When I became redundant
In the first 30 months of this decade I was fortunate enough to be made redundant not once but twice. Not that it felt in any way positive. The definition of the word itself says it all;
Not or no longer needed or useful: Superfluous
Now I have dedicated my life to trying to help others improve their circumstances, feeling useful is my key driver. The first redundancy followed a very successful career working in homelessness, I held a senior position in a large and growing regional ( now national) charity, I chaired the National Advisory Council for Homeless Link – the umbrella body for homeless organisations in the UK. I believed I was making a difference, that I was, that I was useful. Unfortunately the Chief Executive had a different perspective. I thought I was priceless, he thought I was worthless! So we agreed a ‘voluntary redundancy’.
I had already worked for or with most of the other providers of homelessness services in the area and a combination of pride and shame led me to conclude that my career in the sector was over. My pride gremlin told me that I had helped develop the best homelessness services in the region, anywhere else would be a backward step. Although I resisted this initially, when I was brought in to that organisation it was probably the worst in the region and I had played a significant role in turning it round.
However, as I began to overcome my pride, the shame gremlin leapt in. I had been declared redundant, I was superfluous, useless. Initially my anger was directed at those I believed to be to blame, complex conspiracy theories developed in my mind. Then came the feelings of abandonment and invisibility. Contact with former colleagues I had considered to be friends, both inside and outside of the organisation, reduced to zero – I was no longer of any use to them, I was useless. I had the support of my family and friends but began to feel I had let them down too, the anger shifted. I became increasingly angry at myself, how had I not seen this coming, how had I let it happen – I felt invisible and blind! I was not feeling fortunate at that stage.
I started spending long hours at the beach, meditating and reflecting, I started regularly exercising and read more. I had withdrawn into myself but I had started making plans to reinvent myself. I returned to education, enrolling on teaching and coaching courses,I started applying for jobs and I began my mindfulness journey. Mindfulness did not save my life but it certainly opened up the possibilities of new life. I would become useful again and I would start by proving my worth with knowledge and qualifications. I returned to University and trained to become a business coach, I went to college to prepare to teach to adults, I was going to build my own coaching and training business – I didn’t need others to give me value or so I thought.
Then I got offered a job, a good job for a national charity that aligned to my previous skill set. Someone wanted me, someone valued me, someone thought I was useful. External verification was much stronger than any feelings of self esteem and self worth I had internally generated. Why work for myself when somebody else wanted me? I took the job.
It was a great job, I really enjoyed it and believe I made a difference but the service I was managing had been struggling for many years, fairly early on a director of the company told me that it was regarded as a cancer in the organisation and that I should not expect to be around for long. Eighteen months later the decision to close the service was made and I was again made redundant.
This time it was different, the service was closed, there was no job to do, it was not personal. Initially I tried to fight it, but this was not something I could change. It felt the same and my immediate reaction was very similar but my response was very different. I was angry, I was scared ( no redundancy package this time) and I wanted someone to blame. But my response was different. This time I applied what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls the seven attitudinal factors of mindfulness. To find out more please read 7 attitudes .
If you are facing redundancy or have recently been made redundant and want support to move forward with the next chapter of your life. Why not come along to one of our drop – in classes, enrol on one of our courses or events or contact us to find out about our one to one coaching service.