To be honest, a year ago (April 14th, 2009) if you had asked me if being laid off would be full of gifts, and perhaps, a blessing in disguise, my answer would have been are you f’ing crazy? I remember the morning as if it was yesterday. Driving into the office on a beautiful April morning with the top down on the jeep. I pause at a stoplight and glance over to my left where a line of mostly unemployed and a few homeless people are waiting in front of the downtown library. What are they waiting for? For the homeless, a place to clean up, nap safely, perhaps read a little. For the unemployed? A chance to hop on a computer, search job ads, send out resumes, check email. On the radio I have NPR playing with “Marketplace Morning Report.” The news is grim at best. More jobs lost, unemployment up. I’ve been working countless hours with little sleep, yet all I can think is thank god I’m employed and not one of those on the morning radio report or in front of the library.
Cell rings and it is one of my colleagues who is distressed about a teammate getting laid off. After a few moments of talking with my colleague, I ask to get transferred to the newly laid off, very talented, marketing professional. As I drive in to my parking garage with a soft breeze blowing through my hair, I tell the newly laid off employee that things will work out, that I’ll help her network with people in the community to find a job. We hang up the phone as I step into the elevator to ride up to the 14th floor where I immediately get beckoned into the HR Director’s office and promptly told the same words my colleague heard. “The firm has had to make some difficult decisions. We need to lay you off.”
I can’t even describe the rush of emotions rolling over me. HR Director says to me “I understand if you are upset.” Upset? My mind is racing with the rush of emotions. I had reached a comfort level of employment. Suddenly my world got hit with an earthquake. Certainty, or at least what felt like certainty, got replaced by the unknown.
But to be honest? Yes, being laid off was a big gift…and a blessing. The gifts of a layoff? After spending my anniversary day on the phone with some former partners who all are good friends and mentioning that in a dm to my coach @katjaib, she suggested a blog post about the gifts. What a great idea. Truly, there have been many, so in the spirit of Dave Letterman’s top 10, I give you these top 6 reasons “why getting laid off is not such a bad thing.”
(1) I got to spend time with my very cool 7 year old nephew…ok, yes, also got hit in the jaw with a foul ball. But this little Zac is one very cool dude. If I had been working, well, I would have been working. Zac and I wouldn’t have gotten to know each other. A layoff gave me the opportunity to get to know this cool kid. We played hoops, gokarts, video games, tennis, miniture golf…and the little guy is simply awesome. He gave me the chance to simply play and enjoy beautiful weather without worrying about a work issue.
(2) I got to spend time really truly getting to know my tweeps. Yes, you all. Such a wonderful group of people. I’ve gained a number of wonderful, sweet, caring friends across the globe. And wow, I never would have had the time to connect in the wonderful ways I have. You, my tweeps, have allowed me to visit the globe, feel supported and cared about, educated me on some really good stuff and simply play and enjoy life.
(3) The seasons. Wow, somehow I have missed the change of the seasons in the last 10+ years. How did I miss that? Hmm, work? In an inside office? I feel blessed. Watching the buds on the trees, the falling of the leaves, the taste of a snowflake.
(4) Family and friends. Sad to say and embarrassed to admit how I kind of pushed these relationships aside with the reasoning that they would be there, but I was dealing with a high priority issue. The reconnections with family and old friends has been wonderful at best. And connecting via social media with some of my former partners and colleagues has really been wonderful.
(5) Walking the dog without a blackberry. Shelby made me write this one. Yes, I would do the “yes I know I need to walk the dog walk” while on the blackberry yanking her to keep going. Now Shelb and I enjoy a walk with nature. If she pauses to sniff, I pause with her. I would like to say she is teaching me to be present and appreciate the outdoors. I’m a slow learner.
(6) Relationships are the most important. I mentioned friends and family, but what really struck me on my anniversary day were the number of former colleagues who called or FB or LinkedIn connected with me. Truly at the end of the day, it is the relationships that matter. What made me feel really warm and fuzzy inside on what was an emotional day were the number of people that connected to see how I was doing and simply be there. And truly at the end, that really is all that matters, isn’t it?
On my anniversary, I was reminded how much you touch people’s lives without even realizing it. How will you be remembered? I’m glad to know that I’m remembered as someone who genuinely cared and tried very hard to do the right thing. Doesn’t get much better than that. So, if you happen to hear the same words I did “you are being laid off” know that it is not the end of the world. There are many blessings that could be hidden in the package. I know, I’ve seen the blessings.