I was stood on the 8th Wonder of the World last week – Platform 2 of Chorley Train Station. I stood in the freezing cold waiting patiently for the 7.33am to Manchester. As the train slowly came into view, I scanned the busy platform and wondered how the tightly assembled crowd were going to squeeze into the three already packed carriages. It was every man for himself and as usual, I ended up standing all the way. Initially thinking it was going to be a boring journey, I was chuffed to bits when I was able to listen in to a loud and interesting conversation that two blokes sat nearby were having.
One of the pair started explaining how he’d had his monthly 1:1 with his manager the previous day. Thinking he would keep the content of the private meeting to himself I couldn’t hide my excitement as he started to spill the beans, warts and all…
He explained how his boss was a ‘complete and utter dragon’ (there was also an expletive which for obvious reasons I have left out, but it did make me giggle!). He went on to say how he had missed his targets that month, but how it really wasn’t his fault. The dragon had explained were he’d gone wrong and where he needed to improve next month but the poor victim was having none of it; she was ‘getting at him’ in his words. She had also told him that everyone was going to be trained up to cover other tasks, in other words to multi-skill. He went on to say that this was the dragons attempt at managing him out of the business. I listened intently as he explained how he’d gone home from work and got so worked up he’d cracked and in a complete rage, had burst into uncontrollable tears. Now, I’m no Poirot, but I suspect he had taken all of this feedback to heart. Meanwhile the other guy just sat there clutching his man bag, nodding and shaking his head frantically in utter bewilderment.
We are all guilty of taking things to heart. But sometimes we need to be more resilient. What if the man on the train had seen things differently? What if he had actually listened to the dragon? What if he had taken on board what she’d said and thought about learning from his mistakes so that he could hit his targets next month? What if he changed his perception of his dragon/manager from ‘she’s getting at me’ to ‘she’s genuinely trying to help me’? What if he saw multi-skilling as a brilliant opportunity to learn new skills, skills that undoubtedly would eventually improve his career prospects? What if he hadn’t gone home bawling and crying but had instead started to create a personal plan for improving things at work?
It’s all about being resilient and being proactive. Proactive people take full control and ownership for their next steps, including how they behave and how they react. Reactive people on the other hand, tend to blame everyone else for their misgivings.
As for the bloke on the train, well, he got off at Piccadilly Station still oozing the characteristics of someone who is very reactive. I wondered who he was going to blame for his misgivings tomorrow.
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