How a Lack of Purpose Helped Me Make a Life Changing Decision 

How a Chance Opportunity Led Me to Discover My True Purpose in Life 

How To Use Your Purpose To Help Others.Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.
Resources to help you self direct your WorkLife Learning

My Story: The Journey To Discovering My WorkLife Purpose

How when faced with accepting a permanent position or leaving my job, the lack of purpose I felt actually helped my decision to move on. 

I worked in the world of finance for many years, and while I enjoyed it, and worked with great people in a good environment, I never really had a passion for it. Because of this I chose to work on a contract basis rather than follow a WorkLife in banking. Over the years I worked in different departments, which allowed me to continue to learn and develop; and this also kept the work interesting. It also afforded me a great lifestyle and allowed me to embrace my love of travel. 

Then the economic crisis happened. The bank made the decision to stop all contract work in order to make the positions of full-time employees secure. I had been considering moving on to doing something different, so although I was offered a permanent position, I declined because I felt this was the push I needed to make a change in my WorkLife. 

While I was figuring out what I wanted to do next, my friend Pauline asked me to deliver the job-search element of a programme she was teaching. She had been let down by the original trainer at the last minute, and needed someone to stand in. I had no experience in this, but Pauline persuaded me that all I needed was a common-sense approach. This was in the early days of the internet, so I could not get the course material I needed online. Instead I drove the two-hour round trip to my nearest bookstore and returned home armed with enough books to develop a one-year training course – a tad excessive for the two days I needed to prepare for! 

I had two days to develop the course, and travel to Ireland to deliver it. The client would not pay the last-minute high-priced airfare, so I had to travel from England to Wales by train, get the ferry across to Ireland, catch another train, and then a bus. I barely slept for days. Instead I did what I always do when I am out of my comfort zone: I over prepared, then I went with the flow. 

And it went amazingly. I really connected with the people attending, all of whom had been impacted by the recession. Because of this their confidence, self-esteem and spirit were low. I knew we had to work through this before we could work on the practical sessions I had planned. So my plan went out the window, but that was OK because having over prepared allowed me to be in the moment of knowing what to do and to go where the flow took me. 

I got the group talking about their WorkLife achievements: things they had forgotten about, or had taken for granted, or had never considered to be anything special. We all sat in awe listening to the amazing stories being shared, and through this they each began to realise how much they had to offer to employers. Once they had that realisation, we were then able to move onto the practical elements of their job-search campaign, preparing their CVs in a way that represented their skills, attributes and their amazing achievements to date, along with their potential. We planned their job-search approach, practiced interviews and explored how they would negotiate the job offers coming their way by considering what they wanted over and above the package being offered – whatever that was important for each of them at their particular WorkLife stage. 

As I made my long return journey home, I was buzzing. It was a little surreal because I was both exhausted from lack of sleep and energised from the experience. I somehow knew this was what I was meant to do: to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLife in line with what was important to them. I do not think I was able to define it exactly as that in that moment. I think that evolved over time. But I do remember having a strong sense of my WorkLife purpose, knowing I had found my passion. I also knew I wanted and needed to do this properly. To serve people I needed formal training: a solid theoretical base to build my knowledge from. As my belief in life is “when the student is ready, the teacher will come”, I found the perfect pathway. I undertook a degree in Career Coaching and Management, and then secured a position with a careers consultancy agency. I did this by approaching every single agency in London asking for work – an opportunity to put my learning into practice, to be in a position to continue to learn, improve and develop my skills through hands on practical experience. To ultimately launch my new WorkLife. 

Assignments WorkLife Purpose Assignment 

To discover or rediscover your WorkLife Purpose ask yourself the following three questions: 

1. What is a defining moment in my WorkLife, and how did it impact me? 

For example: 

Mine was when I sat with the people attending the course I was delivering, which I was expecting to be very practical, only to discover that before we could move onto that I needed to support them through the emotional impact of having being unemployed. Somehow I knew instinctively that having them talk through their WorkLife achievements was what was needed. I was then blown away by their stories and the immediate positive impact this had on their morale. This experience allowed me to know what my purpose was, and the strength from the passion I discovered in those two days has allowed me to create a WorkLife true to my purpose and passion. 

2. How did I get to where I am in my WorkLife and Why 

For example: 

In my story, while I had enjoyed my work in finance, I had never followed a WorkLife path. This was because I was not passionate about it, nor did it give me a sense of purpose. When I was faced with accepting a permanent position or leaving the bank, the lack of purpose I felt actually helped my decision to move on. My friend Pauline asking me to help her out was in no way planned, nor could I have envisioned how it was to lead me to discovering my purpose, and yet it did. I believe this is because I was open to opportunities. I believe that is also because I let my curiosity guide me, and curiosity is an important value to me, one that has guided me throughout my WorkLife. 

3. Do I belong here? 

For example: 

I had a sense of belonging in banking. This was because I worked with good people, in a good environment, and I continued to learn and develop. These are more of my values, and these were being met. Yet I knew I did not fully belong there. I did not feel fulfilled in my WorkLife. But in that very brief experience I had with the people on that first training course, I knew immediately I was where I was meant to be, doing what I was meant to do. I was at the very beginning of my new WorkLife journey, and yet it felt as though I had arrived. It was as though I had finally come home to where I belonged. 

Develop a Practice of Continuous Self-Feedback 

As your self-awareness about what is important to you in living a fulfilled WorkLife continues to grow, asking these questions will allow you to go deeper into your heart and mind, knowing what you want – or as importantly, what you do not want in your WorkLife. Listen well and be observant to the feedback you gain through the answers these questions bring about. 

Develop a Practice of Insightful Self-Questioning 

This assignment is to help you realise the importance of using questions to get to what really matters for you at every stage of your WorkLife, and to then use the information that comes to you through the answers to make that happen. 

Ask yourself: 

Did today matter?

What if anything would have made it better, more meaningful, more fulfilling? 

Did I live my WorkLife today true to my purpose? 

Words of Wisdom 

There is a purpose within each of us. For some people it is inherent from a very young age, for others it reveals itself at a later stage in life. Whichever is relevant to you, you will not necessarily have the full vision when you start out, and that is OK. You just need to take one step and see where it takes you, then you take the next step, and the next step. As you walk along your WorkLife pathway, you will begin to gain clarity around your purpose. From this your vision will form and grow; and from this you can begin to do what you need to do, in order to make your purpose a reality, in order to live your WorkLife with purpose. 

This story has been adapted from chapter 2 of my book: Your WorkLife Your Way: Discovering or Rediscovering Your WorkLife Purpose. It also featured in the book, How To Use Your Purpose To Help Others, From The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

.

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

POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 13/4/21. 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 Drive Your Vision and Motivated Abilities 

How To Use Turning Points to Start Something Different and Better 

How To Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages and Inspires You 

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

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 Overcome Self-Sabotage From Lack of Self-Belief and Arrogance 

A Simple Lesson to Help You Be Both Confident and Humble 

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

“You Sabotaged Yourselves Through Whatever It Was That Was Going on Within Each of You”

Samantha and Josh’s Dreams Were Crushed When They Heard These Words

Samantha and Josh had been working at A-Z Advertising Agency for 2 years. Both had joined as college graduates. As part of their graduate programme, they’d both worked for six months at a time in different functions across the company. This was a requirement designed to allow them to understand all aspects of the business more broadly.

The next part of their development plan was to have the opportunity to be part of the team working closely with, and being mentored by, Caitlin, the company’s Creative Director. This was an opportunity that was offered just once a year. To be accepted onto her team, they were each required to present their ideas for a new campaign for a long-existing client.  

How did they do? 

They both failed. 

Why? 

Because they both sabotaged themselves.

But in very different ways:

Samantha allowed her negative self-talk to impact her self-belief in her own ability. She doubted every single idea she had, and came across as insecure and needy.

Josh believed his ideas were the best ideas, and the only ideas that would work. He came across as arrogant and closed-minded.

As part of the process in preparing their presentation for Caitlin, they had first pitched their ideas to focus groups. These groups were made up of experienced professionals across the company. The groups had given feedback on what they liked and didn’t like.

Samantha homed in on what they didn’t like, completely blanking what they liked, which led her to not believe in herself or her ideas. Her belief was that everyone else’s ideas were better than hers.

Josh homed in on what they liked, completely blanking what they didn’t like, which led him to believe in himself and his ideas. His belief was that his ideas were better than anyone else’s. 

For them to be considered for the opportunity the following year Caitlin gave them both feedback.

Sage Wisdom

She told them that the focus groups were impressed with both of their ideas, and that the feedback was given to help their ideas to be even better. She said: “Instead of listening to hear and understand what was being said and learn from that, you both got in your own way. In effect, you sabotaged yourselves through whatever it was that was going on within each of you.”

