Today I want to share a quote that I found in an amazing book I started to read – the book is called First Things First – by Stephen Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (never read, but heard that it’s pretty powerful). This quote totally changed the way I need to view this time of unemployment. It’s actually an excerpt from a book Covey read, but he didn’t quote the author:
“Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
The layoff was obviously the stimulus and my response so far has been that of fear, hence my high anxiety and lack of sleep. Fear is not a good mindset to be in when you are searching for a new career opportunity. You will end up in another job that doesn’t bring meaning to your life. You will end up working for a company who’s work environment is set up to promote fear – career objectives and competencies that don’t actually bring meaning into YOUR life; they bring money to the company that then qualifies you as a “contributor”, allowing you to keep your job, get promoted, increase your income, climb the ladder and acquire more stuff. The book suggests this and also says something pretty profound: “What if you get to the top run of the ladder and the ladder is leaning on the wrong wall?” And now, that wall that you built a “life” on disappears. The “life” was the job that brought status and money to acquire things that would hopefully bring meaning to your life. Things being the house, the car, the vacations, the family or the relationship. But now you have no job and your new “status” becomes that of unemployed. And now – because you are no longer moving at the warp speed of Corporate America that helped you ignore that voice inside you looking for more meaning in life – you begin to realize that all these other things really didn’t bring as much meaning as you thought they did. They are what the book calls “cotton-candy” – a short term fix that has the illusion of fulfilling the need inside of you. And, now that you don’t have that big income, these things actually become stressors – the mortgage, the car payment, etc.
Today I am silencing that fear. The job search is on hold – and I am choosing to focus my energy on finding my “true north” or my “internal compass” to figure out what’s going to bring real meaning into my life so that when I am on my deathbed I don’t have any regrets. I want to make “first things” first. I want to feel satisfied with the choices I’ve made in my life and I want the people around me to know that they are important.
OK, that’s enough deep thoughts for today…just got pretty inspired by this book and think its a good read for anyone who might walk away at the end of a long work day and say “What did I really accomplish today? I got a lot of “things”done, checked “things” off my to-do list, but so what? What am I doing that really counts?”