Positive moves;Career development

26th February 1999 at 00:00
The appointment ads always demand it. But how is enthusiasm created? Bursting with it, John Caunt explains

If you are to believe the adverts, enthusiasm is the quality most frequently sought in educational appointments. In the January 14 edition of The TES the words "enthusiasm" or "enthusiastic" appeared in job advertisements no fewer than 710 times.

But enthusiasm is a quality that may be in short supply, especially if you have to do daily battle with disparaging kids, dismissive bosses and staffroom cynics.

Enthusiasm is not a forced gloss to hide your genuine feelings when you want to impress an employer or inspector, nor is it toadying to gain favour. It is a genuine positive attitude towards your job, the future, yourself and others. Research has shown that people with a positive attitude towards their work are better equipped to deal with change and challenge.

Enthusiasm is not an innate or immutable quality, but can be developed or recovered. The key steps to doing so are: establishing a sense of direction, taking control of one's achievements, and building self-esteem.

Secondary teacher Linda Emery, of Sarisbury, Hampshire, says that her enthusiasm for the job has never waned during a career spanning 22 years. She maintains that the habit of setting herself new challenges every year, and stepping outside the comfort zone to take on new work has been an important factor in this.

Challenge that is self-imposed should be progressive and achievable. It does not have to involve striving for some distant pinnacle. You need simply to be able to see yourself moving forward in some way, be it your subject knowledge, understanding of people, versatility or any aspect of personal development.

It is essential that you are the one who determines that progress has been made. The judgments of others affect the passage of our working lives: whether we have chosen to do a particular job, what sort of feedback we receive from colleagues and students.

But if your criterion of achievement rests solely on the approval of others, you will be pinning your work attitudes to the vagaries of circumstance and other people's agendas. Rather than seeing a promotion as the only outcome which will signify progress, think about the skills, attributes and knowledge that you want to develop.

Give yourself credit for every positive step towards their achievement. This way, you are working on the things you can control. Those that you can't, such as the judgments of others, are more likely to be influenced by your positive attitude.

One blow to self-confidence can undo months of building, so it is important to use past positive experiences as references which will help you to weather the inevitable dips. A diary in which you record challenges overcome and achievements, however small, can assist with this.

Remember also that enthusiasm is infectious. Encourag-ing others can help to builda climate of mutual rein-forcement and support.

Finally, recognise that it is possible to shift the way you look at events. If you can view mistakes and setbacks as chances to learn, and problems as opportunities in disguise, you stand a much greater chance of being one of the people that all those employers are looking for.

POSITIVE CHARGE

* Know where you are going. Set realistic and achievable targets.

* Recognise the importance of positive reinforcement and take steps to provide it for yourself. Don't be wholly reliant on others delivering it.

* Try to place yourself in a position where you are stretched but not hopelessly overburdened.

* Your health has a bearing on levels of enthusiasm for your job. Give appropriate attention to diet, exercise, rest and relaxation.

* Encourage others. They will respond and help you to feel more positive

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