And How External Circumstances Can Bring About Your Starting Point


Photo by Caleb Gregory on Unsplash

A Case Study: Sinead’s Story:

Sinead had wanted to branch out into running her own commercial real estate business for some time. This was because she believed she could make a positive impact in an industry that often charged what she considered to be unfairly high rental rates. This was the practice at the company she worked at - the only real estate company in her town - her competition was she to go it alone.

Could she do it on her own?

External circumstances gave her the opportunity to test that out.

On her grandmother’s passing, Sinead inherited a property that had been in the family for close to fifty years. As newlyweds, her grandparent’s had bought it - they ran the downstairs as a sweet shop and had lived over the shop for all of their married life. When Sinead’s granddad passed away, her grandmother remained living upstairs but closed the downstairs shop. She hadn’t wanted to run it alone, and none of the family was interested in running it with her. And so it had become a vacant, unused space in the centre of town. 

Over the years, the real estate company that Sinead worked with had approached her grandmother to buy her out, but she had always politely declined, saying this was her home and this was where she intended to see her days out. Sinead knew there was more to it than that. She knew her grandmother didn’t like how the high rental rates had pushed many of her fellow retailers out of business. She knew her grandmother didn’t want to play any part in that.

On learning Sinead had inherited the property, the real estate company approached her to buy it. She politely declined, saying she was going to live there. They then suggested buying or renting the downstairs, with a view to letting it out. Sinead once again declined, sharing her desire to branch out on her own into commercial real estate. Her intention wasn’t to leave the company, she considered this an opportunity to have her own small venture, and she didn't believe it would impact her work with the company. The company didn’t see it that way, they considered it would be a conflict of interest, and Sinead was told in no uncertain terms that if she followed through with her plan, she would be dismissed. She didn’t hang around long enough for that to happen. She resigned. 

But now what? That was Sinead’s BIG question. And it was soon answered.

She was approached by a couple in their 50’s - Mary and Sean, who wanted to rent the shop from her. Having grown up in the town, their work had caused them to move away in their early twenties. They had recently both been made redundant from their jobs and were contemplating a move back to the town to be close to their families. They weren’t ready for retirement, and it had always been a dream of theirs to own and run their own shop. Learning of Sinead’s grandmother’s passing brought them back to their childhood and their fond memories of her grandparents and their wonderful sweet shop. They had an idea of preserving the spirit of the magic of a sweet shop from times gone by with the spirit of preserving the future generations of cocoa farmers through ethically sourced cocoa beans. They wanted to bring retro sweets rooted in the past and chocolate that starts at the root of the cacao tree together. 

They didn’t have the answers as to how they were going to do that, yet. They just knew the idea engaged and inspired them. They also knew they weren’t going to play it by the rules of what people thought a sweet/chocolate shop should be. They figured it was more likely that they would do the opposite. Because the best experiences in their WorkLives had been when they had gone against the flow of what ‘should be’ and instead followed the flow of what ‘could be’.

Sinead loved their idea for their shop, and she loved their philosophy on their WorkLife. Probably because it reflected her values and beliefs. She believed she had found her way to begin to make a positive impact in her industry. She did this by simply proposing a fair rental price for the shop. Contracts were signed, and the deal was sealed over mugs of hot chocolate in Mary and Sean’s home - they were testing out a Bean-to-Bar class they’d taken in creating their own hot chocolate, for which Sinead awarded them top marks.

So, Sinead had landed her first clients, which was great. But she needed more to establish a viable business. But how could she do that in a town where her completion - the company she just left had the monopoly on commercial real estate 

So now what? That was Sinead’s next BIG question. And it was soon answered.

The Covid-19 Pandemic hit, and before Mary and Sean could open their doors to the public (they had been working behind closed doors getting things ready to launch), they were firmly shut. They had spent all their money on stock and getting the shop looking how they wanted it to be, and they were concerned about how they could pay their rent. 

Knowing this would be a concern, Sinead told them that she wouldn’t charge rent for the duration of the time they would be required to remain closed. Mary and Sean objected because they knew this was Sinead’s only income, but she assured them she would be OK in the short term because she owned her home upstairs and didn’t have big financial outgoings. Mary and Sean tried to insist on covering her outgoings, but Sinead said this was important for her to do in honouring her commitment to herself to find a way to make a positive impact in an industry that had a negative reputation in how it treated its tenants. 

Sinead approached her old company encouraging them to do the same for their tenants. They said they couldn’t because they had a business to run. 

The local council had called a zoom town hall meeting by way of briefing people on the pandemic. During the meeting, Sinead asked the committee to intervene on the issue of businesses having to pay rent on their premises when they couldn’t work out of them. She said without an intervention, businesses wouldn’t survive, and this would have a negative impact not only on the business owners but also on the wider community, and it would bring the town back to a place of decline brought about by the last recession, that took them years to come out of.

Those words struck a chord with everyone on the zoom call. They all remembered only too well the negative impact brought about by the recession. 

The council were hesitant at first, but then there was an intervention by the government, freezing all commercial rentals until businesses could open up again. 

Exactly what Sinead had suggested the council do, and exactly what she had done for Mary and Sean. Both of whom were quick to tell everyone, and it wasn’t long before the whole town was talking about her act of kindness. Soon the word spread with media outlets sharing the story of how a young girl with a small rental property and a big desire to make a positive impact in an industry that had a negative reputation in how it treated its clients did just that. The story also talked about how she had the foresight to let the local council know what they needed to do to help businesses out in unprecedented times before they did.

Epilogue

As the town businesses began to open their doors again, Mary started to get enquiries about her taking over the management of their rental properties as soon as their current agreement expired.

Words Of Wisdom

You see, the town’s people didn’t only remember the negative impact brought about by the recession. They also remembered the positive impact of Sinead’s act of kindness brought about by the pandemic.

Sinead’s vision to make a positive impact in her industry had engaged and inspired her in finding a way to do this. This, in turn, had led her to create a fulfilling WorkLife path.

Follow Your Vision or Dream to Engage and Inspire You to Create a Fulfilling WorkLife

Perhaps like Sinead, you have a vision for your WorkLife, or like Mary and Sean, you have a dream you want to make happen. And perhaps, you don’t know, yet, how you can achieve what you want. That’s OK - neither did Sinead, Mary and Sean. They simply asked a question or made a proposal and shared their vision and dream.

Mary and Sean asked if they could rent Sinead’s shop and shared their dream.

Sinead made a proposal to Mary and Sean that they don’t pay rent until they can open their shop door for business and shared her vision.

Neither party had all the answers to how they were going to follow their vision or dream. All they had was an idea that engaged and inspired them, and somehow that was enough. It all began by asking a question or making a proposal. So, your one action to get started is:

Step One: Ask a question or make a proposal.

You may already know the question or proposal you want to make, or you may not. For Sinead, Mary and Sean, external circumstances brought it about. Sinead inheriting the property on her grandmother’s passing. Mary and Sean’s redundancy causing them to consider moving back to their home town. Then circumstances brought them together - Sinead having a property they wanted to rent. The rest of the story became ‘Sweet’ history, and allowed them to follow their vision and dream to create fulfilling WorkLives in which they were engaged and inspired. 
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As a WorkLife Learning Practitioner and Writer, I create learning programmes and resources to help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLives in good, challenging and bad times. 

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

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

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

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

How To Build Your Life Around What Engages and Inspires You is book 14 in the series. Click on the title to see a preview of what's inside the book.