Lately I have thought, “Change is the only constant in life.” This quotation is widely attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who lived from 534 to 474 B.C. Forget death (cryogenics) and taxes (Monaco) – he was right. That statement is as true now as it was 2,500 years ago.
Now we walk around while staring at tiny machines and every move we make can be opinion-polled, video-captured, selfied, and even go viral. Under this constant microscope of scrutiny, parents helicopter around kids, building their social profile and preparing for college at an ever earlier age. Several parents I know are understandably afraid of the future. Life has traditionally been defined by making and learning from mistakes, but now the consequences seem to be more severe than before. This translates into a fear of be singled out as different. There are threats of shaming, cyber-bullying, and having someone’s personal details launched to the internet-stratosphere. All of which seems to result in a lack of leadership development and a drought of pioneering ideas.
In this instant-gratification environment, the good news is that if you are in an unhappy situation, chances are likely that things will change. The bad news is that the opposite is also true. These are uncertain times both personally and professionally.
A client recently informed me that the company will no longer need my services. It was bought by a competitor and will change hands in a few months. This is (was) a fantastic group of hard-working people I have gotten to know over the years. They have come a long way and continue to improve their business every time I visit. For me the loss is minor, a few weeks’ worth of work, but for the employees it means they all will soon be transferred or laid off. This is the third client I have lost this way – in five months.
Individuals are also being managed out of their careers and positions. It is cheaper to replace senior managers with two junior team players, give them ambitious goals, a low starter salary, and then watch them work harder than ever to (hopefully) move up the organizational chart themselves.
The musical chairs of company names and revolving door of executive boards are so common this decade that it barely makes the news. Here is my advice to the people going through it:
Use history as a guide and to gain perspective. It happened to me three times: 1. I arrived to work to find the doors padlocked shut. 2. I went to work, discovered that the company was taken over, the managers were all fired and we needed to re-apply for our own jobs. I worked in Human Resources when we had to fire one-third of our employees due to a forced ‘restructuring.’ These experiences were all painful, but going through them made me more understanding as a human being and a business woman.
Take a moment to examine career goals and approach the next challenge with excitement. After going through a tough time it is easy to feel angry or deflated. Remember to give yourself credit for surviving the ordeal. In time, it is important to look back at the experience with gratitude instead of bitterness, acknowledging that moment provided well-earned wisdom. Only then can a person move on and find the next step to the future with perspective.
Do not try to recover alone. Whether a person stays or goes during a corporate restructure – in a year’s time friends and former colleagues will have scattered to different, amazing locations. Keeping in touch with everyone means eventually knowing someone in every city. Get LinkedIn and reach out!