It may seem strange to say, but perhaps one of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard came to me via a TV ad decades ago. I was a young man at the time, at the beginning of my career. Like all cocksure, young punks, I had just stumbled. Failed at something I had assumed I would be brilliant at. Ambition had far exceeded talent and application. I needed to be picked up. Encouraged to keep on going. Persevere.
Redundancy is like that in many ways. It can be brutal. You feel exposed. Admitting you have lost your job to your family, friends, or just in conversation with anyone. It’s like walking naked in a crowd. Vulnerable. Useless. Leaving my dependents feeling helpless.
But the world keeps turning and after a while new opportunities arise. As one chapter ends, so another begins. It doesn’t always feel like that at the time, but the laws of the universe dictate constant movement with time. The optimist calls it progress, the pessimist entropy.
There is such joy in being needed for my skills and experience again.
In the ad that struck such a chord with me all those years ago, the trick we are told is to overcome your fear, to avoid spending your life in the wings. Dust yourself down, and find the courage to keep on going.
Over the past six months I have applied to 75 roles. Heard back from around 20, got shortlisted for five, had four interviews. I’ve also built a network of new relationships that could begin to support a portfolio career as a fractional CMO, consulting for a variety of businesses, as an independent, unbiased and expert voice. I have also spent a significant amount of time reading around my subject, talking to experts, listening, thinking and writing. Slowly clarifying what I want to do, what makes me tick, and when I can be at my best.
Recently I was offered a six month contract with a large global brand, which I decided to accept. I’m a hired gun now. They wanted an expert to deliver a key project. I’m delighted to do that for them.
Being in work again, with a well known business, to deliver a high profile project. No politics or organisational bullshit to wade through. Working for someone who values my input, expertise and experience. In many ways I’m incredibly fortunate. There is such joy in being needed for my skills and experience again.
I don’t know where this will take me. I doubt very much this is a final destination for me. It’s the next part in the story of my career. In moments of fleeting despair over the past six months, I had feared that my story had ended. The book of my career complete. But, not so. I was being too rash. There is always something around the corner.
In truth, I don’t mind what happens next. Having gone through this experience like so many others, I now have the inner confidence to move forward on my terms, and only take on what’s right for me. To focus on where I can make a difference, and achieve new things.
It’s with the words of Harvey Keitel, and Johnnie Walker, ringing in my ears, that I sign off from these Redundancy Chronicles. To all those out there looking for work, or in adversity, my advice to you, is to ‘keep walking’.