Why being Cut, Severed, Laid Off, Downsized, Let go, Sacked, Fired…can be the best thing to happen to you.

I have been cut from the team. I have experienced a layoff. I have been severed. Thankfully it was my job and not any of my limbs.

Whatever you call it, and even if its not actually getting fired for cause, it’s no fun. I can also assure you that letting some one go is probably just as hard, if not harder.

My first lay off was after over a decade with one company. My job was eliminated and the function of our department was moved overseas and I worked till 9pm on my last day to finish knowledge transfer. It was as gracious and humane a process as anyone could ask for — in fact on the day I was due to turn in my laptop, I was invited to stay in another role.

My second lay off couldn’t have been more different. While there was an undertone of humanity, regret, and grace in the process, it was a sharp, completely unexpected, and I was blind-sided.

In both cases I had expended blood, sweat, and tears (I mean this almost literally) as an employee acting as an owner in what I believed were the best interests of the company. But in spite of my efforts and loyalties, the job went away and others made business decisions that radically altered my professional course.

In late-stage companies no longer experiencing growth loosing your job is a harsh reality. If you are an employee, it’s a clear and present danger. Owners and leaders can mitigate this by leading and managing well so their organizations can stay on a consistent growth path. Or companies can stand by their people as their most important assets as Southwest Airlines famously did after 9/11.

Personally, I grew through the experience of being let go. With hindsight I view it as the best thing that could have happened to me. I would not trade the experience for anything — in spite of the difficulty.

How can I say that?

The first time around was life transforming, the second allowed me to fully embrace a entirely new trajectory.

I believe that our calling is found and not developed. I believe that the work we are to do is work that has been prepared beforehand for us to do it. And I believe that true productivity and fulfillment in our work is found when we finally find that calling and that work. Layoffs can be the perfect setup to enable you to move forward in the right direction. To pursue what was best next.

Some other positive outcomes of getting cut from the team:

  • Opportunity to re-focus on what’s really important.
  • Reminder that a job does not define you.
  • Opportunity to revisit your contribution style.
  • Opportunity to revisit the type of business you are suited for.

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