It was 20 years ago today that I got downsized from my corporate marketing job, and began the rest of my life. Many of us have gone through this type of journey. And, many of us are facing challenges in our lives right now.
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I suppose anniversaries of this type tend to evoke memories from the past. In my case I have some memories of advertising campaigns that i directed. Trade show displays and related training. Sales and customer service training sessions. Data analysis, and other such things.
My most cogent memory is how utterly relieved I was that the act of downsizing me had finally happened.
Like some other folks I had seen the warning signs several years earlier. So, it wasn’t a matter of if… but when. There was little use in worrying about it. My time was better spent preparing for it.
I was fortunate in that my exit package had been negotiated before I started with the company, but I had no assurances that it would be honoured. The executive with whom I had done my negotiations was long gone.
It was prudent for my wife and I to review our finances and build up our emergency funds as best we could. My formal education was a bit of a soft spot so I took steps to bolster it.
I got a couple of days of advanced warning when the downsizing deed was to be done. That gave me a chance to prepare a comprehensive ‘hand over’ memo. This detailed the state of all of the projects that I was currently directing, and all of the actions that needed to be done to bring them to successful conclusions.
As I anticipated, the company was not aware of my previously negotiated exit package. After making them aware, about a month and a half of back-and-forth exchanges occurred. These resulted in a less than optimal result, but sufficient to avoid the hassles of going to court. Life often has trade-offs and that was one for me.
The economy in Canada was in a recession when I was downsized. So, I didn’t bother to apply for any corporate jobs. I didn’t need the negative energy of rejections. I had never considered myself to be an entrepreneur, but accepted the fact that this strange life was my only path forward… so I embraced it.
Negative thoughts about ‘fairness’, and the loyalty and effort that I had given to the company, were pitfalls to avoid. Those feelings didn’t help me move forward.,. or provide for my wife and children.
A mentor had explained to me many years earlier that Loyalty Avenue is a one-way corporate street. It doesn’t matter how well a person performs, when their skill set is no longer needed… employment ends. It just is what it is.
Did I have some of those negative feelings? Absolutely. I just couldn’t let them get in the way of me focusing on the future. What was.. simply was in the past and could not be recreated.
I don’t know how other people have dealt with this kind of event in their lives. For me, it came down to doing a dispassionate analysis of my marketable skills. Then, identifying how I could leverage those into some kind of income stream. I needed to identify how I could help companies grow their business. Then create and provide services that would help my clients grow or be more profitable. That was the only reason why they’d pay me.
I started doing marketing, strategy and sales development consulting. Not too long after I became a certified business coach and added some additional services like employee surveys, normative assessments, team building exercises, and executive coaching. I still do some of that work today.
Each of us has a ‘best before’ date. After that date our industry experience becomes dated, less relevant… and less marketable. Reinvention is needed. Focusing on growing in new areas is at the root of our individual survival and future relevance.
Early in the 2010 decade I began to focus on my interest in photography and video, combining that in later years with writing. Safety videos became a speciality and a point of differentiation. I have no doubt in my mind that within a few years from now that speciality/differentiation will also wear thin. More personal reinvention is required. The journey continues.
In his book, The Road Less Travelled, Scott Peck talks about life being hard. And, once we truly understand and appreciate that it is hard… that acceptance makes life easy. It makes life easy because we no longer enter each day with fanciful ideas of entitlement, or that the world somehow owes us something.
It is each of us who owes the world something. We owe it the best that we can be. We owe it our optimism that we can make a difference. We owe it our courage that we can overcome obstacles that appear to block our path. We owe it our generosity to give with no thought of return. We owe it our confidence that when knocked down, we will get up again and keep moving forward.
None of us can control events that happen in our lives. The only thing that we can control is how we choose to react to them. We can immobilize ourselves by focusing on what we perceive we are losing through change. Or, we can choose to look for the opportunities that are sometimes difficult to see when change happens.
All each of us have, are our moments of ‘now’ every day. Tomorrow is nothing more than a promissory note. A note that will one day come due. From a material standpoint we will each leave behind the same as J. Paul Getty… all of it. A more important consideration is how we touched the lives of others.
Let us all have the courage to engage with life. Not keep ourselves and our talents hidden. Like the flower images in this article, let’s show the world our colours… our potential! 20 years ago today I lost my corporate marketing job. It ended up being one of the best days of my life, as it helped lead me to where I am today.
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process which now includes DxO PhotoLab 4 and Topaz Denoise AI. The degree of cropping is indicated for each image.
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