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Sunday, June 29, 2014

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Based on the above title, you may have thought I was going to insert the all-too-often used cliche`. Nope! When life gives you lemons, make Arnold Palmers, extra sweet. Okay, so that wasn't super-creative, but it wasn't expected, right?

That's what happened to me, something unexpected.  After starting a job that seemed to be the "perfect" fit for me, I get an email you'd only expect on April 1st: your position has been eliminated.  Except it wasn't April.  This was for real. I had only been there for 3 weeks, and had turned down another offer to start this one.  I never thought about the definition of at-will, and you usually don't think about Human Resources jargon until that moment.  But that indeed happened.  Once you get over the initial shock, you have to face reality. I need a job. Now.

And how does one explain a 3 week stint at a company?  You explain it, sticking to the facts.  Your position was eliminated.  Period.  And ask to be allowed to share your contributions.  This is why I stress to people: make your impact immediate and memorable.  Companies hire because they have a need.  They don't want to have a 100k expense (that would be you), for nothing.  They want results.  Figure out what they are lacking and start filling that need.

Also, don't take it personally they decided to cut you from payroll.  Like that boyfriend from college: "it's not you, it's me." Believe it this time!  Business is business, and they can get rid of you without a reason. Although eliminating a position is plausible, they don't even have to tell that much. What you must focus on, beloved, is how you're going to go about your recovery.  Yes, recovery.  It's a traumatic experience, no matter how steely you are, to be terminated from an organization.  But you've got to recover.  Why? Because I'm sure tuition/mortgage/groceries/car/gas/kids/vacations won't understand.

Do not let an experience like this shake your confidence, although it undoubtedly will at first.  Remind yourself they hired you, didn't they?  Everything you contributed is documented and you formed relationships with fellow employees to some extent, right?  Of course!  Then ask yourself, would it have stung less if you had been there longer? Working for the same employer for years and them eliminating your job may arguably hurt more.  And unless you're 3 paychecks from retirement, you have to get back out there and convince someone else that you would be a valuable asset to their company too.

Of course, there's still an alternative: use this opportunity to start your own business.  What, you say? You just lost a job, have no replacement income, and how are you going to start your own gig?  But think about it.  Have you been working for 15, 20, 25 years, and never once thought about doing your own thing? People often don't think about entrepreneurship because they haven't been kicked out the door.  Think of it as an opportunity to think bigger.  You can't eliminate yourself.  When companies trim the fat, they don't usually skim the top dogs; rather, they trim the expendables.  They trim the ones they don't believe will affect their bottom line.  And it's easier to let someone go you haven't gotten to know too well.

But when it's your baby, and you've cultivated the business from its infancy, more than likely you'll decide who goes and who stays.  And you won't be blindsided by any of it.  You have to consider: do you want to be the one who blazes a new trail, or do you want to be the one who walks behind that guy, with a flashlight? Both have their place in the business world, and are necessary.  Both have inherent risks.  You could be the trailblazer, only to find out someone else did it faster, better, and your product is not enough of a niche to be noticed.  And you could certainly be along for the adventure, watching it grow but having no real control over your upward mobility (or lateral, for that matter).

So can you imagine who I want to be? Yes, I would rather be the one who sees change before others do.  Who leads others to perform and is responsible for results.  That's why coaching interests me so much.  I can think of nothing more gratifying than helping a rising star get closer to realizing their potential by coaching them for success.  By opening the doors to possibilities with digital and print marketing, content management, streamlining processes, and making the decisions that lead to profitability.  By having them re-think their customer base, challenging them to consider what their true needs are, and to respond accordingly.

So allow life to give you lemons! It's what you do with them that matter.  You may just be a trailblazer in the making!
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