She went on to say that a stipulation for them to be considered next year, would be for them to present back to her what they’d learnt from this experience, and how they’d used this to set themselves up for success in the next opportunity. She told them she wanted to see confident presentations that demonstrated both humility and self-belief. She said she’d meet with them in nine months to hear what they have to say. 

She left them with these parting words of wisdom: “Listening to the right people, and this includes listening to yourself, is a gift, a chance to learn about how to do better. Listening to the wrong people, and this includes listening to yourself, particularly the early critics, is a trap. If you’re not careful, it can become a place to hide.” 

She proposed a question to ask themselves by way of reflecting on their experience. The question she said that will serve them well in this moment, and will stand them in good stead throughout their WorkLife, is to ask:

“How am I complicit in creating the conditions that I say I don’t want?”

She finished by suggesting they read Timothy Gallwey’s work on The Inner Game.

Nine months later, helped by the book wisdom of The Inner Game of Work, this is what Samantha and Josh presented to Caitlin:

Book Wisdom

Samantha: The greatest challenge and consequently the greatest possibilities, lie in overcoming the self-imposed mental limitations which prevent the full expression of my ideas and subsequently my potential. 

Through self-feedback I realised I need to monitor my negative self-talk, because my mind is always listening, and If I talk about all my perceived limitations, if I argue for them, they’re mine, if I fight for them, I get to keep them, and so I always have to be careful of my negative self-talk. 

My self-image can be an obstacle, probably the greatest obstacle to my growth, by believing my ideas are not as good as other people’s, I limit how well I will let myself draw on other people’s ideas to develop my own thinking.  

Acknowledging my weaknesses, has allowed me to behave differently in response to what I’ve acknowledged. I’ve taken my inner voices on a journey with me to highlight challenges and obstacles. This allows me to be my own fiercest opponent, other opponents will be small compared to the expectations I have for myself. 

Of course I can’t demonstrate I’m right for the project if I only focus on my inadequacies, I have to project confidence, and this is a confidence that I can learn to develop myself and my ideas through other people and their ideas. I can do this by accepting feedback objectively, making my judgement by observing the facts, and from this making my decisions.

When I engage in self-sabotage through negative self-talk, then my self-confidence suffers. This leads to a cycle of self-interference, and one that I haven’t yet learnt to overcome, but I have learnt how to deal with it and to manage it. 

I do this by asking myself the question: “Do I want to do this badly enough, or do I want to give into the notion that I’m not good enough?” To be part of your team, to have the opportunity to work closely with you, and to learn from you, is my heart’s desire, this is an amazing opportunity, and it’s my opportunity. So yes, I do want it badly enough, I have to do it, and I am good enough. 

Success for me is walking into a room, believing in myself and what I do. Presenting my best self in the knowledge I’ve put everything I can into my work, and being happy with the result.

Josh: I can be my own worst enemy, and I need to get out of my own way, and start developing patience. To be patient with myself, to accept that I don’t know everything, and my ideas are not the only ideas or necessarily the best ideas. 

Self-feedback has allowed me to know that the mental interference that is keeping me from being my best right now, will also make it more difficult to acquire new skills. I needed to find a better way, and to make a change.

To do this I looked to behaviours and tactics of people I admire in the world of sports. I posed questions to myself about; how they keep their minds quiet and focussed to manage the impact of inner dialogue on their performance. I discovered the art of relaxed concentration to trust my mind’s potential to learn and perform.

This practice uses the unconscious rather than the self-conscious mind, it helps to unlearn or suspend the habits and concepts which interfere with my natural learning ability and to trust the innate intelligence of my mind. 

I want to be good at my job, and I want to find solutions, I want to find a way to become good. I recognise now that there is no instant solution, I will learn through experience, I will make mistakes, working with and listening to experienced professionals who are passionate about their work, will allow me to learn though these experiences and mistakes.

I need to let go of what I think I know because learning any new skill is about the process of discovery which comes primarily from the experience itself. By letting go of my preconceived notions, by not resisting new experiences I can learn far more. I can learn how to deal with the unexpected whenever I encounter it. I’m discovering I can adapt to strange or different concepts only when I’m willing to let go of dependence on old concepts.

George F. Kneller said: “To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted.” 

I believe there’s a way to be humble and confident. Success to me is to turn up in life with humility, confidence, authenticity, with fun and to be myself.

Epilogue

Caitlin was impressed, by the sincerity of their self-reflection, and what they learnt from this. She gave them both the opportunity to present their ideas for this year’s campaign. She asked that they work together on their presentation, saying they each had something different and unique to bring to their work, that they could both learn from and challenge each other.

Samantha and Josh were both relieved and excited to have been given the opportunity again. They agreed to be their own and each other’s biggest critics and champions, to hold themselves to the highest standards. To work to come up with new ideas to challenge their excellence.

It worked. They were both successful in Caitlin accepting them onto her team, to work closely with her on the new campaign. Their unique WorkLife stories continue.

Words of Wisdom

Taking a long hard look at how you are self-sabotaging is both insightful and painful. It requires you to look in the mirror at who you are, and what you do that at its worse is destructive or at its  best is slowing you down, preventing you from fully being who you should be. Master your inner dialogue: What you say to yourself matters more than what the entire world together says about you. 

This story has been adapted from chapter 25 of my book: Your WorkLife Your Way: Self-Sabotage. It also featured in the School of WorkLife book, How To Overcome Self-Sabotage. I developed it further for WorkLife Book Club

Today’s featured book is: The Inner Game of Work by Timothy Gallwey 

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

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

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 12/4/21. 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 Get To Self-Realisation and Self-Acceptance 

How To Overcome Self-Doubt Through Self-Appreciation 

How To Be Vulnerable and Courageous 

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.

2 Simple Strategies to Change Your WorkLife During Times of Recession

3 Things Recessions Bring About Are Uncertainty Change and Opportunity

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

Recessions bring about a lot of uncertainty.

I know, I’ve been there.

Recessions also bring about a lot of change.

I know, I’ve been there too.

Recessions bring about a lot of opportunities as well.

I know, I’ve also been there.

The early 2000s recession brought about uncertainty for me when I lost my job.

I’d been working on a contractor basis in Investment Baking. The bank made the decision to let all contractors go in an attempt to secure the jobs of permanent employees. 

I was offered a permanent position. I declined.

I knew I had been spinning the wheels at work.  It was the push I needed.

Because while I enjoyed working in investment banking, it wasn’t for the work per se (that had long since become mundane and monotonous). But for the good people, I worked with. It was a good organisation to work for, and it afforded me a good lifestyle

But I wasn’t fulfilled in my work.

However, having worked in Investment Banking for many years, I didn’t know what else I could do.

I gave a half-hearted attempt to get another job.

But really, I knew it was time for a change.

The early 2000s recession brought about the realisation for me, that it was time for a change.

But a change to what?

That was the six-million-pound question.

While I was trying to figure out the answer, my friend Pauline asked me to deliver a workshop on the job search element of a programme she was leading to help people work within logistics. She had been let down at the last minute by the trainer due to deliver it.

I had no experience in delivering workshops on any subject matters, but Pauline persuaded me all I needed was a common sense approach.

She was right.

Not knowing what to do, I applied a common sense approach.

I was out of my comfort zone, so I over prepared.

That proved to be a good strategy. Because having over-prepared meant I could be in the moment when delivering the workshop.

And it went amazingly. I really connected with the people.

I felt really fulfilled in the work I had prepared and delivered.

The early 2000s recession had brought about opportunity for me

I instinctively knew I was at the beginning of where I needed to be in my WorkLife.

I had found the answer to my six-million-pound question, or rather it had found me.

I knew the next step I needed to take.

That was to undertake a degree in Career Coaching and Management.

Because along with a common sense approach, I needed a strong theoretical foundation from which to build my knowledge.

Learning and Building Your Knowledge Through a Strong Theoretical Foundation Is the First Strategy to Change Your WorkLife During Times of Recession – Simple – Right?

I needed that to serve people to the best of my ability.

That was going to take time.

But that was OK.

Because alongside my studies, I gained practical experience.

I applied my learning by doing approach to life by taking on work at each step of my learning journey and applying the knowledge I was gaining to do good work.

This, of course, meant I was gaining experience to support my learning.

Learning and Building Your Knowledge Through  Experience Is the Second Strategy to Change Your WorkLife During Times of Recession – Simple – Right?

This, of course, also meant I was bringing in much-needed income while I was making a transition to a new WorkLife.

And this, of course, meant when my studies were complete, alongside gaining knowledge, I had also gained experience.

