Employee who was laid off rebounds, turns bad experience into opportunity

April 14, 1991|By Patrick and Linda Lynch | Patrick and Linda Lynch,Knight-Ridder News Service

BOULDER, Colo. -- "I thought I was going to be sick," Kathy said, remembering how lightheaded and nauseous she had felt, her knees shaking so badly she thought they would buckle as she listened in shocked disbelief when her boss laid her off.

"The only thing I remember after that is putting on a happy face, going home and crying for the next two days. By the third day I'd had enough of that. I woke up mad as hell and swore I was never going to let that happen to me again."

What else did she learn? Not to let it destroy her self-worth. "Like most people, I had tied my self-worth to my job, so when I got laid off I thought I wasn't worth anything," she said. "It took a while to realize that I was fine. I'd just been had by the system because I had left myself wide open.

"I really believed all that stuff about being loyal and doing a good job and the company taking care of you. Wrong! It really doesn't matter how good you are, everyone's dispensable. And it's usually the people who aren't as good that stay or get promoted. I finally realized that I'm good, and they're the losers."

You aren't powerless. "All my life I'd given away my power to other people, and that was the No. 1 thing that kept getting me into trouble. After all this happened, I decided to set up my life so that I didn't keep get ting clobbered by things I didn't have any control over. Now I've taken my security into my own hands. . . ."

What did she do? "I turned down three job offers and decided to start my own company.

"I printed up a bunch of business cards, started calling everybody I knew and had my first client a week later. I've added five more since then, and this year it looks like I'm going to make more money than I did before. And, I'm having more fun!"

Being laid off can be the best thing that ever happens to you. "But I never really realized that until it was all over, and my life was a lot more like I wanted it to be," Kathy said. "Funny, somehow it feels like I got pushed off a cliff and learned I could fly."

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