About Dr Nora Gold
Dr. Nora Gold is a dynamic professional with a multi-faceted career. She is the prize-winning author of three books of fiction. The first, Marrow and Other Stories, won a Canadian Jewish Book Award and was praised by Alice Munro. Fields of Exile won the 2015 Canadian Jewish Literary Award and praise from both Cynthia Ozick and Irwin Cotler. The Dead Man (2016) won a Canada Council translation grant, resulting in this book’s publication in Hebrew, and an excerpt from it appeared also in Hungarian. Her fourth book, consisting of two novellas, will be published in 2024.
Dr Gold is the founder and editor of the prestigious literary journal Jewish Fiction .net (www.jewishfiction.net), which publishes first-rate Jewish-themed fiction from around the world, either written in English or translated into English from 18 languages, and which has readers in 140 countries. To date, Jewish Fiction .net has published over 500 works of fiction never before published in English, including fiction by such eminent authors as Elie Wiesel.
She was also a former social work professor and researcher who received 7 funded research grants, including from The Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, focusing on women’s health, mental health, disability issues, and antisemitism).
Dr Gold is a community activist involved in various social issues, including feminist empowerment, who has served on numerous boards, task forces, and committees, and has been recognized by the Toronto community as an Outstanding Volunteer.
She has also founded or co-founder of three socially progressive organizations in Canada, all focused on social justice and promoting dialogue and equality between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
For more details about Dr. Gold, visit noragold.com.
Lesson 1: If I am not for myself, who will be? 07:21
Lesson 2: If I am only for myself, what am I? 14:29
Lesson 3: If not now, when? 19:48
Lesson 4: You define success 27:31
Lesson 5: The perfect is the enemy of the good
Lesson 6: Be kind to yourself 33:33
Lesson 7: Create space for creativity 38:16
Lesson 8: Take action against distraction 41:55
Lesson 9: Read, read, read, read, read…fiction 46:37
Lesson 10: You only go round once 54:39
Dr Nora Gold – The perfect is the enemy of the good
[00:00:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Hello and welcome to our program, 10 Lessons Learned, where we talk to business people, journalists, authors, professors, ambassadors, leaders, and luminaries from all over the world. My name is Siebe Van Der Zee, and I’m your host. I’m originally from the Netherlands, happily residing in the Grand Canyon state of Arizona in the United States.
[00:00:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: I’m also known as the Dutchman in the Desert .
[00:00:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today is Dr. Nora Gold. Dr Gold is someone with a truly multifaceted career besides being a prize-winning author of three books. She is an editor. A former social worker and a former tenured social work professor. She’s also a community activist.
[00:00:51] Siebe Van Der Zee: Her most recent book, a novel named The Dead Man, received a translation grant from the Canadian Council for the Arts, and it was published in Hebrew. Her fourth book consisting of two Novellas will be published in 2024. Dr. Gold is also the founder and editor of the online literary journal, Jewish fiction.net.
[00:01:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: In over 10 years, Jewish fiction.net has published over 500 works of fiction from around the world with readers in 140 countries. You can learn more about Dr. Nora Gold on our website. 10 lessons learned.com. Hello, Nora. Thank you for joining us.
[00:01:33] Dr Nora Gold: Thank you so much for having me, Siebe.
[00:01:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, it’s wonderful that you are part of, this session and I’m really curious maybe to start out, jewishfiction.net.
[00:01:43] Siebe Van Der Zee: Uh, can you tell us more about that?
[00:01:45] Dr Nora Gold: Yes. actually, part of one of my lessons learned is about that. I’m delighted to talk about this. it’s a journal that I began as a labor of love and it still is a labor of love. 12 years later, I started it because a friend of mine, who’s a wonderful writer, was unable to get published, and I began to discover that because of the change to digital technology, which to us nowadays sounds ridiculous.
[00:02:10] Dr Nora Gold: Of course there’s always been digital life, but of course before that, publishers were very frightened to take on a new author. They were frightened about the whole survival of their industry, and a lot of people had trouble getting published who hadn’t had trouble before. So, I began this journal as a way of creating a space for wonderful fiction that couldn’t find a home.
[00:02:36] Dr Nora Gold: And, at present, we’ve put out our 32nd issue. We’ve published over 500 works that have been either written in English or translated from 18 languages into English, and it’s free and online. So I think your listeners would really enjoy it. They just have to go to www.jewishfiction.net and they can read all these stories.
[00:03:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: 150 countries.
[00:03:03] Dr Nora Gold: Yeah.
[00:03:04] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s, not easy to get to that level. How did it become so global? Was it truly the contents? was it your marketing? Uh, because that’s very successful.
[00:03:15] Dr Nora Gold: I don’t think we’ve put a lot of effort into marketing. I think it is unique. It’s the only journal in the world that’s devoted exclusively to publishing Jewish fiction.
[00:03:25] Dr Nora Gold: And it’s not only for Jews to read, uh, in fact some of the authors in it aren’t Jewish. We have stories written about the Holocaust by non-Jews and about other aspects of Jewish life. In the same way I love to read Spanish or Dutch or Portuguese fiction, you know, anybody can read and love Jewish fiction.
[00:03:46] Dr Nora Gold: So, I think it’s the quality of the work, I have to say. that because we’re quite unique. I’ve been approached by many writers, including some very famous ones, and in some cases their writing wasn’t up to our standard. So really there’s nothing in there that we don’t consider first rate. And I think that’s really the secret to why we’re so widely read.
[00:04:09] Siebe Van Der Zee: Maybe a step back, but what inspired you to become an author?
[00:04:14] Dr Nora Gold: Ah, that’s a wonderful question. Well, I actually was a writer even before I could physically write when I was a little girl. I don’t know if you remember, but when I was growing up, we had these things called story records. You’d put them on, they were small, and I had a red one and a blue one, and a yellow one.
[00:04:33] Dr Nora Gold: They were children’s stories and we would play them. Um, the way, you know, that was what we had then. And when it was finished instead of. going and playing, I would continue the story. I would continue out loud and say, oh well, but the boy didn’t get home. The boy went into another forest and look what he discovered.
[00:04:54] Dr Nora Gold: And I would sit there for half an hour or an hour just babbling and making up the story. And that was when I was about three years old. This, I just always loved that other world, world of, of imagination really. And so, it’s something I always did as soon as I could learn to physically write.
[00:05:13] Dr Nora Gold: And then I learned on my father’s old typewriter. I think I ruined his typewriter at work, one finger typist when I was eight or nine years old. And I, even when I was five years old, people said, what are you going to be when you grow up? That obnoxious question. Children are always being asked, you know? And right away I said, I’m a writer.
[00:05:31] Dr Nora Gold: I’m always going to be a writer. So that was really basic for me.
[00:05:35] Siebe Van Der Zee: I had to think for a moment. Typewriter. I can imagine that there are people listening that say, what is that ?
[00:05:43] Dr Nora Gold: I know, or What are records? What are story records? You know, my son, millennials, most people have no idea what those were. But yeah, they were these, they were just about the size almost of a donut or a little bit bigger.
[00:05:56] Dr Nora Gold: They were 78s, very, very old. And beautiful stories were told on them. Maybe that also got me inspired to do Jewish fiction.net cuz I just love stories, you know?
