  9.  Aim to build breadth and personal depth – develop personal mastery through learning, intellectual agility and authenticity.

Organisations are finding it tougher to retain their best performers. As a self directed learner, help them to tailor your job in line with your interests and take on new responsibilities that enable you to express those interests. Maybe as a communications professional, you have an interest in quantitative analysis, ask to take on duties working with market-research analysis or perhaps you want to develop your people management skills and put yourself forward for planning and managing new-hire orientation.

This creates new opportunities for utilising resources within the organisation as the key forces in driving organisational success. You have the opportunity and responsibility to support your organisation in recognising the impact of making sure the most important people (one of whom you are) stay motivated, happy and productive so that they stay with the company. Now is the time to take responsibility for your own talent management as a self directed learner.

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POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 23/1/15  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?

a recap …

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.

How  To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively

How To Plan Effectively: Professionally and Personally

How To Be Autonomous in Your Development and Growth 

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

Chapter 6 (of 20) The False Spring

A Moveable Feast Chapter Five, The False Spring, Accompanied by 
French Toast.
A Moveable Feast Chapter Five, The False Spring, Accompanied by French Toast.

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 6 (of 20) The False Springaccompanied by French Toast ‘Kipferl’ Style – milk bread fried in egg, with homemade apple and seasonal compote, fresh fruit and cinnamon at Kipferl, Camden Passage, Islington.

Notes From Chapter 6: The False Spring

A WorkLife Book Club For One

Notes about Spring Mornings

When spring came, even the false spring, there was no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.

In the spring mornings I would work early.

So that day after work we would go racing.

Hemingway was talking about making the most of the beautiful spring days and getting up early to work while his wife and the streets below were still asleep. Then when finished writing, he and his wife, Hadley, could choose how to spend the rest of the beautiful spring day. In the chapter he told the story of the day they chose to go racing.

This note serves as a reminder of a simple WorkLife practice that makes time for work and making the most of beautiful days. 

Notes about Money

‘Do we have enough money to really bet, Tatie?’ my wife asked.

It was all part of the fight against poverty that you never win except by not spending. 

But then we did not think ever of ourselves as poor. We did not accept it. It only seemed odd to be rich. We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply.

Recently I had coffee with a friend. I mentioned how, during the pandemic, because my work had stopped overnight, I had taken the financial support the government had made available. 

Meaning well, my friend said she realised how privileged she was – she meant because she was financially OK. Or Rich. Whereas because I had needed to take the government financial support, she thought I was less privileged or poor!

What she said bothered me – it bothered me a LOT!

Because I don’t feel less privileged than her or anyone else for that matter.

And I certainly don’t think of myself as poor.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. 

I feel extremely privileged.

I feel extremely rich.

And that’s because of my work.

As a WorkLife learning practitioner, writer and creator, my work gives me a far greater sense of privilege and richness than money has ever or could ever.

I used to work in Investment Banking. I worked with good people in a good environment, and it afforded me a great lifestyle. I never had to give a second thought to spending money on whatever I wanted to spend it on. I had great experiences because of that.

But, and there is a but, a very BIG BUT.

My work wasn’t fulfilling. It was OK. There wasn’t anything wrong with it per se. It simply had become mundane because I had been doing it for so long. 

BUT, more than that. It had never been fulfilling.

Then as soon as I began my transition into the work I’m doing now, I immediately had a sense of fulfilment in my WorkLife, and with it came a sense of richness – not the richness of money, but the richness that came from doing good work.

From the outset in serving the people I worked with, the criteria that guided my work have always been that it has to be Helpful, Insightful and Inspiring. This is what gives me a sense of privilege and richness. 

It has, over the course of almost twenty years working in my field, been financially challenging many times. Working freelance and navigating through ups and downs brought about by downturns in the market (financial crashes or the pandemic), resulting in learning budgets being frozen, made getting work hard, which made it financially challenging. 

BUT throughout all of this, I’ve always felt extremely privileged and rich.

Because during downturns, when I didn’t have a lot of work, or as in the pandemic when I had no work, I spent my time creating.

Creating learning resources that are accessible to everyone, to help people self direct their WorkLife learning in the areas that are important to them. 

This means that people can continue to self direct their learning regardless of company learning budgets being frozen. People who lose their job because of downturns can also continue to self direct their learning, while doing what they need to do to return to work. And so can people who set themselves up in business, who also perhaps have limited learning budgets. 

Because my work has taught me that the one thing that can never be taken away from you is your learning.

My work gives me a sense of privilege and richness that money has ever and could ever.

Notes about Experiences 

‘Do you remember I bought some wine from Aigle home to the chalet? They sold it to us at the inn. They said it should go with the trout. We bought it wrapped in copies of La Gazette de Lausanne, I think.’ 

‘The Sion wine was even better. Do you remember how Mrs Gangeswisch cooked the trout au bleu when we got back to the chalet? They were such wonderful trout, Tatie, and we drank the Sion wine and ate out on the porch with the mountainside dropping off below and we could look across the lake and see the Dent du Midi with the snow half down it and the trees at the mouth of the Rhône where it flowed into the lake.’

Creating experiences on that spring day led Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, to reminisce about memorable experiences from times gone by.

Lately, I find myself reminiscing a lot about memorable experiences from times gone by.

I also find myself thinking about the times over the last twenty years when things have been financially hard when I stopped creating experiences. I deprived myself because I felt I couldn’t spend money on creating an experience because I needed it to pay the bills.

In taking Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast on a Moveable Feast, I’m creating memorable experiences. They don’t cost a lot. They don’t have to. I simply enjoy reading a chapter over a plate and a glass. It’s a simple pleasure that gives me immense satisfaction. 

I walk wherever I’m going, and along the way, I’m discovering new places to create new experiences over a plate and a glass and a new chapter.

Words of Wisdom

‘Memory is hunger.’ Hadley Richardson.

For me, this line gives a sense of longing for the good experiences of the past to return and a sense of realising the importance of creating new experiences.. 

Experiences are the thing that bring richness and privilege to our lives. They don’t have to cost a lot of money. I needed to be reminded of that.

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 7 (of 20) The End of an Avocation Took Me …

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Today I enjoyed French Toast ‘Kipferl’ Style – milk bread fried in egg, with homemade apple and seasonal compote, fresh fruit and cinnamon at Kipferl, Camden Passage, Islington. 

