08 Apr The Power of Connection
The absence of connection isn’t the first thing you think about when you lose your job. Yet, it’s one of the first things you feel. Or as one woman put it, “I have to get used to the stillness of my life.”
Being in constant motion, physically and intellectually, is a large part of our lives as leaders. Bringing people, ideas, and projects together—emphasis on together—is what we do when we scale businesses, solve problems and recruit talent.
A Window of Opportunity
Recognizing that loneliness or onlyness is part of your mood board after you’ve been separated from your company is the first step in figuring out how to use this new time to yourself to your advantage. You don’t want to short-change this window of opportunity to reflect on what you would like to do next and how much value you bring to the world.
Tools to Embrace Joy
Here are some of the tools that executive women have used to feel connected—to themselves and others. These range from cultivating everyday joy to trying something new. This is not about networking for a new role; rather, this is about blowing up your old presence and embracing the power of the future.
1. As soon as Leanne heard the news that she was fired, she went to Trader Joe’s and bought three hydrangea plants and packages of Spring bulbs for her garden so she’d be able to enjoy the view from her patio without the consuming negative energy of her last months at the firm.
2. Heidi booked a trip to see family, friends, and fellow alumni for which she’d had no time while meeting someone else’s goals at the old company.
3. Eleni began learning so many new things, many by default. These included new apps, Chat GPT, and new services that could help her be as efficient at home as she’d been at work. It was almost as if she’d been in a time bubble, toiling away in an airless room to make bank. This put her in touch with forums of people she would never have known before.
4. Margia made a promise to herself to call 2-3 people she hadn’t spoken to in a while and vowed not to give energy to the toxic culture she had just left by talking about it. This became a powerful way to give birth to a new identity—one in the present, and not the past. See my chapter on “Leaning Out: Going Public One Surprise At A Time” in Involuntary Exit.
5. Yana visited homebound friends, family, or colleagues from before The Layoff that she had always wanted to see but never quite got around to visiting. The joy in this was immeasurable, not to mention the relief of guilt.
6. Angel enrolled in classes or a program that had nothing to do with their professional life and everything to do with who they were outside of their career. Sure, some of these were duds but then again, others made them laugh and experience a forgotten feeling: happiness.
Others spent money to join networking groups, employed a professional to spruce up their LinkedIn profile and resume, and considered the idea of their personal brand. One caveat, if they jumped to these tasks too soon, without processing the grief from their job loss, they tended to feel a lack of confidence or engagement with their own words about themselves. If this is the case, it’s time to get away from the business detritus and into an area of personal interest. Make a list of what you liked to do before you were tied up 24/7. You can even organize it by season.
The Goal: Think Differently
The goal is to stay connected, to be part of a community, ideally a community that helps you think differently about who you are and how you want to spend your days from this point forward. I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the people and opportunities that come your way as you embrace uncertainty and walk into the zone of possibilities. You might even think that what happened to you was a gift.