Monday, August 1, 2011
When the president of the company called me into his office, I wondered what was up. His words were stunning. “You have one week to decide whether to quit or be fired.”
“Really? Why?” I asked, because I honestly had no clue. My heart raced as I continued asking questions until I finally realized that his perspective was so completely different from mine, there was no point in further discussion. Because I could not quit a job I loved, he fired me.
Just like that, my position as an executive editor was gone. With no family at home, my life had centered around work. I loved the challenges, the fascinating people, and occasional travel so much that I often lost track of time and put in far more hours than expected. The relationships built over 8-1/2 years were some of the most significant in my life. A solid income and good benefits had given me enough financial security that I could finally take care of badly needed home repairs.
The sense of loss was devastating. Yet, these circumstances revealed a notable turning point in my life. Instead of responding out of fear, for the first time, maybe ever, I didn’t freak out or lose sleep over circumstances beyond my control. Rather than beg, plead, or fret—I deliberately chose to jump off life’s steep cliff into the churning waters of the unknown, with a measure of confidence. Something more important was at stake than the money, the relationships, or the work--my character and my future.
Awareness of this reality didn’t develop overnight. It took many lessons applied over many years. My newfound success doesn’t mean I’ll never struggle again. Even avid swimmers can flounder when the water gets rough enough. At times I may need rescuing or perhaps just simple encouragement. That may be the real reason I’m writing this blog. Within a few weeks, I’ll be joining the ranks of 99ers. When those unemployment checks quit coming, I’ll need reminders of how to have courage—especially if my circumstances get worse. So, maybe it will help to explore the lessons that mitigate the fear and cultivate the judgment that this exhilarating adventure includes something more important.
Tomorrow’s post—“I Need a Drink”—is a reminder of how I used to try and cope.