Jobs come and go.
Great bosses come and go.
Crappy bosses come and go.
Companies come and go
Economic swings come and go.
Health comes and goes.
Relationships come and go.
Self esteem comes and goes.
Just about everything comes and goes.
When good things come I tend to settle into comfortable. When bad things come I tend to panic.
My thinking about how much I control things have shifted since I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book. I think I read it in 1991 and was shocked at what I was learning. Focus on what you can… what is in your circle of influence. #profound
One of the most fascinating parts of the book was when Stephen talked about your “center.” You may not know that Stephen Covey died at 79 after a bicycle/car accident. He lived a very full life and impacted probably tens of millions of people. I was one of them.
Stephen was a religious man who valued his family. I never met him, although in 1991 he was one of the very few people I would have loved to meet and talk with. I did, however, stay a few nights with his personal secretary. She was the mom of a friend. I didn’t know it until the very last hour I was with them. If I had known who she was I would have begged for time on his calendar. Oh well.
Anyway, when Stephen talked about what your center is he offered up some ideas that many people have at their center. Their religion, their family, their spouse, their job title. I’ve seen people put their kids, their politics, their status in the community, their smarts, their wallet, and other such things as their center.
See the problem?
Money can come and go. Smarts can come and go. Status can come and go. What your political leaning represents can come and go (or shift). Your relationship with your kids can come and go. Things can change with your spouse or your religion or … the list goes on.
When I was in high school I had great hair (although I didn’t like it). Now I’m balding in ways that suck. My hair came and it went.
If my hair were my center I would have been top of the world as a teen, and bottom of the world as an adult.
I know how devastating a job loss can be. I lived through it. It was the longest low period in my life. My ability to be a breadwinner was part of my center. My job title was my identity. My team provided me confidence. My wins at work gave me validation.
When “a room full of chickens**” made the decision to let me go I lost it all. I lost salary (which was too low anyway) and benefits (which were pretty weak). I lost my identity, confidence and validation.
I did not lose my wife or kids. I did not lose my soul or my core beliefs. Because of parents who were in a position to help I did not lose my home or car.
Losing parts of my centers caused me to flounder. But over time I recovered. I got HOPE back in my life. I refigured out why I was on earth, why I was alive, and how I could best use what I had to find a purpose.
Please think about this concept of centers. A job loss is a great, jarring time to really think about WHO you are and WHY you are and WHAT you can and should do. It’s not fun at all, but it’s a valuable experience to work through.
** The room full of chickens remark comes from my idea that not one person would have decided to lay me off, but all together, in group think, they set aside logic and what they knew to be right and were persuaded to make a stupid decision. I have on good authority that that decision ended up costing the organization easily six, maybe seven figures. Karma, baby, karma.