Kipferl is an Austrian restaurant & patisserie in a bright and spacious chalet-like space. Once again, unknowingly, my choice was serendipitous with the chapter, as Hemingway and his wife, Hadley, were reminiscing about their chalet and experiences while in Switzerland. 

Se souvenir de toi, Norma.

#FunFact1 The usual French name for French Toast is Pain Perdu, ‘lost bread’, reflecting its use of stale or otherwise “lost” bread. (Source Wikipedia

The first known recorded recipe for French toast comes from Rome around 300 A.D. The Roman author Apicius included it in his cookbook titled “Cooking and Dining in Imperial Rome. For centuries, the French themselves called this dish “Roman Bread”. Today, French toast has spread to much of the world. Because the recipe is seen as a good way to make use of stale bread without wasting it, many countries today refer to this dish as ‘lost bread’. (Source Science Questions with Surprising Answers)

#FunFact2. Camden Passage, Islington, is hidden down a pedestrian-only cobbled back street. The passage was built, as an alley, along the backs of houses on Upper Street, then Islington High Street, in 1767. Since the 1950’s Camden Passage has ranked alongside Portobello, Kensington Church Street and Spitalfields as one of London’s leading antique locations. In later years the area has diversified with many new shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and market stalls. (Source Camden Passage Islington and Wikipedia).

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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

Your WorkLife Your Way

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

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.

How to Strengthen Low Morale Brought About by Survivor’s Syndrome 

6 Steps to Rebuild Morale Through Archetypes and Creative Role Play

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

imagesIn this current economic climate, many companies are forced to go through restructuring processes resulting in considerable downsizing. This can seriously impact morale and bring it to an all-time low.Low morale is likely to result in an unhappy workforce.People are struggling to keep their heads above water, but they need to somehow come through this and make it work if their company (and their roles) are to survive.

What is Survivor’s Syndrome?

‘Survivors Syndrome’ is when the people who have remained in a job are challenged with delivering not only on their original roles/workloads but also stepping in and stepping up to fill the gaps caused by the loss of their colleagues along with their skills, knowledge and experience. This often results in low morale at work.

The loss of colleagues can cause Survivor’s Syndrome – a sense of guilt for the people who kept their job while their colleagues lost theirs. This, in turn, can bring about low morale.

When morale is low it leads to negativity, causing a ‘stuckness’ in people’s thinking.

How To Strengthen Low Morale

Fresh thinking is needed to be able to move beyond this, to explore ideas that stimulate. A valuable technique to help achieve this is to work with archetypes through creative role-play.

Case Study: How to Strengthen Low Morale Brought About by Survivor’s Syndrome 

6 Steps to Rebuild Morale Through Archetypes and Creative Role Play

Kate, as head of Human Resources, is tasked with strengthening the low morale within her company that came from a restructuring process which brought about many job losses that resulted in survivors syndrome for those who remained in their roles.

Kate believes morale within the company needs to be rebuilt before it can be strengthened.

She brings in Evolving Careers Players (ECP) to explore ideas that will be stimulating to the project and the team. A pilot team made up of four people across four functions of the organisation: I.T., Finance, Sales and Marketing and Research and Development are selected to work with the ideas before the project is rolled out to the organisation at large.

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

Who are Evolving Careers Players?

Evolving Careers Players (ECP) is a team of WorkLife learning practitioners and artists – performing, visual and literary.

The group’s formation came from the core principle that the techniques, methods and structure of theatre making are significant in the world of WorkLife learning and development. 

The belief behind this is that the unique skill sets that artists have had to develop in their craft brings learning alive. This is “learning by doing”, enabling the practice of new skills sets and behaviours in a safe, supportive, challenging and creative environment. 

ECP’s 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 their work helps foster creativity, team spirit and emotional intelligence. 

This benefits companies in opening the door to new levels of trust, collaboration and outcomes, enabling better working relationships through building stronger teams.

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

6 Steps to Rebuild Morale Through Archetypes and Creative Role Play

What is Archetypical Role?

An archetype is an emotion, character type, or event that is notably recurrent across the human experience. In the arts, an archetype creates an immediate sense of familiarity, allowing an audience member to relate to an event or character without having to necessarily ponder why they relate. (Source Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass) 

Step 1. To be in a position to understand the 4 team members, ECP (The Players) need to take on their archetypical characteristics.

Working with the core principles of ECP around the techniques, structures and methods of theatre, together ECP, Kate, and the team are able to identify/recognise the team/themselves as the following archetypes:

The Brick Wall: This role specialises in stonewalling. It refuses to make any contribution to the interaction. It is the archetypal ‘no comment’

The Rescuer: This role is about putting the focus on to other people, calling for help to be given to someone else. This way, the spotlight on the self is avoided.

The Mouth: This role likes to talk its way out of situations, saying anything at all, even complete rubbish, rather than have the focus of enquiry more meaningfully directed.

Mr/Ms Cool: This role likes to take a laid-back approach to life, essentially articulating an arrogance that makes a mockery of any challenge.

Step 2. The Players enact The First Scenario:

The ‘big question/problem’ is raised: ‘How do we rebuild morale?’ and is answered in a round-robin way in character.

This is conversational: by way of dialogue, the players take on the identity of the four team members. This allows the players to gain an understanding of each person: to get under their skin, to feel their pain and to get into their minds to enable them to know how they think.

Kate and her team observe, and the scene is filmed to be watched back and discussed. 

Step 3. Each team member is asked to say one positive thing about themselves in the interaction and to say what one thing they would change about themselves to enable the situation to move forward. 

Then the person sitting to their right is asked to say one positive thing about their colleague in the interaction and to make one suggestion to their colleague of a change to be made to move forward. They are instructed to keep this feedback positive. Following on from this, the second scenario is established. 

The team take on the role of directing themselves through the Players, and this is played out in the video demonstration. 

Step 4. The Players enact The Second Scenario:

The ‘big question/problem’ remains. ‘How do we rebuild morale?’

The players in their characters keep the two positive things mentioned and take on the two suggested changes they could do to move things forward. 

The conversation continues, is observed, filmed, watched back and discussed. 

Step 5. Each team member again says one positive thing about themselves in the interaction, along with one thing they would change about themselves to allow things to move on. The person to their right once again says one positive thing about their colleague in the interaction and one suggestion of a change to be made to move on.

