In my last blog, Reflection, I shared some tips on how to handle definitive moments in your life. Funny thing- I didn’t think I would actually need to take my own advice so quickly. Last week I was made redundant or as most people would say- laid off. Something that is oh too common in Silicon Valley and naturally something I have experienced before in my 15 years of working in the valley. I am very fortunate that I have delayed my ‘adulting’ (not by choice- but that’s another story), which means I don’t have a mortgage, children, rent or car payments, etc. So, I consider myself in a very lucky and fortunate situation. However, there is still a common pain I’d like to think I share with others that have unfortunately shared the same fate as I have. A feeling of being replaceable. Now when this happened I tweeted:
Reminder: you are always replaceable. Remember this and you will be stronger for it.
— Pegah (@PegahKamal) June 15, 2018
I learned some very valuable lessons at this moment.
A POSITION/JOB may be replaceable.
You, are not.
— ?DDI? ? F0R?R0 (@HeyEddie) June 15, 2018
So many followers echoed this and more and it is so TRUE. As humans, we are each unique and bring something different to the world. Our job or title do not DEFINE us- unless we allow them to. In this case, my job never defined me as a person. I do not need validation in the form of praise from others for the work I accomplished. My own personal validation stems from the amazing friendships and relationships I have built because of the work that I do. This leads me to the next lesson.
The tech community is made up of strong relationships with _people_, not products or titles. And those relationships will follow the best of the best wherever they may be.
— Ryan M. Adzima (@radzima) June 15, 2018
This is truly what community means. We are more than the logo we carry on our business card or LinkedIn profile page. We spend a majority of our life at work, so it’s natural to feel way more connected or attached to what we do. For most of us, we dedicate ourselves to our jobs for 2 reasons (1) the people we work with or develop relationships with and (2) deep down we really love what we do. It’s the personal bonds we make, that I believe, drive us to ‘stick’ it out during some of the most difficult and challenging times. As my uncle always tells me though, ‘A job is just a job’ and that holds true especially when you’re laid off. It is those relationships and how you treated others that become your legacy. Those are the things that will follow you no matter who you work for. The overwhelming amount of love and support I have received is proof of this. Now speaking of legacy, it is important to hold yourself to the highest regard both behind inside and outside the corporate walls.
#3 They say the valley is small, but so is the world. That is why you must always conduct yourself with the utmost integrity, respect and genuine will to do good by others. I guess you could say this is my ‘secret sauce’ and it is evident in every interaction I’ve had. No matter how emotional or unfair a situation or definitive moment maybe- you MUST do your best to keep it together. Even when your friends, peers, and family agree that the situation was not in your favor, just adding to your anger or frustration- you stay high. I’m not saying to bottle it up. Trust me if I did that, I probably would have made some poor decisions that would have tarnished my reputation. Talk to your inner circle and let off some steam, but always try to maintain your dignity when dealing with these moments.
#4 Dwelling on what happened or could have been or should have been- doesn’t do you any good. The only purpose these thoughts serve is to bring you down into a place of anger, resentment, and pain. The decision has been made and you have no control nor the ability to change things. You only have control over yourself and now is a good time to focus on your next steps, but take time. The same day I was laid off, I had people asking me, “What are your plans?” I simply replied, “Going to go eat some kabobs and enjoy the weather.”
My immediate focus was to mentally take care of myself because I knew eventually what I needed to do was to find another job. I also acknowledge that it takes time to process these things, especially when they happen so suddenly. So it’s important if you are able to take a short mental break to reset yourself- then do it. However, use this time to build yourself up and prep for the opportunities that are out there. Do not let the negative feelings take over and drive you deeper down the rabbit hole. Focus with intent to have a more prosperous and meaningful life. Use these moments to ask yourself what it is that you really want out of your career, lay out a couple plans and go after it.
We probably spend over 3,000+ hours a year busting our chops for a role that can be deemed replaceable or ‘no longer needed’ at any time. I think it’s natural to get caught up in what is happening at the moment and we forget to take care of ourselves along the way. Sure we make time to workout, have dinner or two with friends, but are we really mentally focusing on unlocking our best true self? Making the most out of these life moments is what helps us evolve and make us better human beings. Chasing the title or the money is just as temporary as the role that you seek. Remember I’m not asking you to seek the ‘meaning of life’ just want you to take a moment to check to see if where you are is getting you to where you ideally would like to be. To not let the current role or situation define you and to remember that there’s more to your life than the salary or title that you have. These are the lessons I have learned and hope you have as well.