Last night I went to an industry event for association professionals. While I’m not in the trenches like I used to be, I still like to keep in touch with old friends and meet new contacts.
It was a lively crowd – I mean who doesn’t get excited over guacamole and free margaritas! People were not shy and I immediately started chatting with a group around a high table. As my gaze shifted around the table, I couldn’t help but pick up on the energy of a few people. Their shoulders were slumped, their smiles were forced and they avoided eye contact as much as they could.
I had seen this look before from friends “in transition.” The association world is harsh. All it takes is one budget decision, one Board member, one relationship in the C-Suite to determine your fate in unemployment. These people around the room were on the receiving end of these decisions.
They did what experts tell them to do – “Get out and network! Your connections will land you your next opportunity.” So they put their suits on and get dressed up to put themselves in the place they least want to be – around people who are getting paid to do what they used to.
Their baggage of abandonment and rejection is palpable. They try to smile through it and engage people in conversation, but you feel the sadness all around. What they want and need most is an opportunity, but the façade and baggage cover-up repels it. Employers want to feel excited and inspired when they meet candidates. As much as they want to help someone out, employment is not a charity case and more often than not the people who need the jobs most are getting passed up.
Say you’re in that position, what do you do?
1) Take care of yourself – whether it’s meditation, writing, working out, dancing in the street. Make yourself happy first even if it’s for five minutes at a time.
2) Face your baggage – the resentment isn’t going away and it’s definitely not good for your complexion. Sit down with your anger and resentment and write it down. Then get another piece of paper and convert those statements into lessons or gifts. If you can’t do this, you’re not ready to go to another organization. It’s time to recycle the trash memories into a recycled story of empowerment.
3) Mix it up – if you’re tired of going to the same industry events, try different social groups. There are tons of meet up groups for a gazillion industries. You never know who you’ll meet just by being curious.
4) Focus on the progression – if you’re only in your fear and self-doubt, you can’t see the opportunities flooding around you. If nothing’s happening, create content. Dig into what you’re known for. If you don’t consider yourself and expert, read up more or take some classes.
5) Whatever you do, fail forward – we’ve only got one life to live and jobs come and go, but you are the only you and that’s pretty awesome!