From a high-flying executive to hitting rock bottom. Yup, I have had some major career setbacks AND when I least expected it! NOBODY is safe from rejection, being passed over, or just not even being considered.
How do some events devastate people while others overcome more robustly? History is riddled with so many examples of the underdog or outlier overcoming all odds. It is simply their resilience conquer their desire to give in at all costs. So, when one door closes on you, I dare you to shout, “NEXT!”, and rewrite your story! It is not over yet.
- I’m fascinated with the topic of resilience – from a psychological, interpersonal and a career perspective.
- I’ve had major career setbacks at the height of my career that left me feeling humiliated and incompetent.
- How do some events destroy us? And other equally negative events make us stronger?
- For example, Gloria Mitchell persevered through homelessness and Lyme Disease to receive a degree from Stanford.
- She achieved what most privileged and healthy people are unable to achieve.
- Resilience is the ability to withstand the desire to give up. So, I decided to build my own path in life!
- You need to build your OWN self-confidence and worth.
- This should not be assembled on the praise of others but on your perception of your sense of self.
- Resilience is a muscle that you need to exercise.
- How many of us have not “stepped into the ring”? Is it the fear of failure? Or the pain of not being good enough?
- Feel the fear and do it anyway!
- Practice rejection because it gives us an opportunity to re-calibrate our purpose and values.
- There is always a small win in rejection – the lesson to be learned!
- Be brave to be free!
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I recently wrote an article in Thrive to take control of your financial stress. You’re welcome!
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Lisa Linfield: 00:13 Hello, everybody, and welcome to today’s episode of Working Women’s Wealth. This week, we’re discussing resilience in the workplace. How do we recover from the setbacks in our career that we’re almost guaranteed we will face? Last week, in episode 80, I interviewed Christmas Hutchinson, who coaches people in corporate resilience. I’ve always been fascinated by resilience. Why do some events devastate some people, and others get through to the other side stronger, better, more capable than they ever were? In episode 41, I interviewed Gloria Mitchell, who went from being homeless and living out of her car to completing a Stanford MBA while struggling with Lyme Disease.
How did she have the mental strength to keep going and change the predictable narrative of homelessness, to achieve what most healthy, non-homeless people have failed to do? Only 7 percent of applicants into Stanford ever get the opportunity to attend.
For me, resilience is about the ability to bounce back, to withstand the pain, the desire to give up, and to keep going despite wanting to curl up in a ball and hide forever. I’d had many small and medium-sized knocks along my journey that all helped me to build resilience. But in episode 52, I shared some of my journey with you, and the story of how I got to where I am now. Key to that story was a period of around 2 years that saw me going from the peak of my career to true rock-bottom.
You see, I’d been a high-flyer and was about to interview for my perfect C-suite job on a Friday when our MD decided to resign on the Wednesday just two days before. He’d been a big champion and supporter of my career, and I was in a program for top performers. The big challenge was that the next MD did not see me at all in the same way. In fact, she couldn’t have seen me more opposite if you’d possibly tried. To say the least, she was not a fan at all. So not only did I not get the C-suite job, to cut a very long story short, I found myself two years later returning to work after 5 months of bedrest and 4 months of maternity leave with my twins and having no job at all. Not one.
You see, I ran a very large business unit, and the story I was given was that it was not fair on the team for them to continue without a boss for the 9 months that I needed to take off. So from corner office or office with beautiful view and a sacred tree, I then return to work after maternity leave to a help desk and no job. And at that stage, when I returned to work, I had these baby twinnies who needed their mom. So I was unable to actually go back to work and tell them exactly what to do with themselves and proceed to find a better option. I actually had to stay where I was, at that help desk and live in the humiliation.
You see the conversation when I returned goes something like this: “Hey, Lis. How are you? How are those gorgeous new babies of yours? What are you up to now?” And I’d have to say, “I actually don’t have a job.” And then we’d go through all the words of encouragement that everyone feels they have to say, but truly, nothing could help the shame I felt. Was I that useless that they couldn’t find me a job in the nine months that I was away at my level of seniority? It was four years from when my MD resigned to when I felt reestablished in the role they eventually had to make for me. Four really hard years professionally.