The team take on the role of directing themselves through the Players, and this is played out in the video demonstration. 

Step 6. The exercise is repeated as many times as needed for the team to be confident they have a workable action plan which will help rebuild morale that can be rolled out throughout the organisation.

Words of Wisdom

I believe that we have the solution to every problem we encounter within us. I call it our inner sage wisdom. We just need to find a way to tap into it.

Archetypical Role-Play is a simple technique to awaken your creative mind to help you tap into your inner sage wisdom to resolve your problem. This also helps you to fine-tune your ability to self-direct your learning. 

As a learning practitioner, writer and founder of Evolving Careers Players, I worked with the artists to develop the archetypes for this WorkLife lesson, drawing from our combined areas of knowledge and experience.

POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 15/1/15. 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 (and your team’s)

Scott Jeffrey’s Archetypes List is an excellent resource to help you (and your team) understand how you can apply the guiding principles of archetypes role-play to your WorkLife 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.

How To Start Something New in Difficult Times 

How To Successfully Invent and Reinvent Yourself 

How To Use Turning Points to Start Something Different and Better

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.

How to Know Whether to Hire From the Inside or Outside to Build Back Stronger

3 Steps to Help You Find the Best Candidate for the Role

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

imagesThe market during the downturn provided significant challenges for employers when hiring. Conservative decision-making became widespread, particularly in the form of narrow sector focus and an unwillingness to ‘risk’ transferable skills or experience, seeking the comfort of market expertise.

Downsizing within organisations called for restructuring processes where employees had to compete with each other by interviewing for roles within the new business structure.

How can these challenges be overcome in a recovering but ever-changing marketplace?

Ultimately, we must respond to the changing dynamics of the market and look to exploit the opportunities that arise from it – just as hirers become less risk-averse, so do prospective candidates, and this provides the opportunity to attract candidates with real potential. Recognising potential is key for all companies striving to keep pace with this rapidly changing, increasingly complex world.

The argument for hiring from outside because people from different backgrounds can bring in new perspectives and opinions that will challenge the existing and sometimes stubborn organisations is strong. However, promoting from within presents the argument that the inspiration it gives to other insiders helps to keep your talented workforce strong and motivated.

When hiring from outside, you’re forced to write a proper job spec, consider a larger pool of candidates, grill them in well-structured interviews and conduct in-depth reference checks.

This isn’t as easy with internal candidates who are already your colleagues and friends, who will naturally ask ‘aren’t my years of contribution and performance evidence of my qualification?” ‘don’t you know me well enough after this time?’ which in all probability is true but to make it a fair playing field, everyone needs to go through the same rigorous process.

How to Know Whether to Hire From the Inside or Outside to Build Back Stronger

3 Steps to Help You Find the Best Candidate for the Role

Step 1. Start by defining the profile of the ideal person and consider a wide pool of both insiders and outsiders. To identify the best, you need to recognise the people who have the right motives, qualities and potential to help you excel. At the interview, this preparation will help you to get past the polish to hire the best candidate.

Step 2. Use role-play for real-play workplace scenarios to allow you to get to know each candidate beyond ‘canned’ answers to common interview questions. This is because they will be required to react in the moment, allowing you to find the right person that both fits your company culture and can refresh your business with new ideas.

There are many challenges when hiring, and anyone who strives to lead from good to great knows the importance of getting things right at the root, which is the people.

Step 3. Focus on hiring for insatiable curiosity and the insight to see connections to achieve greatness in building and transforming companies that remain at the forefront of society is the key to success.

Start from a fair playing field and consider the best people from both inside and outside your company.  Surround yourself with the best by seeking out potential because this is what will keep you at the forefront of this recovering but ever-changing marketplace.

Below is a demonstration of a Corporate Drama Role Play for Real Play: Hire for Potential. Beth (played by Julia) has to demonstrate how having been brought in from the outside; she would manage resistance from people on the inside who are suspicious and mistrustful of any changes she wants to make. Marie (played by Julie) is playing the role of a resistant member of staff

POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 15/1/15. 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 

Managing your career in turbulent times is an article I wrote for Communication Director magazine in 2012. Taking responsibility to self-direct your learning will help you steer your WorkLife through times of uncertainty and times of certainty. 

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.

How To Let Curiosity Be Your Driving Force 

How To Be Creative in Your Thinking  

How To Successfully Invent and Reinvent Yourself 

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.

5 Creative Steps to Apply Role Storming to Problem Solving

Role Storming a Brainstorming Technique for the Creative Mind

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

What is Role Storming?

Role Storming is a brainstorming technique to encourage group members to take on other people’s identities while brainstorming. This reduces the inhibitions that many people feel when sharing their ideas with a group, and it helps people come up with ideas that they may not have otherwise considered because they’re considering them from someone else’s perspective.

It’s a useful technique for #CorporateDramaRolePlay because it helps develop problem solving skills within individuals and teams by bringing the power of performing arts to the art of problem solving 

How to Apply Role Storming to Problem Solving

Begin by presenting the problem to be solved to the group. It doesn’t need to be a problem directly related to their work. In fact, it’s probably even more beneficial to have a generic problem because this demonstrates the transferability of problem solving skills, which can be taken back to the workplace and applied to specific problems.

 5 Creative Steps to Apply Role Storming to Problem Solving 

Step 1. Brainstorm obvious ideas by conducting a regular brainstorming session with your group. Not only will this generate some good initial ideas, it will also highlight more obvious ideas. This leaves the group free to expand their thinking and push boundaries in later steps.

Step 2. Identify Roles: Ask each group member to think of someone they know – alive or dead, who they admire and respect for their problem-solving skills. Ideally, they should know enough about them to take on their identity for a short time. The person they choose can be anyone, so long as it’s a person not in the current group.

While the group members don’t need to name the person whose identity they’re taking on, It’s best for it not to be someone the rest of the group knows and who they would recognise.

Step 3. Get Into Character: For each role, allow group members a few minutes to get into character. ‘Hot Seat’ (put them on the spot with quick-fired questions) using these questions to help with this:
• How does this person see the world?
• What is this person’s personality or attitude likely to be?
• How would this person solve problems?

Make an effort to support each member to get into the persona of the character: the more deeply
they understand this person’s feelings, worldview, and motivations, the better they can use this
perspective to generate good ideas.

