Look forward

Posted by Doc
Aug 08 2011

Having been laid off from my job at ThoughtWorks this past Tuesday, it’s been an interesting few days.

My wife of 35 years* is not a big fan of change, and has said that being laid off would feel to her as if she were being judged, and had been judged to fail.

I, on the other hand, know that whatever reasons they gave or actually had, the people who made the decision to lay me off had their own reasons. Those reasons were mostly about them, and only a little bit about me.  Their decision does not change who I am, what I’m capable of, nor my value to an employer or to the world I live in.

The fact that it was done the way it was** is annoying, and speaks more about them than about me. Having worked at a number of startups in my career, and having been laid off more than once, I can tell you that there are good ways and less good ways. This was a less good way. It makes me wonder why.

However, the main point of this is this: looking backward makes you stumble, so look forward.

It’s possible this may happen to you at some time in your career. After all, businesses suffer setbacks, some fail, and sometimes they just feel the need to shuffle things around. You may be the beneficiary or the victim in these circumstances. If so, I hope you’ll remember this lesson.

Let me say it again: Their decision does not change who I am, what I’m capable of, nor my value to an employer or to the world I live in.

Of course, if you find yourself without income or employment, and the market is not healthy, it may be harder to see it as an exciting opportunity. Try anyway.

I know – I’ve written about change and how frightening and threatening it is. Nonetheless, I find my adrenaline pumping. I’m exploring the world. I’m meeting new people. I’m facing the challenge head on, and reflecting on who I am and what I want to do. That’s a good thing.

If you give in to the fear of change, you lose. If you let “them” lead you to feeling less good about yourself, you lose. If you forget how important and valuable you are, you lose.

For me, predictability is both essential (I am TRULY borderline OCD) and boring. As I say when I’m talking about “Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools”, processes and tools (and predictability) should be enablers not the focus of my attention.

I have an opportunity. So do you.

Look forward.

* yes, I’m bragging 🙂

** no, I’m not going to fill in any more details

5 Responses

  1. Seth Petry-Johnson says:

    I was laid off (“downsized”) from my prior job, rather suddenly and not long after a good review and some high profile successes. Business conditions had changed and the management team had to reduce staff.

    Less than 9 days later I had received a job offer from my current position. The transition has been one of the most rewarding (professionally, personally and financially) in my entire career.

    The point is, I absolutely agree with your point that being let go is as much about THEM as about YOU. I had plenty of value to offer, but it wasn’t in demand by my old employer. It -was- in demand by my new employer. I’m sure your situation is the same.

  2. Ade Miller says:

    Hi Steve,

    Sorry to hear that. But as you point out it’s another opportunity to “run with group A”. I really enjoyed your talked at Oredev last year.

    Best wishes.


  3. Ravi says:

    Hi Friend,

    I don’t know you.I just landed in your website ..I am sorry for whatever happened and I am confident something better awaits u..

    When i come across such incidents,I have strongly started to believe that there is no point is being loyal,sincere to your employer..The company just treats us like a use and throw object..The world is not fair..It is not the most hardworking or best guy who is always rewarded,but it is the guy who plays politics and who puts lots of pomp and show.

  4. I am sorry to hear you were laid off. I met you last year at the Houston Alt.NET Open Conference and you inspired me then…and now. It is great to see you have such enthusiasm to look forward.

    Best of luck to you.
    Rhonda Tipton

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