I worked my heart out for a company. I traveled extensively — living on one coast, working on the other — it’s survival was my goal. The people I worked with were the most invested minds and hearts. My job was my life. That company was meaningful — for all of us and for the customers who loved us.
Then the owners — investors — decided to sell. The folks who bought us, bought an asset for their portfolio — a portfolio being built for an IPO. The culture, the customers, the intangibles were irrelevant. In one confusing move after another meant to bolster their ailing assets, the new owners slowly killed the company that was thriving.
On my last day, 25% of the company’s staff was told “Good-bye.”
I remember having one thought driving home that afternoon.
The tribe has spoken.
Reality was distorted.
Finding Your Own Voice and Owning It
My dad told me life is survival of the fittest. Have a heart and use my mind — pay attention. On the way to school, he’d point to people we’d see. He’d tell me their stories hoping I’d learn lessons about being fit and surviving. But wisdom and experience can be hard to pass on.
Hot might not mean much until after you’ve touched the stove.
I learned a lot in the weeks after the company I loved told me to go. I learned about how people act, what they really mean, and what to do to get moving forward again. Reality didn’t take shape again in hours. It took some work and time, but the work and time were well invested. And like my dad, I’ll pass on what I can. Here’s some thoughts about how to survive a when the tribe has spoken.
- They say it isn’t personal. Of course it is. Removing people from jobs totally disrupts their lives. How much more personal can it get? Losing an income is bad enough — losing connections to the people who were friends is a jolting personal loss.
- No one knows what to do next. Suddenly a tribe becomes about who is and isn’t. The gone ones have a ticking clock and so much empty time. The survivors are surrounded by empty spaces where people used to work. The chasm is wide and threatening. Most humans feel and fear that danger. They do unexpected, often hurtful things, to hide that.
Forgive the fearful.
- No tribe is the only tribe. When a person spends every waking hours invested in working for something, it skews perspective. A big part of a life can seem to be a big part of the world.
Kick that tribe from the center of your universe.
- Mourn short. Live long. Recover. I had thought, “I don’t want a new puppy. I want the puppy that died.” When I looked clearly at what had happened, I realized that the poor pup had been dead for months, and we’d been pretending. I let go of thinking about what they took — because they hadn’t taken anything.
Take back your future.
- Own your part. I saw myself and my part of it with new eyes. I’d been unhappy and too attached to what had been. The new owners had a new vision. In my own way, I’d refused to be part of it.
Learn from yourself.
- Come to a conclusion. Quit surviving and start living. Live and connect. Show everyone the smile that the next tribe might earn, but no tribe will own.
Answer with your own voice.
Losing a tribe isn’t the same as losing a life.
Yesterday a woman, I so respect, told a story of how she was knocked down by something big. I know her and it won’t shake her voice. No tribe will ever own her. But not all of our friends are as determined or deadset on succeeding as she is. Some need us to help them learn how.
If you need help finding your voice, reach out to find direction and worth in the noise and confusion. If you have friends who gone because the tribe has spoken, what can we do to bring them back? How can we help them get on their path again.
We need everyone.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Work with Liz!!