My employer and I parted ways last October. I wasn’t blind-sided or steamrolled by the layoff, but the hit really cleaned my clock and rung my bell. The incident was unfortunate, though inevitable. With the failing economy, the company wasn’t getting the job done on either side of the ball. They were in search of an identity. Management was in the hot seat and under fire (over fire too, I suppose), but in no position to turn on the after-burners. The writing was on the wall, and something had to change. Heads rolled. It is what it is.
The company may not have been the right place for me, and I was looking to explore other options. After all, I need to feed my family and make a living… this is America, where everyone deserves a second chance. But I always gave it my all at work – 110% – leaving everything on the field and nothing on the table or to chance. I came to play, mentally prepared for each day, and worked as if it were my last. I never lost focus, and was never flat. Is it possible that I was part of the problem and not the solution? No. I’m a difference maker, have been at every company I’ve ever worked. I’m a scrappy and unselfish player, but also an impact player who can take over a game. I have great vision, owing to the eyes in the back of my head. Who does the boss call when the game is on the line? Me, the go-to guy, the team player who can carry the team on his shoulders. I’m a proven winner, the real deal. Former employers can’t say enough about me. I may bring a lot to the table, but I’m only human; I’m only one man. My last company was missing some other pieces of the puzzle. They needed to circle the wagons, take stock and get back on track.
I’m not pointing fingers. In the end, my boss did what was best for the team. I tip my hat to him for making a difficult decision at a difficult time; he didn’t want to dig himself a deeper hole. In the end, I can really only blame myself – the man in the mirror – for not taking my game to the next level. Mistakes may have been made. Ultimately continued employment just wasn’t meant to be, nor was it in the cards, stars or offing or written in the sky. I learned a lot in my time with the company and made a lot of friends. I can hold my head high, knowing I did my best. But the time had come to move on, hopefully to greener pastures.
There is no “i” in “team,” or “paycheck,” which I no longer had. There is an “i” in “bills” though, which would continue to show up on my doorstep. Coming off a heartbreaking loss, what would be my next step? Could I pick myself up by my bootstraps? Could I get back in the saddle on that horse and ride, or at least lead it to water? While my job loss was a bitter pill to swallow, I just had to put it behind me… move on with my life. Whatever mistakes were made were in the past, and I’m not here to talk about the past. This was my wake-up call. Opportunity was knocking, and I had to answer the call.
Without a job, I had room to operate and play my game, let Norm be Norm. I had a solid foundation to build on. The first step was to collect my thoughts, get my act together and put my ducks in a row. My resume had to be whipped into shape. It needed to show my mental agility and toughness, along with my depth of character, to silence all the naysayers. The next step was to go out there and execute. If I could bring my A-game while firing on all cylinders, a new job would be as good as in the bag. After all, the game is won and lost in the trenches, where the devil is in the details. I would march right down the field and score, then leave the rest up to God. I could afford to take my time, one day at a time. But I couldn’t afford to milk the clock. I didn’t have all day.
I know how to play the game. I wasn’t coming out of nowhere as a job candidate. I’d been around the block a few times, seen some things and given a lot back to the community. But events of the past year really took the wind out of the economy’s sails. There were no jobs to be had, not even as a speed merchant, field general, play maker or workhorse. Even the best in the business were having trouble navigating these difficult waters. My layoff hasn’t been all bad. It’s let me spend more time with my family and pursue other interests.
These days, I’m down but not out with my back against the wall, in a do-or-die situation behind the eight ball. Things are tough out there. It’s been a long job search journey, with nothing to show for it but an excel spreadsheet filled with notes about all the resumes I’ve submitted. New York City and its employers haven’t exactly rallied around me. Maybe they think I’m past my prime, not a wily veteran or elder statesman, but someone who doesn’t know when to quit. I feel like there’s a monkey on my back and an elephant in the room, both staring me right in the face. The ball just hasn’t bounced my way; I haven’t gotten any breaks. Sometimes that’s just how the cookie crumbles, even for the Norm Elrods of the world.
But I suppose we make our own luck and control our own destiny. So I just have to remember what got me here, dig deep, stay focused, step up and make plays and then play to win. It’s a whole new ballgame, and I will not be denied. I have a strong supporting cast, who have rallied to my side in this time of need. I’m heading in the right direction, playing with confidence and doing all the little things I need to do to win. All that matters is the final score, and the game isn’t over. Finding a job takes time. But I’m just one big play away from the promised land. To get there, I just need stick to the game plan and keep the drive alive. No one’s throwing in the towel just yet. So let’s look on the bright side and call 2009 a rebuilding year. Tomorrow is another day, and the sun will rise. Maybe I’ll find a job… that’s why we play the game.
Who’s ready for some football, and all the laughably cliched interviews that precede and follow each game? I know I am. Go Skins!