The Sum of You
"A smooth sea never yielded a skilled sailor."
This is, without a doubt, one of my all-time, favorite quotes. I got this from a buddy back in college and it's stuck with me every since. This may be news to some of you, but life is messy. As much as we try to protect, insulate and shield ourselves from the chaos going on all around us, sooner or later we're going to be tried and tested.
Two weeks ago my position was eliminated. I didn't see this one coming. I went into work that Friday morning, I got the news by 9:15am and by 9:45am I was sitting in Starbucks , sipping on a vanilla latte, reviewing my paperwork, making notes and putting together my plan. I was being tried and tested.
This wasn't the first speed bump in my career. It probably won't be my last. But I didn't have time to sulk, worry or lose sleep about the 'what ifs' and the 'what abouts'. I channeled my inner Sweet Brown. My focus was (and still is) on tapping into my network, cultivating new relationships, helping others who are in the same spot, blogging, and putting my 15+ years of HR experience to good use (shameless plug!)
At the end of the day, I'm a better HR pro after being tried and tested. Having been on the other side of the table for too many of these conversations (and there will be more to come), I can empathize in a way that I was not able to before. We are talking about human resources here and I believe that compassion still has a place in the world of work.
This summer we spent some time in Orlando for a family vacation. One of the highlights of the trip was a new (relatively) ride at Epcot called The Sum of all Thrills. In short, you get to design and "ride" your own roller coaster. It's sponsored by Raytheon, so they got these high tech, whiz bang contraptions that actually simulate roller coasters. As you're designing your ride, you can choose the style (bobsled, coaster, etc.), the speed, the height of the drops and you can add features like loops, corkscrews, cobra rolls, etc. After you design your ride, you hop in the simulator, buckle up and hang on tight while your ride comes to life, right before your eyes. It's crazy fun!
It got me thinking...what if we could design our own careers? What would it look like? What kind of features would you trick your career out with? Would you add any huge drops? How fast would you want to go? Would you throw a couple of loops in there? My guess is that given the chance, we would map out a career that was safe, stable and had a steady trajectory. Most of us would keep the tricks out of the equation. But, like I said earlier, life if messy. The irony is that those dips, loops and drops build character and make us better at what we do. How can a sailor really be considered any good if they've never weathered and endured any storms?
Speaking of roller coasters, I'll wrap it up with this clip from Parenthood (great movie, by the way!). No need to watch the entire clip, as the real "meat" is in the first three minutes. There's a lot of wisdom in Grandma's words here, even if she does end up in the neighbor's car!