Which ultimately meant I was ready to hit the ground running in my new WorkLife.

The early 2000s recession had brought about uncertainty, change and opportunity for me.

A place of uncertainty led to change, which in turn led to opportunity.

Together those three components led to the beginning of a new WorkLife chapter.

New chapters opened up from there.

Each chapter came with elements of uncertainty, change and opportunity. 

I pushed through those elements.

Or actually, I wrote the new chapters of my WorkLife.

My WorkLife My Way.

……………………………………………………………………..

Perhaps a looming recession is causing you some unease.

Take it from someone who has been there.

It will bring about a lot of uncertainty for you

It will bring about a lot of change.

And it will bring about a lot of opportunities too.

Be open to those opportunities that present themselves.

Pay attention to what fulfils you.

That’s what you need to be in a position to know what you want and need to do next.

Take a step by step approach.

That’s all you need to know what to do next.

That will inform the learning you need to undertake.

That will take you to:

Simple Strategy 1. Learning and Building Your Knowledge Through a Strong Theoretical Foundation

That will also inform the experience you need to gain.

That will take you to:

Simple Strategy 2. Learning and Building Your Knowledge Through  Experience 

Those are the actions that will help you write your next WorkLife chapter.

Page by page.

New chapters will open up from there.

Take it from someone who has been there.

Enjoy the journey to your new WorkLife.

And if you need a little inspiration along the way, you may enjoy my Book, Your WorkLife Your Way – It’s a collection of people’s inspiring stories of how they created new WorkLife chapters that came about because of uncertainty, change and opportunity. The book includes the exercises that helped them navigate their situations, which are set as assignments for your to work through.

Click on the book title above or tap the image below to see a preview of what’s inside.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

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 Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively 

How To Use Turning Points to Start Something Different and Better 

How To Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages and Inspires You 

Tap The School of WorkLife Book Series to view the complete collection of books. From here, you can tap on each individual title to see a preview of what’s inside each book.

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

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

Chapter 4 (of 20) Shakespeare and Company

A Moveable Feast Chapter Four, Shakespeare and Company, Accompanied by Escargots and Wine
A Moveable Feast Chapter Four, Shakespeare and Company, Accompanied by Escargots 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 4 (of 20) Shakespeare and Company accompanied by Escargots À L’alsacienne paired with Le Bouquet Rouge De Georges Duboeuf at La Petite Auberge, Islington. 

Notes From Chapter 4: Shakespeare and Company

A WorkLife Book Club For One

Notes about the Long-Lasting Memories of Generosity and Kindness, Happiness and the Simple Things & Times in Life

“In those days there was no money to buy books. I borrowed books from the rental library Shakespeare and Company, which was the library and bookstore of Sylvia Beach at 12 rue de l’Odéon.”

“I was very shy when I first went into the bookshop and I did not have the money on me to join the library. She told me I could pay the deposit any time I had the money and made me out a card and said I could take as many books as I wished.”

“There was no reason for her to trust me. She did not know me and the address I had given her, 74 rue Cardinal Lemoine, could not have been a poorer one. But she was delightful and charming and welcoming and behind her, as high as the wall and stretching out into the back room which gave onto the inner court of the building, were shelves and shelves of the wealth of the library.”

“I told my wife about the wonderful place I had found.”

‘But Tatie, you must go by this afternoon and pay,’ she said.

‘Sure I will,’ I said. ‘We’ll both go. And then we’ll walk down by the river and along the quais.’

‘Let’s walk down the rue de Seine and look in all the galleries and in the windows of the shops.’

‘Sure. We can walk anywhere and we can stop at some new café where we don’t know anyone and nobody knows us and have a drink.’

‘We can have two drinks.’

‘Then we can eat somewhere’.

‘No. Don’t forget we have to pay the library.’  

‘Does she have Henry James too?’

‘Sure.’

‘My,’ she said, ‘We’re lucky that you found the place.’

‘We’re always lucky,’ I said and like a fool I did not knock on wood. There was wood everywhere in that apartment to knock on too’.”

I love stories that remind me that the long-lasting memories that live on in our hearts and minds are often the memories of acts of generosity and kindness, happiness and the simple things and times in our lives.

A Moveable Feast was Hemingway’s memoir about his time in Paris. He wrote the book towards the end of his life and it was published posthumously. It has been said that he became increasingly anxious and depressed in his final years. I think of this book as a love letter to a time in his life when he was, perhaps, most happiest. And as he remembered the importance of those simple times and the simple things that contributed to his happiness, he also remembered the people who had shown him generosity and kindness.

This was a short, simple and yet, profound chapter.

……………………………………………………………………………

As I sat to write this chapter, I was reminded of serendipitous happenings on the day I discovered La Petite Auberge – the French Restaurant where I read this chapter. I’ve written before about a practice I began some time ago, which I call #carmelinlondon exploring, discovering and capturing the beauty in everyday WorkLife. It’s a simple practice, similar to Hemingway’s daily practice of walking, exploring and discovering new places, people and experiences, which he then captured in words through his writing – I capture my happenings in words and photos, too, sometimes. 

Anyway, as well as discovering the restaurant along my walk, I also discovered Charity shops along my route. I popped into the Crisis charity shop and picked up the book Shakespeare & Co. by Stanley Wells for a mere £4. I hadn’t looked ahead in Moveable Feast, so I didn’t know the next chapter I was to read at La Petite Auberge was to be … Shakespeare and Company. 

Shakespeare & Co.

Words of Wisdom

That’s the beauty of the life in and of books – they can be bought new or old, lent, borrowed or gifted. And that’s another beautiful part of life that contributes to long-lasting memories. For me, it’s a memory that connects to generosity and kindness  – the people who share their books. Happiness, and the simple things and times in life – books have that simple, yet profound power to bind all these together. 

Epilogue

Unlike previous times when I wasn’t sure when I’ll read the next chapter of A Moveable Feast  over a glass and a plate. This time I know, because I read the next chapter over my main course and a glass of wine at La Petite Auberge

… Let’s see where A Moveable Feast the next chapter story is going to take me …

POSTSCRIPT

The Continuing Story …

… I can now share where Chapter 5 (of 20) People of the Seine story took me …

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

Today’s entrée, Escargots À L’alsacienne 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. About Snails: Although, throughout history, the snail had little value in the kitchen because it was considered “poverty food”, in recent times it has been classified as a delicacy, thanks to the appreciation given to it by haute cuisine chefs.  Although, long before that, Pope Pius V, who was an avid eater of snails, decided that they had to be considered as fish, in order to continue eating them during Lent, exclaiming: Estote pisces in aeternum! (‘you will be fish forever!’). While the origin of people eating snails seems to go back to Greece, today helicicculture (snail farming), occurs mainly in France, Italy and Spain, which are also the countries with the greatest culinary tradition of the snail. (Source Wikipedia).

#FunFact2. About Upper Street. Charles Dickens has been much quoted as describing Upper Street as ‘among the noisiest and most disagreeable thoroughfares in London’. It’s been said that “Charles Dickens applied his unique power of observation to the city in which he spent most of his life. He routinely walked the city streets,10 or 20 miles at a time, and his descriptions of nineteenth century London allow readers to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the old city.” (Source Charles Dickens Page). As a walker of the streets of London (10 miles a day), I smile and wonder if perhaps one day, my observations, musings and writings will allow readers in another century to experience London life of today – much has changed since the days of Dickens and nowadays Upper Street is home to some of the finest eating and drinking establishments in London – I have more to say on that – which I’ll save for another chapter of A WorkLife Book Club For One, over a plate and a glass.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

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 Pursue The Superpower of Happiness

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.

3 Important Lessons to Recover From Saying Something You Wish You Hadn’t Said 

How to Apologise With Humility Sincerity and Integrity From School of WorkLife 

 How To Apologise With Humility, Sincerity and Integrity. Learning Resources From School of WorkLife. Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning.
Resources to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning

I Wish I Hadn’t Said …

Have you ever given feedback that you wish you hadn’t?

Maybe you blurted something out which you later regretted?

Perhaps you were under pressure or at the end of your tether.

Or it could be the person just really irritated you.

Was there anything you were able to do to recover?

I Wish I Hadn’t Said…. are people’s stories of when they’ve regretted something they’d said, feedback they’d given, and how they reacted in the moment to the situation and what they did (if anything) to be able to move forward after at the fact, or what they’d wish they’d done, what they coulda, shoulda, woulda done if only they knew what that was.

“A Monkey Could Do It Better”

Ray couldn’t believe the words that had come out of his mouth. Neither could his team, who at first laughed because they thought it was joke, but seeing the look on Jake’s face, who was on the receiving end of this feedback, quickly realised it wasn’t a joking matter. 

