I would agree with Ralph Waldo, but only up to a point. The fact of the matter is that bad times, repeated often enough, cease to be opportunities for learning and personal growth and morph into intolerable, non-value adding life experiences. They can become agonizing thorns in one’s side which one begs to have removed by any means available.
I’m confident that Emerson was an intelligent and compassionate man, and that he had the best of intentions when he penned his thoughts on the subject of bad times. But I also suspect that he never had to experience the personal impact of corporate down-sizing. Certainly not twice in the span of five years, as I have now done.
My current reaction to bad times (aka workforce reductions and lay offs) is more in line with the sentiments expressed by Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant when he mournfully wailed:
One afternoon, I walked into a meeting with my boss to review several projects that I was then managing, only to find out that I was no longer qualified for the position which I had held for several years. Imagine my surprise when I also discovered that I was equally unqualified for any and all other positions within the company. In fact, my only alternative was to accept early retirement.
I was, in effect, made an offer I could not refuse.
Having lived through the emotional tailspin of unexpectedly finding myself unemployed, I’ve said many times that I would never wish this turn of events on anyone. Not even the miscreant (nor the senior management team surreptitiously skulking behind him) who had orchestrated my release into the world of the under-employed; along with 500 or so of my coworkers. I still firmly stand by that statement. No one deserves to have their career and livelihood ended so abruptly.
Let’s fast forward five years, rapidly skipping over a number of interim jobs which I was very thankful to have at the time, but was equally happy to have left behind. A few months ago, Good Fortune finally shined upon me in the form of a “real” job. My simple definition of a “real” job is full-time, 40 hour per week employment in which I am responsible for a number of tasks that I can envision myself doing for many years to come. Semi-retired employment nirvana, you might say.
And it was …… for as long as it lasted. One morning the Vice President of Operations and the Human Resources Director walked into my department. I looked up and without even thinking said, “Uh-oh. This can’t be good.” The HR Director, who I’d gotten to know, replied, “You’re right. It’s not.“
Two hours later, the entire department, including its manager, had been laid off due to …… you guessed it! Workforce Reduction.
So once again, I find myself out in the wide, wide world of the Un- and Under-Employed. Sadly, I’m not alone. Even after five years of meandering in and out of this state, I find that over-population is still an issue out here, despite the somewhat dubious statistics being reported by our friends in government.
Right now, I’m totally focused on reconnecting with Good Fortune, but I haven’t found him yet on Linked In. If you know his e-mail address, feel free to pass it along.