[I first published this article several years ago before I had a laptop computer or a smartphone. Even though I’ve long since updated my technology, the principles still apply. Read on to learn about the crisis that didn’t go to waste.]
“Never waste a good crisis,” Marvin, a former client, stated. I chuckled as I noted his comment. Little did I know that a few weeks later it would be my mantra, too.
The crisis? A major desktop computer problem severe enough that it needed diagnosis and repair at the technician’s shop. My heart sank and I felt panicky as I watched the technician leave with my computer–the day before a three-day weekend. Without a laptop computer (at that time) or a smart phone, I needed to find other ways to conduct my professional and personal communication.
In the midst of my concern, I reminded myself that this wasn’t a life-threatening disease, and that I’d need to figure out how to get through this major disruption.
During my computer’s eight-day absence, I discovered other ways to access my business database, check email, handle financial transactions, and communicate with friends. Some things I couldn’t do at all, and much of what I DID do was inconvenient, but my life did not come to an end.
While figuring out how to handle critical daily communication, I took steps to reduce the impact of any future computer problems by investing in a reliable daily backup system. Plus, I had time to think through some business dilemmas such as how to shift sending my six-times-a-year newsletter from US Mail to email.
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What I learned from dealing with this technological crisis applies to any crisis, including a career crisis like a job loss. When faced with such a crisis:
1. Get your bearings. First, acknowledge that a crisis is upsetting and maybe even disorienting. A job loss, though frightening, is rarely life-threatening. Remind yourself that in three days, three weeks, three months, or three years it will be over. It will be another memory.
Second, commit to maintain some routines, even very simple ones like exercise, regular meal times, or end-of-day rituals. They provide continuity in the midst of disruption.
2. Reach out. Call on resources–people, information, and technology. Whether it’s talking with a friend to generate ideas, seeking feedback on your updated resume, doing online research, or meeting with a career counselor, enlist help. Don’t try to do it alone. Although you may feel desperate, there are respectful and dignified ways to tap into your resources.
3. Re-evaluate. The disruption of a job loss allows, even invites, breaking old stale patterns. You may find better ways to do your search, or maybe it’s time to consider shifting direction.
4. Learn from the crisis. Determine how you can apply what you’ve learned, whether to avoid a recurrence or to handle a similar situation in the future. For example, establishing a financial emergency fund can allay the dread of homelessness. Keep your resume updated, and continue to build and tend to your network.
5. Express your thanks and appreciation. When the crisis has passed, thank the people who helped you along the way, whether through a lead to your new job or the simple kindness of a friend. Taking time to let others know the resolution of your career crisis strengthens human bonds and extends goodwill.
Crises, disruptions, and unplanned events happen. By getting your bearings, reaching out, using the disruption to re-evaluate, learning from the crisis, and thanking those who helped you get through it, you won’t have wasted a good crisis.
Re-consider the “Feedback Sandwich”
Giving feedback, especially criticism, can be challenging; receiving criticism, too, even when delivered constructively is not fun. A popular method for giving negative feedback has been to sandwich it between compliments. For example, “Your enthusiasm is contagious, and we appreciate it; now we need you to get to meetings on time so you won’t slow us down. You can channel your energy more productively that way.”
Here’s what Adam Grant, one of the wisest researchers and writers in the business world has to say about the feedback sandwich:”Stop Serving the Feedback Sandwich.”
Consider a CAP (Career Action Planning) Session if you:
> Feel stuck or stalled in your career
> Are worried about a layoff
> Wonder if it’s not just a new job but a new career you need
> Have been looking for work but not getting results.
In this 90-120-minute meeting, we can get to the root of your career problem and come up with a plan to solve it. For more information call me at 314-752-1373 or use the contact form on my website.