Step 4. Brainstorm in Character: Present the same problem to the group and ask them to brainstorm in their chosen character.

Step 5. Repeat the exercise with as many different identities as you need so that you can generate enough good ideas.

The short video below demonstrates role-storming as a group exercise. 

POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 05/12/14. 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 (and your team’s)

Tuckman’s stages of group development model: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning  

Rick Griggs- Rolestorming originator describes his world-famous creativity tool.

I republished this story with a focus on self-directed learning: 5 Creative Steps to Apply Role-Storming to Problem Solving for Self-Directed Learning

You may find the books below from The School of WorkLife Book Series helpful in developing and fine-tuning your creative prowess as a problem solver and self directed learner. Tap the book title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

How To Be Creative in Your Thinking

How To Successfully Invent and Reinvent Yourself

How To Let Curiosity Be Your Driving Force

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.

5 Strategies to Help You Understand Poetry and the Poet to Enhance Communication

6 Ways to Explore Poetry to Help You Connect With Your Audience 

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

Poetry is a unique and dynamic way of getting back to the vocal pathway of instinctive expression through simple, practical actions that can empower you with the ability to communicate in a way that connects with your audience. Poetry connects with your voice because it connects your head to your heart. This is key to connecting with your audience.

Great communicators have always known the elemental role of communicating is connecting with their audience.

But are great communicators born with those inherent skills, or is it necessary to practice and develop techniques? 

The age-old nature versus nurture argument around trusting nature and acting by instinct as opposed to precision techniques and clear understanding to liberate hidden possibilities to learn the hard task of being true to the instinct of the moment.

The late Cicely Berry (renowned for her work as voice coach and director of the RSC) based her work on the conviction that while all is present in nature, our natural instincts have been crippled from birth by many external influences and society at large. She said: “That while there is no one right way to speak, there are a million wrong ways that constipate feeling, constrict activity, blunt expression, level out idiosyncrasy, generalise experience, and coarsen intimacy.”

So the work is about setting the voice free because life in the voice springs from emotion, and speaking is part of a whole: an expression of inner life and awakening deep experiences which are seldom evoked in everyday speech. 

The voice is the means by which, in everyday life, you communicate, and through, of course, how you present yourself – while your posture, movement, dress and involuntary gesture – gives an impression of your personality, it is your voice, and the words you use that convey your precise thoughts and feelings.

Poetry in voice is an exciting way to explore moods in tone and voice to tell an emotional story and build confidence to speak in a way that connects more deeply with your audience. Poetry presents a wide range of learning opportunities to include:

  • Offering examples of mastery of language and stocking the mind with images and ideas expressed in unforgettable words and phrases;
  • Training and developing emotional intelligence;
  • Reminding us that language is holistic and that how something is said is part of what is being said: the literal meaning of words is only part of their whole meaning, which is also expressed through tone of voice, inflection, rhythm.

5 Strategies to Help You Understand Poetry and the Poet to Enhance Communication 

1. Find passages in poems that you find striking or memorable;

2. Research when the poet wrote the poem and under what circumstances;

3. Read the poem over and over; this will help you to see more in the poem than you did at first reading;

4. Try to feel the emotions behind the poem: sad, happy, exciting, anxious etc. let it sink in your mind and your heart;

5. Try reading the poem from the poet’s eye and try to pick out key lines that express the poet’s message that they’re trying to get across and put yourself in their shoes.

A wonderful example is the short excerpt below from The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde in which he poignantly contrasts the beauty and appreciation of everyday life and activities in the face of looming death:

“I never saw sad men who looked

With such a wistful eye

Upon that little tent of blue

We prisoners called the sky,

And at every careless cloud that passed

In happy freedom by.”  The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde.

Poetry goes further than connecting with your voice because it connects your head to your heart. It’s a unique and dynamic way of getting back to the vocal pathway of instinctive expression through simple, practical actions that can empower you with the ability to communicate in a way that resonates with your audience.

6 Ways to Explore Poetry to Help You Connect With Your Audience 

1. Consider what mood is evoked in the poem that you find striking or memorable;

2. Consider how this is accomplished;

3. Consider the ways in which not only the meaning of words but also their sound and the poem’s rhythms help to create its mood:

4. Imagine situations in which those passages might be put to use, whether to console, encourage, taunt, flatter, or otherwise make an impact on the listener;

5. Write a short story, letter, or talk in which at least three passages can be quoted effectively to move another character or the listener/recipient;

6. Speak the words aloud, listen to the sound, like music, feel the rhythm and flow.

Remember, poetry is meant to talk about heart and feeling and uses language in an unusual way and may use unusual words. Savour this.

Thoughts and lessons in this story have been adapted from and inspired by the work of Cecily Berry.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 17/4/21. 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 Use Your Voice To Express and Protect Your Identity 

How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively  

How To Turn Your Story Into a Powerful Presentation 

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

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

Chapter 5 (of 20) People of the Seine

 A Moveable Feast Chapter Five, People of the Seine, Accompanied by 
Boeuf Bourguignon and Wine.
A Moveable Feast Chapter Five, People of the Seine, Accompanied by 
Boeuf Bourguignon and Wine

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 5 (of 20) People of the Seine, accompanied by Boeuf Bourguignon, paired with Le Bouquet Rouge De Georges Duboeuf at La Petite Auberge, Islington.

Notes From Chapter 5: People of the Seine

A WorkLife Book Club For One

Notes about Observation

I would walk along the quais when I had finished work or when I was trying to think something out. It was easier to think when I was walking and doing something or seeing people doing something that they understood.

I knew several of the men who fished the fruitful parts of the Seine between the Ile St-Louis and the Place de Verte Galente and sometimes, if the day was bright, I would buy a litre of wine and a piece of bread and some sausage and sit in the sun and read one of the books I had bought and watch the fishing.

Travel writers wrote about the men fishing in the Seine as though they were crazy and never caught anything, but it was serious and productive fishing. Most of the fishermen were men who had small pensions, which they did not know then would become worthless with inflation, or keen fishermen who fished on their or half-days days off from work.

It always made me happy that there were men fishing in the city itself, having sound, serious fishing and taking a few fritures home to their families.

