When I was a young teenager I wanted the prize that the author of letter of the month in my favourite magazine received. I pondered how best to craft a few sentences that would earn me whatever it was I wanted (for while the experience stayed with me, my tastes quickly moved on).

I hit upon my idea just before Christmas. The November issue had carried the free gift of an advent calendar where behind each door was an object of teenage lust. Previous winning letters had often featured crafty tips and I thought that recycling the calendar to produce a wallet size picture of your favourite celebrity was genius.

The editor did too. I didn’t win my prize but thereafter there was a wallet sized picture of the celebrity on the front cover with little scissor marks around it and the suggestion you cut it out and keep it in your wallet.

I didn’t quite know what to make of it and this is the first time I’ve ever told anyone. I was confused, if my idea was good why hadn’t I won?

As an adult I understand all too well and while I feel for teenage me I think I probably gained more from the experience than I would had I received whatever lip gloss kit it was I might have received. People steal ideas all the time, this was simply my first encounter.

When my so-called mentor in my first proper marketing job presented my ideas to our boss then badmouthed me it was my first experience of workplace bullying. But it was also an important step in boosting my confidence. While the husband suggested it illustrated a weak has-been empty of creativity and threatened by the fresh young thing, it also proved that my ideas were good. Rather than crush me, it gave me the confidence (after I had shed many tears into glasses of wine) to apply for a role that was a major step up on the career ladder. A role I got and where fabulously my new boss proved to be an inspiration.

It always smarts when your ideas are taken but lots in life hurts and I believe it’s how we interpret things that determine our success.

I encountered an idea at a recent sales seminar whereby meetings without clear outcomes and pitches were reframed as free consultancy. It’s something I’ve certainly fallen into and am keen to better manage my approach. I’m currently working on a deal I hope will come to fruition soon and am wary of giving too much campaign planning information away before the deposit is banked. While my business offers fairly concrete marketing products, there is a huge amount of creative planning and more than one potential client has had the benefit of the latter without ever paying for the former.

But it’s a learning curve and I carry no bitterness. I’ve encountered copywriters that come across as quite defensive on their websites (so goodness knows what they’re like if you have the audacity to phone in an enquiry) and I’m determined not to lose my cheery optimism.

While being nice and assuming niceness in others can render you a bit naive I do think the world is as you perceive it. My world is full of promise and opportunity, it wasn’t always and it makes far more sense to me to think it was me that changed rather than the world.

This has made me think of a post I wrote in 2010 on Avatar and a quick visit shows people haven’t moved on. There’s a current thread called Saddened feeling after watching Avatar with some similar comments to the ones discussed in my ancient post.

Then there was a fascinating thread (How might I earn £1000 a month working from home) on Mumsnet that got a bit hijacked by a poster suggesting she aim to earn that in a day. A lot of sensible advice was given but there were still those that think of her as a fantasist. Clearly to them, the world is not full of opportunities just waiting for those wanting to grasp them.

Would those people sink into a depression when up against like my old bully or lose heart at spending time on pitches that don’t lead to sales? Would theft of their efforts break them rather than build them?

I don’t know what combination of factors made me the way I am, for me that’s the holy grail. My youngest stepson I have no concerns about, he has an inner glow of confidence and he knows he has charisma. He seems destined to bounce through life. But I worry about the eldest. Tonight he explained that he didn’t move the cat who sat where he was about to sit because he didn’t want to be mean. He’s a lovely child but I’m at a loss at how to convey that assertiveness doesn’t make you mean.* I think that lies at the root of these musings. Logically I know he needs to get knocked by life before he’ll toughen up, it’s just hard watching two children grow up who have such different raw material to start with.

* Also, he’s a sodding cat so just boot him off the sofa.

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