A momentary detour: roaring back to work after a sudden layoff

Vulnerability is not a suit that fits at first, but you soon pair it with a power tie and make it work.

You are an overweight white middle-aged middle manager. What this means is that career pursuits as an American Idol contestant or an on-camera porn star are ill-advised and soon ruled out.

What this doesn’t mean is that your best days are behind you. Your last performance reviews were outstanding and you produced breakthrough results that changed paradigms inside your company. You take stock of your accomplishments and more importantly, forgive yourself for everything you did and did not do in your last role. That clear space floats your clear-eyed confidence that this restructuring had everything to do with your company’s choice to shift focus and nothing to do with your performance. “I will not be marked down and my next employer is extremely fortunate to nab such a high performer” becomes your mantra.

That ground of being serves you well and it becomes a yardstick that measures your every thought; if your current mindset or actions do not bring you any closer to that new position, you drop them and find something else to do and be.

That’s not to say that you are immune to low moments. The emails stop immediately after the news of your separation, putting your actual significance in the business world and its inhabitants in proper perspective. The loud pulley on the flatbed that jerks your corporation’s Mercedes onto the back of the tow truck startles the neighbors, who bend their vinyl blinds slightly to survey the scene with their jaundiced eyes. The status symbol on your driveway is gone, “Mind giving me a ride to small claims court?” you joke gamely as you wave to them from across the street through a crocodile’s smile.

You are consumed in the preparation for final interviews in three different companies.

You read somewhere that Olympian athletes at peak performance still rely on coaches with sometimes opposing perspectives to make the difference between the gold medal and the bronze one. You stare at your iPhone, confronted by the calls you have to make asking for help yet again. When you push through, you are overwhelmed by the amount of people that move heaven and earth on their schedule to help you. Leaders that you deeply admire get on the line for “clearing calls” before your final interviews to sweep any dis-empowerment from your gray matter and help you paint the ‘eye black’ on for your best game face.  

The youngest daughter starts high school this week with butterflies about this next chapter in her life. You know the feeling. This new job you’ve just accepted offers more intellectual and financial nourishment than you could have hoped for and the road ahead will certainly be winding and bumpy as you come up to speed on a new culture.

You replace the Mercedes with a Lexus, paid in cash not only because you can, but because no one will ever repossess your wheels ever again. Life motors on with more horsepower and the detour fades into the rear view mirror. 

Mike Farragher's essays can be found in his essay books. For more information on them, check out www.thisisyourbrainonshamrocks.com.

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