Afraid of what else he might say, Ray decided he needed to take five, removing himself from the situation, and so he took a walk. 

But let’s back up a little to: Ray’s Story: A Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda, Wish I Hadn’t Said … Case Study: 

Ray was the manager of a team of twenty people within Operations in a leading Investment bank in the City in London. He’d been with the bank for over 30 years. In his earlier days and younger years he’d been a trader at the front end of things. It was a demanding role that was high powered and fast paced, which Ray enjoyed for the first few years, but after that the stresses of the job became too much for him and he reached burnout. The burnout was quite severe, and he needed to take a one-year sabbatical.

Ahead of returning from his sabbatical Ray met with his manager to discuss his future with the bank. His manager was very supportive. Ray was a good guy, intelligent, hard-working and brought a lot to the organisation. Ray knew he wanted to get away from trading and from client-facing roles, and wanted to move into what was then known as the back office; and so he took on a role in compliance. Although it was very static and process-driven it suited Ray. He was good with analysis and enjoyed it. More importantly it helped to restore Ray’s confidence in himself. 

But Ray’s WorkLife didn’t remain static. With the support of his manager, over time and over the years Ray worked in a number of different functions within the bank. This allowed him to continue to develop and to learn new skills, which kept him motivated.

In all of these roles Ray was an individual contributor, and this suited him very well. He had no interest in managing people.  Then the financial crisis hit, causing downsizing and restructuring with the bank going through a merger. A number of people Ray had worked with for many years who weren’t on board with the merger jumped ship; and as a result, along with losing good people, the bank also lost years of important knowledge. Because of his in-depth knowledge having worked across several functions, Ray found himself being promoted from individual contributor to manager, 

Some of the positions that had become vacant were filled from the merging company and some were filled by people working in other areas of Ray’s existing bank. This was how Ray inherited Jake. Jake had been working with the bank for over 15 years. He was a good guy and everybody liked him. 

Although known for having a good work ethic, his work from the day he joined Ray’s team was not good. He was continuously missing targets, which impacted the team, and this is what caused Ray’s outburst. He was at the end of his tether with Jake. Another late report ahead of an important meeting was the final straw, and led to those fateful words coming out of Ray’s mouth:

“A monkey could do it better”.

Seeing the look on Jake’s and the rest of the team’s faces following on from his outburst, together with the anger Ray was feeling towards Jake in that moment, Ray knew he needed to take a walk to distance himself from the immediate situation, to calm down and to gather his thoughts. 

Sage Wisdom

“Walking Meditation” is how Ray thought of this practice. It was a strategy his manager Nora introduced him to all those years ago when he was returning from his sabbatical, and one that had served him well at times when he had felt overwhelmed, and when he needed to turn off his self-talk and his thinking. Ray thought of Nora not only as his manager, but also his mentor and friend.  Although she had long since retired her wisdom remained with Ray throughout his WorkLife. It was something that he could tap into when he needed to.

The process was easy. He’d begin his walk by posing a question to himself, something as simple as “What do I need to know about X (situation/person)”? or “What one action can I take today that will help with X.” He would then switch off his mind and self-talk by focussing on the beauty of the park, and when thoughts/self-talk began to filter through, he’d mentally acknowledge them, say thank you, then switch off again by refocusing on the beauty of his surroundings. Ray found this simple strategy quite powerful. It helped to alleviate the sense of feeling overwhelmed, and by not thinking or listening to his self-talk, the answer he needed always came to him: sometimes in the moment or soon after, most often when he was getting on with his daily life, and other times he’d wake up with the solution of knowing what to do. This practice of self-questioning gave Ray the self-feedback he needed to evaluate what he needed to do next.

Ray’s focus on quieting his mind to what had just happened took his walk on autopilot on a route he took each lunchtime, through a nearby park, towards his favourite bookstore where he often spent his breaks browsing the shelves, picking up a book, sitting and reading a chapter or two over a coffee. Ray had received the answer to the question he had posed to himself: “What the hell did I just do, how can I put this right?”

Book Wisdom

Because on becoming a manager this bookshop was where he had discovered the One Minute Manager series of books, which he’d found really helpful, Ray immediately knew which of the One Minute Manager books he needed in this moment: The One Minute Apology. He entered the store, picked a copy off the shelf, got a coffee and settled down in his favourite armchair open to the learning that he knew he was about to receive though the book wisdom of The One Minute Manager.

3 Important Lessons to Recover From Saying Something You Wish You Hadn’t Said 

From the three important lessons of book wisdom that came to him from reading The One Minute Apology, Ray knew:

  1. He had to take full responsibility for his actions, regardless of the outcome;
  2. He had to apologise to Jake, and he had to do this with a sense of urgency;
  3. He had to demonstrate his commitment to making amends beyond this apology.

By the time Ray had finished reading it was too late to go back to the office. He knew everybody would have left for the day, and knowing what he had to do the next morning, he also knew he needed the evening to prepare mentally and this was best done away from the office. 

He just needed to do a couple of things before leaving the bookstore.  He messaged Jake asking him to meet early next morning before the workday began. He suggested a nearby coffee shop because this meeting needed to be away from the bank. He let his assistant know he would be late into the office and asked that she rearrange his morning meeting.

And so at 7.30 am the next morning Ray and Jake met for coffee and a discussion, which Ray knew would not be happening if he’d addressed the issues with Jake earlier on. He knew he’d failed Jake and began the meeting, having thanked Jake for agreeing to meet early, by saying: “Jake I owe you an apology”. 

Jake was taken aback, because of Ray’s angry outburst the previous day and knowing he’d screwed up with the report he was expecting a further balling out.

Ray continued “I’ve let you down in so many ways. You’ve always done great work in the past. That changed in the last year. Your work has been under par for some time and I failed to address it, I failed to talk to you, I failed to ask you why this was happening, I failed to take time to understand what’s been going on for you that was contributing to this. You’ve been loyal to the bank for so many years, you’ve been a great contributor, you’ve done great work and I’ve let you down by not taking the time to talk to you, when clearly something was not right. I am sincerely sorry I’ve let you down so badly.”

Although taken aback for the second time within minutes, Ray’s apology immediately struck Jake as being both sincere and humble, and caused Jake to blurt out everything that he’d been carrying around since he’d taken on his new role. Although Jake was visibly upset, Ray’s apology gave him the courage to speak up, together with a sense of knowing that he needed to do this for his self-esteem and that this was his time to do so. He responded to Ray’s apology by saying:

“I wish you had talked to me; I wish somebody had talked to me instead of making assumptions. I wanted to leave, when the others left. I wanted to leave, but then I was offered a role on your team and told how much I was valued for my loyalty and everybody assumed that’s what I wanted. It wasn’t, but I didn’t have the courage to leave or to speak up. I’ve hated every moment of this merger. The people on our team are all good people but I miss everyone who has left. I was expected to be able to pick up my new role straightaway because of my knowledge of the business, but the work is so different to my old role and I’ve been out of my depth since day one, but nobody said anything and I wasn’t offered any help. I assumed you were OK with me getting up to speed. But I could see by the look on everyone’s face yesterday that they weren’t surprised by what you said. They all looked sorry for me. Why didn’t you say something? Why didn’t anybody say something? I thought you all liked me. You must have all seen that I was out of my depth. If only someone had offered to help. Instead I’ve become a laughingstock, someone to pity.”

Ray knew this was the conversation he should have had with Jake a long time ago, in the same way his manager had taken the time to talk to him all those years ago when he was struggling, when he was in a role that wasn’t right for him. 

Ray spent the next two hours listening and talking to Jake – really listening to understand what was going on for him. By the end of the conversation Ray had learnt so much about Jake that he hadn’t known before. Things he could have, should have and would have known, had he taken the time to have had a WorkLife conversation with him, which would have allowed him to understand his motivations, his longer term dreams and aspirations, how these fitted with his current role and how he could have helped Jake work towards achieving this. The more they talked the more he realised how much he’d failed Jake on so many levels.

While he couldn’t turn back time, Ray knew he needed to do what he could in this moment to help Jake, and that was to help him to move on from the Bank, which is what Jake had wanted all along. You see Jake’s real passion was art. He was an artist. He studied Art at university, but due to pressure from his father who was a banker and who didn’t believe being an artist was a career, he buckled and entered the world of finance. Then he married, had kids and his work afforded his family a good lifestyle. 

He had actually enjoyed his work to a degree because of the people he’d worked with and before the merger the work was actually OK. More importantly it had allowed him to put his children through university. 

