Are you a PLOM? We’ve all met one. They suck the energy out of conversations, rooms & relationships.
P.L.O.M – Poor Little Old Me.
~ People who feel sorry for themselves a majority of the time; People who moan about the world and how bad their life is – often seen gathered together in a ‘PLOM party’ with other like minded PLOMS, feeling sorry for themselves and magnifying their issues with the power of many. PLOMs also like to recruit an ‘executive PLOM’; a PLOM in a position of power who can spread the PLOMness further and faster within and across projects, teams, organisations and cultures. Examples of PLOMness:
- being late, but it’s never their fault
- doing something wrong, but it’s definitely never their fault
- moaning about things, people or anything that moves
- resisting change, blocking change and rallying others to join them
- telling others how bad things are or suggesting how bad things will be
- general negativity about ideas, projects, people and the world in general
- getting together with other people who also do any of the above
Research into resilience shows that highly resilient people (the opposite of a PLOM) focus their time and energy on the things they have the power to impact, and they avoid focusing on or worrying about things they are powerless to change. This was confirmed by the research of Stephen Covey (7 Habits of Highly Effective people), who studied highly successful people across a broad range of professions and disciplines, and found that a focus on what can be controlled or influenced was a daily habit of effective and successful people.
Getting perspective when faced with adversity, challenges or setbacks in your life or career requires mental agility and optimism. Mental agility is the ability to look at situations from multiple perspectives and to think creatively and flexibly. Optimism is the ability to notice and expect the positive, to focus on what you can control and to take purposeful action. By taking time to consider different perspectives or ways of looking at the same problem, we are often able to see new ways of solving or moving on from it.
When it comes to getting perspective during tough times, PLOMs really struggle. In the midst of their PLOMness they spend a majority of their time and mental energy worrying about things that concern them but they are powerless to do anything about. This leaves them with feelings of pessimism and hopelessness, and less confidence in their ability to cope. They then spread this negativity, sucking the energy out of conversations, rooms & relationships. Let’s take a look at how you can avoid being a PLOM in your life and career…
Let’s say you applied and interviewed for your dream job, but you didn’t get it. Damn! The first step for getting perspective requires your self-awareness to identify all the thoughts, emotions, beliefs and reactions you are experiencing in this situation. A PLOM would likely identify the following:
- I’m not skilled enough for this type of job = Feeling less confident in my own abilities.
- I must have messed up the interview somehow = Feeling pessimistic about my future prospects.
- There’s no other jobs currently available and so I’m stuck = Feeling helpless.
To avoid being a PLOM, instead of focusing your perspective on what you have no power to change, you can ask yourself this question:
‘For the challenge/s I’m facing, what can I steer, sway or forget?’.
Steer perspective – applying this perspective you look at the situation and identify the reactions and outcomes that you have the direct power to steer in a way that is more beneficial for you. For example, instead of feeling less confident by telling yourself ‘I’m not skilled enough for this type of job’ – in the steer perspective you would acknowledge that you do have the power to steer your skills so that you are skilled enough for future job opportunities. You take action to complete a training course to up-skill yourself, read a book to increase your subject knowledge, or get volunteer experience in the areas you need or currently lacking etc.
Sway perspective – applying this perspective you look at the situation and identify the reactions and outcomes that you may not have the direct power to steer but you do have the indirect power to sway in a way that is more beneficial to you. For example, feeling pessimistic about your future prospects by telling yourself ‘I must have messed up the job interview somehow’ – in the sway perspective you realise your power to be able to sway your outcomes in future job interviews. You take action to seek feedback from interviewers following each job interview, research interview tips and tricks online, and even get practice and experience doing mock job interviews with mentors, colleagues or through training courses.
Forget perspective – applying this perspective you look at the situation and identify the reactions and outcomes that you can’t do anything about, and you find ways to focus your mental energy away from these. For example, instead of feeling helpless by telling yourself ‘there’s no other jobs currently available and so I’m stuck’ (which may well be true at the time) – in the forget perspective you would realise your power to avoid thinking about this and instead focus your energy on the things you can steer or sway. By taking actions to steer or sway your job prospects, when future jobs do become available you will be feeling confident and ready to seize these.
Think of a situation you are facing at the moment that you need to get some perspective on, and apply this effective approach::
Steer – what do I have the power to steer? i.e. what are the reactions and outcomes I’m currently having that I have the direct power (control) to steer in a way that is more beneficial for me. How will I steer these?
Sway – what do I have the power to sway? i.e. what are the reactions and outcomes I’m currently having that I have the indirect power to sway (influence) in a way that is more beneficial for me. How will I sway these?
Forget – what don’t I have the power to steer or sway? i.e. what are the reactions and outcomes I’m currently having that I have no power to change? How will I focus my energy away from these?
Steer, Sway, Forget. These three perspectives can be used in any situation to help you quickly and confidently take power over your reactions and outcomes. By taking time to consider different perspectives or ways of looking at the same problem, we are often able to see new ways of solving or moving on from it. Try this approach the next time you need to overcome adversity, challenges or setbacks in your life or career.
If managing life or career change, getting perspective, or being a PLOM is something you struggle with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for coaching or training that can really make the difference for you, your team or your organisation.
Gillham, J. E., Reivich, K. J., & Jaycox, L. H. (2008). The Penn Resiliency Program. University of Pennsylvania.
Covey, S. R. (2012). The 7 habits of highly effective people. Business News Publishing.