“Change is the only constant.”
“Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”
Why is change or the adaptation to it so worrisome for us? We have a need to be or at least feel as if we are in control. Going with the flow or stepping into the unknown challenges us in ways that can stifle our growth, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. If it is true that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, fear is a powerful kryptonite to us humans. The economic slump of 2008 is still reverberating and it is unnerving to know that your situation is not stable, even though you have a degree or two, possibly three.
I am in NYC looking for a change, chasing a dream. “A change will do me good,” right? I have been on interviews and callbacks such that I wonder are employees playing a game. The courtesy of a rejection letter is a thing of the 1990s. Several times I have made it to the final round of interviews, never to get the golden ticket. This after I submitted two year strategic plans and made presentations and interviewed hours. I was beginning to feel like employers were “interviewing” solely for the purpose of getting ideas without having to hire people. If everyone that made it to the final round of interviews also submitted strategic plans for two year growth, then the company has received free consulting services under the guise of “candidate interviews.” It is even more disheartening when you see the position you interviewed for posted a month or so later. What is wrong with me that they don’t want to hire me? Am I crazy? What vibe am I giving off that I don’t realize?
Fortunately, a recent NY Times article put my mind at ease in the sense that I am not going crazy. The NY Times article, “Jobs to Fill Employers Wait for Perfection,” highlights the new hiring (or lack thereof) process. “For a large majority of positions where candidates are plentiful, the bigger problem seems to be a sort of hiring paralysis.” One candidate went on nine callbacks, still no offer. Another person thought he was fortunate to get an offer, but after two months the company has yet to give him a start date.
Unfortunately, this is the new norm. My friends and I all joke that they say jobs were added and employers are hiring. Pray tell where are these phantom jobs and employers that I might get an audience. I have been networking like a politician, shaking hands and kissing the proverbial baby to get a lead or sniff of an opportunity. I am not afraid to work hard and pound the pavement. At times, I wonder if the pavement is pounding back.
So do you back up to go home or run away to hide from stumbling blocks this economic climate is presenting us? What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, right? If so, I’ll be as strong as the concrete I pound regularly hoping for a chance to shine, an opportunity to have my dream take root and grow. In the words of Liza Doolittle, “just you wait.” The problem is that I’ve been waiting for so long already. I know patience is a virtue and timing is everything. So what do you do to motivate yourself until timing and opportunity simultaneously present themselves?
I came across an email I sent in 2008 to a group of people that were on a committee with me to help a faith-based organization refocus, reflecting on its mission to be useful in its neighborhood, a community that drastically changed since the organization started. I thought it was remarkable that a faith-based organization was willing to take inventory of its mission and its role in healing and being a resource to the community in which it resides. Our committee had a coach, like a life coach to guide us through the process. Our coach talked about organic growth and making sure that instead of appealing to the masses, everything endeavored was rooted in the mission, even if that meant letting go of programs we currently had. If an activity was not rooted in the mission, then it must be evaluated as to why it exists.
After the committee’s first meeting, not everyone was enthusiastic over this new “organic growth” concept that might entail getting rid of programs (sounds like spring cleaning to me). What I realized was that the 2008 email was equally applicable to my transition to NYC and the changes I was/am experiencing: transitioning careers, relocation, uncertainty, economic instability.
The concepts I learned in that committee were ironically the same concepts I heard when I moved to NYC in 2011 and attended classes/seminars on nonprofit strategy, growth, and development. Activities and programs must be organic to the mission. When it is, people will be attracted to it and growth will occur organically and not manufactured for the sake of getting numbers to get grants.
I was talking to a friend about my struggles in NYC. My friend generally tells me that a closed door was me dodging a bullet of a bad job, etc. This time as I kvetched about stumbling blocks and the craziness of this city while chasing my dream, she replied “just think of it as a good chapter in your book – I can’t wait till you get published!” So grateful for the pep squad of friends that have entered my life and despite my idiosyncrasies still decide to hang around, call me friend, and support my dream.
“Life ain’t been a crystal staircase,” but I’ve have gold dust in the form of friends that appear along the way.
Below is my 2008 email. Don’t let change or the fear of change cripple you from moving forward in life whatever your dream/goal is. Every obstacle you face makes you stronger to bulldoze the next one that would try to paralyze you with fear.
Our coach mentioned how important the process is and taking our time to develop. I completely understand that change is incremental, you need time for people to adjust and adapt, the trial is not won in court but through the discovery process that goes on for years when the trial is only 2-6 weeks. However, we want instant results. Sometimes we do get immediate manna, but other times the process seems like 40 years of wandering. I accept that in order to lose weight it is going to be painful and take time, but I am patient because I know the end result (better body, healthier life). But why is that still hard?
I heard someone say that it is a choice to be joyous in tribulation. As a student, I loved tests because I knew it would show me where I excelled and where I needed to improve. The change process of trial by fire is scary. Layers of stuff that used to work, don’t work anymore. The fire (change process) strips away our safety blankets that worked so well in the past and we are seemingly left out in the cold.
I recall getting my hair pressed as a little girl by my grandmother. The pressing comb is placed directly in the flame on the stovetop. You could feel the heat from the comb as it came near your head. I’d always say, “Granny don’t burn me.” She’d give me this look and say, “I’m not going to hurt you, just be still.” Granny would get close to the scalp to straighten out the nappy parts. You could feel the heat from the comb, but she wouldn’t burn me.
Change is scary. You feel the heat and smell the smoke. Like Frodo on the journey bearing the ring, it seems as if rejection and trouble are your companions. However, the greatest victory is simply standing. Troubles will come and go, but you’re still standing. In the change process, you get to find out what you are made of. Who are you to be afraid of a little change after all you’ve endured! You are the person in the arena, taking the blows, stumbling, getting an eight count, but still rising.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt” The Man in the Arena” speech at the Sorbonne in Paris