A friend of mine recently called me. She has an MBA. Her very interesting career includes work as a store manager, a corporate manager, and most recently as a Human Resources manager in a large corporation. She’s smart and she’s talented. She is very successful, too. Part of her current job is to announce the layoffs at her company. Then she has to individually meet with each employee to deliver a personal message about the layoff. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it. She tried to be as thoughtful as she could knowing that for many, her announcement was the beginning of a very uncertain time in their life. When she called me it was to tell me that she was laid off. I was very surprised.
We began talking. She had been laid off about a month before. Why hadn’t we talked? She was so busy having a life that she wasn’t on the phone as much. She used to wake up at 5:00AM to go work out at the gym so she could be at work at 8. I asked her if she was still at the gym so early. “Are you kidding?” she said. She laughed and said, “I sleep now. I have a life. I go to the gym when most people do and I even take classes–now that I have the time.” She’s also happily doing other things that she never had the time to do before.
She has always loved to read. She now has time to walk to the library and regularly goes there to take out movies and books. Imagine walking 45 minutes to the library instead of jumping in the car. Her choice of reading materials has changed. She reads the books that she wants to and not the heavy dose of business books that she used to cram into her busy schedule.
What didn’t surprise me was how happy this hard charging executive could be without a job in corporate America. Why? She was her own person and didn’t define herself, like many men do, by her role in corporate America. She also had her house paid for and wasn’t in debt. It wasn’t a matter of life and death to find another job immediately. Think about that. She had lived her life within her means while working! That’s a message too many people–both men and women–need to hear today. Unfortunately, many are hearing it too late for them to avoid some devastating life changes. Not my friend.
Here’s what was so surprising to me. My friend was always at the top of the org chart in business. She was always on top for performance, too, Now it was a top performer who was now getting laid off. Imagine that–even the good are getting laid off now. These times are strange.
What would I say to other talented people who have jobs now? Take the time to assess where you are. Are you financially secure, or as secure as you can be in today’s economy? If not, get there now. If you lost your job today, what would you do? Would you get a life as my friend did or would you have to start to look for work immediately?