I write a lot about the power of observation. So much so that it warranted a chapter of its own: The Power of Observation in Part II: Your Superpowers in my book, Your WorkLife Your Way. Then because I believe so much in the power of observation, I developed the chapter into the e-book How To Fine-Tune The Superpower of Observation which is part of The School of WorkLife Book Series.

Like Hemingway, I walk when I’m trying to think something out. 

Yesterday when I sat down to write this chapter, having read it first over a plate and a glass at La Petite Auberge, I re-read it again. But I didn’t know where I was going to go with it.

I’ve written a lot about the power of book wisdom – how we can take the wisdom found in books and apply it to our WorkLife learning needs to navigate through our struggles and successes. 

I first wrote a blog which I called WorkLife Book Wisdom, which led me to write a book called WorkLife Book Club, that in turn led me to write a Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies  – In the book and the series, the stories are presented as case studies for group discussion. The case and the recommended book are the required reading for each book club meeting and help to frame the subsequent discussion. 

All of these resources were created in the context of people taking the lessons they need from reading a full book. The difference with Taking Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast on A Moveable Feast. Chapter by Chapter was two-fold.

  1. I wanted to explore if learning can be taken from every individual chapter of a book as opposed to learning being taken from a book as a whole.
  2. I wanted to explore if learning can be taken from A WorkLife Book Club For One. My original blog was based on this, but my book and subsequent learn through reading series focused on a deeper level of learning through book club discussions.

I pondered this on my morning walk, and then when I got home, I read the chapter once again. And suddenly I knew where I wanted to go with it.

That was to connect my belief in the power of observation (as a superpower) to Hemingway’s same belief, as a way to figure things out for ourselves, simply by walking and doing something – thinking and observing our thoughts.

And also by observing others, seeing people doing something that they understand.

That’s how Hemingway differed from the travel writers who wrote disparagingly about the men fishing in the Seine. Unlike Hemingway, they didn’t see or understand the true meaning of the men’s work. The importance of the work and the impact it had on their WorkLives. 

I can relate to Hemingway observing the men at work and, from that, understanding the bigger picture of what it truly means. I can relate to it because I always take time to understand the bigger picture of people’s WorkLives. That’s important to me in helping the people I work with to navigate their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride by living true to their values, beliefs and motivated abilities.

On re-reading the last sentence, I questioned if it’s too cliché. I’m not sure if it is or if it sounds like that to me because it’s something I’ve been saying for a very, very long time. And if that’s the case, then it’s my cliché, and I need to own it. Then I thought a better question is: Is it true? The answer is a resounding YES. I can say that with absolute and total conviction because of the stories I share on my blog and in my books of people’s powerful WorkLife achievements. Those stories are a testament to the truth of that sentence. 

I can also relate to Hemingway’s description of the travel writers. Because so often, I hear people criticise and judge other people without taking time to observe and understand their  WorkLife fully. That’s a real bug bear of mine – I have a few!

Notes about The Spring

With so many trees in the city, you could see the spring coming each day until a night of warm wind would bring it suddenly in one morning. Sometimes the heavy cold rains would beat it back so that it would seem that it would never come and that you were losing a season out of your life. This was the only true sad time in Paris because it was unnatural. You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and the branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.

In those days, though, the spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.’

My walking and thinking also helped me write the following notes about spring. 

Because I was able to make sense of the chapter on re-reading it and its relevance to my WorkLife.

It just happens to be autumn as I walk and think, then read, write and ponder more deeply about spring seeming so far away.

At the moment, I’m facing challenges in my WorkLife. Things I need to happen are not falling into place because of metaphorical unforeseen heavy rains. I want and need to sell a property to move from London to begin a new WorkLife chapter in a new country. But crashing markets – or metaphorical crashing rains, are preventing that from happening. This is causing me to question if the spring of my new WorkLife chapter will come. It’s frightening because while it hasn’t failed (as such), it’s outside of my control. 

Right now, I feel, as Hemingway wrote, that spring will never come and that I’m losing a season out of my life.

I’ve been through times before when I thought spring would never come, and yet it did. 

Words of Wisdom

As Hemingway wrote, I need to remember that spring always came in the past, and it will come again in the future, and I just need to hang in there.

And so, on reflection from walking and thinking, reading, writing and pondering, I believe that learning can be taken from every individual chapter of a book. I also believe that learning can be taken from a WorkLife book club for one.

That pleases me a lot because I love learning through reading and thinking and writing in my own space and my own time.

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 with today, it may not.

… I can now share where Chapter 6 (of 20) The False Spring took me …

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Today’s plat principal, Boeuf Bourguignon, paired with a glass of Le Bouquet Rouge De Georges Duboeuf, was enjoyed at La Petite Auberge, Upper Street, Islington. Upper Street is the central thoroughfare of Islington, home to great restaurants and bars.


Se souvenir de toi, Norma.

#FunFact1 Boeuf Bourguignon, a French beef stew braised in red wine, often touted as traditional, in reality, does not appear to be very old, nor did it enjoy a great reputation, and furthermore, it is likely not a regional recipe from Burgundy. The dish became a standard of French cuisine, notably in Parisian bistros, and only became considered as a Burgundian speciality in the twentieth century. Julia Child has described the dish as “certainly one of the most delicious beef dishes concocted by man.” – I concur. (Source Wikipedia).

#FunFact2. Upper Street was one of the settings for local resident Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. The London-based sections of the later books are set in and around Upper Street, the home address of “Fenchurch”. In addition, the character of Hotblack Desiato is named after a local estate agent. (Source Wikipedia). 

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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 Embrace The Superpower of Self-Awareness

How To Recover From Rejection and Build Strong Resilience

How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively

You can view the complete collection here: The School of WorkLife Book Series.

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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.

3 Steps to Help You to Be Open and Honest About Bad Situations 

How to Truthfully Deliver Bad News With Empathy and Respect

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

Arnold’s Story: Delivering Bad News: A Case Study:

ABC Property Association had gone through a major downsizing and restructuring process due to the economic crisis. Two thirds of the company employees were going to lose their jobs. The company had decided that the fairest approach in deciding who would keep and who would lose their job was to have everyone interview for the job they were already doing. This meant people were competing against their colleagues for one in three of them to remain in their role. Morale that was already at an all-time low continued to be destroyed day in day out as the interviews took place, and the subsequent decisions were made as to who would keep and who would lose their job.

