Choose Your Own Reaction – By @WeR4everPpl

By Sean Grace


Choose Your Own Reaction


The course at SCA is deep. 


Christmas was over and it was the last night before we went back to school. Most breaks, after the initial flat out exhaustion, see the energy return and you’re ready to start again. But this time it didn’t happen. 


I had a plan for the holidays; everything I wanted to do mapped out in my head. Then on the last day of term we were told we needed to partner up and give our first, second and random partner choice. For the first time in the course I didn’t get why Marc had done this and frankly I felt pissed. 


Firstly the obvious people paired up. Nothing we didn’t know already. Then the rest of us commenced days of messages. It felt pretty all consuming, accompanied by the ‘What’s wrong with me?’ and ‘Don’t people rate me? It felt like every last pick for the team and ‘it’s me, it’s not you’ moment rolled into one. The holiday I’d been looking forward to crumbled away when I needed it most. 


Having hit rock bottom there was really only one way to go. So I thought about it a lot. The reasons were complex and about my own wish to succeed. I came back stronger and more determined. So these are my tips for surviving partnering. 


Tip 1: It might feel like this has just been landed on you, but the partnering process has been happening since day one, so get over it.  


Tip 2: There is never really a good time to decide who to partner (unless you find each other along the way). Getting over the process now will focus your mind on what you’re here to do i.e. create a team and to work it out before term three. 


Tip 3: When the course sends a train (any train) down the tracks and into the station with your name on it, take a moment. Step back from the platform edge and ask yourself “Do I have the time to jump on this emotional journey?” Believe me you won’t, in fact you’ll feel like you gain time by choosing not to. As Bob Marley said “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, only we may free our minds.”


Tip 4: For gawd sake, live near the school (or even IN the school!). You don’t want to find yourself on the great Schlep across America, connecting two trains and a bus because, in my bitter experience, they won’t connect. You’ll find yourself working in dingy station waiting rooms wishing you could get your laptop out. And what’s this to do with partnering you ask? It will be harder to coordinate and if they live nearer your partner will need to be patient to understand the time you lose each day just travelling. 


Tip 5: ‘Sleep around’ as much as you can in term 1 to get a feel for others’ working styles and whether you bring out the best in each other. Try not to burn bridges as they’ll take time and effort to rebuild.


Tip 6: Try to open up and let people in. Make the effort to to socialise outside school if you can. No matter how settled your own social circle is or how little time you have to see established friends, put the effort in. The better relationships you have, the easier it will be to share your work, get feedback and help each other grow.  


Tip 7: Keep your eyes on the prize. Thought you wanted to work in a smaller agency in the country but then wondering if it’s better to work in a big city first? Or vice versa? Work out your strategy for both and do both. Don’t get caught between the two lanes of traffic or you’ll go nowhere.


Tip 8: Understand how much less time you have during the day than you think. Visitors have busy schedules and sometimes things need to move. Master classes are really interesting and you’ll want to ask lots of questions. Things run over. Track your time to the half hour and you’ll see what I’m talking about so you can plan accordingly.


Tip 9: Remember why you came on the course. Write it down and stick it on a wall, or in your books. And remind yourself.


Tip 10: Despite what anyone tells you, be prepared to work hard, evening and weekends. The race quickens from here on in and you owe it to yourself and your partner to press on if you’re gonna hit the deadlines.  


And lastly, not really a tip but ‘enjoy’. It’s an amazing time so remember to have fun.  

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