His art had become a hobby, but the burning desire to be an artist had never left him and of late it was all he could think about. It was risky, but financially he was in an OK place. He’d discussed it with his wife, and she was supportive; but Jake felt he needed a little more financial security for peace of mind. He had wanted to ask for redundancy before he was offered the role on Ray’s team. This had been offered to other people, but as nobody had asked Jake what he wanted at the time of the merger and instead offered him a secure position, he hadn’t wanted to seem ungrateful, and so he didn’t speak up.

Ray was in a position to secure a good redundancy settlement for Jake for his years of service to the bank. This is how the meeting ended, which was very different from how either Ray or Jake had anticipated it would have gone. 

Ray knew if he’d taken the time to talk to Jake a year earlier to understand his WorkLife aspirations, or if he’d taken time to give him feedback on his work at the given opportunities over the year when Jake messed up, it would never have gotten to this, and he could have helped Jake avoid the anguish and stress he’d experienced. 

He knew he could have been a better manager if he’d taken the time to create a culture of feedback, not just for him but also for Jake’s peers to give feedback to each other. A culture where Jake would have had the confidence to speak up and ask for what he wanted. A culture where it would have been OK for people to say No to something they didn’t want to do.

Ray knew he needed to evaluate if he should in fact be a manager. Maybe he wasn’t cut out for management. Maybe he was best suited to an individual contributor role. While Ray knew he had gotten a number of things right, he also knew he’d gotten some fundamental things wrong. He knew he needed to step back to evaluate his own role.

Epilogue

There’s a happy ending for both Ray and Jake’s stories. 

The time Ray had spent analysing how he should have managed the situation with Jake allowed him to recognise that he did like his job, and that he was good at it. He acknowledged he had gotten it horribly wrong with Jake, and he knew in his heart of hearts he would never allow that to happen again. To ensure it didn’t, he did exactly what he should have done with Jake, with the rest of the team. He set up a time to have a WorkLife conversation with everyone. He now understood their motivations, their longer term dreams and aspirations, and how these fitted with their current roles. He understood how he could support them in their development in achieving this, and how this fitted into the team, department and organisation growth plans. He’s working on developing a team where everyone is responsible for giving feedback to each other, and where people feel safe in speaking up. He’s writing his continuing WorkLife Story chapters.

Six months later Ray received an invitation to the opening of Jake’s first art exhibition at a renowned gallery in the City of London. On Ray’s arrival Jake greeted him warmly. Ray was struck by how good he looked, and he was blown away by Jake’s art and his talent.

Later that evening Jake took Ray to one side and he thanked him for everything he’d done to help him achieve this. He thanked him for forcing the issue. He laughed and jokingly thanked him for almost ‘firing’ him. He thanked him for giving him the courage to speak up and say what he really wanted and for really listening. He thanked him for the financial support he’d arranged, which had made it possible to move onto the new challenge that he had for so long yearned, and which gave him the success he was now experiencing. He told Ray he knew he had been spinning the wheels at work and that he had been too scared to take action, and that the space Ray had given him that morning to talk had allowed him to know what it was he needed to do. 

Words of Wisdom

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

This story has been adapted from chapter 20 of my book: Your WorkLife Your Way: Time For a Little (Or a Lot) of Self-Analysis The Power of Apology and The Power of Speaking Up. It also featured in The School of WorkLife Book Series: How To Apologise With Humility, Sincerity and Integrity and was further adapted for my book, WorkLife Book Club.

Today’s featured book is: The One Minute Apology by Ken Blanchard and Margaret McBride.

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

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

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 7/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and 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 Motivate Through Self-Respect and Trust

How To Start Something New in Difficult Times 

How To Overcome Your Fear To Live Your Life With Courage

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

How to Overcome Being Crushed by Unfair Words and Unsolicited Feedback 

3 Insightful Questions to Help Self Feedback and Self Awareness 

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

A Case Study: Aisling’s Story: “You’re Not Creative”. The Worst Thing Anyone Has Ever Said To Me.

Has someone ever said something that really upset you? Maybe you felt it was unfair or untrue and that you didn’t deserve it. The person may have had good intentions in saying what they said, or maybe they didn’t. They may or may not have known the in the moment and/or the lasting impact of their words. The chances are the person didn’t truly know or understand you.

What’s the Worst Thing Anyone Has Ever Said To You? are people’s stories of when someone said something to them, that at best upset them in the moment, and took them a little while to let go of and move on from, or at worst it stayed with them for many years,  causing a negative impact throughout their WorkLife.

Words have consequences, they have power, a power that can be used to knock down or to build up. Wisdom, Truth and Self-Awareness are the arch-rivals to words and feedback that have caused a person to be knocked down. They are the superpowers that will build people up again.

“You’re Not Creative”

These words stunned Aisling into silence, she couldn’t believe Max, the person she was having a meeting over coffee with, actually thought this of her. She felt the words were unfair. She hadn’t invited this unsolicited feedback. Although she didn’t speak any words in response, the look on her face obviously spoke volumes, as Max tried to recover from what he said. But let’s back up a bit to her story:

Aisling’s Story: “You’re Not Creative.”The Worst Thing Anyone Has Ever Said To Me

Aisling worked for several years as a WorkLife Learning Practitioner, helping people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives. She was in the early stages of developing her work further, and with a team of performing, visual and literary artists, she had created workplace theatre. Theatrical productions written following research into organisational challenges and desired outcomes. The plays formed the centrepiece of learning and development, stimulating discussion and debate.

The next steps were to develop an online platform bringing learning, the arts and technology together to support individuals in their WorkLife development. Aisling was meeting with Max to discuss how to do this. They had worked together before. He’s an actor with a background in graphic design. 

Aisling was talking about what she could bring to the project. She doesn’t remember exactly what she said, but it was something about creativity, to which Max blurted out those fateful words: “You’re not creative!” As mentioned earlier, while Aisling was stunned into silence and didn’t respond with words, her facial response obviously spoke volumes as Max tried to recover, saying: “I think of you as being honest, trustworthy, caring, I just don’t think of you as being creative.” Aisling was still dumbstruck.

Somehow the conversation moved forward, and as it did she came to realise that Max didn’t actually know her very well; and Aisling realised she was partly responsible for that because she doesn’t tend to talk about her work because she thinks her work should talk for itself. But it was very apparent it hadn’t talked to Max. Anyway, they got through the meeting, discussed what they needed to discuss, agreed what they needed to do next, and said their goodbyes.

As Aisling walked home, she was mulling things over in her mind. During the meeting, it had become very apparent that Max hadn’t taken the time to discover anything about her, over and above the work they had done together, nor did he see beyond what was in front of his eyes. 

How to Overcome Being Crushed by Unfair Words and Unsolicited Feedback 

3 Insightful Questions to Help Self Feedback and Self Awareness 

There was a time when this would have crushed Aisling. But because she practices self-awareness and self-feedback through self-questioning, it didn’t. She asked herself: 

Is what Max said true? 

If yes, why?

If no, why not?

This is the answer that came to her:

I believe what’s most creative about me and my approach to my work, is that I see connections between the detail and the bigger picture, I see what’s possible, I see people’s potential, I enable people to see things in new and different ways. I know this because people tell me, it’s what they say is creative about me. 

Then as Aisling continued her walk home, something that later became very surreal happened. It was late in the evening, and the streets were a little deserted, but on a well-trodden London footpath, there was a book on the ground. There was no one around who could have dropped it, so she picked it up and brought it home.

Book Wisdom

The book was It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be, By Paul Arden. It’s quite a quick read filled with quotes and short stories, and so Aisling read it immediately on getting home. This is where the surrealism happened, with these words of wisdom: 

“The most popular conception of creativity is that it’s something to do with the arts.

Nonsense.

Creativity is imagination, and imagination is for everyone.”

Sage Wisdom

Aisling shared what had happened with Max with her dear and wise friend Christina, who knew her and her work very well. Christina was a little outraged on Aisling’s behalf, asking if he actually knew anything about her work. Wanting to ensure she didn’t dwell on this, Christina also pointed out other areas where she considered her to be creative, e.g. Aisling enjoys cooking and when she has friends round, she likes to make it an experience: the setting, the food, the drinks, and so on. Christina was, in effect, reinforcing Aisling’s belief that there are many ways in which people are creative.

Words of Wisdom

Creativity exists in people in every walk of life, at every WorkLife stage, not just in the creative industries. Creativity means something different to different people. 

Today’s Featured Book is: It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden

WorkLife Book Wisdom Stories:

The intention of the stories I share is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories, you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles, failures and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride.

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

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

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

POSTSCRIPT

This story was originally published on 5/4/21. 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 Embrace The Superpower of Self-Awareness 

How To Fine-Tune The Superpower of Observation 

How To Use Your Voice To Express and Protect Your Identity 

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.