Arnold’s position in the company meant he had responsibility for managing this restructuring, and for delivering the bad news to the people who were losing their jobs. This was causing him a lot of pain and anxiety. He knew all of these people individually. He knew their backgrounds and their circumstances; and he knew how bad the job market within their industry was, and how difficult it would be for people to get a new job.

In preparing for the first two conversations he needed to have, he met with Tom, a colleague and fellow manager whose opinion and guidance Arnold had always valued. Tom imparted these words of:

Sage Wisdom: 3 Steps to Help You to Be Open and Honest About Bad Situations 

Step 1. Prepare what you are going to say from a place of empathy and humility, with regard to both the situation and what you’re going to do next;

Step 2. Don’t sugar coat the truth, instead say what you have to say, and phrase it in a way that people know you respect their humanity;

Step 3. The more sensitive the issue, the more rapidly emotions can escalate. See things from each individual’s perspective, not as “you in their shoes”, but as them. Do this by really listening to their responses, and allowing them to tell their story

This really helped Arnold. He wanted to navigate this difficult situation that people found themselves in through no fault of their own with dignity for everyone impacted. He believed it was important to be open and honest about bad situations, and he always strived to take a straightforward approach in saying the toughest stuff. This is not something that always came easily to him, and over the years he had learnt through many sources and resources – people, training courses and books that had helped in being able to say what needed to be said. The book he reached for to help him in this moment was The Power Of A Positive No by William Ury, from which he gleaned the following:

Book Wisdom

“When No means bad news for the recipient, it can be hard to deliver. A fact-based approach can help the recipient accept the No.”

“Sometimes blunt candour is called for.” “The employee may not like hearing this, but in the end he may learn something useful and, in any case, it serves him better than the boss being evasive. Being honest and straight with people can work well if you accompany the candour with empathy and respect.” “Be hard on the problem, not the person.”

This also really helped Arnold in preparing for the first two conversations he needed to have.

For his conversation with Dom, Arnold knew that he needed to stick to the facts, to let Dom know what the decision had been based upon. Knowing Dom, he believed he would respect the process, and recognise that it was fair.

For his conversation with Rob, whose performance of late had caused serious concerns, he knew he needed to be honest and straight in saying what needed to be said. He also knew he needed to say this with empathy and respect. 

By way of further preparation Arnold asked himself the following question:

  • How can I ensure I understand and respond to the needs, viewpoints and perspectives of everyone I need to deliver bad news to?

The answer that came to him was:

  • I need to prepare well for each conversation by way of knowing each person’s individual circumstances. This would allow me to think about the support I can offer, over and above the redundancy financial package.
  • In the meetings I need to give people the space to say what they needed to say, and I need to listen well in order to truly understand what is being said.

This is how Arnold began his conversation with Dom:

“Dom, I’m sorry to tell you we have decided to give the job to Ben. Our decision was based on the fact that he has had more experience interacting with stakeholders on Eco policies. Your work with the company has been exemplary and it was a difficult decision.”

Even though Dom was disappointed, he appreciated the way in which Arnold had delivered the news. Because it was fact-based Dom said he recognised the decision had been made objectively. 

Dom went on to share with Arnold that he was considering undertaking a college course. 

His reasons were two-fold:

  1. He believed it would take the economy, the industry and the market time to recover, time during which he believed it would be difficult to secure a new position, and so he was planning on taking time out to do a masters in eco design;
  2. He’d had a keen interest in eco design for a long time, but never had the time or the disposable income to invest in doing a masters. He believed together with his experience and knowledge of the property industry, this course would allow him to hit the ground running when the economy did improve, and as importantly it would allow him to make a positive impact to environmental housing. 

Over and above the redundancy financial settlement Arnold was able to give Dom, he was also able to offer him further support with university fees. This was part of an ongoing programme the company had with the local university. On top of this he told Dom he would be able to offer him work experience as his course progressed. 

This is how Arnold began his conversation with Rob:

“Rob, you didn’t get the job, we had some concerns about your performance. I understand how difficult it is to find any positivity in a situation like this, but the truth is your negativity has had a serious impact on your performance.” 

Although this was hard for Rob to hear, he knew it was the truth, and he needed someone to speak the truth to him. Arnold had delivered these words with empathy and respect, and Rob appreciated that.  He opened up to Arnold about how he was feeling, about how he was struggling every day to get through the day. He was worried about himself, and he was also worried how he was going to survive financially being out of work. But instead of asking for help he’d reacted negatively and pushed people away when they’d showed concern.

Arnold was in a position to make sure that Rob received the help and support he needed. He arranged for him to meet with a career counsellor to help him manage the emotional and practical elements in moving his WorkLife forward during this time of uncertainty.

Epilogue

Arnold took time to reflect on both conversations by way of giving himself feedback on how they had gone. He acknowledged what he had done that had allowed the conversations to go well, which was:

  • The way in which he had prepared; 
  • The way in which he had delivered the news in saying what he had to say;
  • The way in which this had given Dom and Rob the space they needed to say what they needed to say;
  • The way in which by really listening, he was able to offer both of them the individual support they needed over and above the redundancy financial settlement. 

He also acknowledged what he could have done better, which was:

  • He could have taken time to talk to Dom about what he wanted rather than automatically have him go through the interview process. He now knew that Dom would have opted out of this, and would have welcomed knowing about the extra support Arnold was able to offer at an earlier stage in the process.
  • He knew he needed to have had an earlier conversation with Rob. He knew Rob’s behaviour was out of character, and now he realised it was a cry for help. Had Arnold taken the time to speak to him earlier, he could have helped to alleviate some of Rob’s anxiety and concerns

Words of Wisdom

Sharing bad news is not easy. Learn to be straightforward in saying the toughest stuff. Listen and work through people’s response and say what you’re going to do next. 

Today’s featured book is: The Power Of A Positive No by William Ury 

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 

This story was originally published on 14/4/21 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.

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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 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 Embrace The Superpower of Self-Awareness

How To Fine-Tune The Superpower of Observation

How To Motivate Through Self-Respect and Trust 

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

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.

Did My Top 3 Isolation Inspirations Actually Inspire Me Longterm? 

How I Spent Lockdown How I Was Inspired In Isolation and Did It Last? 

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

Eighteen months on, I’m revisiting and reevaluating a post I wrote during the first lockdown of the pandemic.

