Friday, 12 June 2009

The Bereavement of job loss Number 2

As a result of the whirring churn of the labour market since the good old days of a ‘job for life’, most Western cultures are vocationally barren. What do I mean by that phrase? My absolute belief is that each of us has a skill, an innate ability, a talent, a gift, and / or a competency, within us which we must exercise. We got to channel our individual abilities out! Fewer and fewer Western governments invest in effective systems that help their citizens exercise their inner capabilities. Therefore, as Jamie Oliver the famous chef talks about our schools providing "nutritionally barren" food, our education systems produce vocationally barren citizens devoid of career aspiration.

Homo Sapiens relies on work to experience self-worth. Our self image is dependent upon the ‘Invisible Transaction of Work’; which I have written about extensively elsewhere. We are referred to as Human Beings, and I really love the Being bit. It means that to be a being, we’ve got to doing. Beings do.

Whereas, philosophers such as Descartes would have it that ‘I think, therefore I am’, I would argue that the point of living is more along the lines of ‘I do, therefore I am’. The human body is designed to work. We are engines. We put calories in in the form of fuel and we burn them. We build societies, structures and systems.

The obesity epidemic of the 21st Century is purely a metaphor for the fact that we are not doing anymore! The Welfare State coined in the United Kingdom in the 20th Century was a laudable movement to prevent poverty. However, we have generations of citizens who have never worked. As a result we have generations of people who maybe never experienced positive self regard, self esteem, dignity and independence.

In the same way, job loss can generate a sense of low self worth because we feel we have lost our self image. Somehow our view of ourselves becomes tarnished. This is to be expected. But this does not mean it has to be accepted.

The Bereavement Curve is like a dark valley that we must pass through to come out of the other side. After years of delivering redundancy counselling I have learned that the antidote to this hardship is generating stories that describe our achievements. This is often where working with a Career Coach can be invaluable because the irony is that when we have just lost our job, the last task we feel equipped to deliver is talking about our successes!

I’ll talk about Success Stories in another entry….