Losing a job can be a positive experience
My daughters tease me about how I’d always sing the wrong words to popular songs. The best example was the Chumbawamba hit Tubthumping from the 90s. The song lyrics say, “I get knocked down but I get up again,” but for some reason I heard it as “I got no job but I’ll get one again.” Sadly, a few months ago I was singing that song and the lyrics matched my situation for real –my personal version with the wrong lyrics about not having a job.
In fact, maybe the reason my psyche came up with that version was because I’ve had to sing it three times in the last decade. Once was because my COO boss left the company and the new COO brought in his own team – which resulted in a pink slip for me. The second time was after poor sales caused a downsizing and I was the last one hired which made me one of the lucky first ones to go. By the third one, even though it came with some warning of cuts and reorganization, I was sadly getting used to the exit ramp and handed my badge in knowing the whole routine, feeling even worse for my boss, who was teary eyed breaking the news to me, than I was for my own situation.
So, here I am with decades of experience, looking for a job at a time when many my age are counting the months, weeks, days and minutes to retirement. I am far from ready to retire even if I could. So, now I am out there competing with 30-somethings with equal education and a decade of experience–tough competition. My competition consists of kids my daughter’s age, who are excited and able to work for less money. It’s a little scary, yes, but, you know, it can also be very, very exciting.
Here’s why I feel that way. I get to reinvent myself. I get to meet new, interesting people in all ranges of my career. I get to consider living in new places since my nest is now empty. I wonder if Hawaii’s hiring or if someone in Italy needs a good PR person or possibly I could be a consultant and just fly anywhere with the questionably friendly skies of United. Maybe I can start my own business or work remotely? There are so many amazing choices. And I am taking my time and looking at them all.
The proverbial roller coaster ride where the uphill ride is filled with anxiety and anticipation and then the thrill of the downhill fall. I look at it this way, for the last ten years, my roller coaster ride with the changes, was cool. I’ve got to meet a lot of great people, build impressive networks and learn so much! I know all about supply chains, and franchise businesses about FEMA and managing global crisis situations, I know where McDonald’s hamburgers come from (truly 100% beef) and what happens inside a hyperbaric chamber and how long it takes to stop a 100-car train. In fact, I’ve driven a train and a big rig truck and I’ve hung out with Ronald McDonald and I’ve sadly wiped a tear away watching a room full of cancer patients get chemo. I have friends now who are neurosurgeons and television news anchors, CEOs of railroads and airlines. So even rough, unpredictable twists and turns in your career path can be quite positive.
Even though when I get a rejection letter for a prospective employer it about kills me, I realize that one will soon be an offer and that losing jobs didn’t make me a failure, it’s made me stronger and a better person and professional.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to work and stay there. I don’t want hard times to force me to out the door again or to fear it working stealth in some closet clutching my red stapler in hopes of not being let go again. I am hoping the next opportunity is the last and I exit through their golden, red carpeted retirement door in a decade or so.
And, no I don’t hate my former bosses, they were only making very tough business decisions. I am not spiteful or angry or resentful. I just know, that like Forest Gump said “S**T HAPPENS.” It happens to all of us every day. in many different ways, to very good, undeserving people with some far worse things than a job loss. So’ I guess I am correct to sing both versions of the lyrics to my Tubthumping song–”I got knocked down…and I got no job.” But the next line is what sticks in my head…for me and the nine percent of Americans unemployed each day…”BUT I’LL GET UP AGAIN YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO KEEP ME DOWN.” So if you’ve got no job, just hum that song in your head for a while, think of what you’ve learned from your past and oh the places you will go next… and watch the grin start to appear slowly, slowly…I see it…yup…there it is. And your next job? It’s. Right. Around. The Corner.