THE ORIGINAL STORY …

In deciding what I was going to do in the strange time of lockdown and isolation I asked myself: 

How can I make the most of this time? 

The self-feedback I received in answer was that I wanted to do the following three things — which are actually six things, because well, that’s what came to me, because they all seemed like good ideas, because they’re things I can combine, and because I can.

My Top Three Isolation Inspirations

1. READING/WATCHING TV

Embracing being at home and indulging in pure unadulterated me time, to my absolute delight, I discovered all thirty-four of the previously screened episodes of Inspector Montalbano were available on iPlayer. I’m a huge fan, so of course, I decided to work my way through them — there is a little work involved as it’s in Italian with English subtitles. As I’d watched them before, I wanted to create a sense of purpose around re-watching them, and so I decided I’d read each book first, then watch the episode.

My reasoning behind this was two-fold:

  • I want to read more fiction, and mysteries are a life-long favourite genre. Beginning from a young age with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five and Secret Seven books, then moving on to Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple detective novels, and many, many more in-between.
  • I have an idea for a mystery book, but I have no idea how to go about writing it, and so I’m setting out to learn just that, and what better way to do it than by embracing my love of literature and film/tv.

2. LANGUAGE LEARNING/EXERCISING AT HOME

Before the pandemic hit, I’d planned a road-trip around Ireland along with exploring France by train. While this, of course, has to go on hold, I thought I could still prepare, and as this is something I could multi-task on, I thought the best combination would be with home-exercise. So, I got my Michel Thomas Irish and French Language CDs, along with my Jane Fonda and Callanetics DVDs off the shelf, dusted them off, put on my leg-warmers and got going.

3. PHOTOGRAPHY/WALKING

I decided I’d use this time to learn how to take better photographs. This is simply because I love photographs, but I’ve never been very good at taking them. This seemed like the perfect time to try out my new iPhone that I’d bought because of the camera function, which reportedly is good for both photos and videos. I created a project which I’ve called ‘Capturing The Beauty In Everyday WorkLife’, and as we’re allowed to exercise outside of home, I thought I’d combine both. How am I doing? I’ll let you judge – from the photos I’ve shared in the original post: My Top Three Isolation Inspirations

Book Wisdom

So, what wisdom am I gleaning from reading mystery books, and how could this be helpful in my WorkLife? Looking at the first book in the series of Inspector Montalbano (The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri), Donna Leon, an American author of a series of crime novels set in Venice, Italy, said: “The novels of Andrea Camilleri breathe out the sense of place, the sense of humour, and the sense of despair that fill the air of Sicily. To read him is to be taken to that glorious, tortured island.”

Alongside exploring how to write a mystery book, I’m also working on my next book, called WorkLife Book Club. The setting for each chapter will be a different restaurant, as the group discuss WorkLife stories and featured books. I need to learn how to breathe out the sense of place for each setting — wish me luck!

Words of Wisdom

In the midst of times of uncertainty and disruption, powerful shifts are going to come about, and people are going to make big changes. You may not have the clarity on what you could, should, would do, if you only knew what that was, and that’s OK. Focus instead on how you could, should, would think about making decisions when the time is right for you.

Sage Wisdom

Down moments are sometimes when the greatest opportunities arise.

Epilogue

This chapter of my WorkLife has just begun. In time I’ll reflect what it meant for me, what I learnt from it, and what changes it effected in my WorkLife.

I leave you with a couple of questions for you to reflect on at whatever stage you’re at, at this chapter in your WorkLife. In the moment or looking back – depending on when you’re reading this story.

What do/did you want to get out this strange, bizarre, challenging time?

What do/did you want to remember from this time?

Through reflection and self-feedback let the answers inform your isolation inspirations in whatever you choose to do.

In time should you choose to make changes in your WorkLife, ask yourself: 

How could, should would I think about making these decisions?

Today’s featured book is: The Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

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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THE CONTINUING STORY …

1.  READING/WATCHING TV

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the books and watching the episodes. I got so much more from them by doing this by way of observing how the storylines were structured and how the main and recurring characters were developed. The last books in the series were published and then screened over the last year or so, which brought closure to the story.  It also left me feeling bereft – that feeling when you finish a good book or a tv series comes to an end. 

A Side Note: Andrea Camilleri, author of the Montalbano series of books, sadly passed away in 2019.

Here’s a brief bio of his path as a writer (he was also an eminent director).

In 1978 Camilleri wrote his first novel Il Corso Delle Cose (“The Way Things Go”). This was followed by Un Filo di Fumo (“A Thread of Smoke”) in 1980. Neither of these works enjoyed any significant amount of popularity.

In 1992, after a long pause of 12 years, Camilleri once more took up novel writing. A new book, La Stagione della Caccia (“The Hunting Season”) became a best-seller.

In 1994 Camilleri published La forma dell’Acqua (The Shape of Water), the first in a long series of novels featuring Inspector Montalbano, a fractious detective in the police force of Vigàta, an imaginary Sicilian town. (Source Wikipedia).

I didn’t write a mystery book (not yet anyway), but I did publish, WorkLife Book Club, in which one of the characters, Maggie, who is a police officer, has a love mysteries.

The following extract from WorkLife Book Club is Maggie’s response to being asked what she enjoys about reading:

Maggie: Reading benefits my wellbeing. By losing myself in a thoroughly engrossing book, I can escape from the worries and stresses of everyday society and spend a while exploring the world of the author’s imagination. Suspense fiction – thrillers and mysteries are my favourite nighttime read. They help me to switch off.  It seems contradictory, but they help to relax my mind and unwind and feel ready for sleep. I couldn’t understand why this was at first, and as with all paradoxes, I had to figure it out. What I figured was that in the same way we need physical exercise to maintain good health and wellbeing, we also need to work out our brain to keep it in peak condition. Thrillers and mysteries help achieve this because they provide puzzles to work through. A good workout – physical and mental – aids better sleep.

I’ve heard it said that writers take bits and pieces from everyone in their life (I think that means fictional people, too), and put that into their characters. And also, just as writers like to take from those around us, we also write pieces of ourselves into our characters. That’s certainly true of me – there are bits and pieces of me in all the characters in the book, and also bits and pieces from everyone in my life, and most definitely bits and pieces from Montalbano – he’s such an interesting character, how could there not be.

