I have to admit, I can get frustrated easily. Not necessarily when there’s a slew of bad things happening to me at once. That’s okay. I get frustrated when there’s a problem with a simple solution, or a problem that’s really important and people don’t attack it because of laziness or just plain stupidity. For me, the place where I constantly put up with this is at work.
I come across a mistake in a test, teaching material, etc, and I point it out to the manager. She thanks me for letting her know. Fast forward a couple months, I’m teaching the same level. I go over the same test I went over months ago and find the same mistakes unchanged. Again, I inform the manager and this time tell her that I’ll fix it, she just has to help pull up the file because I don’t have access to it. The response? I’m not allowed to because that’s not my job. Brilliant. The school tells us we are losing students and need to find ways of keeping them, yet do nothing when tons of students complain about mistakes in the books and tests, instead thinking adding a projector in each room will help solve the problem.
Accept What You Can’t Change
As frustrated as I get thinking about it, I stop for a moment and relax. I can’t change the lack of knowledge or initiative in the managers. I already tried. So then what can I do? Well, I can make sure I keep track of the materials that have mistakes and inform the kids of the mistakes. I can also make sure that I bring the highest level of teaching to my students that I can. Since the books don’t do a good job, I have to step up my own game.
To note, this does not just mean I throw away my own initiative. When the opportunity arises to do more, I still try to do it. Every time a mistake happens, I still ask to fix it. Just now, even if I can’t change it, I don’t fret over it. I just focus on what I can do.
What Are You Going to Do?
I take this from the stoics. The idea is essentially “Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Only focus on what you can control.” Funny enough, my dad had a saying about this: You are walking along a path, when all of a sudden, a giant boulder appears in your way. Now what are you doing to do? You can either get mad and beat your head against the boulder, or you can accept that the boulder is in your path and walk around it. The choice is yours.
There are a lot of things that happen in life that we have no control over. We just have to accept them. Think about it. Isn’t it more productive to just accept what happened and then find out what you can do about it? Why waste the small amount of time we have on Earth freaking out over what happens when you can use what happened as knowledge for you to plan your next move?
Find the Good
Sometimes it helps to see the silver lining. For me personally, I sometimes view it as a challenge. Teaching English? Too easy. Let’s see how well we can do if the teaching materials are flawed. That makes things more interesting. Didn’t get the job you wanted? Now you know what to expect and can get better accordingly. Running late for work because of traffic? Now you know what time not to leave at.
By looking at things in this way, we see the opportunity and good that comes out of each difficult situation. Practice this each time something difficult arises and soon you’ll realize that things aren’t as bad as they seem. Sometimes it’s in these tough situations where we learn and grow the most.
So the next time something bad happens or something doesn’t go the way you want, stop. Breathe. You didn’t get the desired outcome. It happens. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Don’t get mad. Find out what the next steps are, and then do those. It’ll save you time and energy in the long run.
When have you found opportunity in a bad/difficult situation?