Seeing the news of tech layoffs in the last few weeks prompted me to write about the gifts my own layoff in 2021 brought in the past twelve months.
Some of these gifts emerged early, and some just recently. Reminding me that we can't rush deep life lessons. And, reminding me that we mustn't rush to check the box on moments and decisions that shape us.
While I can talk about "gifts" now, I wouldn't have been able to a year ago. Like a child is aware of the presence of Easter eggs before igniting the hunt, I knew the gifts were waiting for me to find them. But, I wasn't ready to turn over the rocks and peer beneath bushes to find them at first.
So, that's gift 1A, I guess: Giving self time to feel the emotion and let.it.be. Knowing that grief can't be rushed. But, also staying vigilant so as not to let fear take the reins.
I've been reading a lot of author Marie Benedict's historical fiction lately (thanks for the recommendation, Mom!). She chooses female protagonists who often had lesser roles in the celebrated legacy of male "heroes".
My current read is Lady Clementine. As wife to Winston Churchill, she had incredible influence in the impact often credited to him. In a passage I read last night, Benedict evokes the idea of a "dispositive choice". (I had to look up what 'dispositive' means, and summarize it as "bringing about the settlement of an issue").
"In each life, it seemed there was one dispositive choice, the choice that narrowed and excluded some possibilities but expanded and enlarged many others." (Marie Benedict, Lady Clementine)
I believe we have several dispositive choices in life.
There are also several dispositive events, that are often outside of our control.
However, when we recognize that something significant is taking place, it grants us the invitation to move from the cheap seats of life to the VIP box from which we have a very good view of the stage.
In those dispositive events, we can bet that there will be significant learning. Important characters will emerge. And, the protagonist will transform in some meaningful way.
I challenged myself to pull out the seven most significant learnings from the events still unfolding thanks to the dispositive layoff of 2021.
These are in no particular order of magnitude or chronology.
Gift 1: Who showed up
And it wasn't exactly who I expected! It was as if a piñata broke open and so many wonderful souls exploded into my world.
Gift 2: Having less made me more generous
I know. Strange, right? I'm not sure exactly how this worked but having a more direct relationship in generating income as a small business owner (vs. receiving a salaried paycheck) opened up gratitude in giving. (Caveat: there's still a daily intention to act with abundance vs. scarcity but it's a practice I enjoy).
Gift 3: Reacquainting with God
I am a spiritual person to my core, yet in the years prior, God and I had become distant friends. I continued to have the utmost respect and appreciation for this love-force-being in my life, but I had begun to perceive that I was orchestrating my path and success rather than Divinity doing so.
Gift 4: Learning to value my time
(And invest it into the people and endeavors that I will never regret if another wave happens to come and wash away my castle of sand.) My first thoughts upon the layoff news were the moments I would never retrieve with my family, the years with my son, etc. And, conscious decision making about never again prioritizing work over family.
Gift 5: Receiving the generosity, kindness and reflections of others
This year brought glimpses of the best of humanity. (And, there is so much beauty despite what we continue to witness in the news).
Gift 6: Getting to be an agent in others' journeys
As a coach, as a friend, as a family member... people have allowed me to walk with them through some hard stuff, their own vulnerability, and dispositive life changes. What an honor it is.
Gift 7: Learning to ask for help
Ironic since the name of my business is "nobody makes it alone", but it this gift took the longest to receive. And, frankly, I'm an infant in my development with it. Yet, it's a portal to so much wisdom, kindness and generosity that I feel I've tapped into a flow that is nothing short of magic.
I keep a "One Line a Day" journal. The analog version of social media's "time hop", it allows you to look back at what you were doing a year ago (or more, depending on how long you've been diligent at keeping a record).
It's both painful and reassuring to look back a year ago to see the emotions I was processing so close to the event.
And, I'm reminded of all the joys life delivered in the past twelve months...day-by-day.
It's true that sometimes the growth we most need isn't the growth we'd choose.
My train officially switched tracks. And, while I loved the train I had been on, it wasn't the train of my destiny.
Maybe you have been through a track-changing event in your life, as well. If so, I invite your comments, your learnings, and your advice to a community of people recently called to involuntarily travel on a different track.
Because, afterall...nobody makes it alone.