You’re out of a job. That’s the bad news. The good news, says author Jon Gordon, is that by making a few key decisions you’ll not only make your job search a thousand times more pleasant, you’ll actually make it successful.
Hoboken, NJ (November 2009)—The days following those fateful words, "We have to let you go," are dismal ones indeed. Some mornings, it’s tough to even get out of bed. As you scour the skimpy classifieds and job boards, grim scenarios play in your head on a repeating loop: We’ll lose the house…We’ll have to move in with my parents…I’ll never find work in this economy. Tangled in despair, you can barely move, much less move on. Are things really as hopeless as they seem? you wonder. And if they’re not, how can I clear away the dark clouds and see the light on the other side?
Jon Gordon has been where you are right now, and he has some good news: the layoff you think is bad today will actually lead to great events in the future with the right approach and action plan.
"It doesn’t mean that you don’t allow yourself to get down," says Gordon, author of international bestseller The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy (Wiley, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-4701002-8-8, $21.95) and its follow-up, The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work (Wiley, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-4702794-9-6, $19.95). "But rather it’s all about implementing the strategies that will help you focus, make changes and turn things around."
Gordon speaks from personal experience. During the dot.com crash, he lost his own job. And that’s when his journey of reinvention began.
"I thought it was the worst event of my life," recalls Gordon. "I was two months away from being bankrupt. I had a mortgage, two kids, no insurance and very little savings. I was a paycheck away from losing it all. It sounds bad. It felt bad. Seen from one point of view, I suppose it was bad. But then, one day I decided that I wasn’t going to let this challenge take me down. And that’s when I knew I had to change what I was thinking and doing.
"I saw that what I was viewing as so terrible didn’t have to be that way," he adds. "It was what I chose to make of it. So I made some decisions that changed everything and led me to do the work I do now as a writer, consultant and speaker. I often joke that I went from Fired to Fired Up. My layoff led to my life’s mission and purpose. The moral of my story is that what you think is a terrible event can actually be a good thing. There is a myth that most people embark on a quest to find their destiny. But more often than not, through adversity and challenges our destiny finds us. It is during these times that we ask the important questions and make decisions that change the course of our life."
If depression, anger, and fear are your motivating factors during your layoff, you will be making a tough journey even tougher for yourself and your family, says Gordon. Worse, you’ll hinder your own progress. Negative beliefs lead to negative actions, like paralysis, bad choices, shutting out friends and family. Fortunately, the opposite is also true: Positive beliefs lead to positive actions.
"We really do create our own realities," notes Gordon. "I experienced it in my own life and I’ve seen in the lives of others. That’s why if you find yourself out of a job you must call a moratorium on negativity—anger toward your former boss, jealousy toward employed friends and ex-coworkers, worry that you’ll never be able to replicate your former salary—and start practicing positivity."
You may not find the positive energy switch right away, he warns. But keep looking and you will find it. He offers a few life-changing tips that can help you change your outlook and go from fired to fired up:
Jettison your anger. Allow yourself to be angry, sad, bitter, upset for a few days and then let it all go. Forgive the company. Forgive your employers. Release the bitterness. Know that you can’t create your future by focusing on the past. Gordon says after he was laid off, he made a conscious decision to forgive his company for letting him go and for only giving him two weeks’ worth of severance pay.
"I chose to thank them, not hate them," he recalls. "Making the decision to let that bitterness go helped me to think more clearly and have more energy to take positive action. Recently I spoke with a gentleman who told me that he wished he had made the same decision after losing his job. He said it took him a year to finally move on and that his negative energy caused him to waste a lot of valuable time."
Say to yourself, "I have a dream." Then start working to achieve it. Having studied many successful people, Gordon says he’s found that they all can pinpoint the moment where they decided what they truly wanted to achieve in life. It’s a practice that should be required for all of us. After all, if you know what you truly want out of life then you will do whatever it takes to make it happen. Obvious as this may sound, many people never take the time to discover it. They live on autopilot, letting circumstances shape their days and months and years and decades.
"When I lost my job, I realized that though I was initially sad to lose it I hadn’t been truly happy," says Gordon. "So, I took a moment and asked myself what I truly wanted to do with my life. ‘What was I born to do?’ I asked. ‘Why am I here?’ After a few days of thinking, the idea to open a franchise restaurant, which would hopefully allow me time to write, popped in my head. And off I went toward achieving my dream."
Choose to have faith in what you want, rather than what you don’t want. Try out this riddle: What do fear and faith have in common? The answer: A future that hasn’t happened yet. So why would you choose to paint that future bleak and empty, when you could paint it vibrant and fulfilling and fun?
"Fear believes in a negative future while faith believes in a positive future," says Gordon. "Even if you’re not a spiritual person, why would you choose to believe the worst is going to happen? It just feels better to look to the positive future."
Start each day with "three questions." When you get up each morning, ask yourself this one question, What are the three things I need to do today that will help me find the job and create the success that I desire? Then, take action on those three things every day until you’ve achieved them. This is a great way to keep feeding your positive energy.
"You may not get there in two days, a week, or even a month," he says. "But every day you’ll be one step closer to your goal. And, eventually, you will get there. Or maybe you’ll find yourself somewhere even better."
Take on a "glass 90 percent full" approach. Today’s employment-related statistics can be hard to get out of your head when you’re searching for a job. But unlike the pundits on TV who seem all too pleased to focus on the most negative numbers available, you can choose to focus on the flip side, says Gordon. Rather than fixating on 10 percent unemployment, focus on 90 percent employment.
"Dwelling on the higher number will likely be better for maintaining a positive state of mind during your job search," says Gordon. "Always remember, the choice is yours."
Choose to be humble and hungry. Be humble, advises Gordon. Know that you don’t have all the answers and can learn something from everyone. Know that there are always new ways to learn, improve, and
get better. Be open to advice. Be open to learning a new skill and trying a job you haven’t thought of before.
Also, be hungry: Seek out a mentor, take him to lunch and model his success. Think of his life as a blueprint you can follow. Continuously improve and seek out new ideas and new strategies.
"These are two very important H-words," says Gordon. "By remaining humble and hungry after my job loss, I was able to focus on and learn the things that made it possible for me to run a restaurant, write and speak. In short, being humble and hungry helped me achieve another great H-word: happiness!"
Of course, maybe you’re not the one who’s been laid off. Maybe it’s your husband or wife or brother or sister or best friend. If so, says Gordon, your job is simply to encourage and love her. Tell her you believe in her every chance you get. Give her strength.
"I’m a lucky guy for a lot of reasons but one of them is that my wife did exactly this for me when I lost my job," reflects Gordon. "It made all the difference in the world. Just knowing that there is someone out there sending love and support your way can make the difficult days, weeks, and months following a layoff easier.
"Really, aren’t we all in this boat?" he adds. "We all know someone who’s lost his or her job. If you’re wondering, what can I do for that person—well, the answer is to encourage, uplift and support him. It will not only bolster your loved one’s spirits, it will make you feel good too. Leadership, after all, is a transfer of belief."
About the Author:
Jon Gordon is a speaker, consultant, and author of the international bestseller The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy and The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work. Jon’s next book, Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else, will release in May of 2009.
The message in Jon’s books and speaking presentations is such that NFL coaches such as Jack Del Rio, Mike Smith, the PGA Tour, and the FBI have called on Jon to inspire and benefit their teams. Jon and his books have been featured on CNN, NBC’s Today Show and in Forbes, Fast Company, O Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Clients such as the Atlanta Falcons, Campbell’s Soup, Northwestern Mutual, Publix Supermarkets, and JPMorgan Chase also call on Jon to bring out the best in their leaders and teams.
Jon is a graduate of Cornell University and holds a master’s in teaching from Emory University. When he’s not speaking to businesses or schools, you can find him playing lacrosse or basketball with his wife and two "high energy" children.
For more information, please visit www.jongordon.com.
About the Books:
The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel Your Life, Work, and Team with Positive Energy (Wiley, 2007, ISBN: 978-0-4701002-8-8, $21.95) and The No Complaining Rule: Positive Ways to Deal with Negativity at Work (Wiley, 2008, ISBN: 978-0-4702794-9-6, $19.95) are available at bookstores nationwide, major online booksellers, or directly from the publisher by calling 800-225-5945. In Canada, call 800-567-4797.