Saturday, January 16, 2016

Hope for tomorrow

   My good friend Amy gave me a 5-year journal for my birthday last year (2014). These journals give you just a few lines to write your thoughts about every day of the year, and then you start again on the next section down—until you've captured the happenings of 5 consecutive years, day by day. Since I recently lapped myself, I'm just now getting to experience what it's like to compare today to what happened precisely 1 year ago. And I already have a winner.
   Entry from Friday, January 16, 2015:
   "The end of a very busy work week juggling Easter, kids birthday, and the dreaded 2014 performance review feedback input on TMS (Hallmark's online system that employees and managers use to record performance for the annual review).
   I received amazing feedback from many partners which my boss, Jason, won't be able to ignore. Ironically, I wish I'd been laid off, to force me into action."
   How's that for a slice of fried gold? 
   Hallmark had just laid off 33 colleagues from another department, the whole place was abuzz that there may be more coming. It was nothing less than sickening to be there every day, wondering who would be next, the stress so thick you could cut it with a knife. 
  I had been doing my BEST work with my FAVORITE people, and getting INCREDIBLE results. And my boss DID ignore all the amazing feedback. A few weeks later when he delivered my performance review, I remember being dumbfounded to receive an average rating. In a year where I led a large, complex program of high caliber—in the ballpark of Disney and Dreamworks (the animation was nominated alongside theirs). I asked him what more he expected of me. I told him I couldn't possibly see how he had arrived at that rating. And his only response was, "I guess we'll have to agree to disagree."
   It was at that review that I realized something: it no longer mattered how talented you were, or how dedicated you were, or how well you performed. It no longer mattered how your partners loved working with you or how successful your efforts were. Hell, it no longer mattered that you and your partners were lauded for your vision and your achievements, featured in a "making of" video at the company's prestigious bi-annual Creative Leadership Symposium. The one where Dave Hall himself sat next to me and shook my hand and was all smiles and congratulated me on my work.
   No, despite all this, the company was still in precipitous decline, and great people would lose their jobs against any and all reason. And it was at that moment I was sure I was ready to move on—mentally speaking. Because I knew I could do better. And I no longer believed it was possible for my impact to be felt here.
   I didn't have my ducks in a row, so I wasn't ready to make the leap on my own. March 2, 2015, the leap was made for me, and I was laid off, in the company of 16 incredibly smart and talented friends—several of them my BEST friends. 
   Looking back at this last year, with its ups and downs, with all the exploration I've done, with all the new people I've met from all over the world, from all the time spent detoxing in Colorado, in Mexico, in Hawaii, in Portland; all that I've learned and all the momentum I've gained—all the excitement I have about a very different future! Yes, with all of that I am happy to say that although the journey hasn't been easy, it is right. Just as I somehow knew it would be one year ago. And I'm still sad for the company who is failing, but never for leaving, regardless of the terms.
   Sometimes even when you can't know what is coming, you feel it. I believe that's life telling you to take heart, and trust that things will lead you to a place even better than before. Because if you know that, then they always will.