How Reminiscing Gave Insight and Inspiration in Knowing I’m Where I Need to Be 

How a Good Thing Happening in a Bookshop Took Me Down Memory Lane 

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

A Case Study: A memory gave me insight into how I got to where I am in my WorkLife and inspiration in knowing I’m at the right place – the place my WorkLife journey was meant to take me to.

…………………………………………………………………….

We didn’t have a bookshop in the village I grew up in, but we did have a revolving bookstand in one of our local stores. It was an everything kind of store – from groceries to hardware, from toys to clothing. My childhood memories are of it being a treasure trove – you really could find anything there. My earliest memory, at seven years old, was of it being a magical place of discovery.

The most magical discovery for me was the revolving bookstand, nestled between pots of paint and freshly laid duck eggs.

It was there I discovered Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Secret Seven and Malory Towers book series. I’d while away the time waiting for my mum to do her shopping, avidly reading the back covers, deciding which would be my next purchase – for when I’d saved enough money to buy it. 

I don’t remember how much each book cost, but I do remember it took me weeks to save for the next one. That wait somehow made each book even more valuable. I can still remember the excitement I felt when I had enough money to buy my next book; running down the hill to the store; re-reading the back covers of all the books to make sure the book I’d already painstakingly decided on was really the best choice; running up the hill back home; disappearing into my bedroom with excited anticipation of the new adventure I was about to be taken on, the magical world I was about to be transported to.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

I sometimes hear people asking the question: 

  • How did who you were as a seven-year-old shape what you did with your life?

I could never answer that question. As a seven-year-old, I was just a regular child, doing what regular children do. Life was good, and I was happy. But there was nothing about anything I did at seven years old that shaped what I did with my life, so I always thought that question is not relevant to me.

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

I fell into my job in High Street Banking a few years after leaving school. Then in my 30’s, when I moved to London, I fell into a job in Investment Banking. I always enjoyed my work, but it was just that – work. It afforded me a good lifestyle and allowed me to embrace my love of travel. But I wasn’t passionate about it, nor did it give me a sense of purpose. But I was OK with that, and I didn’t feel I was missing out on anything. I worked with good people in good environments. Life was good, and I was happy. 

………………………………………………………………………………….

It wasn’t until my 40’s that I discovered my WorkLife purpose and passion. 

Because of an economic downturn, my banking role was made redundant. While I was figuring out what I was going to do next, and what my continuing WorkLife story was going to be, my friend Pauline asked me to deliver the job search element workshop of a programme she was running to help people launch their WorkLife in Logistics. I had no experience in creating and delivering workshop learning programmes, but Pauline persuaded me all I needed was a common sense approach. I was curious, and so I said yes.

This was the early days of the Internet, so I couldn’t find what I needed online. Instead, I went to my nearest bookshop and bought enough books to develop a year-long course (a tad excessive for the two days required!). Then set to work learning what I needed to know.

The people attending the workshop had also been impacted by the economic downturn. They, too, had lost their jobs. They were also figuring out what their continuing WorkLife story was going to be and were having to reinvent themselves to get back into the workplace. 

Having developed a two-day workshop which focussed on the elements of the job search programme, when I turned up to deliver it, I discovered before we could get to that, I needed somehow to help restore people’s confidence and self-esteem, which had been crushed when through no fault of their own their jobs and livelihoods had been taken from them. 

I asked them about things they’d achieved in their WorkLives that they felt good about. As each person began talking and their story unfolded, we all sat back in awe as we listened to one amazing story after another.

Although I’d never run a workshop learning programme before, I somehow knew that the key to help people regain their confidence and self-esteem was to ask them to talk about their achievements – in essence, to tell their WorkLife stories.

I remember writing down their stories as I journeyed home. I had experienced a magical moment. I had been transported along their journey through their amazing WorkLife stories. I didn’t know what this meant at the time. I just knew I needed to capture it – so I wrote down their stories.

What I did know, though, through the journeys they had taken me on, was the answer to the question I was trying to figure out:

What do I want my continuing WorkLife story to be? 

The stories I’d heard and the workshop experience allowed me to know I wanted to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLife. 

I didn’t know how I was going to do this. I thought curiosity would help me figure that out. 

Because saying yes to something, I was curious about when my friend Pauline had asked me to deliver the workshop when I was trying to figure out what I wanted my continuing WorkLife to be, had helped me do just that, or rather it got me to the first chapter. I both discovered and wrote the continuing chapters as I embarked on my journey, letting curiosity be my driving force. 

One Chapter Leads to Another – a Whirlwind Journey Through the Chapters of my Continuing WorkLife Story That My Curiosity Lead Me To:

Chapter 1: Developing and Delivering my First Workshop

Chapter 2: Undertaking a Degree in Career Coaching and Management

Chapter 3: Joining a Career Consultancy Agency as a Career Coach and Workshop Facilitator

Chapter 4: Undertaking Studies in Performing Arts

Chapter 5: Launching my Own Business as a Freelance WorkLife Learning Practitioner

Chapter 6: Becoming a Writer, telling people’s powerful stories about their WorkLife struggles and successes. 

Chapter 7: Becoming an Author, Publishing Your WorkLife Your WayThe School of WorkLife Book SeriesWorkLife Book Club and Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.

My WorkLife Story continues. I’m already working on my next chapter …

……………………………………………………………………………………

I’d been a collector of stories ever since that first workshop. My profession allowed me to immerse myself in the world of people’s learning, and I got to participate in their WorkLife journeys. Journeys from places of exploration and discovery. I continue to learn through the amazing WorkLife stories of the people I work with, from whom I draw inspiration daily.

……………………………………………………………………………………………

But as I sit here and write this story, I realise my love of stories goes back even further than that. It actually goes back to my seven-year-old self, back to those magical moments of discovery that had begun on a revolving bookstand nestled in the treasure trove of my local store. Those magical moments of discovery were the beginning of the many adventures I’ve been taken on through the magic of books and the power of stories.

Because a prerequisite of being a writer is being an avid reader, and that’s something that began at the age of seven.

So, now when I think of the question: “How did who you were as a seven-year-old shape what you did with your life?” I think it is relevant to me.

It was relevant as a banker because my work enabled me to embrace my love of travel and adventure – a love that had come from the books I’d read.

It was relevant to me when I developed that first workshop because I learnt everything I needed to know from the books I picked up at the bookshop.

It has been relevant to me throughout my education in my new profession and in launching my business – reading has always been my go-to place for learning.

And it is relevant to me as a writer because reading is an important part of my craft as a writer.

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

I leave you with three questions to ponder upon:

1. How did who you were as a seven-year-old shape what you did with your life?

2. What is something you’ve achieved in your WorkLife that you feel good about?

3. Do you have a memory of something good happening in a bookshop?

And also a mission, should you choose to accept it … Or an assignment, actually.

Take one, two or all three of the questions and write down your answer/s. Write down that part of your story – that chapter of your continuous WorkLife story.

Why? Because there’s magic in writing, there’s magic in telling your story. 

It helps to bring up answers to something you may or may not know you were seeking answers on – as it did for me, in making sense of how who I was as a seven-year-old shaped what I did with my life. 

It helps to regain confidence and self-esteem at times in your WorkLife when you’re crushed through no fault of your own. 

… But, before you take on the assignment, I want to add a twist. 

Why?

Because twists help you to be a better storyteller.

Let me explain.

When I began writing this story, all I had was a headline I liked: Good Things Happen In Bookshops – it was actually a quote written on a board outside a bookshop in London. Of course, it caused me to walk through the door, to browse the shelves. But then something a little surreal happened. As I walked around, I began to notice revolving stands located at different places throughout the shop. In that moment, I was right back in the local store of my childhood, reminiscing about the treasure trove that had been my magical place of discovery. 

I was in a little bit of a daze, and I don’t remember much else other than writing down the headline/quote that had drawn me into the store. I’m a collector of headlines, and quotes, too. It comes from being a collector of stories, I think. I didn’t know where the headline/quote was going to take me. I just knew I really liked it. I knew it would somehow allow me to tell my story. I didn’t know what story it was going to be. I didn’t know where it was going to take me as the writer or you as the reader of the story. All I knew was that it was a headline/quote that would allow me to explore and discover what I needed along the way. 

… And here comes the twist in your assignment:

Take a headline/quote you like and answer the question/s in relation to that. Adapt it however you want to – as I did in my headline – which became my subheading. The great thing about headlines/quotes that you like is that they allow you to tell your story or a part of your story, and that’s important because it helps you to tell the chapters of your Continuous WorkLife Story.

And that’s really important because, throughout your WorkLife, you’ll be expected to tell your story or a part of your story: In day-to-day conversations, at interviews, in giving presentations or talks, in networking situations, in social settings; and so on, and so on. 

