I remember getting laid off many years ago. Actually, I was terminated for being a whistle blower. Company and knucklehead Boss omitted to protect the guilty. Because I was in a carpool, I had to sit out on the curb with a box of my personal belongings until I could get a ride home. But I learned three important lessons from that experience.

Never Work a Day in a Job You Don’t Like – I absolutely hated that job. And as I sat on the curb humiliated I decided to never work for a company or in a role that was not enjoyable. It’s true: If you love your job you will never work a day in your life. A friend called me one day complaining about his job. I inquired, “Are you unhappy?” He said, “I am.” My advice was to walk directly over to the CEOs office and work out a “walk away” package (resignation with severance). He did, and he is light years ahead with his career now. And…happy!

Everything Happens for a Reason – Mostly I don’t understand God’s plan or timing, however I have come to the conclusion that everything does indeed happen for a reason. You are right where you need to be, and there is a reason you lost your job. You may not see it today or tomorrow, however years from now you will say, “That was one of the best things that ever happened to me – it changed my life.” Don’t try to make sense of everything!

Losing Your Job is a Phenomenal Opportunity – You WILL get another job! It’s challenging. It’s depressing. It’s stressful. Bu it’s not the end of the world. There are plenty of jobs for smart, hard-working people. Being laid off is the perfect time to examine your life. AND…detox and decompress. Recently a senior executive asked for my counsel on taking an early out retirement package. Call it what you will, but it’s a RIF (reduction in force). My response was, “Oh my God, take the package! Use your one year non-compete to travel the world. Or spend time with your grand-kids. Or volunteer at the Women’s Shelter. Live life!” Anything but working 80 hours for a company that does not care about you. You think your Boss is going to give your eulogy? You think your peers will be at your funeral? The company always takes care of…THE COMPANY. Don’t ever forget it.

And since you have some time on your hands, I’d like to recommend three great books for the RIF. Other than the Bible, probably my favorite three books on the shelf.

  • Half Time by Bob Buford – When we sold our software company 15 years ago someone gave me this book. It literally changed my life. Most executives spend the first half of their life on houses and cars and jobs, however at “half time” they ask the big questions. Why am I here? What is my legacy? How will I be remembered? Am I leaving the world a better place? The book highlighted something that was quite embarrassing: I was a “taker.” So I made a commitment to be a “giver” the second half of my life. My way of giving back is to help people get jobs, then donate a portion of each placement to a dozen local and national charities. THANK YOU Bob Buford!
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday – This is a major challenge for executives laid off or in the RIF. Ego, arrogance and hubris. Bitter, disgruntled executives obsessed with their former employer or Boss. Guess what folks? He/she could care less about you. They forgot your name the day you left! Let go and let God. Lose the ego. Move on.
  • Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen – Ah yes, the Pastor of Hope! You don’t have to be a religious type to enjoy Joel’s books. He has this amazing, positive, hopeful approach to life. It’s hard to be depressed when you are reading Joel!

God, family and friends. Everything beyond that is a bonus. Do you have a place to live? Food on the table? Your health? Yes? Then you are ahead of 98% of the people on this planet. Jobs and careers are important, however don’t sacrifice God, family and friends for them. And always remember this, if God is for us, who can be against us!