OPINION: The Only Security You Have Is In Yourself

The one thing I’ve learned over the past four decades is that we should never limit ourselves in what we are capable of doing.

Both as an individual and as a business.

I’m a prime example of that.

From 1979 to 2016, my life revolved around being a journalist for a daily newspaper. First with the Nelson Daily News and then with the Calgary Herald. It was my passion. It was in my soul. In my blood.

It truly was my identity.

Until January 19, 2016, in my mind, that’s all I would ever be. A journalist at a daily newspaper. But that reality came crashing to a halt when I was laid off by the Calgary Herald and Postmedia, along with dozens of other fine journalists across the country during a purge of newsrooms to cut costs.

In the blink of an eye, my identity was stolen from me. At first it felt like a vicious punch to the gut. I imagine that thousands of people in Calgary and Alberta have faced and experienced the same reality in recent years as they too lost jobs – lost their careers – due to the economic downturn caused by collapsing oil prices.

As I fast forward the tape of my career over the past five years, I come to today and the path my career has taken from that awful day in the winter of 2016. Just recently, I was named to a global Top 10 Business Journalists list – the only Canadian to be on this list. The list includes ‘the best journalists and reporters covering commercial activities in the world.”

I was gobsmacked when I first learned of this. Still am.

But it made me sit back and reflect on my career and how I climbed out of a dark valley to a mountaintop so to speak.

That journey began with a conversation with a former Herald boss just a few weeks after being laid off. His words of wisdom resonated with me and have stuck to this day. Basically he said there is no security in this world when it comes to work. At any time, your career, which you might think is stable and secure, can be cut down and terminated by whoever employs you. It happens in a heartbeat sometimes. For some it is unexpected. For others it can be a possible reality in their lives – constantly present in the back of their minds as they wait for the axe to inevitably fall.

My former boss gave me these words of wisdom: The only security you have is in yourself. The skills you have. Your potential. What you are capable of doing.

Those words remain etched in my brain. I also remember an important training session I had, with other former colleagues, focusing on career paths going forward from a layoff. Key message there was very simple. Open your eyes to the opportunities that exist out there using the skills you have.

For me, a full-time career as a journalist for a daily newspaper was done. I had to accept that reality. With the decimation of newsrooms around the country, there aren’t many jobs open anymore in the industry – especially for someone with 40 years experience.

I had to move on.

I reinvented myself. I’m still a writer, of course, as that’s my skill and experience. But where and for who I write has changed.

When we walk through a door, we leave one place behind to go somewhere else. And sometimes that somewhere else can be a much better place if we want it to be and allow it to be.

Our careers can be like that too.

(Connect with me if you would like to learn more about how I can help tell your story, share your message and amplify it through different digital platforms)

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