Taking a headline/quote and developing it into a story that tells where you came from and how you got to where you need to be, is a good skill to develop to enable you to have the perfect story to tell for whatever WorkLife situation required. Because it gives you, the storyteller, the insight and inspiration to craft a story that tells your audience who you are and what you’re about. by taking them on a journey through the magical moments of your WorkLife.

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

Postscript

This story was originally published on 4/4/21. 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 Let Curiosity Be Your Driving Force 

How To Build Your WorkLife Around What Engages and Inspires You  

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.

A Simple Feedback Technique in 3 steps to Self Direct Meaningful Learning 

How Effective Self Feedback Turns Your WorkLife Story Into a Work of Art 

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

A Case Study: How I took an invaluable lesson in feedback practice from an acting class and adapted it to help people self direct meaningful learning in their WorkLife to turn their continuous story into a work of art.

Actors in training receive more feedback than most other people do in their entire WorkLife. That’s a fact. And it doesn’t stop there. Their training enables them to build a finely-tuned self-feedback muscle from the powers of self-awareness and observation. This helps them to take on a character by understanding their persona in helping to tell their story truthfully. This practice also allows them to know in the moment, or soon after, how an audition, rehearsal or performance went.

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

Some years ago, I did a Saturday afternoon acting class called Actors Studio. It was a class that attracted both actors in training on their path to launching their WorkLife as performing artists and experienced actors who had already made their debut treading the boards on Westend stages, in film and on tv — including an actor from Games Of Thrones! (To namedrop, just one of the people I met — without fully namedropping!).

The actors in training wanted to develop their toolbox of skills and techniques to support them in launching their acting WorkLife. The seasoned actors wanted to hone their skills and techniques in-between jobs.

I was neither an actor in training nor a seasoned actor. I qualified for the class because I had completed a year-long Foundation In Drama course. A one-day-a-week class that differed in nature from other part-time acting classes I’d attended because it demanded that everyone turned up every week, on time, fully prepared. Other classes were more relaxed on those fronts. Not because the school didn’t want people to take the classes seriously. But because they were part-time classes, open to the general public, who did them outside of their work and other life commitments. The teachers understood and worked with this.

As its name suggests, the Foundation in Drama course sets the foundation of what is required and expected from anyone who is thinking of pursuing a WorkLife in performing arts. Having taken this class was important because it demonstrated I had the commitment needed to participate in the Actors Studio class.

Now, here’s the thing, I had never wanted to follow a WorkLife in acting. I began taking acting classes in the hope that they would help me overcome my nervousness when speaking in public and delivering learning programmes in my role as a WorkLife learning practitioner. The part-time classes helped, but my fear was so crippling that I needed more time, and I needed to be pushed even more to take me out of my comfort zone. The Foundation In Drama course gave me all that because, week on week, I was expected to show vulnerability in my work. Achieving this demanded tapping into my most deepest feelings and emotions. It was hard-going for sure, but together with my fellow classmates and teachers, we created a safe, supportive environment for each other to be at our most vulnerable.

I got so much from that class over and beyond, overcoming my extreme nervousness when speaking in public and delivering learning programmes. Although I knew I didn’t want to follow a WorkLife in acting, I also knew I did want to continue to learn, grow and develop through the skills and techniques I would gain in the Actors Studio class, in the same way the actors in training and experienced actors did. Their skills level was so much higher than mine, and the wonderful thing about that class was how generous everyone was in supporting the learning, growth and development of each other. Many of the experienced actors were alumni of the school, and I think it was their way of giving back to the school and the teachers who had helped them get onto their WorkLife path and in giving forward to the actors in training, ahead of them getting onto their chosen path.

Depending on the school year, each term ran for ten to twelve weeks, during which we worked on three or four very different performances from modern-day and contemporary to the classics, from Miller to Chekov to Shakespeare to Greek Tragedy. This included solo performances, two-handers, three-handers and bigger ensemble pieces. We would spend two to three weeks rehearsing each piece, and then the following week, we performed our pieces to our audience of fellow classmates.

Our performances were filmed and played back at the end of the class. We were each required to give feedback on our own performance, then we each got feedback from the person sitting to our right, and finally, we got feedback from the teacher.

Each piece of feedback began with something we liked about our performance, that we thought was good, that we’d like to keep. Then one thing that could be better that we’d like to improve upon. And finally, one thing we didn’t like, that we’d like to let go of or change in some way. So, we each came away with three pieces of feedback for what was good that we’d like to keep. For what could be better that we’d like to improve upon. And for what we didn’t like, that we wanted to let go of or change in some way.

I really liked this Feedback practice. It became yet another technique that I drew from the skills and experience I gained in the acting classes I did, which I went on to use in my work as a WorkLife learning practitioner.

But I wanted to adapt it to a technique that would allow people to give themselves self-feedback (myself included). Of course, there wouldn’t be a camera on hand to capture teaching/learning moments, or a classmate or teacher, or necessarily a colleague or boss, for that matter.

That’s OK because I’m a firm believer in being self-reliant. 

I believe that we all have the knowledge and wisdom – the resources we need, within us to be our own best champions and best critics in being self-reliant in self directing meaningful learning.

I also believe we all have the ability to fine-tune our potential to be more self-aware and observant – the superpowers we need to be self-reliant in self directing meaningful learning.

Self-awareness and observation are simple yet profound and powerful strategies to help you develop and fine-tune your self-feedback muscle. A practice that will allow you to know in the moment or soon after how you did in WorkLife situations. You may not have auditions, rehearsals and performances as actors do. But it’s likely you’ll have interviews, presentations, and talks, and many other situations that you’ll want to reflect upon and evaluate to enable you to know what you liked and thought was good, that you’d like to keep, what could have been better, that you’d like to improve upon, and what you didn’t like, that you want to let go of, or change in some way.

The following assignment is designed to allow you to develop and fine-tune your self-feedback muscle to be your own best champion and critic in your WorkLife learning, development and growth.

A Simple Feedback Technique in 3 steps to Self Direct Meaningful Learning Assignment

Step 1. Re-Wind/Re-Play Your Day: Self-Awareness and Observation Assignment

A Day in The Life of … Drumroll … You!

To develop your power of self-awareness and observation, begin by taking something that happened in your day. I like to suggest a two-minute event, but it can be shorter or longer. It could be a brief interaction you had in a coffee shop or in a meeting. It could be something you observed as you went about your day without interacting with anyone. It could be a moment when you were at home alone doing something.

Now replay that in your mind. The idea is to observe yourself when you were in that moment, along with being self-aware of everything else that was going on around you.

Simple? — Yes! The power of self-awareness and observation really is that simple.

Step 2: Developing Your Power of Self-Awareness and Observation Assignment

The power of self-awareness and observation becomes more and more powerful the more self-aware and observant you become as you go about your daily WorkLife.

Find something to capture every day. Working with Step 1, begin with one-moment building to many moments.

Maybe there will be days when you think there is nothing that demands my powers of self-awareness and observation, because they are very normal days. But actually, normal days are great days because they force you to be a little more mindful, a little more aware, and a little more creative.

Step 3: Building Your Power of Self-Awareness and Observation Assignment

At the end of your day, consider your most important moment/s that you want to give yourself self-feedback on, that will help your WorkLife learning, development and growth. 

Work with Steps 1 and 2 to take yourself back into the moment/s.

Then ask yourself:

  • What did I like and think was good, that I’d like to keep?
  • What could have been better, that I’d like to improve upon?
  • What did I not like, that I want to let go of, or change in some way?

Write down your response, and then let it go.

I like to suggest the practice of journaling by way of reflecting on these questions.

Then the following day, sit down and journal on anything further that has come to you through self-feedback in response to the questions you asked yourself. Anything that comes up through your stream of consciousness. Self-expression in your journal will help you to tap into your powers of self-awareness and observation, to fine-tune your self-feedback muscle, and, ultimately, to turn your WorkLife story into a work of art.

A Side Note

  1. This is a variation of a technique that a couple of actors shared with me when they described how they got into character for the roles they were playing. They said reliving moments of their character’s day through self-awareness and observation enabled them to understand their persona in helping to tell their story truthfully. You can use the technique to tell your WorkLife story and turn it into a work of art in the same way the actors did in telling the story of their character.

This story and assignment have been adapted from my books: Your WorkLife Your WayHow To Embrace The Superpower of Self-Awareness and How To Fine-Tune The Superpower of Observation from The School Of WorkLife Book Series.

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

Postscript

This story was originally published on 3/4/21. I needed to republish it to add updates and 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 Be Autonomous in Your Development and Growth 

How To Self-Coach, Direct and Lead Effectively 

How To Be Creative in Your Thinking 

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.

