Last evening I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman by the name of Stan Kwit. Stan was a guest speaker at our church’s weekly Employment Connection Ministry meeting. He gave a brief talk entitled “Change Can be Good”, in which he challenged the audience to find the hidden opportunities that exist in the adversities we face in our lives. The topic is timely given the audience, made up of job seekers recently laid off from major corporations, or retirees re-entering the workforce out of necessity.
Addressing the fragile audience, Stan shared his personal experience of suffering a traumatic job loss in the early 1980’s:
Stan was a manufacturers rep for a company that distributed machinery to various manufacturers of steel products. After 31 years with his employer, he and other members of his business division were asked to participate in a company conference call one Friday afternoon. During this call the company delivered a death-blow to his division, notifying the employees that the division, along with their jobs, would no longer exist by the end day. Devastating news for anyone with a growing family and a home.
Recognizing what this meant for himself and the future of his family, Stan turned what could have been an absolute misfortune into a defining moment in his life. Stan immediately evaluated the situation before him, and realized that not only had he and his colleagues lost their jobs, but the customers they represented had lost their representation in the marketplace. That very weekend Stan contacted as many of those customers as he could, offering his services to them directly. He saw that he could provide those customers with continuity in the marketplace, while operating on his own. And by Monday morning, Stan was in business for himself.
Together with his wife, Stan successfully operated his business for 17 years until he retired 6 years ago. At 81 years of age, Stan enjoys dividing his time between his two homes in Michigan and Florida, doing what he is most passionate about – fishing.
Although Stan’s story takes place nearly 25 years ago, it is not an unfamiliar one today. Company’s are eliminating jobs, scaling down operations and shuttering costly business units – all in the name of the very purpose that businesses exists – to earn a profit for its shareholders. The changes effecting thousands of workers every day, are being made for this very reason. It is not necessarily a direct reflection of the affected employees individual performance. However, that is what most people suffering a job loss feels the most – the loss of a job is personal, and it affects their self-esteem.
In recognizing this, you take the first step towards uncovering the opportunities that are hidden in adversity. The next step is to choose your desired outcome – Will you define the moment?, or will you allow the moment to define you?
Question: What challenges are you currently facing, and what are you doing to find the hidden opportunities that await you?
This post originally published on May 22, 2009