Back in November 2019 – before the world went bonkers I wrote a blog on Positive Thinking and the School Business Manager. Maybe my positivity abandoned me at the time as it was never published and it has languished in my draft folder all this time. But can I tell you, I am in need of some positive thinking right now!
The annual subscription to my website is up soon and as it is not an insignificant amount of money (to me). I’ve been mulling whether I should actually renew it? I haven’t been here for a while, but I know I’d miss it. So I’ve decided that even if it just me looking at past posts and drawing on some positive vibes, then it’s worth the money.
I’m going to take a leap now and post this one. If only to remind myself that positive days were here once and they will come again. We will get through this. I’ll pull on my SBM T-Shirt, I will eventually get back to firing on all my School Business Manager cylinders and (I hope) I’ll get back to blogging with my previous gusto…
Even the most optimistic among us will tell you that they have dark times. Times when all seems lost. When all the work done has come to nothing. Weeks when it is hard to see the whole wood for all the nonsense trees that keep springing up around us. There is no doubt that Positive Thinking is a key skill for the School Business Manager. I refuse to be outwardly negative, however hard it might seem, and however hard others may be trying to bring me down.
The Pollyanna Principle
The number one thing to remember is that it is OK not to be OK. It’s not always easy maintaining a hold on a positive attitude, especially with all the conflicting demands we deal with on a daily basis. Colleagues can become increasingly worn down as the term progresses and we tend to lurch from one holiday to the next, sometimes excusing poor behaviour of others on the challenges of working in a school. It’s hard to be the one that keeps smiling!
Based on the 1913 novel by Eleanor H Porter, and one of my favourite books growing up, the ‘Pollyanna Principle’ describes our tendency to remember pleasant experiences more accurately than unpleasant ones. Our subconscious mind will focus more easily on the optimistic while our conscious mind is biased towards the negative. Its up to us to follow our gut and keep looking on the brighter side.
How to maintain a positive attitude
Perhaps if you have some extra insight on this you’ll let me know, but here is what the experts say…
- Focus on the Positive. Of course, negative is there and it is important to accept that in order to see the whole picture. But don’t dwell on what is negative. Try thinking ‘well that didn’t work, maybe if I try it this way…’
- Take a moment, reflect and move on. When things don’t go your way, consider whether, in the grand scheme of things, it is really that important? I look back on times in my life when I’ve been miserable and consider what the impact really was. It’s usually positive in the longer term.
- Optimism leads to opportunity. How many times have you taken a chance on something and it worked out? The successful grant bid that was a long shot. Appointing the wild card candidate into your team who you now couldn’t manage without? Speaking up in a strategy meeting which resulted in a new direction for your school?
- Share your positive attitude, even at the end of term. Optimism is catching and can inspire others who may be in need of a mood-boosting smile.
- Remember, however positively intended, if what you are doing undermines others, it will be seen as negative. Listen to what you are being told (or not told) to gauge how your actions are being perceived.
Keep a balanced perspective
Of course, sometimes it is counter-productive to be completely blind to the negative. That new roof will leak, however optimistically your builder tells you it won’t. The extra funding you are being promised probably won’t cover an over-stretched budget going into deficit. If you consistently take on too much, no amount of working in the evening is going to stop you from burning out eventually. Ensure you keep the bigger picture in your head. Take a strategic view and put steps in place in case the worst should happen.
There is no doubt that it is human nature to warm to a positive personality. Someone who keeps smiling. Who keeps reassuring everyone that it will be done in time (whilst peddling furiously behind the scenes to ensure that it is). That’s how effective change management works.
The person who will continue to work happily with even the most trying of colleagues and who will pick themselves up and go again when things don’t quite turn out as expected, is the person we all want to work with.