#FunFact1 WorkLife Book Club is set in Shoreditch, East London and takes readers on a culinary journey as the members discuss WorkLife struggles and successes through the wisdom found in books they read. 

… here’s the FunFact … food and drink play an important role in the book, it could be said they are unique characters. But, because I wrote the book in lockdown when all eating and drinking establishments were closed, I had to improvise … I had to learn how to breathe out the sense of place for each setting. So I wrote from memory about wonderful culinary experiences, and I also wrote from research, creating wonderful culinary experiences that I want to experience in time … I’ve added them to my Joie De Vivre list of things I want to experience.

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A SIDE STORY

#FunFact2 I’ve begun my culinary experiences journey, while also beginning my WorkLife Book Club For 1 – I’m taking Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast on a Moveable Feast, chapter by chapter – I read a chapter over a plate and a glass (or a cup) and then I write about it – in writing about it I want to explore if learning can be taken from each and every chapter of a book as opposed to my original premise from my WorkLife Book Wisdom stories, that learning is taken from a book as a whole.

I’ve added a little twist. It needs to be French cuisine. (because I love a twist).

And also, because, in A Moveable Feast, Hemingway is sharing memories of his life as a writer living in Paris. In the book, he has created a wonderful setting that transports readers back in time to the Paris of the 1920s. In my writing, a little French cuisine will serve to enhance the mood created by Hemingway. And add a little fun, too, pour moi.  

Here’s a link to Chapter 1 I’m taking Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast on a Moveable Feast Chapter by Chapter. From there, each chapter will take you to the next chapter. 

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I continue to read a range of books (including mysteries). It’s an important part of my craft as a writer. 

I continue to watch a lot of tv too, I tell myself that’s also an important part of my craft as a writer, and I think it is, though perhaps less so than books, or maybe as much, I’m not sure. 

I continued the practice I had established with Montalbano (first reading the book and then watching the tv episode) with Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and Poirot series of books and tv adaptations. And again I got so much more from them by doing this, by way of observing how the storylines were structured and how the main and recurring characters developed.

But reading and watching tv is also my way of winding down and switching off. And as Maggie said, that’s important too.

2. LANGUAGE LEARNING/EXERCISING AT HOME

Those road/train trips still haven’t happened, but I am still planning them.

I need a few things to fall into place, but I hope to move from London to experience life in a new and different country. France is on my list. And I also want to spend time rediscovering Ireland, the land I still call home.

BUT, and there’s a BIG BUT here, language learning/exercising at home was VERY short-lived. In truth, it never really got going. I don’t know why, because, in the past, these combined practices have worked for me. But this time round, I wasn’t inspired or motivated to dust off and play my language CDs and my exercise DVDs, leg-warmers or no leg-warmers.

BUT, all that said, I still want to pick up on these practices. I’m not sure if I want to combine them, because I think I want to be in the moment exercising, to focus on what I’m doing, and not have my mind on something else, even if that something else is learning.

However, I also don’t want to overload myself, and time is a factor. I think I need to combine language learning with something else, in order for it to fit into my day – perhaps while I’m preparing/cooking my meals, cleaning my home, or taking a bath … I’ll perhaps explore these and see how they work/don’t work.

My next Isolation Inspirations will explain why I want to be in the moment more and why I don’t want to overload myself.

3. PHOTOGRAPHY/WALKING

This started off well. I was taking lovely long walks, exploring, discovering and rediscovering London and capturing it on camera as I went.

Then I stopped walking. That was primarily because I got so into my writing that I wrote from early morning into late evening. First, I developed the 27 chapters of the book I had written just before the pandemic hit – Your WorkLife Your Way into 27 E-Books which became The School of WorkLife Book Series. Then wanting to develop my writing ability and raise awareness to me and my work. I wrote over 200 stories which I shared on my blog. Then I wrote my next book WorkLife Book Club, followed by a Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies. 

No walking meant no photographs. And also I lost my new phone! I got a newer model, but the camera function wasn’t as good. 

I pushed myself so hard to develop a body of work as a new writer, that when I finally stopped to take a short break, having sent my new book to my publisher, I became really unwell. That was several months ago, and it has been a long road to recovery. But I am getting there. 

Having been so unwell, I’m now focusing on recovering fully by dedicating 3 hours each day to my wellbeing.

I’ve made it that those three hours need to be focused on doing things physically and mentally that bring me to life.

At the moment I’m walking for 3 hours each day. Sometimes I think. Other times I switch my thinking off. Mostly I’m guided by my mind and go with the flow of where it wants to take me. I’m focusing on being in the moment, not overloading myself with any thinking that’s too cumbersome. 

That includes OVER combining, but that said, I am taking photographs to capture the beauty of everyday workLife. This is a combination that seems to work well.

I still don’t like my new phone camera and in time I think I’ll buy an actual camera and learn how to use that.

A SIDE NOTE:

I’ve struggled to be disciplined in dedicating 3 hours each day to my wellbeing. I’ve fallen back into what has become a bad habit of overworking, and I’ve had to get myself back on track with my health plan.

Today is one of those days when I’m reminded of what I need to do. I, of course, knew it, but writing is, for me, a practice that helps to process things and reinforce what I need to do.

That and Ryan Holiday (who I follow on Twitter) sharing these very timely quotes:

“It isn’t easy for a man to force himself into a discipline of idleness, but it is essential. Life is not work: to work without stopping sends a man mad. Remember that. And to want to do so is a bad sign: those of your colleagues who could not stop working were by no means the best.” Charles De Gaulle. 

“The mind must be given relaxation, it will rise improved and sharper after a good break. Just as rich fields must not be forced, for they will quickly lose their fertility if never given a break, so constant work on the anvil will fracture the force of the mind.” Seneca.

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So, in answer to the questions I posed at the beginning of this post:

Did My Top 3 Isolation Inspirations Actually Inspire Me Longterm?

Yes.

How I Spent Lockdown How I Was Inspired In Isolation and Did It Last?

In response to the question: Did It Last?

Yes, and No but Yes – that last Yes means revisiting and reevaluating the post helped me acknowledge the lessons I’ve learnt. My Top 3 Isolation Inspirations still inspire me, but they need a tweak here and there.

…………………………………………………………………

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 Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively 

How To Start Something New in Difficult Times 

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

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.