No Limits

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I met a buddy the other day that lost his job. He was depressed and upset. I felt bad for him. However, what he did not know was that it was his lucky day; I am the king of lost jobs. I have had many jobs in the last eight years; left on my own, fired once (Yes, we all have a Mulligan) and “laid-off.” So, I know a thing or two about failing and picking yourself back up.

When it happens, we all freak.

There is nothing worse than being asked to come to your boss’s office only to be blindsided by him and HR asking you to sit down to let you know you are fired laid-off. Even if you hated him, the job, the company etc., it still sucks.

That is when the default process in our brains kicks in high gear and we start telling ourselves the sky is falling. Some people panic and start blasting resumes all over the web hoping to get their next position from sitting in front of a computer. Others fall apart; they have defined themselves by their work in the world and losing their job hits them at their core.

The story of their job NOW is that they are failures (in their minds) and everyone – knows – it. Fear takes hold and keeps them from focusing on what they can NOW do. Funny thing about fear; it is a root default process in and of itself. It is there to protect us from danger; real danger, like making sure we stay alive when fighting lions, tigers and bears etc. in order that we can bring home food for our families.

But we are not hunters or gatherers today….

Most of us are desk-jockeys that attend meetings, write lots of emails and fear about stuff that will not kill us in any shape or form. Yet, we literally make ourselves paralyzed from seeing anything other than having failure, loss and despair…especially over losing a job. I also see fear in people who are stuck in a job that they hate, but have no idea what to do or have just been laid-off or worse, fired and are emotionally beat up. Everyone is scared that their world is coming to an end.

So, as a guy and self-proclaimed “puzzle solver,” I start giving him suggestions on next steps and what does he do? He starts telling me why he can’t do this or can’t do that. He was revealing his wall of “limits” around him right in front of me. I hate this….probably because I am so good at it too. I have to fight my inner voice that tells me I can’t do something every day. It is unfortunate, but we erect artificial walls around ourselves as a way of protecting us from being hurt.

In my opinion, his story of being unemployed is a lucky one; he has nothing but learning opportunities to look forward to and can do what he wants to do. Nobody controls him, you or me except….us. What is important to remember is that no one can tell you what experience you can gain and what you can’t. Remember, you don’t need a job in order to learn cool stuff, met cool people and work on cool projects. You control what you do with your time and you can make it useful or not.

I told him to get out and meet people; network and explore what opportunities exist. Talk about what can be, not why the last job didn’t work. Heck, he could talk about the great things that leaving his job has opened himself up to!

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“We are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.”

His situation makes me think of one of my favorite movies; “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”

The gist of the story is that Benjamin, played by Brad Pitt, is born with the body of a very old man. As he grows older, he appears younger and younger. While everyone around him ages, including all the people he cares about, he actually become younger. The irony of the story is that he’s aging too; he just doesn’t appear to be. Benjamin accepts his condition and learns to love and appreciate people while they’re alive. He realizes early in his life that we’re all dying whether we realize it or not.

One of the best quotes in the film is…. “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start or stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same; there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it.”

A lot of people spend their life thinking it’s too late to do the things they always wanted to do, but it’s not. Where there’s a will there is a way and anything is possible if you set your mind to it. Screw the fear and do not look back. We must keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.

Your life is not a rehearsal. We get only one to do everything we want to do so experience as much as you can. I told him this very point. I think it helped. He walked away with a different perspective on things…and a hammer & chisel to knock down that wall!

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