So last week we had a ‘personal development’ training day at work. A program, devised by a specialist company, to enable the delegates to overcome issues with confidence, self-assertion, deal with key customer relationships and generally just add a bit of gung-ho into the workplace.
Now I have been subjected (with thumb-screws and water-boarding) to some of these courses before. Sales techniques, team-work, yada yada. You name it, they have tried to teach me it. And like the old dog that I am I tend to meet this type of thing with a universe-size load of resistance. Although of course, what I actually do is go in with a fixed grin and an outwardly open attitude whilst inwardly rolling my eyes and mentally flicking V’s at everything the trainer says.
I have admitted quite freely, on this blog if I recall, that I am, by nature, a half-glass empty sort of person. In fact, for me the glass is often so empty, that if you look closely enough you will see a desert at the bottom with a small person dragging themself through the sand croaking “water, water!”
I can’t help it. It’s just the way I have always been, because in my experience, when life gives you lemons, it tends to squirt them square in your eye, rubbing in a bit of salt for good measure, whilst it drinks your tequila and flips you the bird.
And so I sit in these training sessions and have learned when to nod my head in the right place, when to grin enthusiastically and when to empower my colleagues with a slap on the back on the back and say “good for you”. It’s all about the P.M.A. Apparently.
But what if, maybe – just maybe – there’s something in this positivity lark? What if all you happy-go-lucky people out there, know something us pessimists don’t? What if resurrecting my P.M.A (last seen hanging the ‘do not disturb’ sign on the crypt door) might just be a good idea after all?
I guess the point of these training courses is that you can take from them what you need for yourself. Unfortunately it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ lesson, but what if I were to pick and choose what might work for me? What if I were to truffle through the positive undergrowth until I found something I could use?
And so, from the session I took two words.
Frustration and Rejection.
See, apparently, when faced with Mr Frustration and Mrs Rejection, you are meant to respond like this:
When rejection crosses your path, like the bastard black cat that it is, you simply say ‘NEXT’.
Your boyfriend/girlfriend dumps you: You simply say ‘NEXT’ and go find someone new who doesn’t leave the toilet seat up/flirt with your friends/fart at the dinner table.
You don’t get that job you interviewed for: You simply say ‘NEXT’ and go back to the agencies/job sites/newspapers or walk the streets wearing a sandwich board asking people for a job (incidentally this was actually done by a lady in Milton Keynes recently and she did get a job, high five to that woman!).
Your manuscript gets rejected by yet another agent/publisher: You simply say ‘NEXT’ and try again, because one day you WILL be published (I like this one!).
I actually think there’s a lot in this one. Because Mrs Rejection is in fact, an attention-seeking bitch. And what better way to treat a bitch than ignore her and give your attention to something new?
Now, as for Mr Frustration….this one took me a while to get my head around. There are many things in life that can leave you frustrated. People who leave the toilet seat up for a start. People who drink straight from the milk bottle. Queue-jumpers. People who don’t say thank you. Washing machines that chew socks. Socks with Homer Simpson on. I could go on.
And the answer to Mr Frustration, according to the trainer?
You simply say ‘FANTASTIC’. Yep. That’s right. FANTASTIC.
Now, I’m sure you can understand my issue with this. I would have to say fantastic. Me. Mrs Glass-Half-Empty would have to turn the other cheek, suppress the vein popping out of her forehead, unclench the fists and simply say ‘FANTASTIC’.
“Well, there’ a first time for everything” I thought, doing my best to channel that elusive P.M.A.
So that evening, on my arduous journey home up the M1 motorway, where I am inevitably going to be plagued by road rage as I am cut up by that guy who just has to go faster and drive more dangerously just because he’s got one of them little BMW symbols on his car, I decided that instead of waving my fist and shouting obscenities that would make a navvy sailor blush, I would simply say ‘FANTASTIC’.
Okay, so I didn’t actually say ‘FANTASTIC’. I had to amend it slightly. But, miraculously it worked. Instead of scowling my way home, with no one but that monstrously large vein on my forehead for company, I actually smiled. I smiled all the way home. In fact I might even have laughed out loud (that’s LOL for all you young un’s).
So it seems even old dogs like me can learn new tricks. Even the most resistant of us can’t always ignore the need for a little P.M.A in our lives. In fact, being positive is a lot more fun than you might think. Go on. Try it. Say ‘NEXT’. Say ‘FANTASTIC’. Say whatever you want if it means moving on in life and feeling slightly happier about the road ahead.
And that’s coming from Mrs Glass-Half-Empty.
And finally, next time you happen to be travelling down the M1, if you see a little silver car (with go-faster dirt stripes down the side) zipping past you, with a madly grinning red head at the wheel, howling ‘FAN-F***ING-TASTIC’ at the top of her voice……just avoid her, because she’s obviously one sandwich short of a picnic.