[00:06:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah. well, being a writer, it, it comes from within, you feel the need, the desire to write something, but then you have the readers that say, I like this.
[00:06:19] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, and at some point they say, I’m going to buy your book. And obviously you built, a huge, I don’t want to say empire, but a big company, big organization, focused on publishing book.
[00:06:32] Dr Nora Gold: Well, I have my own books, which are three, so far and a fourth, as you mentioned, forthcoming, uh, jewishfiction.net is, is not a financial investment.
[00:06:43] Dr Nora Gold: It’s, it’s all free. But yes, I, I don’t think of it as, as you said, it’s not an empire. But yes, it, it has global reach, and I don’t like to brag, but I have been told it’s been a complete game changer for Jewish fiction because works that would never have been published, none of them were ever published before in English.
[00:07:03] Dr Nora Gold: So these works would never have been in the world otherwise.
[00:07:07] Dr Nora Gold: That’s very
[00:07:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: powerful. Congratulations. Let’s move on to, um, the 10 lessons that you have learned. Look forward to our conversation. obviously I have, had the chance to quickly look at your 10 lessons.
[00:07:21] Lesson 1: If I am not for myself, who will be?
[00:07:21] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number one, if I’m not for myself, who will be?
[00:07:26] If I am not for myself, who will be is actually along with my first two other lessons are quotes from Hillel the Elder, a wise man from first Century b c E. and one of my first work experiences was when I volunteered for half a year on a kibbutz, which is an idealistic, very socialist commune.
[00:07:47] Dr Nora Gold: And, I learned this lesson from, unfortunately, a rather negative experience, but luckily we can learn from everything, not just the good experiences. So what happened was we were all assigned work duties and we could ask for whatever we wanted, but because I was a volunteer and not a member of the community, I was usually just sent wherever was needed.
[00:08:06] Dr Nora Gold: and the first day I got there, I was assigned to the dining room, which I didn’t know, but apparently was the worst job on the people . I had no way of knowing that, of course. And it was, it was a crummy job. Uh, it involved cleaning everything, cleaning up three meals a day after other people. Uh, you started at five in the morning preparing for breakfast, cleaning all the condiment holders, the oil, the salt and pepper, the lemon juice, everything that was dirty, you know, mopping the floor, wiping the tables, setting the tables, preparing food, all this stuff, cutting vegetables.
[00:08:39] Dr Nora Gold: And this was an agricultural community. It was in, it was an agricultural operation, so people would come in from the fields tracking in mud and everything was always dirty and I was always cleaning up after people. I remembered very vividly as we talk about it. Anyway, I worked there for a week and I didn’t like the job at all.
[00:08:55] Dr Nora Gold: Uh, everybody else was outside in the sun. Picking melons and artichokes and laughing and being part of a team. And even if it was hot, you were with other people. You were having fun joking around. And here I was in this smelly dining room, mopping floor, cleaning up after people throwing out garbage. It was so unpleasant and so depressing.
[00:09:15] Dr Nora Gold: And I had come to the kibbutz with idealism about being part of this egalitarian community. We talked all the time about how you treat people and, and creating a new world, a socially just world and all that. And I even wanted to, I, I was seriously considered joining this community as a member after a while.
[00:09:34] Dr Nora Gold: Uh, but the, the other reason, and maybe even the more important reason, it was such a miserable job with my supervisor. And she was a really mean and bossy person, and it was particularly strange to have someone like her there because really we had community discussions almost every night about building a fair community and equality among everybody regardless of job and all that.
[00:09:56] Dr Nora Gold: She was on this huge ego trip. This was actually the kitchen and the dining room were her kingdom, and she took pleasure in bossing around everyone . Anyway, the turning point in, in the, this, what this lesson was about was the day that a shipment of milk came in and it was the milk for the day, maybe 20 or 40 bags of milk.
[00:10:16] Dr Nora Gold: We had bags, milk, cartons, and someone opened one. It smelled it and said, I think these are bad. I think the milk’s gone bad. And so, my boss ordered me to open and taste all 20 bags of milk. Mm-hmm. Mm. So I opened one, uh, I tasted it, the milk was bad, it was sour, and I almost threw up and I said, I don’t like, we don’t have to taste all 20.
[00:10:36] Dr Nora Gold: They came from the same place. They’re bad. And she said, no, you have to do it. And I said, I’m not doing it. It was completely unnecessary. It was a disgusting thing to ask me. And she went berserk, screaming at me. You know, everyone in the dining room went and, and the kitchen heard screaming for, I don’t know, 10 minutes insults.
[00:10:55] Dr Nora Gold: I would not repeat in, in public here. Um, so I hated the job and I went to the person in charge of work assignments and I asked to be transferred and he said, no, you’re needed in the dining room. And I went back every week and I couldn’t complain to him about her cuz they were friends. It was a tight-knit community.
[00:11:11] Dr Nora Gold: Anyway, to make a long story short, this went on for on and on and on. After four months I said, I, I, I’m leaving, I’m leaving this community. Which is really too bad cuz I really believed in, you know, I went to the guy who assigned to work duties and I said, don’t put me on for next week cuz I won’t be here.
[00:11:28] Dr Nora Gold: I’m leaving. And I asked him how long people usually worked in the dining room and he said, oh, nobody lasts there longer than a week or two. match. No wife. Yeah, but, but you were willing to stay longer so we kept you there. And that was such a wakeup call for me. You know, I was a good person. I figured you contribute where you’re needed and all that sort of thing.
[00:11:47] Dr Nora Gold: And also I was brought up as a girl in my generation and be nice, you know, I think, I hope it’s different now, but you know, I was taught to sort of try and get along that sort of thing. But at that moment with this guy, it was like in those cartoons, you know, where the guy’s eyes just flash open, like.
[00:12:06] Dr Nora Gold: Like that, you know, I was just like, I cannot believe I put up with this all that time. And I was never the same. After that, I really learned that you have to stand up for yourself. You have to assert yourself. You have to take care of yourself. You have to demand to be treated like a human being, which you might say, why didn’t I know that before?
[00:12:24] Dr Nora Gold: But I hadn’t had to learn that before. And I learned it cuz I had to learn it here. And I also learned that in situations where I would have power over people such as employees, I never forgot that incident with the milk. And I made sure, I never treated anyone like that either. So, you know, people always say don’t cry over spilt milk, or in this case sour milk
[00:12:46] Dr Nora Gold: And I didn’t let it make me sour, but it was a turning. And I also, but really learned about not trying to please people and not to put up with bad treatment because I wanted to be liked, you know, I was very young then. I’m losing my twenties and, uh, I didn’t want to be seen as aggressive cuz that’s not okay if you were a female at that point in that place.
[00:13:07] Dr Nora Gold: But after that, I didn’t care about that. And so, I learned two very valuable lessons. One was about assertiveness obviously, and the other one was about fair and reasonable expectations and behaviors in the workplace and how work should be meaningful and what is a good boss versus a bad one. You know, and I read a lot about leadership and things like that and, you know, you talk about respect and empathy and trust and empowerment so these were great lessons for me to learn from.
[00:13:36] Siebe Van Der Zee: What it, it sounds like it. And at the same time my mind is going to situations where people, women do not have the opportunity to behave the way they would like to behave. Right?
