What a difference a year makes

Last year at this time I was at the beginning of a new stage of my career.  After an unexpected layoff and the first time not being employeed in nearly a quarter-century, I found myself in an unfamiliar place. 

I had spent my entire career working in IT shops of large corporations.  Three Fortune 500 companies had been my place of employment over 24 years.  Now I found myself in a company that was smaller than the departments I had been in.  Everything about this job was different.  The type of work, the type of company, the type of boss, the type of people, the type of office…. you name it, it was new to me.

I decided that I was going to go into it full bore, roll the dice, and just see what happened.  What I found was a job that has given me more fulfilment, more fun, and more excitement than anything I experienced in the corporate world. 

What has made this so much fun?  Here are a few thoughts:

  • The ability to trace my actions straight to the bottom line of the company.
  • The ability to make decisions without multiple levels of review, oversight and second-guessing.
  • The ability to get out of the box and be creative, harnassing the entrepreneur in each of us.
  • The ability to step out of your comfort zone and lead in various capacities (my role has expanded beyond IT into almost every aspect of the business).

Bottom line, I believe the fundamental thing that has made this job enjoyable is the ability to make a difference!  I’ve heard before that the number one thing employees want from their employers is appreciation.  No greater apprecation can be found than to believe you make a difference in an organization.

My encouragement for anyone going through an unexpected job change is to keep your eyes open.  You never know where your next opportunity will come from.  And no matter how different it may feel to you, it may end up leading to the most fun you’ve had (on the job) in a long time!   Good luck and God Bless!

Dealing with Worry? You Gotta Have Faith!

Dealing with fear and worry is an every day issue. You can’t avoid them. But what you can do is learn how to deal with them and overcome the paralyzing effect they can have on you.

Let’s first define fear and worry. While they are almost used interchangeably, there is a difference. Fear is an automatic reaction to some event. A rabid dog or a deer jumping in front of your car should instigate fear. In this way, fear is not altogether bad. When used properly, it can protect you.

Worry, on the other hand, is a choice. Francis Chan defines worry in his book Crazy Love”, Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.”

The Bible actually gives us a  model on how to deal with worry that will work in any situation.  1 Corinthians 13 is often referred to as the “Chapter of Love” and is popularly used in weddings.  The famous ending of the chapter is “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

The model for dealing with worry is to apply these three “most important things”, faith, hope & love.  In this post I’ll talk about the first of these, faith.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a great quote linking fear (doubts) with faith.  He said “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. Let us move forward with strong and active faith.”  FDR recognized that you have to have faith in order to have the strength inside to move forward past the challenges of today.

First, let me explain that I’m not talking about a faith in God.  While that is something that is important to me, that’s not what this blog is about.  I am talking about applying some Biblical priniciples in a very practical way to help you in your daily life.

So how does faith help you with worry?  Simply put, faith is a form of confidence.  To overcome fear, you need to have faith – fatih in yourself, your friends, your employer, your abilities, your plan…. whoever you need to rely on to get you through the tough time.

Take for example the time last year when I was unemployed.  I needed to have faith in several things:

  • Myself – I had to believe that I was capable of finding a job, and performing the duties of it when I did.
  • My friends – I had to believe that my network of friends and associates would come through and help me find employment opportunities.
  • My wife and family – I had to believe that they would support me no matter what happened.
  • My strategy – I had to believe that the job search strategy I had empoyed would work.

Francis Chan had this to say about fear and faith.  “Fear never wrote a symphony or poem, negotiated a peace treaty, or cured a disease. Fear never pulled a family out of poverty or a county out of bigotry. Fear never saved a marriage or a business. Courage did that. Faith did that. People who refused to consult or cower to their timidities did that. But fear itself? Fear herds us into a prison and slams the doors.”

Call it faith, courage, confidence… pick your word, the meaning is the same.  If you are going to face your worry head on, you have to figure out who and what you have faith in.  Then use that confidence to help you through the tough times.

Next, I’ll talk about hope, and how it is a necessary component in dealing with fear.