By Guest Blogger Dawn McCoy
At the time, it seemed so wrong. It was something that happened to other people. Then it happened to me.
I found myself so blindsided by my company’s sweeping corporate layoff that almost 10 years later, I still cannot recall what was said during the announcement. This was a position I was sure was secure – so much so that I relocated from California to Virginia to oversee a regional office for the organization.
After the layoff, I chose not to move elsewhere or return to California. Instead, I assumed that my college education, leadership positions and 20 years of work experience meant I could readily transition into another top organizational position.
Networking skills and political acumen helped me navigate in the unfamiliar region. However, dead-end interviews and lukewarm job leads ended with closed doors. It was the first time I felt defeated despite my accomplishments. Occasionally I glanced at my diplomas and awards shaking my head in disbelief.
As with other life-changing experiences I’ve gone through, I faced the harsh reality and decided I had to think fast. In this case, that meant reinventing myself and shifting my thinking beyond the expected “climb up the career ladder.”
I began to approach my next steps by thinking beyond checkboxes on a job application. I leveraged my expertise to speak, teach and write, and translated those areas of expertise into a hybrid of part-time work and contract opportunities.
Thankfully, my background in drafting technical user manuals, regulatory policies and corporate compliance requirements paid off. I was able to translate those skills into valuable lectures, life-learning guides and proposals. Networking and strategic thinking also morphed into valuable grant-writing and fundraising opportunities. Who knew!
The same year as the layoff I launched a leadership development and communications firm to empower others with training modules and tools. Looking back, it was the beginning of a new chapter to serve others and at the same time chart a different career path.
Interesting enough, within three years of the layoff, my young son’s special needs and chronic health issues required a more non-traditional work schedule to accommodate his therapies and medical appointments. Not to mention that he had repetitive, unpredictable health problems. Thankfully I was already in a work capacity that nurtured my role as mother of a special needs child.
Had the unfortunate corporate downsizing really manifested into an unforeseen blessing?
The silver lining in my 10-year journey means remembering the layoff as a life-changing event that no longer makes me frown, but cherish even unsavory situations. Turning the corner does not mean that I have lost time or given up a future cushy-corner office. On the contrary, I continuously remind myself to embrace a new paradigm that nurtures my creativity and makes my spirit soar.
Dawn McCoy is a leadership strategist, speaker and the author of Leadership Building Blocks. She is also founder of Flourish Leadership Group, LLC, and a senior service facilitator with Moms in Motion, a consumer-directed Medicaid Waiver service facilitation case management provider. Dawn and her son reside in Central Virginia and enjoy the arts. Learn more about Dawn at Flourish Leadership Group (www.flourishleadership.com). You can also connect with her on Facebook at Dawn McCoy Books and Twitter @dawnmccoy02