[00:13:49] Dr Nora Gold: Absolutely.
[00:13:50] Siebe Van Der Zee: There are societies, there are countries where the role of people, and it definitely could be women, they don’t have the freedom.
[00:13:58] Siebe Van Der Zee: And even if the mindset is, you know, we see that in certain countries today, uh, that is a tough one. But it is a, it’s a very relevant, uh, lesson that you are sharing.
[00:14:08] Dr Nora Gold: Absolutely. And, and I don’t want to sound naive about it because there are times and places where a woman asserting herself is extremely dangerous.
[00:14:16] Dr Nora Gold: We, we know about those situations, so I was fortunate to be in the world I live in where it was okay to be assertive in that context.
[00:14:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, it, it’s kind of a nice. Segue into lesson number two, right?
[00:14:29] Lesson 2: If I am only for myself, what am I?
[00:14:29] lesson number two, if I’m only for myself, what am I, I love it.
[00:14:36] Dr Nora Gold: Thank you. Well, this guy Hillel was amazing actually such a deep thinker. And actually these three questions have been put to a song, a beautiful song. Yeah, it’s, it might sound contradictory cuz you know, the first one is about being for yourself, but then not being only for yourself. And, you know, there are many people we know, these people who say that to be successful you have to be selfish.
[00:14:57] Dr Nora Gold: You think only if you’re self, it’s a dog eat dog world. But I don’t agree. And I think if you perceive the world that way, you end up treating people like dogs. And you turn into a dog yourself. No offense to dogs. Cause dogs, be careful. People get easily offended. but anyway, what happened in this particular situation?
[00:15:16] Dr Nora Gold: As I mentioned briefly, was that I knew writers who were writing really great fiction and could not find a publisher because of the, the switchover to the digital revolution in publishing, which again, it’s normal to us, but at the time, you know, which was less than 20 years ago, it was an absolute trauma for the publishing industry.
[00:15:39] Dr Nora Gold: It caused an absolute seismic shock, an earthquake, and suddenly really good writers were unable to get published. And, one friend said to me, it’s okay, you know, she had talked to a publisher, he said, put your stuff in a drawer. Come back in 10 years. And she said, well, I’m going to stop writing. I can’t, I’m not going to wait 10 years.
[00:15:58] Dr Nora Gold: So I, I want to tell my friend, but I also was really worried about this great literature just getting lost. And there was no journal, either print or online that focused specifically on Jewish fiction. All you could find was English language fiction. And even then, it was mostly just American. I’m Canadian and I knew American fiction, but other English language, Jewish fiction, like not just Canadian, British, South African, Australian was fabulous, but also there was wonderful stuff from all around the world being translated.
[00:16:31] Dr Nora Gold: So none of that was available. And I thought, you know what, this would be amazing to be able just for myself to access it and to share it with others. I wanted to be reading and sharing Jewish fiction written in South America, Greece, Turkey, Russia, everywhere. So, anyway, I thought there has to be a journal of Jewish fiction that’s truly international.
[00:16:52] Dr Nora Gold: And I had actually a, a secondary, or maybe not secondary, but a second sort of agenda, which was. I think like many communities, we live in a very, very polarized time historically. And the Jewish community, like every other community, was very polarized. Is very polarized. And I wanted there to be a civil and safe space for an exchange of views.
[00:17:17] Dr Nora Gold: I wanted there to be true diversity in these pages. And indeed, we’ve published work by left wing, right wing, secular religious people from all kinds of backgrounds, the European and the North African, and every sexual orientation and so forth and so on. I was smart enough to know I couldn’t do this completely alone, and I was really fortunate.
[00:17:39] Dr Nora Gold: I began to cast around and I ended up bringing on board. A terrific group of volunteers in three different cities, one in Houston, one in Jerusalem, these are the three cities and Toronto. Numerous volunteers, a wonderful advisory board. And I think I’ve told you already a little bit about it.
[00:17:57] Dr Nora Gold: It’s www Jewish fiction.net. We also have published some very famous writers, I’d say some of the most famous Jewish writers in the world, including Ellie Razel, Aaron Applefeld, and so forth. And, in order to make it accessible, I was very concerned about income. I had a funny experience. at the time my son was in high school, and I was on a bus, and I overheard two high school kids talking on a bus, and they happened to be at my son’s school, and they were saying they, it was just the beginning of cell phones.
[00:18:28] Dr Nora Gold: they said, they were reading on their phone and I thought, well, wouldn’t it be great if they could read these stories on their phone? So I decided to make it free of charge so that even kids, and it turns out that there was someone overseas who basically has nothing but a cell phone, doesn’t have a computer, and he reads our stories.
[00:18:46] So that’s it. I think economic, uh, access was important as well. And I guess the bottom line, the, the, the final thing I’ll say about this, in terms of the lesson and the essence of the lessons isn’t the journal itself, but it was the fact that I did it really to help other people. But what I got from it, and I know this is a cliche, people say it, I’ve gotten so much more from it than what I actually have given.
[00:19:11] Dr Nora Gold: I have a community of people around the world. I’ve met amazing writers and translators and I’ve learned so much. And I think when you do for others, and you give something, you end up doing for yourself too, because we’re all linked and what you do for the world always circles back to you.
[00:19:30] Siebe Van Der Zee: I totally agree.
[00:19:31] Siebe Van Der Zee: I totally agree. And I think, uh, many people have that experience. When you do good things for other people, it makes you feel good. And that’s not the purpose you are helping other people, but it is definitely a benefit that, I think many people experience.
[00:19:48] Lesson 3: If not now, when?
[00:19:48] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, let’s move on lesson number three. If not now, when?
[00:19:55] Dr Nora Gold: it’s, oh, you know, we like to procrastinate, and I think it’s very common to find yourself in a situation, a job or a relationship or anything else. Which is hard to leave even though you know it’s not the right thing for you. And it’s hard often because things are very rarely, completely clear cut in the real world.
[00:20:16] Dr Nora Gold: You know, things aren’t usually horribly bad or except for jobs like the one on the kibbutz with the sour milk. Usually you’re in a situation that is more nuanced. You have benefits and upsides, even if there are detracting factors. And I’m thinking now of a turning point for me, when I was in a very significant and successful job in my career, I was, as you mentioned, a tenured professor.
[00:20:42] Dr Nora Gold: I was an academic and I’d invested a great deal of time, energy, and effort into that career. I had done a doctorate at a time when I had a young baby, and it was such a conflict for me, and I made many sacrifices to get that degree. And I enjoyed many things about academic life. I was good at it. My work was respected.
[00:21:01] Dr Nora Gold: The people were pretty nice. I wasn’t having any problems. It was a demanding job; mu much more than people think. People think it’s an easy job, it’s a hard job. . But I really enjoyed it and it was intellectually stimulating. I, I won awards, all these things. There was one problem and that’s that I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do.
[00:21:19] Dr Nora Gold: I was very frustrated because as I mentioned, I’d always written fiction. And even while I was working at this full-time job and I was traveling cuz it was an hour away from where I lived. So I was traveling in the morning for an hour, traveling in the evening for an hour. I was very frustrated because when I did have a free moment, I was writing, writing fiction, not academic writing.
