Lessons from My Lay-Off

Posted Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 4th, 2009. One year later I consider it one of the best days of my life but it didn’t start out that way.

I’m hardly alone but last May I was downsized, laid-off, position eliminated, etc… I knew layoffs were coming and part of me hoped that I would be chosen to get the lucrative severance package. I walked out of the building and cried —composed myself enough to call my wife and then cried some more.

But I really didn’t think it was going to happen. Lay-offs are for poor performers. Lay-offs are for people that need to be pushed out of the organization. It’s an excuse to trim the fat—make the organization leaner and more productive by the elimination of the trouble makers. I looked around at my peers and could easily see four or five of them that needed trimming.

Boy was I in for a surprise.

I think I was the first layoff of the day. I seriously had barely turned on my computer when my boss called me and asked me to go down to the HR office. That’s when I knew. The HR office had all the excitement of a morgue. I looked down at the paper and quickly gathered that they would be paying me for the next 26 weeks. The rest was a blur but before long I was walking out of the building with no chance to go back to my desk or to say goodbye to my colleagues or my employees.

I was dumbstruck by the wave of emotions. Nine years of hard work and relationships thrown out like bath water—was this really happening? I wanted to make sense of it—to understand how they made the decision and to plead my case. Logically, I knew none of that was going to happen but I still longed for some deeper level of understanding.

The next couple days were instrumental in the recovery from the shock. Phone calls and emails came pouring in from my employees, former co-workers, mentors, and former bosses. They all said the same thing—they couldn’t believe it and they wanted to know what they could do to help. Their support was what I really needed. The consistent advice given was to take a step back and enjoy a few weeks off before jumping into anything new. (Reminds me of the advice you give to jilted lovers (-:  ) I followed the advice and leaned heavily on my good friends and family for about a month. Then I got to work on chasing my dreams.

One year later and the lessons of my lay-off were all over the place:

  • There is life after getting let go…boy is there ever.
  • I found out that my company didn’t define me and I get to create the definition for the future.
  • My relationship with my family grew as we became more interdependent and made big decisions together.
  • I started building my own business and found success.
  • The flexibility to care for my family as needed has been critical over the last year with plenty of emergencies to attend to.
  • Friends and former co-workers want to help and they will if you give them specifics.
  • The uncertainty of not having a consistent paycheck is far outweighed by the consistency of enjoying what you do.

So, I want to say thank you. Thank you to whomever made the recommendation to let me go. I’ve had one of the best years of my life and the adventure is just beginning.

Check out our last 6 eNewsletters:

November 4, 2016--Crossing the Continental Divide (Both Literally and Metaphorically)

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