My homework from the outplacement meeting last week included writing my own business biography. Given how challenging it was for me to compile a list of accomplishments last week, this assignment was daunting. Confronting my last 23 years, I knew there was a story to tell, but when I tried to get it down on paper, I got zilch, nada, a big old goose egg. So I walked away. Friday night, sitting around a half plain, half buffalo chicken pizza with my family, I announced to my husband and daughter that I wasn’t going to try to complete the task until Monday. With the wisdom of her high school years, my sophomore daughter said: “The teachers would tell you to do a little tomorrow, a little on Sunday, and a little on Monday.” If I could raise one eyebrow, I would. She’s right, but I haven’t seen it practiced in our house lately.
That said I made it to Sunday before I started feeling nervous, as if a deadline was looming and I had to make an attempt. So, seeking inspiration, I turned to the two cardboard cartons still sitting on my dining room floor. These two packing boxes, half filled each, contain the breadth of what I evacuated from my office on my last day. A little over two weeks ago, that office had five file drawers, several desk drawers and a bookshelf filled with the work of many years--but what I have to show for it sits on the hardwood floor, disrupting the symmetry of my newly painted dining room.
On my knees, digging through the boxes, I found:
business cards with my name in English on one side and Japanese on the other, left over from an award trip to Japan three years ago
notes from a Webinar the day before my job was “restructured,” on Internet resume mining techniques, including an in-depth “cheat sheet” on Boolean Search. (Aha, can be used to search employment opportunities on-line also.)
a sea rock purchased in Ogunquit, Maine, with the word “Breathe” etched into it, because sometimes I forget
a picture from October 31, 1994 of our then fourteen-month-old daughter, gripping the sides of her crib while greeting me with her early morning smile
a black and white photo of my husband holding our daughter, taken by a newspaper photographer whose son attended the same day care
a framed inspirational message from a long ago boss that says: “Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.”
The following books:
The Little Oxford Dictionary
The Art of Readable Writing by Rudolf Flesch
Practical English Handbook by Watkins, Dillingham and Martin
30 Ways to help you Write by Fran Webber Shaw
Monday Morning Leadership by David Cantrell
And last but not least:
Congratulations, You’ve been Fired by Emily Koltnow and Lynne S. Dumas
Tucked in the corner of one box, I found a replica of the 1960’s clay animation figure Gumby, who had swung from his bendable arm on the curtain pulley in my office. When people asked me about him I’d say, “He’s hanging in there, like me.”
What didn’t come home, I noted, were three glass marbles inherited somewhere along the line, that lived in my front desk drawer in case I ever lost them--my marbles I mean.
I pictured those colorful globes as I sat down in front of the computer and banged out a quick and easy draft of my work biography, which ended up taking all of about twenty minutes. I may have lost my job, but those marbles are right here with me.