[00:21:41] I never had enough time because of my job. So in a way, you know, you mentioned my sort of my multifaceted Career in, in a way it was a bit of a curse that I was good at both my job and writing. You know, I would think about Alice Monroe, who I’m honored to say, praised my writing. She once said something like, I’m paraphrasing, but it’s lucky I’m good at writing cuz I’m not good at anything else.
[00:22:06] Dr Nora Gold: She won the Nobel Prize for literature? She’s pretty good at what she does. She’s actually a beautiful, uh, she’s one of my very favorite writers, but as for me, I am able to do more than one thing and reasonably well. So it was a challenge and at this point I had already published my first fiction book, which had won a prize and I really felt I had this great inner need to be writing every day and not only every day, not at one in the morning when my son was asleep and after a day’s work, but during my best time of day, which is the morning, I wanted my mornings to be writing instead of sitting on committees and teaching and preparing classes. So, I had a decision to make. It was very hard to make. I mean, it meant giving up a good salary and a lot of social prestige.
[00:22:52] Dr Nora Gold: You know, you tell someone, you’re a professor, they go, oh, oh, you tell them you’re a writer, eh, you know, they think you’re sitting just scribbling you’re a lazy person, you know? And I, I wasn’t unaware of what I was going to lose, and it was a hard decision, but in the end, I chose to leave.
[00:23:09] Siebe Van Der Zee: Was it passion, your passion that made that decision?
[00:23:13] Dr Nora Gold: Yeah, I mean, I just felt that I just couldn’t live without writing. And I, the way I finally phrased it for myself and for other people, because, you know, when I said I was leaving, no one ever leaves a tenured position. People just almost didn’t believe me. It was like, no, what’s the real story? You know? So, I had to have a way of presenting it.
[00:23:33] Dr Nora Gold: And the way I put it was, which was correct, was that other people could teach my classes, but no one else could write my books. and as I was making this decision, I don’t know if I was actually thinking of Hillel’s, if not now, when, but it was like this question was living in my bones. I mean, I was feeling this question every day, and I knew I had the option to wait.
[00:23:57] Dr Nora Gold: You know, I could picture waiting another six months or year and putting it off and seeing how it goes. But I also knew that the truth was that it would just be wasted time. Because if there’s something you know you really want or need to do, then why are you waiting? And you know, this is different from the story about the sour milk where, you know, the leaving was to get away from something.
[00:24:20] You were forced, you were more or less forced.
[00:24:22] Dr Nora Gold: Yes, I was. And here I was leaving something good to go to something better. I was going to something. So even though leaving the university was one of the hardest things I’d say that I’ve ever done, uh, was also in another way the easiest because there was something I wanted so much on the other side.
[00:24:41] Dr Nora Gold: And I guess the lesson here, which I’ve taken into other arenas and moments in my life is that even if it’s hard to leave something that isn’t necessarily that bad, if you believe you can find something better for yourself, despite the uncertainty, something that’s a better fit for you. You should do it.
[00:25:02] Dr Nora Gold: And you know, it reminded me of that song, the Gambler, you know, no, I won’t sing, but , you know, please no way, no way to hold them, no when to fold them, you know, with your cards, when do you hold your cards, when do you fold your cards? And despite all of what I gave up when leaving that job, which was substantial, I’ve never regretted that decision for a moment.
[00:25:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: No, I think it’s, it’s, uh, interesting that you say that. I mean, in my work as a recruiter, I work with people in their careers and, of course, you’re not suggesting anything different. Uh, someone that has an interest in finance and they have their education in finance and they become an accountant and then they get promoted to a senior accountant and maybe vice president of finance, it is very steady and in a way predictable.
[00:25:51] Siebe Van Der Zee: And of course there’s nothing wrong with that. But then there are many people. Definitely in your case that have this multifaceted career where you decide to go with your, can I say gut feeling? Your, your, your inspiration say, I don’t want to do this, I want to do that. And there’s nothing wrong with that either.
[00:26:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: So I don’t think there is one model that fits all people, but at the same time, people that have the desire to make a change from their current situation. What you are suggesting, of course, is inspiring them to go with the gut feeling, even if you go to change and, and, you know, transition sometimes can be difficult, challenging, but go with your gut feeling.
[00:26:38] Dr Nora Gold: Yes. And I think you’re making such an important point because the model I, and again, I don’t think millennials think this way, but I know when I was, beginning my career, the idea was for many of us that you basically pick something, and you specialize. You have to be a specialist, you get excellent at what you do, and you do it till you retire or die, you know?
[00:27:00] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, yeah.
[00:27:00] Dr Nora Gold: And that was considered not only normal, but desirable. Someone who switched careers was looked at as what’s wrong with them? You know, did they fail or are they an unstable, unreliable sort of person? So I think as you said, obviously there’s nothing at all uh questionable about someone who’s, who’s on the right path for them.
[00:27:22] Dr Nora Gold: Yeah. But for someone who feels they need something else, it’s, it’s a leap. And I guess I, I’m encouraging people to make that leap if they feel they need.
[00:27:31] Lesson 4: You define success
[00:27:31] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, you’re the proof of success that people can have.
[00:27:34] I see. That it, it also, I think leads up to lesson number four. You define success.
[00:27:43] Dr Nora Gold: Exactly. I mean, this, this is such a big issue for people. You know, we tend to evaluate ourselves in terms of some external definition of success. You look around, it’s as though you think you’re running a race. I mean, life isn’t a race. People fall into this. You compare yourself to others in the field or your community.
[00:28:01] Dr Nora Gold: You say, oh, this person’s ahead of me. This person’s behind me. And that’s how you situate yourself. I’m too far behind. I’m no good. Oh, I’m, I’m a good, I’m good because I’m number two or number one at something. But first of all, I, I think that’s a terrible way to look at life. And I came across a really cool infographic.
[00:28:19] I post daily posts on LinkedIn. If anybody’s interest, they’re always inspired by infographics. And one of my recent posts got over a million views. I couldn’t believe it.
[00:28:29] Dr Nora Gold: Anyway, the, the ones on success, uh, was this lovely, colorful one. It’s also on, in the featured collection. And, it was very intelligent and thoughtful about how we consider success. so the top half of the picture was how people often measure success. And it was job title, salary, and underneath it how success should be measured, a right fit for you, work-life, balance, purpose, happiness, and authenticity.
[00:28:55] Dr Nora Gold: And this totally resonated with me for obvious reasons. I gave up title and income. so obviously I, I’m not accepting that, that definition of success, but the story I would tell on this topic was that a few years ago, I don’t know, four or five years ago, I was feeling bad about my progress as a writer.
[00:29:15] Dr Nora Gold: And I have to say that people don’t realize this. Being in any one of the arts is brutally hard compared to anything else. Like as an academic, you follow the rules and you’re successful.. As a writer or as a painter or a musician, it’s a whole other ballgame. Anyway, on this particular day, it seemed to me that a lot of people around me were doing better than me, however, that’s defined as a writer and, uh, including people who were younger and started later and all of that stuff.
