Right now there are tech companies of all shapes and sizes doing layoffs. Two things stood out to me while I was reading about these company cuts. First, that even with these layoffs, most of these companies have more people employed in their ranks than they did prior to the pandemic. They grew fast, and hired even faster, during COVID, but now they are ratcheting back a bit because that growth was not maintained when the world went back to the new normal.
Second, and this one stings a bit, is that the layoffs are not solely focused on recent hires or younger, less experienced employees. These cuts are impacting employees of all experience and compensation levels. There are people who have worked at Google for 15-20 years who are being impacted, as much as people who worked at Microsoft or Amazon for a year or two. That fact reminds me that you should never get too comfortable in your role.
I was always taught you need to continue to learn, grow, and evolve. If you didn’t, there was always someone standing behind you who was willing to do your job faster, and for less. This paranoia creates a sense of unease, and it results in you never being too comfortable. It also results in a level of stress, but that is a different column for a different day.
I also was taught when things are running smoothly, that is the best possible time to disrupt your way of doing things and plan for any eventual change. It’s always better for you to be the change, rather than letting the change happen to you.
These two mindsets crash together to create a mindset that feeds on, and enjoys being, uncomfortable. I’m not going to lie -- it can be exhausting, but it works well.
I am not immune to being laid off. Being uncomfortable just means that you are ready for it and are ready to pivot as needed.
Steve Jobs was laid off from Apple at one point. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. These are two of the most noteworthy figures in history, and both were very comfortable in not being comfortable. They changed the world for better because they knew how to respond to change. Tiger Woods routinely deconstructed and started over on his swing because he felt it was the right thing to do, even though he was already the best golfer in the world. These people like to be uncomfortable.
It makes sense to be bummed about a layoff, experience, but once you move past the emotional component of the change, it’s time to embrace the discomfort and start building a new logical path forward.
Once you find the right role, and once you find a home, never forget that feeling. Use it as a learning opportunity to define how you deal with your career in perpetuity. Find a place where you can settle in with some level of discomfort and always be asking yourself, “Is there a different way to do this?" I think you will find success is more guaranteed when you are never guaranteed of success, and your stress level will actually decrease if you are OK with an increased level of discomfort.
Good luck and get uncomfortable!