After lasts weeks blog I have been talking with a team, in one of the units, about being positive. The team was in a meeting and collectively realised how negative they were all beginning to sound. We were discussing potential production rates, and what would happen if the Covid restrictions were extended and if the staff would be too stretched to achieve the new targets. Then the horrors that were awaiting them through the exporting of products after Brexit. All in all everyone was pretty negative and flat. There was not even enough energy to see this as a fight or a battle that could be won. It was as though the team were suffering battle fatigue and had already given up.
I started talking about Captain Tom saying that his life philosophy has been to expect tomorrow to be better than today. When we went over our conversations it was clear that the team was expecting the worst of tomorrow not the best. Tom had developed his way of looking forward to a positive future to overcome his negative experiences of being at war in the jungle when fighting the Japanese troops in the Far East. I was saying that if we were being realistic about our situation then we should realise that Tom had spent six years fighting a war and managed to stay positive and here we were a few months into Covid and were potentially giving up.
I started talking a bit about neuroplasticity and how our attitudes were effecting our brains. My point being that if we were like this now how would we be by the middle of next year? We started to look at how the production teams had survived and maintained production despite the lockdown and furlough. The conversation began to lighten as the focus moved from the negative to the positive and we started to look not at what we had lost but to what we had gained. This attitude of positive expectation is the core of modern mindful psychology. The phrase that…
…thoughts become things…
…is the same thing really. It is the expectation that…
…what you think about you will bring about.
Now, it does not matter whether or not our thoughts and feelings about tomorrow are positive or negative we are all, through our expectations, creating our future experience. Tom has it right, expect the positive and the chances are it will happen. The second thing to realise is that…
…it is not what happens it is how we experience it that is important.
The common phrase in this team in the past has always been…
…we don’t have problems we only have learning opportunities
The problem in the moment was that the problems were becoming catastrophes and no longer learning opportunities.
These are things that we have spoken about before in the podcast. In this situation we were beyond the theory, this situation was live action. How could we change this flagging team into a positive and motivated force?
I started by getting them talking about gratitude and the positive connection to being thankful for the situation. To think about people, things and life that relate to a positive expectation of what is to come. As people began to share positive experiences we decided that the best game to play, that would focus us on to a positive mindset, was ‘tell me something good’. We each had to state a positive experience of Covid during lockdown and furlough. This is some of what we came up with.
Time to think and meditate
On consideration there was the realisation that people did actually have more time to think and plan and get there heads in order. I have been running a mindfulness meditation group In this plant for years that meets once a month. Lockdown had got many of them practicing on a daily basis. The positive was they all felt the benefit and felt committed to continued practice.
Time to communicate
Even online there was a recognition that people were taking more time to check each other out. A couple of the team had been tested Covid positive and although they were not hospitalised, and came through it okay, the experience had scared the whole workforce. The positive is that people are now going out of their way to check each other out whether online or face to face.
There was a lot of talk about relationships and getting to know their families again. There was a strong realisation that the need to work had overtaken the need to maintain relationships in the family. This group is all male and a big realisation was that they needed to take more time to get to know their kids. The positive is that being at home for longer periods of time and helping with school work, playing and talking has created much stronger father and child bonds.
Being at home and being available to talk over the garden fence with neighbours was a new kind of bonding that was a common experience. Going for a daily walk has enabled them to get to know people in their road. The positive is that they all had stories of how their community was helping each other out by getting shopping, making sure the prescriptions were delivered and checking that each other were okay.
Everyone in the group described learning something new. There was a lot of gratitude for the internet and YouTube for learning and skill development as those diy jobs that had been hanging around for years suddenly had been or were being done. Including decorating. One guy said that he and his wife would, by the end of Covid, have redecorated the entire house. The positive here was that many of the team had used, and were using, the extra time that Covid has provided positivity.
Virtually everybody said that they had read a book for the first time in years. There was a surprised realisation in how much you can get out of reading a book. One had joined an online book club that meets once a month to discuss their experience of that months read. The positive is that reading not only gives us insights and ideas as well as entertainment but it also helps to ward off dementia as we keep our brains active.
Weight and fitness
This split two ways. There were those that had been running and exercising and those that had turned to the biscuit tin for comfort. The positive here is that there is a collective awareness of the need to be more aware of food, drink and exercise. It will be interesting to see of the commitments made that day which ones will be maintained. I will check it out.
Covid has made people think about difficult issues. Some of those in the team had lost family members and friends to Covid and it had made them think and plan. There was that sense of the need to get your house in order because none us now if we will get ‘it’ or not and what the effect on us will be. The positive in this was to be thankful for what you have right now because we do not know when it will end.
We have and will learn so much from this Covid experience. Our choice is do we focus on the positive learning or the negative? If we follow Captain Tom’s example we need to look at the positive of what will happen tomorrow and do what we can to make it happen.
Take care, stay positive and tell me something good…