My friend Carolyn is a cautious driver. The one exception occurred many years ago. On that day, a very surprised Carolyn was pulled over by a local sheriff for exceeding the speed limit. She dutifully accepted a ticket for the moving violation and scheduled a date to attend traffic school.
Several weeks later while sitting in class at a certified traffic school my friend felt antsy and bored. She had never taken a traffic class and was looking forward to the learning experience. Unfortunately, the course, designed in lecture format, was delivered by an instructor who droned on and on ignoring any opportunity to make the material even a tiny bit interesting.
Carolyn, an innovative and creative individual drove home disappointed. Later that evening over dinner, she lamented her lackluster experience to husband Michael. It was during that conversation Carolyn experienced an “aha” moment.
She suggested Michael, an author, lecturer and all around humorous fellow could breathe life into a traffic class. After all, there is certainly no law against making learning entertaining.
That conversation took place over twenty years ago. Since then, Carolyn and Michael have helped ticketed offenders become better drivers while enjoying fun and interesting classes. In fact, they even named their operation Fun Traffic School.
When was the last time you turned a negative experience into a positive outcome? We cannot prevent unwanted situations from crossing our paths, but we can learn the art of converting the lessons learned into something positive by applying a strategy called reframing. I love that term! That is exactly what Carolyn did. While rewinding the mind-numbing traffic class, my creative friend put her spouse in the picture. She visualized Michael running the program.
Advancing a step further Carolyn researched the traffic school industry and found it to be an ideal business to launch in her geographic area.
The art of reframing experiences may take some practice. The first step is to get rid of any limiting beliefs. For Carolyn, it was easy. She believed traffic school need not be boring. But let’s make this a little more personal. Imagine wanting a promotion you worked extremely hard to achieve. You feel you deserve it; however, you also know the boss’s pet is vying for the same opportunity. If you give into thinking; she is the fair-haired child…I don’t have a shot at trumping her alliance with our manager, you create a limiting belief. What to do? Power through that crippling thought process. Realize the situation does not have inherent meaning. You see it that way because you have assigned it those thoughts. Furthermore, you are also projecting a premise that only buddies of the boss get promoted.
Now that you understand the negative context you created, work on changing the picture. You may have to use baby steps. Rather than thinking, I’ll never get the promotion, reframe your internal dialogue. Tell yourself repeatedly…I have a good chance at it.
Think positive and list all the reasons why you should be promoted. Then do what Carolyn did. Explore and research. What other steps can you take to make the promotion a reality? Perhaps an aspect of your resume requires upgrading? Obviously your competition has qualities the boss admires. If your level of expertise is evenly matched to hers, the answer may lie in your soft skills. Personality plays a role in how others perceive you. Take a step back and review what increases your likeability factor. Are you enthusiastic about your work? How do you rank your communication skills? Do you show a genuine interest in others? Think of someone at work you admire. What makes that individual so special? Use that comparison to fine tune any of your sub-par soft skills.
Ready for the final reframing?
Visualize yourself in the new position. Carolyn pictured Michael in the frame as seminar leader. Follow suit, then take this a step further. Act “as if.” In 1884, American philosopher William James encouraged followers by espousing… “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” If you really want that promotion write your own ticket. Act as if it already happened. Chances are just like the creation of Fun Traffic School, the job is yours.