For better or worse, many people attach a great deal of their personal identity to their career. Unfortunately, if they lose their job, this personal identification with their employment can dramatically increase the stress of an already traumatic experience.
However, what really defines a person is not their job, but what they do if they lose it. This is true in all second acts of life, whether you’re overcoming a divorce, a financial setback, or any other traumatic experience.
What matters is how you react. Do you sink or swim?
Let’s take a look at one of the most famous job losses in recent memory and see how it was actually the greatest thing that could ever happen to that individual. From that, we’ll apply the lessons to your life, to your struggles and to your challenges. Because whatever is in your way, you’re stronger than it, you’re tougher than it, and you’re better than it. You’re going to beat it.
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In 1984, Steve Jobs and Apple launched a pioneering, mouse-driven, personal computer. Jobs expected to sell “zillions” of this new invention, but it wasn’t to be. Within a year, Jobs and the board at Apple had a falling out, and he was removed from Apple in 1985.
You’ve probably heard about Jobs losing his job, and no doubt you know the rest of the Jobs-Apple story. As such, it should come as no surprise when Jobs later claimed that the firing was, “the best thing that could have ever happened to me.”
Despite his public fall from grace in the eighties, Jobs went on to a second act in his life that far exceeded his first. He started Pixar and gave us the movies that your children – and maybe you as well – still hold near and dear to their hearts, including “Toy Story” and “Cars”.
He followed that up with a second act at Apple beginning in 1996. The next decade and a half “only” included the release of the iMac, iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. Not too bad for a second act in life.
By the way, Jobs didn’t dwell on those missing years between 1985 and 1996. In fact, he believed the intermission between his first and second acts was necessary. “I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple,” Jobs said in 2005.
The lesson we can learn from Steve Jobs is that we all can have second acts in life. It doesn’t matter how tough the days seem right now. There are better days ahead.
If you don’t feel Steve Jobs is a good enough example, let me tell you about my friend Vince Palko. Vince is the successful artist behind our new American Dream adtoons video. But just over 18 months ago Vince was struggling month to month (as Financial Independence Monthly readers will soon discover on a bonus call I recorded with Vince).
Vince was no longer working at his six-figure a year job, he had just gone through a divorce, and he was struggling to pay his bills. There are an infinite number of ways Vince could have responded, including blaming other people or the economy. But he didn’t.
Instead, Vince set in motion a series of daily habits, such as contacting more people in his network, plus daily visualization and implementation techniques that allowed him to slowly but surely create a new international business based on his skills. Today Vince has helped “invent” a new form of video sales letter, and his business is booming. His story is inspiring, and reminds us that we can overcome our obstacles if we are persistent.
No one knows exactly what went through Steve Jobs mind as he dusted himself off from his fall from Apple in 1985, but it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that he focused only on his future.
As someone who struggled mightily in 2002, I can tell you that the best way to overcome obstacles and rebuild your confidence is by looking to the future. Back then, when I had few clients and a lot of spare time, I created a vision of how I wanted my future to look.
I also made lists of all the people I didn’t want to disappoint, all the people who could help me, all the ever-so-slightly possible opportunities that existed, and all of the skills that I had. Each day, no matter how discouraged I was, I reviewed these lists and forced myself to take action on one big thing.
I also began contacting at least one person in my network every day, asking how I could help them, or simply sending them ideas or material that I thought they could use. Vince Palko did one better. He decided he would double the number of people he was contacting each day and added value to their lives by giving them ideas to help their businesses first.
Simple action steps like this will bring you closer to getting back on track, so take an hour or two and make those lists today or over the weekend. First, you’ll be reminded of all the good things you have in your life. That will make you feel better. But more importantly, it will give you a hope for opportunity. And believe me, there is plenty of opportunity out there for you to reach your American Dream and achieve financial independence. It all starts with your vision.
As Napolean said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” To me, it means that the soldier was fighting for his vision of the future. That is what we must do today, no matter how hard the battle may be. We all fight for what could be, so start by identifying what you are fighting for. Harness the power of this vision so that it drives you through the inevitable dips and over the obstacles you will need to face.
Never give up.
It is time for your second act,
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.” – Steve Jobs