Layups and Layoffs

Draymond Green slapped some sense into me the other day.

No, not literally.

But something he said shocked me out of an outdated mindset. This proved to be the assist I needed to get over my recent layoff.

Some context might help here.

First of all, who is Draymond Green? It depends.

If you root for any NBA team other than Golden State, or if you specifically root against the Warriors, Draymond Green is the player you love to hate. He’s an agitator, a persistent irritation, the leaf-blower outside your house at 8AM, Edward Cullen when you’re #TeamJacob. He gets on your nerves, ignites your outrage. But you have to respect him, albeit grudgingly.

For Warrior fans, he’s a player who would drive you crazy except he’s our guy so you love him. He’s been as much the face of the Warrior dynasty as Steph Curry or Klay Thompson. He can flat out play great basketball, he leads with his heart on his sleeve, and you can’t imagine Golden State without him. Except for that time when his Flail Heard Round The World cost the Warriors the 2016 championship. You could kinda imagine his absence then.

Love him or hate him, Draymond Green is Golden State. For now.

He knows the sun sets on all good things. He knows he might not be with Golden State his entire career. And that’s okay. Should he leave, that won’t diminish what he accomplished.

“I understand the business. We tend to get into this mindset that someone owes us something because of what we’ve accomplished. You’d be an idiot to walk around feeling that way. Like, I feel like you’re just setting yourself up for failure. You’re setting yourself up for heartbreak.”

Draymond Green, interview with Bleacher Report’s Taylor Rooks

Which is kind of the trap I set for myself.

When I was told of my layoff, I was hurt. “How could you do this to me?!” But the thing is, the layoff wasn’t really about me. It wasn’t about my performance, nor my accomplishments. It wasn’t a rejection of me. It was a simple numbers game, an unlabeled box on an org chart being removed to make way for a different box strategy. I may not have agreed with it, but it wasn’t personal.

After reading Draymond’s quote, I abruptly got it.

When I was first laid off, did it feel a bit like the Starks receiving the Lannisters’ regards? Yes, absolutely. But as with Game of Thrones, that feeling of betrayal was based on an outmoded perception of employer-employee loyalty, akin to the feudal system of lords and banners. “Swear allegiance to me and I’ll protect you forever.” For example, my grandfather spent fifty years working for AT&T. Another lingering example is Dagwood Bumstead – the only reason he still has a job is that Mr. Dithers is just way too loyal and keeps him on just because. (Yes, I root for Mr. Dithers, not Dagwood. I’ll also root for Mr. Wilson against Dennis the Menace.)

That lifelong career mode is no longer how employment works, so to speak. Now, men on average work 12.6 jobs in their career and women 12.3* (how one works three-fifths of a job, is beyond me. Time travel may be involved).

Simply put: an employer hires you. You do work and they pay you. Often they pay very well and provide benefits. If you do more work, or better work, you can get promotions, make more money. It’s an exchange. If you’re lucky, your values align with those of your employer.

And sometimes, the needs of the organization outweigh the needs of the one, or the few, and you find your path parting from that of your employer – but hey, getting laid off is still better than dying (even temporarily) in a radioactive chamber.

Not an image of me saying farewell to select colleagues from my old job.

Basically, when an organization gets to a certain size and complexity, the numbers game of layoffs and reorganizations will override the question of loyalty. For better or worse, this is the name of the game – and it can definitely bruise feelings when you’re treated as a huge risk by having all access immediately blocked. But that’s the safest course for the employer, regardless of how loyal you’ve been.

The silver lining is that if an employer isn’t signing you on for life, you don’t have to feel locked in when something better or more exciting comes along. So here’s how you move forward, a little sadder and a little wiser, after that first layoff claims you for its own. You can still be loyal to a new employer, but now – to return to the world of Game of Thrones – it’s more like being Bronn the mercenary, just not quite as quick to turn sides: you’ll be loyal as long as you’re paid to be. In other words, you’ll be professional.

  • Find a job that fits what you want to do.
  • If you’re lucky, your values align with the company’s values.
  • Give your all to your job. Help others. Pitch in. Be proud of what you do.
  • Keep your commitments once you make them.
  • Don’t promise more than what you have to give.
  • Don’t take it personally when it ends.

So when they let you go, here lies the chance to try new things. Take a shot at the unknown. Gamble and follow your gut to the next opportunity, however strange it might seem. When you realize you’re a professional, when you know you can’t assume that playing it safe will keep everything the same, you can take a leap and ask the questions that need to be asked.

Stay tuned for the details of my next adventure, coming soon …

*Source: 2021 U.S. Bureau of Labor news release

Published by dmhallett101

Husband, father, writer, reader, mostly in that order. Staying sane by pretending to be creative by playing with (WordPress) blocks.

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