In Business and in Life: How to Deal with Heartbreak
May 28, 2017
This post is dedicated to the employees I have had the privilege to work with recently. It has been a strange year so far for my business. While busier than ever, there have been cancellations, changes to my programs, last-minute schedule switches due to unexpected closings, on property firings, and budget shortfalls. Other consultants are reporting the same trends of instability. In short, it is scary out there for a lot of hard-working people.
Current Example: I was not hired to return to a company in 2016 (where I have worked steadily for the past two years). It is under new management and I did not take it personally. Sometimes clients want to pursue different options, bring in their “own people”, take a break from training altogether, or my work is simply done for a while. However, I just learned that they closed a branch of their business this week and gave no notice to their employees. Instead they simply closed their doors, and the team feels hurt, shocked, and angry. They are going through all the stages of grief and I hope to help them through the process (unofficially) so that they can move on.
Of course, companies will do what they need to do to stay open and generate profits. Here is a terrible thing that has happened to me twice in the last five years alone: I was hired to conduct a week of training classes for a group, only to be told at the end of the week, “The company plans on relocating and firing these people in a couple of months.” I asked the management why they hired me if they knew that the company would be closing and the answer was as cold-hearted as it gets. The managers said, “We hired you to audition your services and see if we would hire you again in the future. We also want to make as much money as possible in the next three months and do not want the team to suspect anything is changing until the very last-minute.” Remember – this has happened to me twice in five years and both times were awful. One office had 125 people in it and I had to walk by each of their cubicles and say goodbye without letting on what I knew. I said, “Take care everyone…keep in touch…you are amazing…remember to Link-in with me!”
I have also been on the receiving end of this behavior in the past in both my personal and professional life. If you have been in the work force for past few years, it has likely happened to you too.
Here is a personal story I am willing to share:
I can remember the moment like it was yesterday, but it was actually several decades ago. I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant in New York City, my boyfriend at the time and I were breaking up, and I was fighting back tears. We finally had to face the truth that we wanted different things in life and a lasting relationship would not work. I wanted children and for him to be a nicer person. He wanted something else. All that was left to do was pay the bill and go our separate ways into the familiar unknown. Always one to stress-eat and wanting to distract myself from the situation, I opened my fortune cookie and held the strip of paper. Through a teary blur I read the message: “Stop searching forever happiness is right next to you.”
This was one of those moments in time when life offers choices but the way was unclear. I read it out loud and said something sarcastic. In my state of distress however, I was not nearly at sure of myself as I appeared. I wondered:
‘Is this a sign?’
‘Am I being too hasty?’
‘What if he is the ONE?’
‘What if I could change – or a better option – change him?’
‘What if I never have another chance at happiness?’
It was an immature line of questions, but perhaps you have thought those same things during your own moment of crisis? Here’s how my little drama played out: I told him I would pay for the check. (My heart was broken so what was one more lunch bill?) I actually was motivated to pay because I felt so shaky I didn’t want to risk tearfully bumping into tables and making an undignified exit. I wondered if the fortune cookie was right maybe I let go of the only person who would ever love me, however imperfectly.
Why am I telling you such a personal story? Here is why: I am not a gambler, but I bet that most readers have had a similar moment in their lives. Either in business or by personal experience everyone eventually finds themselves standing at crossroads, feeling kicked in the gut, seeking a new way, but the path they were on is now closed forever.
So I did what everyone else does, I collected myself, paid and tipped while avoiding the pitting stare of my waiter, and walked outside. I turned to walk through Central Park towards home. After a few minutes, I put my hands in my pockets and felt the slip of paper holding my fortune. I thought of the words it held and realized their powerful truth. “Stop searching forever. Happiness is right next to you.” It was not really next to me, but within me. I am enough, I am alright, I will find happiness.
It took time to heal and there have been many missteps along the way since then. I continue to be an imperfect ‘work in progress’ but I can tell you that I am happier now than I have ever been. All of these things would NOT have happened if I had stayed:
I have been married for 20 years to the best man in the world – for me
I am blessed with two amazing children
My career is rewarding financially, intellectually, and emotionally. Profits come in many shapes and sizes, and so the business I have built fulfills a lifelong dream of improving people’s quality of life.
Everything is not perfect! I travel constantly and my stress level is often off the charts. There have been countless sacrifices in time, money, and health to get where I wanted to go.
What I want people to keep in mind when going through difficulties of their own is that the best and worst thing about time is that it never stops moving. Like the weather in New England, it will change in a moment, so take charge of what you can, take a long view of the future, and know that there is something better out there, just beyond the horizon, waiting for you to find it, create it, or cause it to happen. Perhaps it is well hidden at the moment, but happiness is indeed within you!