[00:29:43] Dr Nora Gold: And I was feeling rather unsuccessful. . Objectively speaking, I had done well. I had won two book awards and grants and travel, granted, translation, all of that. But as we know, how you feel has very little to do with objective reality. If you’re interested in all those details, my website’s, Noragold.com, you can, you can read those things, but anyway.
[00:30:03] Dr Nora Gold: I, I was feeling bad. I was feeling really down and very unsuccessful and for some reason I started just thinking about the criteria. I was applying. The yardstick to what I was not doing well on, and I realized very quickly that I really didn’t believe these criteria. Now, I’m sure this happens in every line of work, but I’m to apply it to mine.
[00:30:26] Dr Nora Gold: There are lots of well-known writers who don’t write well, and there are fabulous writers who you’ve never heard of. I know this is true from what I read, and of course I would love to win the Nobel Prize or some others huge prize and have my books made into movies. But actually, what I realized in the middle of the night, that dark and difficult night, was that what I really respect is fantastic writing and not the politics around who wins what prize, and who’s on what list.
[00:30:55] Dr Nora Gold: Writing something beautiful and unique and meaningful that will reach people’s hearts and minds and maybe even change something. That’s what success is to me. And I wasn’t just telling myself this to feel better. It, it’s what I really believed. if I had just been trying to comfort myself, it wouldn’t have had any effect.
[00:31:15] Dr Nora Gold: And this just sort of had that immediate effect. As soon as I realized that I had the right to challenge and I really question. What was the yardstick that I was using? I threw away the yardstick. I said, that’s nonsense. I don’t even believe that. And so, I guess, the lesson out of this was that if you tell yourself the truth about what you really value and you measure yourself against that value and not what everybody else is doing and what everybody else says and how other people think about writers and successful writers, you’re much happier.
[00:31:52] Dr Nora Gold: And in the end, you’re also much more creative and productive cuz you’re not wasting your time worrying about nonsense. And maybe it’s ironic and maybe it should have been predictable, but I’ve been more successful ever since .
[00:32:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, it really, sticks with me what you’re saying. And, to be honest, it also fits with the purpose of our podcast.
[00:32:13] Siebe Van Der Zee: 10 lessons learned because our team, from all over the world, we’re on a mission. We want to share wisdom from people like yourself with a global audience. And over time we have noticed the feedback very, very positive.
[00:32:31] Dr Nora Gold: What you’re doing this is fantastic actually. I think it’s such a gift. All these things that. We, I’ll speak for myself, but the, we’ve learned, I’ve learned over my life and I wish I’d known when I was 30 years old you know.
[00:32:44] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s the whole purpose. That’s the whole purpose. And we’re doing it because we feel good about that.
[00:32:49] Siebe Van Der Zee: That’s the purpose of our, of our podcast.
[00:32:52] Affiliate Break
[00:32:52] We’re talking today with Dr. Nora Gold, a globally recognized author, publisher, and editor, sharing her 10 lessons learned. I want to thank our affiliate partner Audible. Audible is an amazing way to experience our program. 10 Lessons Learned, but also books and other podcasts, allowing you to build a library of knowledge all in one place.
[00:33:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: You can start for free, a 30 day trial by going to audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned. Again, uh, that is audibletrial.com/10lessonslearned all lowercase to get your free 30-day trial.
[00:33:33] Lesson 6: Be kind to yourself
[00:33:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, back to the lessons, Nora, be kind to yourself. Lesson number six, be kind to yourself.
[00:33:40] Dr Nora Gold: Well, this may sound obvious, in a way that we should treat ourselves with kindness, but actually I think most people don’t do this or even know how to do it. And it’s, it’s interesting because we have a right and we even have an obligation to care for ourselves because if we don’t do this, we can’t care well, for other people.
[00:33:59] Dr Nora Gold: I mean, you know that instruction when you’re on an airplane, they tell you to put your mask on yourself before the other person, before the child. Because if you’re not able to breathe, you can’t help a child breathe. If in the case of an emergency, so, and more than this, we, we need to be kind to ourselves cuz we have an intrinsic right to be happy.
[00:34:19] But I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness for different reasons. one was that I, on LinkedIn actually, I came across somebody who’s boss took him aside. After I posted about kindness, someone wrote me this, his boss took him aside and, and said, I’m not going to let you work on this project cuz you’re working too hard.
[00:34:38] Dr Nora Gold: You’re going to burn out. You have a young family. I’m going to lighten your load for full pay cuz I want you long term and this is bad. And I thought, wow, like first of all, we should all have bosses like that and we should all be bosses or leaders like that. The word bosses I’m not so fond of, but um, when I really learned about being kind to myself, uh, was a time that I really neglected myself and were sort of all of these different lessons intersect because, it was again about success.
[00:35:10] Dr Nora Gold: I was doing my PhD and working and I had a young child. and I was also doing a community work. I had founded an organization that I was heading a non for, not-for-profit. And basically, I got hugely run down. I got physically exhausted. I was always doing more than I could do. My physical health was not great, nothing, no major illness.
[00:35:35] Dr Nora Gold: But I was not well and I was sick a lot cuz I wasn’t taking care of myself, I wasn’t resting, how could I rest? I had a deadline for this and a deadline for that and not just for a day or two when you meet a deadline. Months of not, or month or two. But for years I was sure, sure. Five years. My doctorate got very depleted.
[00:35:53] Dr Nora Gold: I was really burnt out. I was invited to give a talk to some doctoral students, and I came in and said, don’t do what I did. And they couldn’t believe it. What, what do you mean? I said, I destroyed my health temporarily. I mean, don’t do that, you know. But anyway, after that experience, I swore I would never work like that or live like that again.
[00:36:11] Siebe Van Der Zee: And I, that is so difficult. That is so difficult for many people. Right? Because, I would say, especially up and coming professionals, but it, it really doesn’t, it’s not age related. Uh, we want to achieve certain things. We have a lot on our plate. We have to do this; we have to take care of our family. Of course, I would say that’s should be number one, the family.
[00:36:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: But you also have your ambition and perhaps, and that happens in my case, I like being busy. Okay. And yeah, there’s a lack of sleep and there’s too much going on, all of that. But is that always a negative?
[00:36:47] Dr Nora Gold: Well, that’s right. I mean, part of it, part of it is a drive for success, but part of it, as you say, is a wonderful thing.
[00:36:53] Dr Nora Gold: You love what you do and it’s meaningful. Yeah. Also, it’s the way. Our society or the world, you know, we live in many societies, but generally speaking, taking care of yourself and self-kindness and self-compassion, it, it’s looked at as a bit, you know, wimpy. Like you, you’re not going to say to your boss, I won’t be done on time cuz I have to take more naps, you know, or
[00:37:17] Dr Nora Gold: Um, and if you look at yourself in terms of productivity as though you’re basically a machine, then kindness is a luxury and rest is a luxury. And I guess what I I’m saying is that I had to learn the hard way. Unfortunately, so much of what we learn in life is the hard way, is that you really own your life.
[00:37:35] Dr Nora Gold: That you do have time for rest and health and walks and meeting for pleasure and people you love and hobbies and joy. I actually think millennials, I have a son who’s a millennial and they’re so much smarter than my generation was they really get that no one owns you, even your employer. But ma many of us don’t.
