Light at the End of the Tunnel

When opening my Twitter account, this was the first tweet I read:

“Anybody can get a job. It takes a man to make it without working.”
– Charles Bukowski

These words sounded dated, and well, they are also a ‘macho bravado’, as if only men can do it. I guess these days there are many more  people – men and women – unemployed against their will, than Bukowski could ever think of. And many are not ‘man’ enough to make it without working.

What I was thinking of was the conversation I had last Saturday at a party with someone who had lost his job.

We joined friends to bid farewell to a couple who is moving to Australia. I met former colleagues from a company I used to work for some years ago. One of them was visibly distraught sharing the latest news of having lost his job, less than one month ago. It was his first time. He knew only of successes and had never tasted the bitter news of being fired. I knew the taste, and for that he wanted to talk to me for advice. He just couldn’t accept the fact that bad news had been given to him in a two minutes conversation, neither there was good reasoning to fire him, as he had grown the business 30% in the current year, and had got the best employee satisfaction levels from the company survey. It was a simple personal choice from a new manager, who didn’t want to have him in his new team.

I have never written about my experience because it happened a long time ago, much before I started blogging.  I have written a post about the subject when friends had been through the same last year. What makes me write about this subject is the recurrence of known behaviors in these situations.

I know both men. The one who took the decision had reported to me for a few months in the past. I know him well enough to say that he is that kind of person who abuses power if the opportunity arises. He behaves exactly as the CEO of that same company once told me: ‘What is most dangerous is not giving power to someone with great intelligence, but to those weak and ignorant, as they will be capable of greater harm.”

Let me tell you another story. I was watching a silly TV program called The Voice UK. In the jury some internationally famous artists like, Tom Jones, Ricky Wilson and Rita Ora. There was a blind audition, and all jury members rejected a 16-year-old boy, as well as an older contestant. When they revealed themselves, all jury members apparently regretted their decisions. What drew my attention was their reasoning: “I am sorry I didn’t choose you, because the music you chose is not my style of music.” And to the boy: ” Had I known you were just a boy, I had chosen you”.

If you bring these two stories together, you will find a similarity: the reasoning behind decisions taken by people, chosen for their expert skills and ability to judge with objectivity and rationality. Silly enough, from a professional musician in a TV program to a leader of a business, they all seem to take decisions based on their preferences rather than on meritocracy.

These are not two random cases of badly handled decision-making.  Sadly, this is more common than most people can imagine. Even sadder is to confirm that because these people ‘like’ to have people like them in their teams, they perpetuate their species and this kind of behavior keeps happening.

To those who once have been evaluated by powerful and poor decision makers, let me say what I learnt from my own experience: do not take these people seriously, nor personally, and above all never doubt your self-worth.

We all go through situations outside our control and meet heartless and incompetent people, who try to make us feel impotent, disrespected, worthless, powerless and humiliated.

We may bend for a while but we will not break. At the end of the tunnel there is always light. Our light! And it is up to us to keep shining and believing in ourselves, and on our capacity to create new paths, start again and succeed.

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Sharing sights & insights captured with diverse angles. Ex-corporate, now my own boss. Cycling, hiking, cooking, reading, yoga, writing and photography, are no longer only hobbies listed on my resume. It's what I do when I want.

42 thoughts on “Light at the End of the Tunnel

    1. Yes, they can. Most often these things happen far way from those who could have avoided these situations. But sometimes they know and let it happen.
      Private companies offer much more freedom to managers than what a family owner would. But the same may happen there too.
      In the jungle of misbehavior you see a bit of everything…

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Such an important post, Lucile. I have found people like the ones you describe in leadership positions within all types of settings. The most unexpected and disturbing place was in academia where the futures, and sometimes lives, of students were profoundly affected by tenured faculty who should never have been in positions of power. Thank you for raising this issue and for providing wise advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Carol, I am not at all surprised to hear about that. No matter the environment, these kind of people create the same problem everywhere.
      I dare say that they are usually very skilled politically and tend to survive much longer – and even get promoted – than those who speak up, stand out or are better.
      I have met many, both in corporate and non-corporate settings.
      On the bright side, I have to say that there are also better people than those in leadership positions.
      I’m happy you liked this post.
      Thanks for bringing great insights.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, and so true. Plus there is an age factor to add on top of that. The new generation, the “could hardly care less” Gen Y would not endure half of what our generation did endure. The market place is really harder nowadays when you re over 40, it takes much more guts to leave a job you re not happy with or simply express your frustration to your boss. There are bosses who don’t care and others who simply have no idea of how to get the best of their people. There is an excellent course I recently took on Coursera called “Leadership through Emotional intelligence” by the brilliant Pr Boyatzis. From an employer and an employee point of view, it is incredibly inspiring and it really ameliorated my way of leading teams, but also clarified my aspirations, now that I am the one looking for a job. Thanks again Lucile for your empathy and intelligence, if ever I get a business started wherever, you ‘ll be the head of my HR teaam 🙂 I know we ‘ll only have the best people on board!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Estelea. You added great insights to this post. I couldn’t agree more.
      Age, debts, high unemployment levels (in Europe) stop many people from taking a decision to leave toxic jobs. Equally, being a 40 plus in a world with an increased retirement age, has been a stressing situation for many job seekers.
      Companies in financial distress are going for temps and less experienced and cheaper employees.
      These are complex times and I wouldn’t dare to say that most leaders behave as evils because it’s not true. The pressure is everywhere.
      However, as you correctly said, people should be better prepared to lead, with or without crises, and that includes competence to choose people, get the best out of them, work as team player and also to know why and when it’s time today goodbye. Knowing oneself is a prerequisite to claim to know others enough to evaluate them.
      You surely are a great leader and although I left corporate life , I would never refuse the honor and pleasure to work as your HR! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So well said. And it the end, whatever the reasons, it all comes to a basic standard of respect! Have a lovely my dear, and thanks again for your very interesting post 🙂 Off to explore the frozen Seoul… X

