It was a Monday morning 6 years ago when I walked into my boss’s office at the UPMC Health Plan for my weekly meeting with him. I knew the company was planning layoffs for that week but was shocked when I saw our HR partner in the room and immediately knew what that meant.
I was being let go. Laid off. Position eliminated. Not needed any more. Kaput!
It took me awhile to overcome my shame about that event and to be able to talk about it with others. It’s was hard for me to talk about what seemed like a failure. Embarrassment, humiliation, fear, self-loathing, concerns about how others will think of me all contributed to my unwillingness to discuss my failure.
After some appropriate grieving, reflection and planning, I moved on and have now built a successful consulting practice on the heels of that experience. I was strongly motivated to not just lie down and go away. Many people told me they were surprised that we didn’t pack our bags and leave Pittsburgh, but instead I just responded to the challenge. Besides we loved this town.
Although I would have to admit that it was difficult, I can now say that this failure was very good for me especially since it helped me to decide what I would do next in what has been an amazingly diverse career.
What I found out and what most of us find out is that the failure is just a temporary detour on our journey. At the worst, it’s a head slam that jolts us to find our true north and at the least it’s a gentle nudge that says “hey, things aren’t going quite right”. Either way, we want to pay attention to it, find our resilient self and get onto something new and better.
Feel free to leave a comment about a failure you’ve been wanting to share and how you used it for something better.
© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2015