Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. (Galatians 6:4-5)
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19)
I don’t know how my sister and I ended up so competitive. When we were growing up she was always a winner at everything. In school she was academically “gifted”, athletic, and beautiful it never occurred to me that I would ever be able to compete with her. I was a high school drop out after all, until I went back to school at age 19 years old.
Imagine my surprise when five years ago I thought I was winning!
Despite taking a few years off to be with my son, I was the one being head-hunted for CEO jobs. I was the one with national publications to my name. I had just turned 39 years old and every indicator was that I would be leading my own organization before I was 40 years old. Then the unimaginable happened, I was reorganized out of my position.
Tragedy doesn’t change us, it exposes who we really are. Loosing my job, and the months and years that followed, made up the my most refining period of my life. I had suffered the biggest lose of my life and it took a while for me to realize that it was going to take years to rebuild.
Counting my Blessings
Five months after I was let go, I started to feel like I had lost everything. When I interacted with my high achieving community, I could see the horror behind their eyes. I was living out their worst fears. I was the living example that it can all be lost. They would try to figure out how I screwed it up, because if I was the one that recklessly lost it all than it couldn’t happen to them.
I invested in an executive coach who helped me start the rebuilding. That was so critical! My coach helped me take systematic appreciation of my blessings. In the shadow of all my lose, many blessings remained. All those blessings became the foundation on which I rebuilt.
The world owes us nothing. My mistake was believing that life was fair. I didn’t deal with the reality of situation.
During the first year after I was laid off, I had to let go of all the anger and hate I held towards the executives not impacted by the reorganization. I had to let go of the betrayal I felt from being lied to, and being manipulated by, someone I considered my only friend in a hostile environment. I had to let go of the injustice I felt because meritocracy did not prevail.
A year into the rebuilding I realized I had built a career on intellect and strategy, building relationships that would be of no perceived benefit to me was not a priority. Yet the communities we build and our core relationships are all that will sustain us when we loose everything else. I had over developed some keys skills in my professional pallet, but I woefully underdeveloped my community and emotional maturity. I had to learn to forgive myself for that shortcoming.
Part of forgiving myself was to deal with my underlying narratives about where my worth comes from. In order to forgive myself I had to develop the strength to realize I made a mistake, it was not an indication of my inherent character. I accepted God’s grace and allowed myself to become a new creation.
Back to the rivalry going on between my sister and myself, there is no contest left. She is a nationally known Vice President of a publicly traded company. Bloomberg and Reuters have featured her work. I am not even playing the same game she is anymore. Occasionally that hurts. However, I am a new creation.
Ironically it was a professional relationship that was so key in my rebuilding. An executive I worked with more than a decade ago took a chance on me and let me into her organization. She has since become a treasured mentor. For as long as she is leading the organization, I will be there in whatever role she puts me in. I feel that 4 years ago she extended me a second chance when I was beyond the point of worrying about titles and rivalry with my sister. I feared I would never again be able to use skills that I have developed over my adult life…in any capacity. Sometimes I do feel underutilized, but that has allowed me to look for opportunities elsewhere to exercise talents within my community in ways I have never explored before because I was so career minded.
The best outcome of course, is out of the ash of disappointment my family and church have resumed their rightful place as my center. That my friends has been the best part of being a new creation.