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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

THE Job or 'a job'

During this time of reflection and "now what do you want to be when you grow up", we had many discussions about the exciting option of switching industries and finding a career that he could really sink his teeth into. While job loss is a pain in the tush no matter how you slice it, we tried to look at the bright side of the possibilities.

There were some interesting thoughts, like turning the passion of pond building and fishing into a career. There were prototypes of fishing lures, and consulting companies for pond building, each with their own set of highs and lows.

All the while, competitors from his OLD industry ( read this with ego and disdain) were knocking on the door. In the beginning, I was a little, ok alot, cocky about it. No way was I going to let this guy get sucked into that rat hole again. Those people had chewed him up and spit him out and I was determined that he finally get to experience what I'm lucky enough to have, which is a job I really like, not just one I tolerate.

He would get offers and he'd come to me and say, "so what do you think?" I always said and really meant it, the choice was his. At one point, as the dialogue began to continue with an old competitor, I simply asked this question, "Ok, it's the first day of this new job and your alarm goes off. How will you feel? Will you jump up ready to take on the challenge with vigor and excitement? Or, will you hit the snooze and feel like you've settled and ultimately lost?"

He didn't answer. I never heard about that offer again. I guess he did really answer without saying a word.

Now remember, this is summer and the living is easy and the savings account is still big. Forecast ... optimism. Looking for a job is hard, looking for a job in this economy is harder, changing industries in this economy is brutal. It's much easier to focus your job search to a specific role within a specific industry. It's much more difficult to network when you are equipped with the all the skills and ability, the skies the limit, and wonder where the heck do you start.

We worked together and channeled his focus to areas of interest, his tag line is ....... I'm a sales professional with an engineer's mind. Pretty good, huh!

He targeted some specific industries like sustainable energy and audio/visual equipment manufacturers and tried to stir up some targeted networking.

All looked well and good and then the summer sun began to set, fall had come upon and the darker nights, led to darker days. The economy had gone from challenging to total crap and things began to look downright grim.

He had no job, and mine was getting harder. He was slipping and I was exhausted. Exhausted from trying to keep my sales and his spirits up. I remember sitting in our closet one night and just sinking to the floor and letting it rip. Tears, frustration, doubt, anger, all of it, right in the middle of a pile of dirty laundry where it belonged. I had spent months always sure things were on the right track and determined not to let him see me sweat and that night I wasn't sure of much, other than, I was tired, dog tired.

I started to question my coaching and cockiness about finding THE right job. Maybe, as a man, it was more important for him just to work, rather than do the right work. I questioned my motive and I prayed and prayed and prayed. I didn't want to be the one that led him down the wrong path. My intentions and desires for my guy were pure and true. Please God, don't let me screw this up.

We talked about it, he was getting antsy and now the offers from the old industry had subsided and there really wasn't much to talk about. Looking back, I'm glad, because there were some cold November rains that he would have jumped at any job that came along.

I went into problem solving mode, for the problem I felt like I helped to create. TIME FOR A PROJECT! When I say this most creatures in my house, including the dogs and cats, get nervous. I love a good project.

Remember where this all started with us moving into our dream house just months before he lost his job? Well, as luck would have it, we didn't finish the basement before we moved in. Now there's a project! He could wire, frame and drywall the basement! It didn't much matter that my guy had never drywalled before, he was smart, he'd figure it out!

More good news, the price of building materials are dirt cheap in a bad economy. Bingo, that's what we call a win win situation - cheap materials and free labor!

The winter of 08-09 will be remembered not as the depressing winter with no job, no no no - that will be remembered as the winter we saved a boatload of money, thousands and thousands of dollars by my smart and talented guy finishing the basement! Remember perspective that we talked about earlier? We never talked in terms of salary in those months, only talked about dollars saved.

This project bought us some time and some focus. The savings account is starting to look a little bent and broken but still glad we've held out for THE job and he didn't settle "YET" for "a job."

My good, crazy, spiritual friend sent us this during this time - I still cling to it -

God's Three Answers to Your Prayers:
1. YES!!!!!
2. Not yet...
3. I have something better in mind

Next up on Lessons from the Recession, "swing and a miss"