[00:37:54] Dr Nora Gold: You know if, yeah. if you think you have to be constantly productive and connected and responsive and on at the expense of the rest of your life and your health, um, then think again.
[00:38:06] Siebe Van Der Zee: It, it can be a bit of a struggle. But I think you’re making a very valid point, and I’m already looking ahead at lesson number seven because I think there could well be a link.
[00:38:16] Lesson 7: Create space for creativity
[00:38:16] Siebe Van Der Zee: Lesson number seven, create space for creativity.
[00:38:20] Dr Nora Gold: Exactly. I think a lot of these lessons are, are interwoven
[00:38:24] Siebe Van Der Zee: Makes sense.
[00:38:25] Dr Nora Gold: Yeah. It’s, it’s very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day demands of our lives. Yeah. Our, all our responsibilities and you shunt to the side your creative work. These other things you want to do while you’re dealing with everything else.
[00:38:40] Dr Nora Gold: But the fact is that it’s the creative and innovative and truly original work that only you can do whatever your field of endeavor. That’s our most important work and contribution. And it’s what makes us feel alive. And a lot of people I know have dreams and ideas and things they want to do. Not necessarily an art form, but, but something, an idea for an invention or a way to fix something at the, their place of work.
[00:39:06] Dr Nora Gold: Something really innovative that they haven’t been given time to work on. And it always gets pushed to the back burner. And I think many people think of creativity in a way that’s surprising to me. I don’t think of it as, you have to be a painter. It’s doing something original. It’s doing original work.
[00:39:24] Dr Nora Gold: And people will say things like, oh, I’ll wait till I’m in the mood, till inspiration strikes, you know? But those of us who work creatively know, that inspiration has a way of showing up when you’re sitting at your desk preparing for it. It doesn’t just come, it comes after hours and hours of slogging and being open to, to the space that you’ve made for it.
[00:39:49] Dr Nora Gold: And I once met a really, one of my favorite writers, a marvelous, brilliant writer, no longer living unfortunately, but a marvelous person whom I had the honor to meet a couple of times in person. Her name is Ida Fink, a Polish writer. And when we discussed writing, she asked me about my daily routine.
[00:40:10] Dr Nora Gold: And I was complaining to her that I only had my mornings. I had left the university, but still doing all this other stuff from noon on, you know, one o’clock on. And I only had about four hours a day. And she looked at me and she said, you have four whole hours a day. And I totally put it in perspective. . Um, you know, there’s not to keep referring to these infographics I post, but there’s this great artist named Grant Snyder and I posted one, uh, called the Paradox of, of Creativity or something like that.
[00:40:42] Dr Nora Gold: The top half is a picture of a guy saying, you know, there’s never enough time for my creative work and the bottom half there will never be a better time. And I think it’s really true. So I think that there’s creative project you dream of doing, but you, unlike me, aren’t able to leave your day job, so to speak.
[00:41:02] Dr Nora Gold: Even if you find an hour a day, just one hour to do what you really love and you make that space and time, I really think it will transform your life in ways you can’t even imagine.
[00:41:14] Siebe Van Der Zee: I think that’s a good mission, one hour a day, and if you can reserve one hour a day for something that you really enjoy doing, I’m already thinking, is that too much?
[00:41:27] Siebe Van Der Zee: One hour? Do I have one hour? But you can force yourself, right? You can really reserve that time to say, okay, now I need to take a break from everything else I’m working on. I got to do this. And, and it will, it will help you relax, put things in perspective, uh, et cetera.
[00:41:44] Dr Nora Gold: Yeah. I mean, even a half an hour, start with half an hour.
[00:41:47] Siebe Van Der Zee: Alright.
[00:41:48] Dr Nora Gold: Half an hour’s fine. Everyone has a half an hour, you know.
[00:41:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: They should. Yeah. I, I agree.
[00:41:55] Lesson 8: Take action against distraction
[00:41:55] Lesson number eight, take action against Distraction. I have a lot of thoughts about that, but please go ahead about your thoughts.
[00:42:02] Dr Nora Gold: Well, I’d love to hear them sometime, but of course this is, I was going to say part B of making time from space for creative work, but it’s part B of everything we’re saying, our most precious resource is, time, and it’s important not to waste it.
[00:42:16] It’s a very limited commodity and we have to approach it wisely to be effective and successful in the things that we value most. Because if you’re not careful, your whole life can just disappear out of your control. Particularly, in the digital world where you just can go on and forward out.
[00:42:34] Dr Nora Gold: Oh yeah. By, you know, I mean, obviously I love what the digital world can do. If it weren’t for the digital world, you and I wouldn’t be speaking Siebe and having, conversation. But it has dangers and I think one has to be very intentional and thoughtful about how to deal with the constant distractions that interrupt our work, our concentration, our creativity, our productivity, and everything we try and really want to do.
[00:43:00] Dr Nora Gold: So what happened with me was about a year ago, I noticed that my days were just disappearing. I mean, I, I would have lists of things to do. I had no idea where the time went. At the end of each day. I’d almost never gotten to the things that I would’ve said were my priorities. I was dealing with what was urgent but not important.
[00:43:19] Dr Nora Gold: All of these distinctions. I just wasn’t, I wasn’t in control and I decided I have to do something and I did what various people recommend. Um, I, for one thing, committed myself to only doing social media at certain times of the day, prescribed times, and only for specific lengths of time. Um, also for email, I mean, all day long, I was, oh, there’s another email.
[00:43:44] Dr Nora Gold: I’ll just deal with the email and all the research shows actually that if you switch tasks, the switch to another task, it takes a significant amount of time, minutes, multiple minutes to come back. It doesn’t. You can’t move your head from the mind doesn’t work that way. I also stopped multitasking for that reason.
[00:44:04] I turned off my phone when I was working on something important, and I prioritized my most valued and important activities and did these in the morning when I have my best energy. I didn’t leave them for when my emails were done. I think it’s also how you raised, I was raised with the, with the adage, you know, work first, then play.
[00:44:25] Dr Nora Gold: Yeah. And it’s very complicated because how do you define work and play? Work is doing my email and taking care of my social and other obligations and play is writing cuz that gives me joy. Well, no, I mean, I have to start thinking about writing as work that gets prime of place and that answering my friends can happen in the evening.
[00:44:47] Dr Nora Gold: And it’s absolutely changed my life. Again, it may sound again really obvious.
[00:44:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, I think it is not easy to achieve that. No. When I’m involved with coaching, working with executives on performance coaching, this is a major topic because these people, like you, have a lot on their plate and there’s a lot going on.
[00:45:09] Siebe Van Der Zee: And, in a simplistic way, we want to make sure the person stays focused, can concentrate, but we have to accept that we have both internal and external distraction. Um, if, if suddenly a window breaks, then even though we’re recording, then it’s like, what’s happening? It could be, ah, I’m not feeling so well, and, and it’s so internal, et cetera.
[00:45:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: Absolutely. In many ways, and I think that’s what you describe, we have a brain muscle. Uh, I always compare it easily when we go through traffic and the traffic light, goes from green to yellow to red. It’s not to say, Hmm, what is happening there? It’s an automatic that we press the brake and we stop, and when the light changes back to green, we go, that’s brain muscle.