I set only one goal, to do something phenomenal so that I could rebuild my self-worth, show that new MD she was wrong about me, and then leave. And that’s what I did. I built two amazing products from scratch, one leveraging an idea in South America, and one a completely new app I invented, which, after I left, won a global award for the best banking data app in the world. And then I left. By the time I left, my twins were three-and-a-half years old. They were sleeping through the night and amazing little humans. I’d rebuilt my self-confidence, not through the praises of other people, but this time based on something way more solid: my personal sense of self.
Within six months, I found myself again applying for a promotion as the company I was in was reorganizing. Following a 5-week interview process where I’d work my butt off and regained hope that this was my career re-establishing itself, I found myself being the last person standing in the interview process. I then walked into a meeting where I was scheduled to get my offer and feedback, knowing that there was no one else in contention. But my boss then told me that they had decided to restructure, and that there was now no longer going to be that job. They were merging it with another role. I left his office, drove to the park, and sat on a rock, sobbing for the whole Friday afternoon.
It hadn’t even occurred to me that as the last person left in the interview process, the whole thing would disappear at the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute. And all I could think about is, “Here we go again.” Another four years of slow personal torture. But to my absolute shock, I woke up the next morning, normal, so to speak. Yes, I felt bruised, but I actually felt totally normal and was resolute to move forward and find my own path in life. And then the celebration kicked in. I can’t begin to describe how excited I was that I was now able to bounce back, able to keep going despite devastating disappointment. And I realized that this resilience thing is like a muscle. The more you exercise, the stronger it gets. And what devastated you before is a dip the next time around. And it got me wondering how many times I’d taken myself out of contention for things because subconsciously, I didn’t want to go through the pain of rejection or failure.
How many times had I not stepped into the ring? How many of us were not getting to enjoy our best selves because we were scared of the pain that comes from failure? And so now I keep forcing myself to do things I’m scared of, like the author Susan Jeffers says in her book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. Sometimes, you’ve just got to keep going despite the fear. Recently, in my own business, I went through a difficult time of feeling rejected and not chosen. It’s been truly amazing to see how it got me down for only three days, and then the sunshine came out, and I moved forward.
Recently, I was asked to contribute to an article in Thrive Global, Ariana Huffington’s new platform, on resilience. The journalists collected a number of tips from different people on their personal view of surviving rejection, and these were them.
Number one, allow yourself time to process the emotional hurt. Mentally prepare for it. Practice rejection by putting yourself forward for things that may open you up to being rejected, but give you huge value from the feedback people provide even if you were. Thirdly, use it as a chance to recalibrate and realign back to your values, purpose, and decide the very next action you need to take. Number four, celebrate the small wins that result in rejection. In any form of rejection, there’s always a small win of learning that may come with it or something else.
Number five, reframe it as a new opportunity. See it as the universe’s gentler way of letting us know that there’s something better around the corner. Number six, when they say no, you say, “Next.” Number seven, know your inherent worth. And number eight, know that it could serve as inspiration for others.
The last one always amazes me. Just this week, my cause, Brave to Be Free, launched, and I was so humbled to see how the story of my darkest period in my career has served to inspire so many personally. And now that I have the life I have with my three businesses, I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that the doors to those two big opportunities shut and that my next did come, and that through it all, I learned that I’m still the same person with the same talents whose work so many people value, despite there being a few people who don’t think that I’m their cup of tea.
So this week, work on reframing your story, the story you tell yourself when things go wrong. Build your resilience muscle, and know that the more you put yourself out there, the stronger, the more resilient you will become, and the less those tough experiences will drag you down. You’ll learn, and you will find the next that works for you. I often think of what a different person in a different place I’d be if that first job had come through. I think I’d still be on the corporate ladder, but I wouldn’t be as happy and full of purpose as I am now.
I’m Lisa Linfield, and this is Working Women’s Wealth, and I hope that this week is a great week for you.