So I’ve decided to join Monte Cook in his August “A+” campaign. This is a bit of a personal challenge for me, because while I frequently mean well, my basic persona is that of someone who likes to argue a lot. No, I mean A LOT. I’m paying for this with my kids; my mom tells me that their constant questioning is exactly how I was as a kid, and I couldn’t be happier (most of the time) that they’re learning how to challenge basic assumptions that don’t make sense.

After all, as Monte says:

Geeks, as much as I love them, seem particularly susceptible. Not just because we want to prove we’re smart (and discerning) but because we are smart. We do see the flaws, and ultimately everything is flawed. (This makes us very difficult to please.)

Yes. I like to argue. It’s fun, it keeps my mind sharp, and I like to learn new things through the advocacy process. At the same time, it has the very real potential of turning negative quickly. I try to avoid that as best I can, but I can only control my words and my feelings – no one else’s.

So this month, I’m making a conscious effort to keep the mood upbeat, focusing on the tremendous privileges we share. Part of this effort means that when I type something, I read it again before posting it. For instance, just now I deleted a paragraph that was not helpful and would have made people feel defensive. That’s not what this post is about.

What A+ Means
I have seen some postings complaining that Monte is trying to force positivity on people, that he’s only allowing certain kinds of speech, that he’s trying to banish negativity altogether.

No.

There is no bullying in this. No one is forcing you to do this, and no one will think less of you if you choose not to participate. If you want to be angry about something, go right ahead! You don’t need anyone’s permission to feel a certain way.

This is, let me stress, a purely personal, purely voluntary exercise. If someone is pressuring you to participate, they are entirely missing the point. If you feel like you need to participate in A+ because other people are and you don’t want to be left out, then I can see why you’d be angry – but directing that anger at other people is aiming at the wrong people.

A+ doesn’t mean that you have to avoid talking about things. Here’s a short primer.
a) Constructive and positive criticism is not negative. Being a jerk is.
b) No one is forcing you to talk about things you don’t like.
c) No one is saying that anything negative should be banished – just don’t, y’know, lead with it all the time.

If you choose not to participate in A+ for whatever reason, more power to you. I hope that what you do choose to focus on fuels your creativity and lends urgency to your everyday lives so that you can be even more productive.

Best of luck to you. And I hope you’ll wish me luck in keeping positive this month.