The ship is going down like the Titanic – a huge vessel, gradually sinking with devastating consequences for the passengers. I am not necessarily saying that the company is going under. Only time will tell. I am convinced, though, that it will never again be the same rewarding, fair, reasonable, fun and caring place to work again. I've seen many friends let go. Most of the rest of us are dangling, waiting to hear what our fates will be. Another 12% of the workforce on top of the 15% announced last year.
While reduced to mere gratitude for surviving each reorganization, many are wondering whether it is better to be left on the ship or to board a lifeboat. In staying, it seems like just a matter of time before your particular deck (level) goes under (water). In the meantime, you find yourself drowning in the work left behind by your dear colleagues that have already been "separated".
When they are targeting this many bodies, they go as far as to ask for volunteers. The company will seek out "hand raisers" who offer to be terminated in exchange for a separations package. It's getting into the lifeboat before it even gets lowered or the iceberg impacts.
It certainly takes a degree of courage (or exhaustion?) to voluntarily climb in. It is not a comfortable place to put oneself, for sure. It's a tiny vessel, close to the water and liable to be tossed by any wake or waves. Sure, there might be some provisions but it's tough to say whether they'll last. Floating on a seemingly endless sea – the economy being as bleak as it is - with no land in sight is nerve-racking. In the end, it could be a sweet island in the Caribbean - maybe the land of milk & honey. Or it might turn out to be trading a frying pan for the fire of another place of corporate ugliness with less seniority and vacation time.
For me, a separation package could also provide just enough cover to make the leap to what I want to be when I grow up. It frees up the time (and/or money) to make a running start at independence from "The Man" and his rotten system. Academically and professionally, thus far in life, I've pursued my strengths (math & science) – not necessarily my likes or wants. Or I've taken pains to become a more rounded employee or more "marketable" (an MBA). Always working toward some future payoff. That future seems simultaneously far away and very now.
Sadly, there are more than 15 million lifeboats out there. As is true for too many others, I wouldn't be in that lifeboat alone. The ante is upped by the precious family in my arms. But, as in every misfortune lie the seeds of a new opportunity. To achieve a new life, you often have to step (or get pushed) out onto that limb. Perched unnervingly, you can't help but be available to a whole new set of possibilities. For those of us light on imagination or guts – being tossed into that lifeboat might be just the ticket. Recognizing the all-powerful sitting beside me with the surest life vest ever will go along way to helping the faith part of the equation.
In the meantime, I am working on my rowing technique and trust every day.