It was a day like any other: I was hip deep in performing a competitive analysis for a client, determining their place in the social media landscape… checking sentiment ratios, analytics from their site and other digital minutiae … when I was called into the agency principal’s office at 11:30 a.m. The president of the firm was blessedly direct when he said to me: “I have to let you go. I feel terrible about this, because you are doing a great job. You are doing exactly what you said you could do, but because we’ve lost this major client, I have to do what’s best for the long-term financial health of the firm.”
Five years ago, on Friday, August the 13th, I, along with three of my colleagues, found myself out of a job, just like that. In response, I immediately called three people: my media brain friend, my pragmatic cheerleader friend and Liz Strauss.
“Genuine beginnings begin within us, even when they are brought to our attention by external opportunities.” – William Bridges
I had talked with Liz about the concepts of Women With Drive Foundation at her social media conference, SOBCon,, held just a few months’ prior. Her response when I told her of my job loss? “Good! Now you can blog for me.” In the same way that she counsels her clients, Liz had got my tumblers clicking during our subsequent conversations.
- How could I make WWDF a reality?
- What problem could I solve through creating a nonprofit of this sort?
- Who would I serve?
- Who would benefit?
- What was my value proposition?
- How was I going to shape our messaging?
- What type of brand voice would we have?
The answers to these and other questions would form the basis of my new life.
By leveraging the skills forged in twenty-some years of media, journalism and public speaking, I would create the organization that would emancipate women economically. But it wasn’t easy, and it took longer than I thought it would. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” – T. S. Eliot
I don’t know about you, but my “Ends” are usually pretty stark. I don’t know if that’s because I’m obtuse, stubborn or just don’t like change, but each of my Beginnings has as its demarcation a really apparent End. Such was the case with my leaving the agency.
That said, my recent discussion of WWDF that predated my dismissal provided me with the seeds of my salvation. There is ALWAYS a silver lining in each cloud and no great loss without some small gain.
“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” – Bernice Johnson Reagon
For one thing, I believe wholeheartedly that we are never presented with anything too big for us to handle.
Our challenge lies with identifying the skill within ourselves that we have allowed to remain dormant or underdeveloped.
One of the things that helped me to distill my values and choices was the new economy created by my changing financial reality. Instead of viewing my new budgetary concerns from a viewpoint of scarcity or privation, I began to truly embrace expansiveness and creativity with the resources at hand. Have you ever seen Drew Carey’s “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” The skit, Props, is a humorous example of this perspective.
“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin-real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” – Alfred D’Souza
I understood this quote in theory for quite some time, but over the years, I have come to truly grasp and internalize its meaning. Obstacles are a gift.
Being able to see each experience through the lens of the above quote has magnified my life. Embracing uncertainty has paradoxically made me more secure. It reminds me of the Apollo 13 mission and the crew’s use of “slingshotting” their craft around the moon to get home: employing a tactical use of energy to propel oneself forward from oblivion.
Our lives have ebbs and flows. Ends and beginnings are illusions. Starting over is nothing more than acknowledging The Pause before picking up your “thread” and continuing to weave your own story.