It has been some time since I last posted about my forced retirement from a job I really enjoyed and did well. Over the past few years I have continued to operate my (former part-time) fine art photography business as well as establish my Pet Photography business. Although I enjoy both kinds of photography, and have made some sales, they are not enough to cover my bills.
Since being laid off I have continued to search for gainful employment while enrolling in advanced digital photography classes at Columbus State Community College to keep up my skill set. A reality check; I am over 50 and despite advertising campaigns that is not the ‘new 40’ when it comes to the job market. This morning I had an interview for a potential job; one that would take advantage of my skills and experience, be enjoyable, provide flexible hours for my own business as well as cash flow.
On my way to the interview I called Tabatha Coffey (guest-hosting for Larry Flick this week) to ask her for positive thoughts & good wishes. Of course she provided them. Later in the show another listener called to offer the suggestion that I needed to ‘rid myself of negative thoughts’ and fully embrace ‘the power of positive thinking’. Not to dismiss the well-intentioned advice, but I can not adopt it whole-heartedly. My sales training and experience has taught me that a positive attitude can be very helpful; first impressions do matter and pre-emptive surrender is to be avoided. Medical studies seem to suggest that ‘having a good attitude’ and a network of support can increase the odds of surviving life-threatening diseases. On the other hand, the most positive outlook in the world can not, by itself, guarantee success.
Some times the disease is just too powerful for happy thoughts alone to succeed. My time sitting with friends dying of aids-complications means that lesson is burned into my brain.
Having studied various New Age approaches to faith and spirituality I don’t deny the power of having a good attitude. However I reject the extrapolation that people who are sick, poor, etc somehow deserve it, or brought it upon themselves by not being strong or positive enough. When someone tells me that “everything happens for a reason” I remind them the reason might be “to make your life a living hell“.
I recall hearing about a study (which I can not, at the moment, find on-line) that interviewed former prisoners-of-war. The conclusion ran along the lines of those with the most upbeat and positive attitude, the ones who were sure that everyone (or at least they) would be home for Christmas or some other milestone, and were not, would die (from depression or illness) earlier. The ones who had blind faith they would be home for Christmas year after year, but year after year were not, had the most trouble adjusting if they did survive. Those who approached their captivity with a balanced approach of a realistic understanding of their situation with hope and optimism were more likely to survive and come out with less trauma.
My approach to the interview this morning was a combination of positivity (I know I am a great fit for this position, this industry, this company) and a touch of realism; I am not the perfect man for everyone. Perhaps my many years of being a single gay man prepared me for my sales career; learning how to accept rejection and not let it destroy my ego.
I do believe I presented myself well, and am hopeful. But I am not presuming the job is mine nor assuming that I’m out of the running. If I get it I’ll celebrate and if I don’t I won’t dissolve into a bottle of vodka. After all I am a: