If we had a crystal ball, life would be grand. But, because we don’t, we often find ourselves at the mercy of hindsight. Hindsight being 20/20, what is one setback you faced in your career that ended up being a blessing in disguise?
Sometimes life delivers you the perfect storm. It arrives silently. And then, all of a sudden. Somebody might have yelled “duck” but I probably looked up and said “where?”
Experiencing a career setback is no fun. It is even less fun when the setback occurs publicly. And don’t all career setbacks occur publicly, epically and in biblical proportions? One can never exaggerate them too much. Ever.
The word “fun” takes on a whole new meaning when the “setback” occurs in a new-to-you small, rural community which happens to be populated with numerous in-laws, who happen to have lots of friends representing a terrifying six degrees of separation. And the economy is in a slump, during which you are stupidly trying to sell your house. And you took this job in your soon-to-be new community, because “oh my god, there are never any jobs up here” and it made sense to live with your mother-in-law, whose house you are buying anyway, while your spouse lives in the yet-to-be-sold house. Besides, this job is a promotion with better money in a larger manufacturer in a small village. How bad can it be, the outgoing HR Manager was the owner’s son-in-law.
Not only did I not hear when someone yelled “duck,” I didn’t hear the gunshot either.
This is the part where I would catalogue in vivid detail all the wrongs done to me by this company and why it and everyone in it should be washed away with that biblical perfect storm I mentioned earlier. You’ll cry. You’ll laugh. It’ll be better than Cats.
Unlike Cynical Girl Laurie Ruettiman, who claims she is a failed HR professional (which, if you read her bio, you would quickly conclude this to be quite untrue), I am a failed HR professional. After all, I was fired. Four months of hell culminating in a small severance. All while living with my mother-in-law. But to be fair, it was my mother-in-law who kept me sane throughout this entire event. I would never have survived without her. She will still tell the story of that day, how we sat outside on the deck while the buzzards flew in circles above the house. It holds a certain metaphorical amusement for her. By then I had realized what this duck and gunshot business was all about.
This next bit isn’t very funny. A long year of unemployment followed. The 2008-2009 recession was still in full swing. The house took nearly 18 months to sell. It was hard and I felt anxious during most of it. But I had time to think about things. After twelve years as a career consultant and four years as an HR professional I am still committed to helping individuals thrive in their work. Doing this while on the front lines, however, is not for me. I can be more effective helping those who are on the front line by using my research skills to provide information they can use to foster personal and organizational development. Today I work as a researcher in that small community looking at workforce strategies for the green economy and in my spare time, I review books for the Canadian HR Professional Magazine.
Now, when I hear someone yell “duck!” I duck.
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