To achieve Step 7, individuals will have to be able to identify where opportunities exist, even in difficult situations.
In earlier steps, the focus was on how individuals respond to something going wrong. The focus now moves on to how to find opportunities in difficult situations.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
Speaking to our teachers, tutors, lecturers or coaches about how we are feeling will be helpful when something has gone wrong with our learning or when we are finding our learning difficult. They will be keen to help us. They will want to understand the situation. It is important to separate the emotional response we might have to finding something difficult with the actual difficulty we are having. For example, we might feel disappointed that we did not score highly on a recent test and anxious because we did not understand the new concept we had only recently been taught. Looking for the positives that might come out of this disappointing situation might sound strange, but now both student and teacher know more time is needed to really understand the new concept. This might mean some extra focus on it in a lesson or revising in more detail so that it is fully understood and future test results improve.
In all workplaces there may be potential for something to go wrong. This might be when the business or organisation is trying a new approach or initiative. It could be that they are trialing a new service or way of manufacturing a product which may not be as successful as expected. Employers and their employees often have to consider the opportunities and threats in this type of situation. For example, adding a new service to a company’s offer might attract new customers but it could also mean that other services are not given as much time. When looking for opportunities in difficult situations, it is important to not just think about how to avoid the threats, but how they can take action together to achieve a positive outcome for their business or organisation.
When dealing with an existing situation it is always worth thinking about both the positive and negative sides of the difficulty. Sometimes it is helpful to take yourself out of the situation and imagine the situation is happening to someone else. For example, if a friend shared a difficulty they had been facing, what advice might you give to them? This can separate you and your emotional response to the difficult event so you are more likely to be able to see some positives or opportunities available. As with much of Staying Positive, the crucial part is deciding to do so.
To best practise this step of Staying Positive, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step is one that can be reinforced in several ways in a school setting. For example, when discussing difficult situations in history, geography or literature, learners could be encouraged to think not just about the negatives or threats, but also the positives or opportunities. This is particularly helpful because it can lend itself to more dispassionate analysis.
There will also be setbacks for individual learners, and here a coaching role can support learners to identify for themselves what some of the opportunities or positives are in situations, and focus on those.
This step can be assessed through an exercise – for example, giving the learners a situation to analyse to draw out the positives and negatives in it.
There may also be an element of assessment through observation, where learners can discuss a particular setback or difficult situation and the positives that they can identify in that situation.
This step will be relevant to people who encounter difficult situations at work, and have the scope to look for new opportunities.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through discussion and reflective conversation with an individual. For example, a manager might discuss an existing situation with an individual to find out if they can identify the positives and negatives in it.
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
As a parent or carer, you might be thinking about how best to support your children to build their essential skills. The good news is that there is lots that you can do that will have a big impact, including:
We’ve developed a whole series of tools and resources to help parents to build these skills, including:
There is also content for older children and young people, including short activities and reflections that they can complete alone, or with you.