We cannot direct the wind but we can adjust the sails.
When a fellow diabetic asks me for my biggest piece of advice for improving diabetes management, I say, “Monitor your thoughts”. Our thoughts dictate how we feel about things and guide our actions. Why else does an overly negative person say they “always have bad luck” and then actually always have bad luck? The stars are not aligning against them. God is not punishing them. It’s just that their thoughts are subtly guiding all of their decisions, great and small, and since these thoughts are negative, a lot of their decisions are not the right ones.
Surely we can all come up with examples of how our thoughts or our attitude towards something blocked the positive outcome we might have been hoping for, no? Or we have examples about how our positive thoughts produced a wonderful outcome, right?
Well, here is a personal example that I have a hard time forgetting. It taught me a lot about how much power I actually have when I use my thoughts for good.
Not too long ago I was going on 5 years at a job I truly hated. It made me physically ill because it emotionally distraught me. Why? Just like anyone else I have a personality type which suits me well for certain tasks and not so well for others. So it just so happens I was working at a job that completely left my weaknesses vulnerable and didn’t use my strengths at all. So naturally, it felt like abuse. And my self esteem took a good beating. Ideally we all do a job we’re good at right? To the outsider, it didn’t make sense why I’d have such a problem working answering phone calls all day, but for me, a phone ring made me shudder and almost go into a panic attack.
I felt that I couldn’t leave the job because I needed insurance and would have a hard time finding another job. One day I felt I’d had enough and thought to myself, “I deserve a better job and I am going to find it!”. I updated my resume and sent it out to several places. A few days later I got a call for an interview for a sales job. If you knew me well you’d know I would be the world’s WORST sales person. I feel that working a sales job is like bothering people. And yet when someone is selling to me they aren’t bothering me at all. Strange huh? Anyway, I just wanted to jump out of the job that had me stuck for 5 years. So I decided to go to the interview and present the character of a sales person. Before walking into the office I thought to myself, “I’m going to make them hire me, in fact, I’ve already got this job”.
I immediately radiated confidence. I made sure to answer questions with assurance in my voice, speaking articulately, loud, and clear. I made eye contact and then told a story. In other words, I was going to prove right then and there to the supervisor interviewing me, that I could sell. I pulled out of my memory the fact that my grandfather once made a very big and expensive sell of a product that didn’t exist-yet. His confidence and negotiating skills made him a successful business man in his day. So I told this particular successful sale story. And I told the supervisor who was clearly enthralled, “I inherited his genes”. I finished my story, told him I wouldn’t let the company down, and then shook his hand. He left the room for a moment and came back and said, “We’ve decided to hire you on the spot!” <Sigh> I did it. And now I genuinely didn’t want to let them down.
Doing something like that once gives you a boost. I still wasn’t out of the clear though you know? I knew I couldn’t really sell. I mean, I was very good at selling, and the pay was good, but it didn’t come natural. This means it made me tired, stressed, anxious, and plain unhappy. I told myself I was going to quickly get another job, one that suited me a bit more and would at least give me more perks ( you know to make up for the fact that it wasn’t my dream job). Just a month later I heard about a job opening from an acquaintance. Her workplace was looking for a bilingual candidate for a human resources position in a manufacturing plant. I sent in my application and went to interview. I didn’t realize I’d have to interview in Spanish. My Spanish is pretty decent but, the facility I have with it is in regards to language used at home. So I can talk about food and household items all day but, terms in a workplace setting? No way, Jose. I also have an English accent when I speak Spanish. So my nerves hit me. I was told I’d have three interviews in a row. I told myself, “You’re Spanish is fine, just let them know how hardworking and positive you are.” The first interview was easy. We talked about our love for our families a lot. The second a bit more intimidating because it was via video conference due to the fact that my interviewer had just lost his father. I didn’t feel right talking to this man about my working abilities knowing he was in great pain and had just buried his father the day before. I let him do most of the talking.
The third was with the CEO of the company. This man was intimidating! He questioned me rather persistently about why I didn’t graduate college yet. He said this was a sign I wasn’t very focused or ambitious enough. I asked him if this was his greatest worry with me. He explained that I had none of the technical skills or education they were looking for. I realized I wanted to “win” this job because it would give me a unique corporate office experience and a good salary and paid college tuition and great health insurance. Oh, and I’d get to practice my Spanish and travel abroad. So once again I put my thoughts in line with my goal, “Sysy, you are going to make this man think that if he doesn’t hire you he’s made a big mistake.”
So that is what I did. I sat forward in my seat and told the CEO about my type 1 diabetes. I didn’t tell any lies, I just took a chance on giving more personal info than one normally would on an interview. I told him how difficult diabetes made life and how regardless of this I had made good grades at school, stayed a hopeful person, and been very active in several different sports. I explained that my college experience coincided with the deaths of 3 friends and my diabetes management being out of control. I wanted to finish college. I told him I didn’t want pity and that my diabetes management was much better. I just wanted a chance to prove that even though my experience with diabetes had taken me off of the path I wanted to follow, I was willing to work THAT much harder at whatever it is I did in life. I didn’t monitor my voice. I let it sound off passionately because I knew that an employer wants to hire someone who cares, who wants to work hard, who wants to earn trust, and one who is willing to learn. It would have been wrong had I been lying but the truth is, I wanted the chance to work hard and learn everything I should already know for the job and then go above and beyond. He said that the personality test I took showed them I wasn’t quite right for being a training specialist. I told him he was right but that I needed the job and he needed someone who would give 110% and speak Spanish. He had asked if I wanted to do the interview in English and I said, “No that’s ok, you probably want to be reassured of my Spanish”. He smiled and nodded.
I was hired and later on learned he had been very impressed with my admittance of having diabetes. He said most people would have been too worried to admit to a medical condition which might make them appear weak to an ignorant employer. I don’t know how much good my words did that day, I think more than anything the attitude portrayed was what got me a job I was definitely not qualified for.
To my surprise the job wasn’t rocket science. No college degree needed, except on paper, of course. The really hard part was…you know, that it wasn’t suitable for me. So I wasn’t completely happy. I struggled with office politics and felt a calling to get away from the sometimes petty nature of a corporate office and do something I loved for once. Like this website. Without expecting to I got pregnant and because I just so happened to have twins, I stayed home and left that company for good. A lot less money, but money isn’t everything.
Attitude and positive thoughts, are. They help get us where we need to be for as long as we need to be there. My pregnancy went well in part because I was a salary worker who could take a lot of time in the bathroom when nauseated and was given a lot of flexibility with work hours. The truth is, had I stayed at that job answering phones and been pregnant while working there…the stress and the sheer inflexibility of an hourly job would have hurt my health.
If there is something in your life you want to change, monitor your thoughts so they’re positive and empowered and let them lead the way.