Have you suffered redundancy? Now is the time to start planting seeds for the future.
You have a Manifesto, a CV and a LinkedIn profile. Now you can start to plant your seeds. One morning a week, I set myself the challenge of planting 5 seeds and watering 5 seeds I planted previously. In my gardening book I write down which seeds I have planted where and as I nurture them, I track their progress.
My manifesto is to be self-employed, providing consultancy to businesses and organisations, and advice and coaching to teams and individuals. This may be around managing IT (practically I have a lot of experience to sell here) but ideally it will helping organisations to operate more effectively. This is all about enabling teams to work together in a structure and a culture which encourages this. So many teams fight and compete with each other in a dysfunctional structure and an oppressive over-managed culture. So in turn, this is all about leadership. I could write a book . . . or a blog. In fact writing is another avenue on on my manifesto..
This is the ground in which I am trying to plant my seeds. This – and running some tearooms.
A seed may be an email, a message, a job application, a beer, a coffee or a phone-call. It may be a partnership with someone else. Our seeds need to be sown openly, casually, honestly and carefully. Neither under-selling nor over-selling. Being clear, focussed and not too demanding. Wherever possible, they should be personal, with people you know and feel a connection to at some level.
Be prepared for rejection, or worse still silence. Many of your seeds will die on the ground – you won’t even get a response. But don’t be afraid to risk a follow-up. Most people don’t respond because they are too busy. Others may just have nothing for you. Others mean to reply but just forget. It’s less likely that they hate and despise you. But it is emotionally frustrating and discouraging to have repeated rejection or silence – particularly after having gone through the rejection of redundancy. So, I usually follow up twice, and then stop. Surprisingly, the third attempt does often succeed. But if not, simply plant another seed in a different place.
A few seeds will take root and start to grow. An email comes back, you have a meeting. Soon you have a stem with maybe a few shoots. More contacts, more ideas. You follow some of these up. Some are dead branches, some are more fruitful. I draw these growth lines in my gardening book. Some of them I chose not to pursue because they didn’t fit one of the three columns of my manifesto – or simply seem too difficult right now.
Following a seed of a LinkedIn connection, I met a woman who ran a consultancy. This eventually led to me bidding for some work for one of their clients, with the promise that I would run the project if we were successful. I spend probably 10 days of effort on this – at my own cost – including a trip abroad to pitch to the customer. That was two months ago. All we have back is silence. But I am not discouraged. Everything is an experience. Now I can now add “pitching to clients” to my first column and – more importantly – I have established a good relationship with some people in a great organisation.
In the midst of all of this, if you can be a help to others, maybe in a similar situation, you will feel useful and – in some cases – they will be able to help you in return. Not that you help people for this reason, but it can be a rather pleasant side-effect.
At best planting seeds is exciting – at its worse it is hugely frustrating. It takes time. Great patience is required. Seeds planted in the hard-ground of winter may or may not survive, and spring feels a long way away. But, given time, and with careful planting, more than one seed will grow into a tree which will bear employment fruit.
Enjoying the Fruit
Do you pick the first ripe apple, or wait to see if a bigger and juicier one comes up? The financial constraints in your third column may give you little option. But be determined to stick to the heart of your manifesto, and compromise only around the edges. If you don’t, you will tell your friends with great delight that you are back into employment, in a much better job. But deep down you will be disappointed in yourself. Chances are you will have dropped back into your comfort zone and are simply repeating the experiences of your previous job.
At the end of their lives – or their working lives – people regret less the things they did, than the things they didn’t do. So go on – be brave – cast away those old stones away and gather up some new ones. Plant some seeds, water them carefully and – when it is ready – enjoy the fruit of your labours.
I am not Redundant # 1 – Exit and Anger
I am not Redundant # 2 – Bereavement and Self-Doubt
I am not Redundant # 3 – Casting Away and Gathering Stones
If you find this interesting or helpful – please do add a comment and/or mark out of 5 !
I’m at the beginning of my third redundancy in four years and found your article interesting. There is a real pull between taking a job, any job, for money and independence and holding out for something with joy in it. What I’ll end up with is anyone’s guess, especially at fifty three, but I like your seeds analogy, I’ve been thinking of my job applications as baby birds sent out Ito the world. It I like the idea of seeds. Thank you for making me smile 🙂
You are welcome – I am a year older than you, so in a similar position. I think practically its a question of how long you can look for the ideal before the money runs out. Until then – be determined to keep your nerve !
This time there was no money for me as I’d only been there for eighteen months but I’m still going to hold out as long as I can 🙂