After seeing Elton John’s movie last week, Rocket Man and hearing the song ‘I’m Still Standing’ it made me think of how I have survived two redundancies and the emotional rollercoaster that I went through to come out the other side, and what I’ve found waiting for me there. His rise, fall and rise again were certainly comparable.
The first loss, yes, it is like a death, certainly cuts the deepest. For the first time in a long career I felt sad, angry, lost, worthless and confused, just to name a few. The good news is the benefit of hindsight for the second redundancy made me cope much better. Thank heavens! I don’t think I could go through all those feelings again.
When I say “lost” – that’s how I felt at the time – the business I was working for at the time restructured. Something that happens every day to people and businesses all over the world. On this occasion it happened to my team and I. I had seen it happen to my colleagues in the past, had read about it, or seen it in the news, and comforted friends that had it happen to them. But on this occasion, it happened to me.
My team and I ran a successful business in a large Multinational. We were recognised by the business across the group for many years as one of the best operating units globally. We created, challenged the boundaries of what the industry did, came up with new products that reinvigorated our business. For 10 years we were at the front of the curve.
The GFC came along and like many, it stalled our growth and the growth of the global business. We put things into place and became quite granular with our approach. As a local management team, we thought we were handling the situation well. Unfortunately, our parent company didn’t have the same view, not only of our business but also for the division globally. We were to be rolled into one of the bigger businesses
Wow – What a hit to the ego. It hurt – not just a little – they had taken “my team and my business” away. The roll was part of who I was. The years of effort we all had put in had meant nothing, the past successes we had were just that – the past. We were paid out, thanked, given some external support and sent packing.
For the very first time in my working career – I went from Hero to Zero. I felt how many thousands, if not millions of people around the world, feel after being retrenched. Sad, mad, lost, worthless, confused, again to name just a few. How could they do this to us – How?
They say in the business world – it’s not personal, it’s just business – well it certainly felt personal.
I’ve learned many things about the business world, myself and others as a result of this event. The first thing I remember learning from my support is that on average retrenchment happens 3 times in someone’s career.
So, what have I learned about myself and the business world as a result?
Travelling through these events in a working career can be quite an experience. It makes you comprehend the emotions and reactions of very public figures that have reached the heights, have the limelight, and the next day its all gone. Look at some of our cricket sporting hero’s, recent list of Prime Ministers or TV personalities that have lost their role. It makes you wonder what they have gone through, and at times we haven’t had to wonder as it’s been quite public, how they have fallen and what they went through to rise.
You’re not alone, we all deal with down times it in our own way. Elton did just that – got up and stood in his own style. The important thing to do though is use the support around you, ex colleagues, mental health specialists, business consultants, and the main source of my support – your loved ones. Then get out there and sell the best product in the world – YOU.
I’m still standing.