My Scottish friend is endlessly annoyed by the liberties Americans take with the English language. He claims we are always adding prefixes and suffixes to words that have no business being added. We are forever using our American brashness and independence to sully his language. I thought of him when I came across Norman Vincent Peale’s made-up word of possibilitarian. Now, this word cannot be found in any dictionary, but we all know what it means. It brings forth thoughts of optimism, enthusiasm, and a belief in the impossible. It’s an empowering word even if it is made up. Just being able to say the seven-syllable word feels empowering!

Norman Vincent Peale, an American, of course, and author of Power of Positive Thinking, offered us this gem of a word in a quote that speaks perfectly to court reporting students (“Norman Vincent Peale”). “Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities—always see them, for they’re always there” (“Become a Possibilitarian”). Notice he didn’t say “Become an impossibilitarian,” or “See the impossibilities.” That would be an easy thing to do considering that traditional court reporting schools have an attrition rate of 85 to 90 percent (“Court Reporting Schools”). However, as a court reporting student, I have learned to ignore trifles like that and instead have learned to see the possibilities in my future career, in the next week or month, and even in my failures.

Of course I am going to finish school because I can already picture myself in my future career. While I may really be practicing speebuilding in my pajamas in my bedroom on my student machine, in my mind I am dressed to the nines — which, ironically, is a phrase of Scottish origin — sitting in a courtroom using my professional machine. While I may actually be editing a mock transcript in my sweats on the couch, in my mind I’m—Okay. I’m still editing transcripts in my sweats even in the future. I love this job!

Then there’s the possibilities of this week or month. There is a very good possibility that in a week or two, I will have solved that pesky homonym problem I’ve been having with “road” and “rode.” And I know it’s possible to get in just one more hour of speedbuilding this week than I did last week. Certainly by the end of the month, it’s quite possible that I will have picked up enough speed to pass off that literary test. School provides a possibilitarian a never-ending supply of little challenges to conquer. When I think about the little stuff that is quite possible to achieve, it takes my mind off the “impossible” stuff, like that 225 QA. Before I know it, even that will be possible.

When Mr. Peale said, “No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are…,” he didn't know it, but he was talking about tests and court reporting school. In reality, court reporting students take a lot of tests and only pass a small percentage of them. Now, if there was ever a definition for failure, that could be it. But the word failure has none of the empowering feel of possibilitarian. Indeed, that word can suck the sunshine right out of the room. Thankfully, Mr. Peale provides the solution: “Raise your sights and see possibilities.” I can raise my sights from the percentage and instead see the possibilities. There is something in that test that I can learn from. There is something in that test that I did well on because I learned from a previous test. That test contains an array of possibilities for my drills next week or for my hesitation journal. I’ll pass the test eventually. In the meantime, possibilities for success abound in smaller ways.

Court reporting school makes not only court reporters but possibilitarians: people who can see the possibilities of their future career, the possibilities in today and tomorrow and next month, and the possibilities in every perceived failure. An impossibilitarian will never graduate from court reporting school. However, because I am a possibilitarian, I will not only graduate from court reporting school but will leave it with a fortified ability to believe in myself and to accomplish anything I can possibly dream up.

~ An essay by Rachelle Cahoon, CCR Student

Works Cited
“Become a Possibilitarian.” MindBodyGreen. MindBodyGreen, LLC, 1 Nov. 2011. Web. 20 Mar. 2012.
“Court Reporting Schools: The Ten Most Important Questions You Should Ask Court Reporting Schools.” Court Reporting
FAQs. The Realtime Writer’s Alliance, n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2012.
“Norman Vincent Peale.biography.” Bio.True Story. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 14 Mar. 2012.