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Friday, April 24, 2009

Pride and Perspective

Pride is an interesting thing. The actual dictionary definition is ... a dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.
How do you maintain that after a job loss? AND, don’t you need a sense of pride in yourself to go out and sell yourself for the next job? It’s a bit of a hairball to get caught up in. Just when you need it most, you’re questioning everything.
My first concern in our new reality was not about the money. I reminded my guy that he may not have a paycheck direct deposited every 2 weeks right now but because of his savvy business negotiations, he had, in fact, made us some nice cash from the sale of our house that he could support us with until the next career. Remember, we need perspective.
My biggest concern was about helping my extremely intelligent husband maintain his sense of pride in this situation. While my opinion may be biased, I’m also admittedly one of his toughest critics, but here are the facts….
This guy has been the top sales person in the nation; he’s had clients sing his praises for years. He changed industries and shot to the top in record time. There’s a ton of career stats that validate his brilliance and contribution, on LinkedIn.

But wait there’s more…
He also, built a 2 1/2 acre lake in our back yard with absolutely no prior experience by downloading topography maps and laying out water flow and hiring some guy with an excavator to dig it out.
THEN, he drew the design for a huge dock with our daughter’s sidewalk chalk for scale, went to Lowes and bought the stuff, and in several backbreaking weekends with a really good friend who thankfully works for beer, built the dock he engineered. See evidence of brilliance below…….
(thanks “will work for beer” friend, you know who you are)

And, we can’t forget he married, me, clearly an act of brilliance on his part.
The crap of it all is ….. even when we’re surrounded by this evidence of success and contribution throughout your life, without a job you’re left feeling like a failure. A job, by the way, I was thrilled that he no longer had to deal with because it truly had sucked the life out of him and our family a bit. It still sucks.

Here’s a note to all you leaders out there… if you go out and actively recruit someone because they’re highly skilled and you want their skills to bring you the same results they achieved before, then don’t try to change the way they sell that got them those results and frustrate you and them in the process! Ok, had to go into consultant mode for a minute.

Back to the lesson, whew, got a little worked up there for a minute.
So, my role as the coach was, help him maintain his pride. I said, “You know, we don’t have to tell people about this until you’re ready. Because quite frankly, I’d like to pour a great glass of wine and celebrate the next chapter in your life and treat this as a blessing.” Here’s what I was picturing that I didn’t want to happen….
I pictured telling our parents about this and watching them freak out on the inside while giving my husband the, “oh poor baby” look. No one wants the “oh poor baby” look! Especially, a really studly guys’ guy like my husband. I think a root canal would have been easier than the “oh poor baby” look.
I was sure that they would immediately freak out that we had just moved into this beautiful new house and now he has no job and, oh no what if they lose it all, and what do we do now, oh no oh no oh no. Which by the way, wasn’t the case and I didn’t want to feel like I had to give them a copy of our bank statement to reassure them. I didn’t want them to think of ridiculous reasons to call us way too often only to really find out how we were doing. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I love my husband way too much to put him through that. Now, I’m also a mom so I would likely do the exact same thing with my son if it were turned around. I’m not faulting them. We have great parents that are loving and caring with great intentions, but …. You get the picture.
So, we poured the wine and toasted to our future. Pinky swear we won’t tell until we’re ready.

So here’s today’s lesson. This goes out to all of you that have a family, friend, neighbor, son or daughter that has lost their job or may lose their job.

Here’s the list of Don’ts….

1. “That’s terrible, what will you do now?” – here’s why that’s bad, we know it’s terrible and quite frankly we’re not sure what we’re going to do and we’re tired of thinking about it every second and talking to you about it isn’t helping
2. “Got another job lined up yet?” Duh, no, or we would have said, “Hey lost my job but good news, already found another one.”
3. Hug them and act like someone died. Not helping…. don’t go drama queen on us now; we’re trying to maintain some pride people.
4. Invite them out for dinner to that great French place we’ve wanted to try. – not a great time to be spending money and we don’t want to start acting destitute yet either so putting us in a position to choose is uncomfortable.
5. Don’t invite us to the great French place and offer to buy. Please don’t treat us as a charity case yet. Pride people, think about our pride.

Here are a few Do’s ….

1. Go through your contact list and start looking for key contacts you can give us for networking. Real people, real names, with phone numbers and email addresses.
2. Better yet, contact some of those people on your own and say, I’ve got a great friend that’s looking to change industries and is doing some networking. He’s not expecting a job from you, just wants to get out and see what’s happening outside of his industry and talk to as many people as possible. He’s going to give you a call next week.
3. If you have done any business transactions with us, write a nice letter of recommendation with some meaty credibility statements. Send it to us in an electronic document that we can use email and mail us a nice letter on your business letterhead that we can keep in our portfolio.
4. Invite us to any and all social situations and networking functions that we might meet people, don’t just tell us about it, invite us to join you because we’re still getting comfortable with all of this.
5. Instead of going to the great French place for dinner, have a dinner party or a barbecue and invite people that might bring us all together in a comfortable setting without putting a sign out front that says, “my poor friend lost his job, can you come over for a burger and help him out”. Keep it upbeat and positive.
6. Bring beer over once in awhile and just hang out without talking about the job search. Chances are dining out and the money spent socializing has been cut from the budget. But we still want to socialize. Remember, we’re spending lots of time alone at the computer in between networking and interviews, we could use some downtime.
7. Send us articles about interesting companies or job search techniques.
8. Most of all, pray for us. Pray for our job search, our pride, our family, our finances, and that we keep the faith.
Not once, but regularly, until that great day when we call you up and say, “Dude, just made reservations at that great French place, my treat, landed a great job today!” Then we drink and toast and laugh and be thankful for friends like you that supported us well!
Stay tuned next for Bluegill and Crazy 8