        Liked by 1 person

  3. What a moving, articulate and thoughtful post. Yes, when growing up one imagines adults, people in authority, leaders, politicians all make decisions based on careful analysis, consideration for others and rationality. And, of course, the truth is more frightening, many people make their decisions whilst in the tunnel that your photo evokes. So, when we decide things that affect others, we could pause a while to think.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Well said..both you and Buckowski. But some other also said ‘to err is human’! So at times we all make mistakes by judging and making wrong decisions. Best way to avoid a bad decision making boss is to quit the job as long as one can :p

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love – you are my hero. This is a 100% spot on evaluation. As you probably know from previous comments that I have made, I left a company after many years and this was basically the reason. I wasn’t fired, but I was being undervalued to the point that it felt like failure. YES we must keep shining and believing in ourselves. I have found the support here from people like you to be the best medicine for coping with these ridiculous attitudes. Well done and thank you for such a great post.
    PS I can’t wait to hear about your friends’ first spider 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are my hero too! Good on you that you fired them! Most people consume themselves alive and don’t have the courage to leave bosses and teams which no longer work for them anymore. Of course not everyone has enough financial independence to take such decisions, but what I have seen in my profession is that this is just a postponement, because either you do it or in time it will be done to you! So, the least harmful way is to go before the storm arrives because a dismissal leaves too many scars in people’s pride, confidence and self respect. I never advice anyone to swallow BS silently. Nor let people believe that they are right when they are doing wrong.
      Sharing experiences here is a fantastic way to revisit old and tried issues, support and learn from each other. I am happy to do that.
      PS. I will surely let you know when the first spider arrives! LOL>


      1. 😄
        Yes, you’re right of course. I was unhappy for a long time and was lucky enough to be headhunted so when I left, I had somewhere to go. I had 4 weeks off in between and that was amazing, just to finally let go of all that negativity and heartache.
        I’m still checking for spiders daily….


  6. The photo ties in so powerfully with this post Lucille. I have personally experienced the layoffs, the terminations, the plant closures. And you do question the decisions of those who have the power to make the decisions.
    But it is not the end. There is always that light at the end of the tunnel.
    Thank you for sharing this important and very well written post! 🙂


    1. Carl,
      I have been countless times sitting on the company’s side of the table, given my profession as a HR executive.
      Individual or collective layoffs are always a painful experience, leading people to feel almost in the same when losing a loved one, divorcing, etc.
      Some leaders miss to notice what these decisions do to people, and underestimate the havoc they create in people’s lives.
      Had they understood that, they would have been more careful about their reasoning, and also about how to communicate the decision.
      Let’s face it, it happens and also for good reasons; sometimes someone is not the right person for a job anymore, but just as in life, when ending a relationship we should not hurt people who are already on the ground.
      I believe we have to do all we can to make this moment, as respectful and compassionate as possible.
      I know of many leaders who behave well. But there are rotten apples out there.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re so kind, Carl. Thanks.
          In fact, I have been involved in or handling collective and individual layoffs many times. It becomes (professionally) easier to do but one can never become insensitive to other people’s sufferings.


  7. Very nicely put Lucile! I understand very well the ‘we may bend for a while but we will not break’ scenario. Light at the end of the tunnel is a very apt description. 🙂


  8. Interesting post. I would say the majority of decisions are based on personal opinion and expectation as opposed to sound reasoning, whether it is the boss that got rid of you just because you didn’t fit it or they didn’t like you to them not liking your appearance. It’s the world we live in sadly. I’ve been “let go” a couple of times and I think it was the same mentality.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There is such a great message in this post. I’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s personal distaste, and it wasn’t pleasant. Made my life hell for a while. But you’re right. We can’t let this people destroy us. We must rise up from the ashes and start again, as hard as it may be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I am happy it has been helpful to many to revisit this issue. I guess the people – like you – who have been through similar experiences, get the right perspective from this post. It is no cliche, and there is no exaggeration here.
      What doesn’t kill us make us stronger, isn’t it? All the best to you.

      Liked by 1 person

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