What is Unique About Your Family That Makes a Great Story to Tell? 

What Quirky Things Do People Do or Say Where You Come From? 

Dad loved  keeping busy outdoors. In this pic he's sorting the winter firing
Dad loved keeping busy outdoors . In this pic he’s sorting the winter firing

Remembering Dad on his birthday with a couple of stories he used to tell.

And one story that he could never bring himself to tell … 

But we could …

A keen gardener, my dad used to tell the story of when he was out digging in the garden, a robin would land on his shovel and stay awhile. He would greet the robin with the time of day, and the robin would chirp a greeting back to him.

Come blackberry season, and my dad had a team of blackberry pickers from whom he’d buy blackberries and then sell them on. He paid by weight and would tell the story of how some pickers would weigh down their buckets with stones.

Every Sunday, our next-door neighbour Mrs Hayes would make bacon and cabbage for the family lunch. She would pop her head over the garden hedge, and my dad would pick her a fresh head of cabbage. 

Except for one Sunday, when he wasn’t there, and so my mum picked the biggest head of cabbage she could find for Mrs Hayes. Then they proceeded to have a conversation about what a fine head of cabbage it was. 

And it was indeed a fine head of cabbage. It was the fine head of cabbage that my dad was going to enter into some show or other … 

Suffice it to say that Sunday lunch was a very sombre affair in the O’ Reilly household on that fateful Sunday. 

My dad could never bring himself to tell that story … 

But we could  …

Words of Wisdom

I like to tell stories about my family. They make a great story to tell because they’re unique to me. And also because they’re important to me.

I also like to tell stories about quirky things people do and say from where I come from. Again, they make a great story to tell because they’re unique to me. And also because they make me reminisce. 

What is Unique About Your Family That Makes a Great Story to Tell? 

What Quirky Things Do People Do or Say Where You Come From? 

Epilogue

I also like to tell stories about what I’m curious about … 

But I’ll save those stories for another day … 

Today’s stories are in memory of my dad.

Stories that are important to me.

And stories that make me reminisce.

Happy Birthday Dad xx

Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning
Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning

Founder of School of WorkLife, Carmel O’ Reilly is a learning practitioner and writer. She creates resources to help people self-direct their WorkLife learning.  These include a Collection of Books which originated from her first book, Your WorkLife Your Way and a  Learn Through Reading Series of Case Studies.  which originated from her latest book WorkLife Book Club.

That’s the power of writing (and reading, which is an integral part of the craft for writers). It helps you find, develop and tell the right story at the right time in all WorkLife situations – in day-to-day communication: WorkLife and feedback conversations, presentations, talks, and negotiations, at interviews, and when socialising and networking in building and maintaining good relationships. The practice of writing helps you to tell the stories that express who you are in an interesting and engaging way.

Thank You Queen Elizabeth II

From John Simpson on Twitter, “An Irish friend says that when the news of the Queen’s death came through, ‘I was drinking in an Irish Republican Socialist pub here in Dublin… To a man & a woman, everyone raised a glass to a woman who loved Ireland & did so much to bring about peace on our islands.’”

Being Irish, I had never given thought to the Queen during her life. But in her death, I have. 

I’ve done it by trying to get a sense of what it means to my fellow countrymen and women. People who identify with being Irish through birth or heritage, living in the UK but perhaps more so those living in Ireland. Simply because having lived in the UK almost as long as I lived in Ireland, I felt disconnected from what Irish people thought of the Queen. I sensed that by and large, like me, in her life, they never gave her much thought – she really wasn’t anything to do with us – she wasn’t our Queen, it was as simple as that. 

Except it wasn’t simple.

It’s only in her death that I realised she was something to do with us. And that something is significantly important. 

I learnt it through the instinctive response of people enjoying a drink and raising their glass to the Monarch they believed had helped the peace process on our island. 

When you live in a country divided by war, peace means more than possibly words can ever communicate. A solemn moment of silence can perhaps express this far more profoundly. 

She helped put the long and troubled past between our nations behind us. I learnt this through these words in the statement by President Higgins on the death of the Queen:

“As we know, the Queen often spoke of how much she enjoyed her own historic State Visit to Ireland in 2011, the first such visit by a British monarch since Irish independence, and during which she did so much through eloquent word and generous gesture to improve relations between our two islands.

“Queen Elizabeth’s Visit was pivotal in laying a firm basis for an authentic and ethical understanding between our countries. During those memorable few days eleven years ago, the Queen did not shy away from the shadows of the past. Her moving words and gestures of respect were deeply appreciated and admired by the people of Ireland and set out a new, forward looking relationship between our nations – one of respect, close partnership and sincere friendship.”

President Higgins is a man I admire and respect for his integrity – a man who also doesn’t shy away from the shadows of the past. I know him to be a man who calls a spade a spade.

I learnt it through the words the Queen spoke at the State Dinner:

“Speaking here in Dublin castle, it is impossible to ignore the weight of history, as it was yesterday when you and I laid wreaths at the garden of remembrance. Indeed so much of this visit reminds us of the complexity of our history, its many layers and traditions, but also the importance of forbearance and conciliation of being able to bow to the past but not be bound by it. Of course, the relationship has not always been straightforward, nor has the record over the centuries been entirely benign. It is a sad and regrettable reality that throughout history, our islands experienced more than their fair share of heartache, turbulence and loss. These events have touched us all. Many of us personally, and are a painful legacy. We can never forget those who have died or have been injured and their families. To all those who have suffered as a consequence of our troubled past, I extend my sincere thoughts and deep sympathy. With the benefit of historical hindsight, we can all see things that we would wish had been done differently or not at all. But it is also true that no one who looked to the future over the past centuries could have imagined the strength of the bonds that are now in place between the governments and people of our two nations.”

These weren’t empty words. This wasn’t lip service. This was a commitment to the spirit of partnership and lasting rapport between our nations. 

This wasn’t a promise to be broken. These words were followed through by action—action through diplomacy. 

I’ve adapted the following from an article by Reuters (For the most part, I’ve kept their words but just shared an excerpt):

The queen’s use of the Irish language, once banned under British rule, to begin her landmark address at the State Dinner brought about a spontaneous round of applause from the guests.

Other symbolic moments included the laying of a wreath to those who died fighting for the British crown and stepping out onto Dublin’s Croke Park stadium, the scene of a massacre of 14 people by British forces almost a century earlier.

Across Irish politics, the Queen has been recognised and remembered as a bridge builder in repairing relationships between our countries.

A year after her visit to Ireland, the Queen shook the hand of former IRA guerrilla commander and then deputy first minister of Northern Ireland Martin McGuinness in Belfast, one of the last big milestones in a peace process studied around the world.

The Queen’s cousin, Lord Mountbatten and three members of his family party were killed in 1979 by Irish Republican Army (IRA) militants.

………………………………………………………………………………….

In writing these words, I’m not inviting discussion or debate. These are simply my thoughts. My way of making sense of things. 

Some may share in my thinking. Others may not. And that’s OK. As with everything I share, I do so to simply express my thinking. I’m not assuming to think and speak for Irish people. I have never and will never assume to think or speak for someone else. People are extremely capable of doing that for themselves. I believe whether we agree or disagree, it’s important that we don’t silence the voice of others. 

I’m simply sharing the words, actions and events that helped me make sense of things as an Irish person living in the UK in understanding my thoughts and emotions brought about by the death of a Monarch who, during her life, I thought had nothing to do with me. And yet, in her death, I have come to learn of the importance of her role in bringing peace to the island of Ireland.

That has everything to do with me.

And for that, I say: 

Go raibh maith agat – Thank you. 

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

Afterword

On reflection, I felt the need to add that I hope English people will understand why I felt the need to write and share this.

I write to make sense of my thoughts and emotions when I’m struggling to understand what I’m thinking or feeling about something. It’s simply my way of processing things.

While Ireland will always be my true home, the UK has been my adopted home for many years. The country and the people have been good to me. In no way do I want to be disrespectful of that. The country, in general, and London, in particular, have become a part of me, and that’s why I needed to share my story. I hope English people will understand that.

Over the last several days, I’ve learnt a little about the history of both Scotland and Wales and their relationship with England. In doing so, I learnt of the historic similarities both countries share with Ireland. Because of this, I feel Scottish and Welsh people will understand why I felt the need to write and share this.

I talk about Ireland and the Irish people as a whole. I include people living in the Republic of Ireland and people living in Northern Ireland. As a nation, we were both divided and connected by war, and because of that, I feel the people of Ireland as a whole will understand why I felt the need to write and share this.

Go raibh maith agat a chairde – Thank you, friends.

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.