[00:46:01] Siebe Van Der Zee: We are trained to do that. And what you’re talking about is that you have a lot going on and maybe too much going on and it doesn’t feel right, and perhaps you start making mistakes. So you want to train your brain and it, sometimes it takes some time, to do things differently. Very interesting topic, in itself. And, that’s why I was, really curious what you were going to, say about that. It’s important for all of us, no matter what we do in life. It’s not just for people in business, right?
[00:46:30] It’s important for us to control our mind and, to use our brain muscle to help us.
[00:46:37] Lesson 9: Read, read, read, read, read…fiction
[00:46:37] Lesson number nine. Read, read, read, read, read. Fiction.
[00:46:44] Dr Nora Gold: Well, it’s amazing how everything interacts here because your comments about the brain, you’ll hear it’s actually the brain that I’m worried about.
[00:46:52] Dr Nora Gold: It’s not only the usual comments, and it’s not only about I write fiction, so please read fiction and read my books. It’s not about that at all. I was recently asked in an interview, are millennials reading enough? Which was something apparently, and not just millennials are children reading enough? And there’s a real concern among scholars and a lot of fields about what, what’s happening with reading.
[00:47:17] We know that reading has many benefits apart from the pleasure it brings. In fact, there’s a whole body of research showing that reading good fiction, not reading a newspaper actually changes the person. It increases a person’s empathy. In real life, the person becomes different after reading good fiction.
[00:47:38] Dr Nora Gold: It’s a fascinating field of research and in addition, fiction reduces stress, improves mood, concentration, focus, writing skills, increases creativity, generates problem solving, lower stress. There’s a whole list. It improves analytical skills, lowers blood pressure. I mean it does amazing things. I think of books as having superpowers, but the fascinating thing to come to what your point with the brain, is that there’s research, I’m reading a fabulous book called Leader, Come Home by Maryanne Wolf, and she is someone who’s very concerned about everyone, not just younger peoples having increased difficulty reading these days.
[00:48:21] Dr Nora Gold: You know, on the one hand people say, well, you know, nowadays we’re reading and writing more than ever before cuz we’re constantly texting cuz of our digital culture. We do social media, blah, blah, blah. But in the sense of deep reading, Sitting with a book, whether a digital or a paper book, sitting and reading for hours and slowly, deeply absorbing its content and getting into another world, really, this is a whole other ballgame.
[00:48:49] Dr Nora Gold: And Wolf who has spent her life as a researcher in the field of reading, and also she runs a clinic for children with reading disabilities, she is sounding the alarm over how digital life has changed how and what we need and the implications for us, not just in as individuals, but as a whole society, and as a world. The change to digital has changed our brains physically, neurologically.
[00:49:16] Dr Nora Gold: It’s not just habits. Uh, your point about the brain is very well taken, and when we read digitally, we read to skim basically, is what she said. The, the skill is how to extract the information as quickly as possible, but that is totally different from deep reading. And when you read every word and you enter profoundly into a book, intellectually and emotionally into the ideas and the experiences and the lives and minds of the characters in the book.
[00:49:48] Dr Nora Gold: That activates actually every single aspect of the physical brain, and there’s nothing else that does that. It brings together every aspect of the brain. So she’s really worried about, and she’s not alone, she’s speaking for an, a whole community of scientists who are really worried about not using this, this kind, doing this kind of reading and activating our brain this way because she says, I didn’t realize this until I read this book, that if you look at human history, say as a clock, you know, a 12 hour clock, um, not until one second before you hit the 12, did humans read.
[00:50:29] Dr Nora Gold: It’s not really normal to read. It’s not natural to read. Our brain changed to, to do this very weird thing. It’s a very strange thing to do actually, uh, from an evolutionary perspective. So she’s worried that as a species, If we don’t continue to do this one particular thing, we actually will lose the capacity for deep reading.
[00:50:51] Dr Nora Gold: And she ties this in not only because reading is very important for many, many reasons, but also because she is convinced and she’s again not alone on this, that if people are not comfortable with reading and they read less, then actually they think less because you aren’t as well informed about the world.
[00:51:14] Dr Nora Gold: And when people are just extracting what they already believe from the internet, it makes everybody much more vulnerable to dictatorships and autocrats. It’s basically a threat to democracy, to individual thought if people aren’t able to really read properly.
[00:51:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s such an interesting point. Recently, I had a conversation with a friend of mine.
[00:51:39] Siebe Van Der Zee: We were talking about our years in high school, so a few years ago, at least, . And in my high school experience in the Netherlands, we learned Latin and ancient Greek. Not to speak the language for obvious reasons, but to be able to understand, and we were talking about it recently that. you use the term deep reading, right?
[00:52:05] Siebe Van Der Zee: It’s not just glancing over and scanning and quick, quick, quick, because that’s what we do, especially, in the virtual environment. But to really analyze the words that were used and how these words were connected. And it’s, it’s almost academic, the way I say it, but the story was fascinating.
[00:52:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: So it was, it was, they were interesting stories, but it was not until much later that I look back and said the format of reading. And again, this was definitely deep reading because it was not just take a quick look and tell me what you think. You had to figure it out. That’s right. And in this case, in Latin and ancient Greek.
[00:52:48] Siebe Van Der Zee: So, I appreciate what you’re saying. And that hopefully is a very valuable lesson for, I would say the up and coming generation, to spend time reading and to really do, I like the term, the deep reading. I think that makes sense.
[00:53:06] Dr Nora Gold: I really agree with you. I, my, in high school, we learned Latin.
[00:53:09] Dr Nora Gold: They had just gotten rid of Greek and I was very disappointed. But yeah, I see connections between words and, yeah, I would just like to say a couple of words about why it’s fiction, that that is so important and powerful. And I don’t say this because I’m a writer of fiction, but I really think it has a kind of magic power because when you read fiction, what happens and it’s different from end reading anything else is that your defences drop.
[00:53:36] Dr Nora Gold: And once you decide to keep reading past the first few pages of a book, I mean, even if the main character is, is a serial killer, an axe murderer, you know, once you keep reading and you enter this person’s world, you see the world through someone else’s eyes. And it’s basically an exercise in empathy and in experiencing the reality and complexity and humanity of the other.
[00:54:02] Dr Nora Gold: Which is what happens actually in dialogue groups in multifaith and cross-cultural groups I’ve been part of. Yeah, so writing really teaches us about otherness and differentness, and it teaches us how to be empathic and tolerant. And I think that is, just so powerful in terms of what the world, what the world needs now in other songs.
[00:54:23] Dr Nora Gold: But, but , you know, the world, the world needs, needs more tolerance and more understanding of the other and more empathy
[00:54:34] Siebe Van Der Zee: here. Here,
[00:54:35] Dr Nora Gold: more than ever before.
[00:54:37] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah, absolutely.
[00:54:39] Lesson 10: You only go round once
[00:54:39] Nora, we already getting to lesson number 10. it’s fascinating lesson number 10. You only go around once, and I don’t know if that has anything to do with your multifaceted career that you don’t want to miss these different aspects of your life and your career, but, uh, please explain.
[00:54:57] Dr Nora Gold: I think it’s that too, in, in a way, I think all 10 lessons have been whispering the same kind of point, which is, you know, I think when you’re younger, I know when you’re younger, it’s very hard to really understand that your life is finite. You know, you, you know it intellectually, of course, but it’s a very rare young person who can grasp that they only have x number of years.
