Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Times, They are 'a Changin'

I just read about a man who was recently laid off after working for a food company as a salesman for twenty-four years at The Boomer Chronicles.

The first time I was confronted, as a career counselor, with this type of situation, was in the early 90’s. I was called in to speak to a group of laid off aerospace workers who had lost their jobs during the post cold war defense downsizing. They were all men, mostly professionals, engineers, accountants and managers. The loss they felt was inconsolable.

It was the beginning of trend that continues today. Prior to that time, it was common for blue collar workers to be laid off. That marked the beginning of lay offs of professions. A trend that continues to this day.

A few years later, I went through a similar situation. With a partner, I started a career center. I had arrived. I had become who I wanted to become. Then one day, she proclaimed she wanted to dissolve the partnership. I was devastated.

People don’t understand. Yes, you lose you livelihood and that’s scary as can be. Many people also lose their sense of identity. We are a society that defines ourselves by our work and as wage earners. If you take that away, there is a complete lose of self.

It’s hard to recover, but people do. People can move to the other side and discover a whole new way of being. They do find other jobs and move on. It’s not easy. It can be incredibly painful.

I fell into a depression that lasted eighteen months. Slowly, I learned about a process I now teach to help people heal and become whole again.

The next few years are going to test the resiliency of a lot of people. Dreams and expectations are going to be challenged. Ultimately, we’re going to have to learn how to function with less than we imagined.

In all of this, there is still opportunity. There is opportunity to come together as families and communities. There is opportunity to reevaluate what is truly important to individuals and to our country. There is an opportunity to redefine work and its role in our lives. I’m hoping there is also an opportunity for companies to redefine what they are all about. Is there something beyond the bottom line? Stay tuned.

1 comment:

fatfighter said...

I have lost a job I loved before, too. It is definitely painful. But I learned that everything happens for a reason, even though you may not know what that reason is at the time.

I agree that we are all going to have to learn to live with less - but maybe that can be a good thing.

And I share your hope that companies redefine what they are all about.