My mother said this often and had incredible resiliency coupled with an unwavering focus both on moving forward and not dwelling on the past. In fact, if something bad happened to you, she’d give you license to be upset for 24 hours, and then, in her mind, you should be ready to “move on”. She was very consistent in her approach, whether it was dealing with one of her seven children, or the cancer she died from 16 years ago.
These traits are somewhat unique from my own self observations and those of other people. Mom had the perspective that bad things will happen to good people, but it was more about what you did about it than commiserating about why. My college friend Bob Bell was injured when we were freshman and became paralyzed. He ended up writing a great book on the topic, and I remember someone in an interview asking him “Why do you think this happened to you?” His response: “Why the F* not me?”
At work, many of us have been through some significant challenges with reductions in the workforce. These initially are devastating –I know personally—and leaving on someone else’s terms is devastating. I remember one leader lucky enough to leave before “the date” saying that leaving on his own terms was the most difficult decision he’s ever made. At least he was in control, and I remember questioning and being angry about his use of the word “difficult”.
Difficult is having to tell your family you’ve lost your job–leaving them speechless–except the 9 year-old who asks if you are going to lose your house.
Others, in organizations that have provided job stability for decades, do not even have context that employment is fragile for many of us. To some of those folks, getting reorganized into something they don’t want to do—and keeping a job—is like the end of the world. To them, laid off people would say, “at least you still have a job.”
Each of us has our own context and perspective about a given situation. But in all contexts, it’s about adapting, overcoming, and making the next steps be on your own terms. Simply put, moving on.
When we experience some difficultly, whether it is a layoff or a reorganization, fundamentally we all still need to decide for how long we want to analyze and dwell. Mom would apply the 24 hour rule and recommend that we get on with it and ground ourselves in the reality that this is where we are planted–right, wrong, or indifferent.
What holds us back?
Well, blooming forces us to take action and be creative, which is hard and scary. It forces us to eliminate excuses and complaints, which makes us vulnerable. It forces us to reach out to our networks and ask for help, which can be embarrassing.
Someone close to me lost their job about a year ago. Just recently he accepted a position to teach a college course, something he likely would have never have had the chance to do without the job loss. He told me that was the best news he’d heard in 52 weeks, and was always something he wanted to do.
Me? I can’t believe that 9 months later, I’m in my dream job. It took a lot of support and help to get here. To those that supported me, I’m forever grateful, for all of it–the phone conversations, the text messages, the coffees, the lunches, the LinkedIn messages, and the hugs. I’ve vowed to help anyone I can—day or night—who needs help with job transition and networking.
Mom, I’ve “moved on”.
Seeds can be planted and flowers can bloom in the least expected places. Bloom where you are planted—you are in control, it just sometimes doesn’t feel that way initially. But you are.