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Chopped: When a career is cut short

Did the COVID axe reach your neck of the woods, or do you fear that it may? The dreaded words of our times are euphemisms like "furloughed" and "temporarily shortened hours".

Thousands of highly qualified, driven individuals find themselves on a chopping block previously reserved for stragglers, under-achievers and the "last in". What if it is you this week? How do you start over?

A friend of mine, his younger brother and another high school buddy of theirs experienced a very literal amputation of not just dreams but limbs when their yacht touched high-voltage cables and sent scorching bolts of electricity through their young bodies. Tragic, senseless, unfair, devastating? My friend would not call it that, though. His Facebook feed shows him and his three sons swimming open water races together, him with Paralympic medals around his neck, still running and swimming competitively at 50!

What did he do between his hospital bed and that medal rostrum?

He shifted focus from the stump (actually he doesn't even have a stump where his arm used to be) to his strong legs and good arm.

Whatever has been chopped off for you, whatever the career loss right now - whether it is just a lost goal, a lost contract or a lost promotion instead of a lost job - you have some limbs left to go out on, if you'll forgive the mixed metaphors. You can still take new risks!

What are those limbs that you have left? Determining that, is where you start. There are many ways to measure your latent talents - tests, profiles and assessments abound online and in the offices of psychometric professionals, HR staff and career coaches. But that only gets you to a place where you can say, like my friend, "I have two legs and one arm."

He trained those limbs in brand new ways. You do not gym the same way once you've lost one arm. You need different counterweights and techniques to prevent a curved spine from following the new imbalance in your body.

In a way, we all are imbalanced by design. We have more of some abilities and tendencies and less of others than our best friend or spouse. Perhaps our colleagues are more inventive than we are, while we are more consistent and systematic. When two unbalanced beams are leaned against each other to form a triangle with a solid foundation, the become the strongest structural component in engineering! You, leaning just right, can become a massive asset in relationships and work.

Once you've identified your unique assets, you'll begin to train those in new ways. You may not be an athlete like my friend. What are you? What has been left unscathed by this disruption? If you need a coach to help you answer these questions and map a path to not just recovery but a completely new career, the EIA would love to help you find the way you naturally lean, the strengths (healthy limbs) you have to build your new career path on, and the skills to train towards that reinvention. 

 

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