As I mentioned in my backstory, almost five years ago I was fired from a position I held at Microsoft for nearly fifteen years. My wife had recently quit her job and my mother was in the final months of losing her battle to cancer. It was a crappy time, but I was determined to find my way through it.
In one sense, being let go was a relief. I’d been in an unhappy and unfulfilling position for a few years. My wife, not fully understanding my mindset and how I felt at work, simply felt terror. There I was, the sole breadwinner, fired. What now? What else could I do but update my resume and start beating the streets? So that’s what I did.
In a few weeks, I had a contract job, working back at Microsoft, in another position. Those were LONG weeks for my wife as she felt powerless in her position. I can appreciate that, but it was a little invigorating for me. I got to meet new people and interview and consider new possibilities. It was exciting, for the first time in a long time, I was providing input to where my career was headed.
I spent a few months at the contract position before a member of my old team reached out to me and told me about a local company looking for someone with Project Server experience. I applied, and with my background in both support and the technology, I was a shoe-in and hired.
During my time as a contractor, I fell in love with audiobooks. They were a great way to fill my longer commute. A few months into my new role, I stumbled upon a Ted Talk from a guy named Shawn Achor (embedded below). I was hooked. Looking into him, I found he had a book, The Happiness Advantage by Achor, Shawn. (Crown Business,2010) [Hardcover]. I went to my library and downloaded the audiobook.
It is an amazing book. I don’t normally go for the self-help type of book, but this one was different. Shawn was constantly referring to repeatable experiences that showed how you could make yourself happy and how that happiness returns dividends in your personal and professional life. There’s a lot of great, practical, and easily applicable tools and techniques in the book. One of my favorite is to look for the positive in everything, while remaining truthful. An example Shawn gives is regarding a school janitor. If you were the janitor, you could say your work is cleaning up nasty messes from dirty children all day, or, you could say your work is providing a clean and comfortable environment for children to grow and learn in. Both are true, but one of them helps you feel a lot better about what you do.
This book has had a huge impact on how I’ve assessed all sorts of things since I’ve read it. I think about it multiple times per week when dealing with issues at home or at work. It has become go-to for me as to how I address change and conflicts and problem solving. It came into my life in a challenging period and helped me stay strong and productive. I wonder what it could do for you?
Image Credits: Al King