I guess we can all point to times, people and events in our lives that we later credit with causing a seismic shift in our way of thinking. For me one of those times was my first job in field sales, the person was my sales manager, a lovable man who played the trumpet for the Salvation Army band at weekends and the event was a discussion we had about letting nerves get the better of us.
Now Gorgeous George was not the type of man you’d expect to see in a role of that ilk; typically I suppose these days we expect ruthless, results-oriented individuals to be leading sales teams. George was nothing like that; he was a “people person” in the truest sense of the term who instilled very early on in his team members that there is no such thing as inferiority when it comes to your fellow man.
And that worked both ways. In restaurants he struck up conversations with waiting staff and would chat for a few minutes with the vendor of a copy of the Big Issue as he handed over a pocketful of change. Similarly he explained very succinctly why nerves where often unfounded when it came to making a key sales presentation to a room full of decision makers.
“Deborah … tell me .. have you prepared for this presentation? I mean … have you really prepared? And don’t bullshit me …”
“Then why are you so nervous? You know your stuff …. if you stumble a few times they won’t know because they don’t know what the “perfect presentation” should look like … you know that because you’ve written it!”
“But such a lot rides on this presentation George; I’m worried”
“OK, OK … then answer me one question …. what’s the worst that could happen?”
“Well … the worst that could happen is that I completely fluff it and we lose the deal”
“No … that’s not the worst that could happen. The worst that could happen is that one of them takes out a sawn-off shotgun and shoots you in the knee-caps because your presentation was so bad. Don’t you think? Surely that’d be far worse than us losing the deal because you fluffed your presentation?”
That was George’s skill; he instantly could bring a perspective to a dilemma you were facing that caused your angst to evaporate into thin air.
Now like many people I have laid awake at night worrying over the years. I’ve worried about relationships, about money, about work … and all my laboured efforts and sleepless nights I’ve chalked up haven’t made the slightest difference to any of the various outcomes. I still wake and avail myself of a bit advanced hand-wringing coupled with a toss and a turn from time to time, and it continues to not make the slightest difference. And then a few months ago a Facebook friend shared a nugget of wisdom offered by his first wife on the subject ….
“Worrying is like paying interest on money you haven’t borrowed yet”
I doubt anyone has brought worry into its allotted perspective quite as brilliantly as Janet Goodman did in that instance.
A little earlier today I swapped comments regarding my last post concerning positive attitudes and it led me to wonder why some people seem to get stuck in ongoing negative cycles that they can’t break. And this I find an odd quandary for me to roll around my head because I’ve worn the depression T-shirt a few times in my teens; I’ve taken antidepressants that made me feel like I was on another planet and I’ve woken up of a morning thinking “Oh God, not another day …”
But I guess the difference now is that I’ve lived to tell the tale. Several times over, and then some.
Confidence, positive attitude, call it what you will … it isn’t a skill, a quality or an attribute. It’s the knowledge that no matter what life has in store tomorrow, next week or next year I’ll deal with it. Good or bad.
I used to believe not knowing what the future held was a drawback, but now I see it as definite advantage. A canvas waiting for me to de-blank it.
I mean … what’s the worst that could happen?