I had an interesting conversation today with one of my clients. Over the last seven years I have been witness to Marks' setbacks and successes, his layoffs and his promotions. I've met his wife, his kids, and he has met my sons. Our relationship is truly of "trusted advisor" nature.
This past Friday he was laid off from a software firm that had difficulty securing an additional line of credit. At best, the firm has another 6-8 weeks before they close up shop. Mark called me this afternoon, lamenting the job loss, his children's' tuition bills, his career prospects, and the economy itself. Unfortunately I've had quite a few conversations like this recently. I'm sure those of you reading this know someone who has been affected personally by this recession (if not yourself) and realize this has become a familiar refrain.

Part of my recruitment process and responsibility is to help bring clarity to an individuals short and long term goals. Those of you who know me have been asked "where do you see yourself a year from now? Three years from now? Why is that important to you? How do you plan on achieving that?" more times than you can shake a stick at! I've kept copious notes over the last 10 years of my conversations, and enjoy revisiting these very items and helping them remember who they are.

I asked these very questions of Mark (again, for the umpteenth time) when he had finished dumping on me. I don't know that he was in the right frame of mind to be contemplative, but I owed it to him to look down the rabbit hole a little bit. What I wanted Mark to bring to the surface were those things that energized him, excited him and get him juiced to the point that he loses track of time. What follows is the part of our conversation that I had recorded.

"Yeah, you lost your job. Okay, I get that. But you haven't lost your skills, your talent, your expertise, or anything between your ears. That is your intellectual property! We've seen this movie before; we know how it plays out. It's not the first time you've lost your job, and every time, without question, you have always told me how it was the best thing that could've happened because you've ended up in a killer role! It may have taken a few weeks, but you've always landed on your feet, Mark. Think about this, though; aren't you tired of having to go through this every 24-30 months? Can this time be different? What if you created an opportunity where the skill, the talent and the expertise are transferable?"

"What I mean is that creating an opportunity and looking for a job are two very different things. This could absolutely be the right time for you to consider creating your button rather than pushing the same one you've pushed over and over again. What if it could be different this time? Rather than making a decision based on desperation, why not put some thought into it? Mark, I want you to think about the one thing you'd love to do so much that you'd roll out of bed in the morning and do it for free."

"This is your time to find something where the sun can't come up soon enough because you want to go do your thing. This is your time in life to really show up."

Over the years I've talked to people all over the country, and they've shared their stories of struggle and triumph. I love what I do for a living, and really enjoy helping people create better visions and better versions of themselves. Nothing makes me feel better than knowing I've impacted someones life positively.

The last thing I had mentioned to him was this: "At some point we have to determine if it's a higher priority to abandon our soul, ourselves...or to actually have the life we want."

Views: 103

Comment by Maureen Sharib on October 12, 2009 at 11:44am
Christopher, I have to tell you - I checked the date on your post. It seems like a story we've been hearing a while now - your guy is lucky it only just now happened to him. Tell him that.
Comment by Christopher McCann on October 12, 2009 at 11:54am
Thanks Maureen, I think he now realizes that. Love your work!
Comment by Christopher McCann on October 12, 2009 at 6:10pm
That IS a remarkable story, and one of my all-time favorite pictures :)

Thanks for the link!
Comment by Martin H.Snyder on October 13, 2009 at 1:04pm
There are a lot of levels to this.... for example, you can be hugely passionate about a goal (landing a man on the moon) but be stuck in a goal critical job that still sucks (mixing stinky epoxy for a thermal protection system). You can have a job with zero passion (insurance actuary) but one where you love your co-workers, drive-time, office, and perks......

Or you can be like many of us- you like your job just fine, but you would do something else in a heartbeat if you suddenly possessed the needed quantity of Eff U Money.

The old advice to just do what you love also has its equal but opposite: don't try to turn an avocation into a vocation. The real question has to be this: what can you do best to add real value to your life or the lives of others in any given time and place ?

When you can add real value, the money and opportunities have the best chances to flow, while mere passion is both subjective and temporal, and sometimes most cruel in its costs and rewards. How you feel about stuff moment to moment is far overrated; your long term feelings and comfort are often disconnected from short term preception.

JFK once said (paraphrased) that happiness is the ability to deploy one's powers to the fullest, and that has always stuck with me as a most important measure of success.
Comment by Saleem Qureshi on October 13, 2009 at 1:25pm
Nice pep talk, but before giving him this advice, I would ask the following questions to assess and see if he really has what it takes to create an idea, develop it, execute it, then finally make it generate the first dollar in revenue... I would ask:
1. How long can you sustain yourself on your savings? If its more than 6 months then you are in good shape to invest the rest into generating an idea, then developing it further
2. Do you have any solid ideas that are worth taking to market? If not, then can you add value to someone else's idea and join them in their venture rather than starting something of your own.


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