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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

And Then There Was Change

Originally posted September 5, 2009
Confession time: “It’s been seven weeks since my last blog entry.”

Much has changed since then and I really wish that I had made time to blog during recent events to honestly capture my thoughts and feelings throughout. Instead, I buckled-down and focused on moving ahead. Now that some dust has settled, let me get back to it.

On the morning of Friday, July 24th, I received a call from my boss informing me of a lot of changes in our company. Rumor had it that there was going to be a major blood-letting elsewhere in the company, but most thought that the sales team would mostly be spared. The news? Our Senior VP of Worldwide Sales - gone. Most of his VP’s - gone. All but one Director - gone. Now...wait for it...”I’m going to have to RIF you too.” That means “Reduction In Force” for the non-corporate types out there. By noon that same day, I was meeting with human resources, turning in my laptop, cell phone, badge, etc. and receiving my “package”. I was done there.

Many others were in line as well. Some had been recruited to come to our company less than one year prior (some very talented people) and they were also summarily dismissed. Hasta la bye bye.

This was a new one for me. I had done the best I could with the territory I was given and had been continually reassured that I was on track and doing what they expected of me. Now this? I’ve been through four mergers and acquisitions, three start-ups and all sorts of commercial silliness during my professional life. I’ve got a Masters in Business Administration from a good school. All this to say that I’ve always prided myself on my ability to “read the tea leaves” and see what was coming. This one caught me completely flat-footed.

The last paragraph represents the story I had been telling myself. In retrospect, everything I just said seems laughable and describes the arrogance so many of us carry around in our human struggle. Do any of us really know what’s coming? We try our best to predict, prognosticate, forecast, and plan. But it takes a nanosecond for anyone’s life to change. Accidents, illness, even bankruptcy can be thrust upon us due to circumstances beyond our control. We’re delusional if we think we’re more in control than we really are. None of this is to say that we aren’t supposed to do our best every single day with what we’ve been given, but that’s all we can do (read Ecclesiastes in the Bible for some heavy examples).

Sales people in particular should understand this concept, but many still believe it’s “all them”. I’ve won and lost deals that I’ve poured my life, heart, and soul into. I’ve won deals that flew into my life with almost no effort and almost closed themselves. I’ve gotten promoted when I was mediocre at best and I’ve gotten smoked when I’ve done some of my best work. Enough already. I’ll just do my very best every day. The rest will to take care of itself and shouldn’t be my concern (Matthew 6:25-34).

So there I was, “my services no longer required” by my last employer. I won’t kid you - it sucked. But I had no time for sulking. My family needed a breadwinner, so I started getting the word out. The past six weeks have been full of 12-16 hour days on the phone, two trips to Dallas, one trip to Houston, many interviews and a few opportunities.

I’ve been praying for the past three years about my career. I’ve been through a lot of turmoil and had decided to “keep my head over my own knitting” and let Him lead when it’s time to serve elsewhere. Things get pretty clear when you get smoked in a layoff - no choice here, move on. But where? Again, prayer to close the doors that I don’t belong walking through and to illuminate and open the door through which I am to pass.

While on a run last Thursday morning, a Bible story popped into my head from the book of Luke:
Luke 5
The Calling of the First Disciples
1One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,[a]with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, 2he saw at the water's edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down[b] the nets for a catch."
5Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
6When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" 9For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." 11So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

The stand-out points for me were as follows:
Jesus told them where to cast their nets.
Simon acknowledged that they had been fishing all night and hadn’t caught anything.
But because the Master said so, they would be obedient and fish there.
They caught a bounty and were fed.
This bounty was just a precursor to a higher calling.

I received a job offer a few hours later. The only opportunity of four which seemed to be the right fit in so many ways. I start work on Tuesday and will “let my nets down here”. I am praying for a bounty. But a bounty without serving a higher calling is a bounty wasted.

May this new opportunity be a blessing not only to me and my family, but to many others as well. Amen.

Blessings to you my friends.

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