It happened last week and it will happen again today. A person who loves her or his job, has performed well and is well liked by coworkers will be terminated. The reason for the termination is not important. What matters is how the person handles the situation.
When you lose a job, you spend time wondering what you did wrong. Did you say something or do something that you shouldn’t have? Should you have seen it coming? Was a certain remark a few months ago intended to serve as a warning?
You may wonder about your identity. All the folks in the neighborhood, at church, at the gym, etc. have known you as “the web design lady” or “the medical supplies guy.” When you’re unemployed, you may feel unworthy of any such designation. You may begin to doubt your talent in your chosen field. That former coworker you considered a good friend may not have time to return your calls. Your self-esteem can take a big hit.
Here is a reminder that you are not defined by your employment. Maybe you wore a shirt with your company’s name on it. Maybe your name is on that “employee of the month” plaque in the break room. Maybe you worked all weekend several times for this organization to get projects completed. Remember that your employment was, is and will be a business relationship.
Being committed to your job is a good thing. Going the extra mile to bring success to the company can help you climb the corporate ladder. Loyalty to an organization and its mission is admirable. But remember that any company can and will make personnel decisions as needed. Those decisions are based on current and future situations, not on what was happening in 2006.
Your value as a human is not defined by what you do and whom you work for. Look at all the people who have successfully made career changes in the last decade. Look at all the people who have transitioned away from jobs they hated to radically different jobs they love. They know who they are as people, not just as employees.
On my Twitter profile, I list myself as a “St. Louis morning radio host now doing PR and Marketing.” Some people in town still know me better as a morning radio guy than as a PR guy. That line tells what work I did and now do.
No matter what work I am doing, I am still who I am, with all my own personality, quirks and flaws. Likewise, you are who you are. You job may be a big part of your life, but don’t let it define you.
(During Summer 2015, I am revisiting some posts from previous years. This item was originally posted in December 2012.)