[00:55:20] Dr Nora Gold: And that’s of course, assuming you’re in good health. I mean, there’s some young people who aren’t, but you feel you have a lifetime, a whole lifetime ahead of you. And when I was trying to decide whether or not to leave my job at the university, I was very paralyzed. I, I found it very hard to make this decision.
[00:55:38] But by that time really already, you know, a good day was a day when the writing went well. A bad day was a day when the writing went badly, and it’s still that way. Whatever else is going on. And I wasn’t sure who to ask. No one really understood about writing what it meant to me. But luckily at the Toronto Public Library, I live in Toronto, they had a writer in residence for that year, and it turned out it was someone named Audrey Thomas, a fine writer, still living a Canadian writer.
[00:56:05] Dr Nora Gold: And the deal was that anyone was allowed to show her their work and then leave their work for her to read. And then you make an appointment for two weeks later and you talk to her. So, I did that. I dropped off some stories at the library, and then I went to meet her, of course, very nervously and great trepidation.
[00:56:25] Dr Nora Gold: What if she says I’m no good and all that, but to my relief and delight, she said, you’re a real writer. You have what it takes. And then like Ida Fink, the author I mentioned before, she, Audrey Thomas, asked me about my writing routine. And I said, well, I’m a professor at university. I’m an hour’s drive away.
[00:56:43] Dr Nora Gold: I have very little time, but I, I write when I can. And she just looked at me, she stared at me and she said, you only go round once. And I didn’t really understand. I wasn’t sure, actually. I didn’t think I’d heard correctly. And I asked her to repeat it, and she did. And then of course I understood what she meant.
[00:57:02] Dr Nora Gold: Yeah. And she wasn’t telling me what to do with my life. She was telling me I only had one to play with or work with, or do with what I wanted. And I think it was at that moment after I left her that I really understood that I was going to have to turn my whole life upside down and reorient everything and enter a complete talk about Latin, you know, uh, Terra incognita, you know, completely unknown world.
[00:57:29] Because that’s what I had to do. And I, I want to say, I know life isn’t simple and not everybody had the fortunate circumstance where they can switch jobs. I mean, A single mother with 10 kids to support, I would’ve, I’d still be at my job. Yeah. But insofar as you can, you know, to really remember that you have one life.
[00:57:50] Dr Nora Gold: And actually there’s some wonderful games, uh, which you can access online, designed by Joseph Weiss Gold the millennial one is called now slash then, and the other is called after. And they’re both fun. They’re not morbid. It’s at uh, after www.after.community, the company is called After and uh, they shine a light about living with the end in mind. Not in a sad way, but just being aware and intentional about your life and your time and working backwards from what you want to leave in the world when you’re gone and what you want to have achieved and where are you in your life now, and how you’re going to align all your values and passions and goals and make your life what you really want it to be.
[00:58:36] Dr Nora Gold: So basically, this is all about trying to live your life as you feel you are meant to and do what’s real and meaningful and what gives you joy so that you don’t look back when you hit a certain age and go, I’m full of regrets. Why didn’t I do what I really should have done?
[00:58:55] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yeah that’s a good point. At the same time, Nora, I’m thinking of, An additional question I would like to ask you, because you are sharing lessons that you have learned and I think, very helpful for many people to listen to.
[00:59:10] Siebe Van Der Zee: Are there any lessons that you have perhaps unlearned in your life or in your career?
[00:59:17] Dr Nora Gold: Oh, that’s an excellent question, but of course such an important part of learning is unlearning.
[00:59:23] Siebe Van Der Zee: Yes.
[00:59:24] Dr Nora Gold: Right. I guess I’d say the most important thing, that needed unlearning for me was that mistakes are bad, mistakes are things you should avoid, and that’s really wrong,
[00:59:38] Dr Nora Gold: It’s a real mistake to think that way because if you believe that mistakes are something bad that you should avoid, and you spend your time and energy avoiding making a mistake, then ultimately you never take any risks.
[00:59:51] Siebe Van Der Zee: Exactly.
[00:59:52] Dr Nora Gold: And if you’re not taking risks, and I don’t mean flying off a rollercoaster, but taking calculated risks, you know, risks that you’ve, you’re taking with some thoughtfulness, then you’re not really living because, because life is intrinsically uncertain there, there’s nothing that’s for sure.
[01:00:09] Dr Nora Gold: You can’t ensure anything. You can’t control the future. You can’t control the outcome of almost anything. And so the only way to live is to go ahead, make your mistakes. But I had a wonderful teacher once, a social teacher, when we were learning how to do interviews and there are all these things you’re supposed to do and not do when you interview clients.
[01:00:29] Dr Nora Gold: And we were all afraid of making mistakes. And he said, make mistakes just over time, he’ll make better and better mistakes. And that was actually true. We made different kind of mistakes. And then he also said he was a great teacher. He said, there’s no problem with falling down as long as you know how to get up again.
[01:00:48] Dr Nora Gold: Yeah. And so I think that that approach towards mistakes that they’ll happen. You’re human, you’ll get up again, you’ll make more mistakes, but you’re living your life in an open manner. I, I couldn’t agree more with that.
[01:01:01] again, makes a lot of sense. We all make mistakes, and you have to find a way to deal with that.
[01:01:08] Siebe Van Der Zee: And in some cases, yeah, you have to go back maybe to someone and say, look, I’m sorry, you know, I, I messed up. this wasn’t correct. and on the other hand, It could be a lesson to yourself to say, I got to make sure the next time I do it differently. And it’s, I would say, impossible to go through life without making mistakes.
[01:01:26] Dr Nora Gold: I think that’s what’s wonderful about your podcast, if they may just interject because it’s really about lessons and, and what are lessons in life.
[01:01:34] Dr Nora Gold: They’re lessons you learned through making mistakes. I mean, I started off thinking my, when I’m thinking 10 lessons, well what are lessons I made from not making a mistake? And I couldn’t think of any. They’re all from doing. Experimenting and trying and things not being quite right or what you expect, but that’s where you learn.
[01:01:52] Siebe Van Der Zee: Well, absolutely and, typically, I point at myself when I say we all make mistakes. But we have to accept that we make mistakes. Very, very interesting.
[01:02:02] Siebe Van Der Zee: And I, I really appreciate, Nora, that you are joining us today. And thank you so much for sharing your wisdoms with our global audience. I will make a few closing remarks.
[01:02:15] Siebe Van Der Zee: You have been listening to the International Program, 10 Lessons Learned. This episode is produced by Robert Hossary, and as always, we are supported by the Professional Development Forum.
[01:02:25] Siebe Van Der Zee: Our guest today, Dr. Nora Gold. Globally recognized author, publisher, and editor, sharing her 10 lessons learned.
[01:02:33] Siebe Van Der Zee: And to our audience, don’t forget to leave a review or a comment. You can also email us at email@example.com. That is And I hope you will subscribe and, leave us a comment and also, make sure that you don’t miss any future episodes.
[01:02:54] Siebe Van Der Zee: And remember, this is a podcast that makes the world wiser and wiser, lesson by lesson. Thank you and stay safe.