This Monday was my last day at Uber. The company had to make difficult, unavoidable, decisions and lay off almost 7000 people in the past month. My role was impacted.
When I found out, thousand of scenarios ran through my head; “I should have insisted on taking on new projects”, “I should have built more relationship with that senior director lady”, “I should have build a business case for those opportunities I had identified…”, but the reality is, that there was nothing I could have done. My work, building the leadership development learning journey for leaders in the Operations team was almost done, and my project shifted from being a top business priority 2019, to being eliminated due to Covid19.
Saying virtual goodbyes to everyone made me realize that although this is an end of an era, it is the beginning of something new and exciting, where I have finally gotten what I wished for (but was unsuccessful) for so long in my role at Uber : Growth opportunities.
With so much uncertainty and ambiguity that is happening in the world right now, I have decided that I wasn’t going to waste my energies and give-in to negative feelings. I would like to share some of my thoughts here that maybe could help my previous co-workers and other people who are in the same situation as me.
“Layoff” doesn’t have an “I” in it
Remember two things, first, It is not your fault. Similarly to my case, there is absolutely nothing you could have done to avoid this situation.
Second, you are not alone - in fact we are part of 22 million people in the US who lost their jobs due to Covid19! There are a lot of networks and support groups which you can join. Reach out to your family and friends, you will be surprised by the amount of kindness, support and solidarity people are offering to one another during those difficult times.
Crisis Means Opportunity
In fact the word “Crisis” originates from Greek “Krisis” which means a “Decisive Point”. As Victor Frankle said, we can’t control what happens to us, but we have the freedom to choose our response. Every change represents a new beginning, which translates into the opportunity to start again on the same or a different path, but with more experience. Identify what are the things that you don’t have any control off (layoffs, recession, the pandemic, etc..) and then, identify the things that you DO have control off (Networking, learning new skills, reading, planning your day, applying for unemployment, reaching out to family and friends, searching for a new jobs). Seperate the two.
The more you focus on things within your zone of control, the more you will feel empowered, creative and strong. This exercise will help you uncover new opportunities for yourself. Trust me, I conducted it with some of my coachees and workshop participants, and it works!
Positivity is a Powerful Choice
There are endless articles that demonstrate the relationship between positivity and success. Positivity is defined as optimism or hopefulness about the future. In some publications, it is a synonym for confidence. Positivity is directly linked to mental health, well-being, and success.
HBS Professor and Happiness Researcher Shawn Achor found that experiencing positive emotions like joy, contentment, and love, you will see more possibilities in your life and will open your mind to more options.
At the same time, other academic research shows that negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action. When a big snake crosses your path, you run. The rest of the world doesn’t matter. You are focused entirely on the danger of the snake, the fear it creates, and how you can get away from it. Similar to every-day life, when you are stressed, angry and sad about losing your job, you may find it hard to actually start looking for a new one, because you’re focused on the negative emotions and paralyzed by how overwhelming and frightening the situation is.
Of course, there is no magical switch that can simply turn negativity off and positivity on. It is normal to have feelings like sadness, grief, anger and so on, and we shouldn’t try to push those emotions away. Instead, we should embrace them, give ourselves some time to process and see them as a chance to learn about ourselves and what is important to us. For example, I am sad that I won’t be able to tell people I work for an world-changing company like Uber, but it only taught me that my next role should be in another place that is changing the world, because this is important for me.
Positive-thinking doesn’t mean we should antagonize “bad” emotions while forcing ourselves to be happy and display an upbeat attitude. Positive thinking means embracing those emotions and focusing on the benefit they bring us, instead of the destruction.
I strongly urge you to choose to focus on the positive opportunities that unveil in your life, whether it is joy coming from children, family, friends, pets, significant others, or simply being with yourself and meditating, writing, working-out… As Mari Condo said, if something doesn’t bring you joy (i.e. destroying you) - toss it!
Now, you know that you have the power to choose how you want to handle this situation, and you also know that optimism can really make a positive impact on your life. This is why I chose to react positively. I have even fobidden my friends and family to send me pitty texts such as “Poor you” or “I’m so sorry that happened”, so now they are sending me messages like “You are a rock star!”, and “You will find a better gig”.
I genuinely feel like a happier person and I have numerous people from my network (including my ex boss) who are trying to help by referrals and simply by sharing interesting job opportunities.
Please reach out to me, comment and share with me your thoughts. We are in this together. Literally.