If there’s one thing that the U.S. Government shutdown proves it’s this: you’re on your own. In the hours before the deadline, companies and departments were asked to draw up lists of essential and non-essential personnel. Imagine commuting back home at the end of the day and asking yourself, “after all the schooling I completed, after all the work I put into this department, after all the team-building events, motivational speeches and training days, all of the emails I returned on weekends, I may still be a non-essential part of this organization.”
You’re on your own.
Not every working person is subject to the furlough, of course, but every working person is subject to the fear. What if I am no longer needed? What if I lose my job?
I work with people like this – people who have recently been “let go.” We laugh grimly at the terminology. “Let go.” Like a dove or a handful of balloons, passively released to rise from the tedious bondage of a secure job, taking with it any vestiges of guilt that may be harbored by those who remain.
I know that the individual people who do the firing or the furloughing or the laying-off will, in most cases, agonize over the action. Most people are not, after all, made of stone. However the company as an entity feels far less pain; it has liberated and freed an individual whose value, it seems was not enough to warrant its continued care.
I talk to people about fear all the time. I ask people what fears they hold and how they react to them. Many people fear for their own health and safety. All people fear for the safety of those they love. Fear is an instinctive reaction that forces a person to turn or run away from a threat. Fear can cause panic, but it can also elicit courage.
The fear of losing one’s job sits very high on this list. The loss of a job means more than a loss of identity, it represents failure – financial, career, family and health. Yet most people, working as hard as they do, for the employer they currently have, push this fear to the back of their minds, believing that careful and diligent adherence to the plan, answering all the emails, taking on the extra work of an atrophied workforce, sacrificing family time and vacation time to get things done – will buy their safety and keep the axe away.
Part of my role is to help people confront fear through action. If you fear something, the best thing you can do is to take an action that helps dissolve the threat. When it comes to the fear of being let go, left behind or shut down, the action is to ensure you have the network and the knowledge in place to ensure your value to your industry is clearly visible.
This is what I have been teaching through my endless and wonderful Wolf On Wheels tour. When it comes to career management, you are on your own. But this time in a good way. The tools to connect you with the right people are available online. The tools that will help you continue to learn the trends in your industry from the experts and analysts are online. The tools that will help you announce your value and establish credibility are online, too.
The age of cradle-to-grave employment has long passed. We are in an era now where jobs are hard to find and hard to keep, and where it is projected that a significant portion of the workforce will be freelancers in a very short time.
This, I believe, is a good thing. This is why I gave my book the title Work Like a Wolf, because I believe we all have the capacity (or must develop the capacity) to hunt down opportunity in an active fashion, rather than wait and hope for someone to hand it to us. Those “someones” are getting fewer and further between.
So yes, you are on your own. You are your own best ally when it comes to the battle to survive, because you are the one you can trust the most. Let the furlough deliver a dividend to you in the form of this wake-up call: you are responsible for your own future, and there has never been a better time in all of human history to take advantage of the tools and methods availble to help you.
Go and hunt your destiny. You deserve the best, but only you can find it.
For more information on the Wolf On Wheels Tour – Putting People Back to Work One Town at a Time, visit the website here.