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Solutions in a Difficult Economy

My husband, known around here as “Big Bear,” was laid off in September 2008. He was a Director for Avaya and had just received recognition for his work. Because of an internal bookkeeping mistake that had nothing to do with my husband or his team, they wanted him and a few others to afford the cost of the mistake by taking away his earned commissions, raising his quota, and taking a pay cut. He refused. Result—he got laid off with two weeks severance.

I wrote about this experience here. After I wrote the story, Avaya had their attorneys contact us because they were not happy with the exposure. So I wrote this.

They finally fessed up and paid Bob the commission that he had rightfully earned. However, finding a job has been extremely difficult. Bob hasn’t been on the first interview and yet, has spent many months networking and applying for jobs. Instead, we have depleted our savings and have just about depleted all of our retirement—cashing in everything from every company Bob has worked for in the past twenty years. We have equity in our home, and we are not yet behind on our mortgage, but this has been a frightening experience for our family of six.

I home school my two youngest boys and I am an artist in oils supplementing our income through commissions and advertising on my blog, but this isn’t enough to even buy groceries.

I believe that there is hope for the thousands of people out there who, like my husband, are out of work. If you seek out your own passion and make a presence for yourself on the internet, learn how to market your strengths, and seek out creative ways to generate income, I believe that this corporate disaster can turn around, and that this difficult economy may be a blessing to many of those who have depended on corporations and other companies to generate income. Instead, this just might just be the kick in the butt many need to be an entrepreneur and start utilizing their personal strengths and dreams to start a new life.
I have been after my husband for years to try to utilize his personal strengths to generate income, but being the concerned man that he is, he has depended on building his strengths on the backbone of Corporate America because of the health and retirement benefits, but unfortunately, he has been laid off almost consistently every two to three years for the past twenty years. It is so sad that there is no integrity left in large companies to support and reward individuals who put in years of service and are otherwise committed to the company’s success. Pensions are a thing of the past as are rewards for years of service. It seems now that the only way that anyone can support their family is by utilizing their strengths and doing something (even if only on the side) that they are passionate about, building on that strength, and then turn-the-tide on Corporate America.

By “turn-the-tide” I mean that instead of working for someone else or working for a company or large corporation as our “primary” income, instead we should build our life career on our passions and dreams and “supplement” the income by working elsewhere. This may be what America needs to rebuild our infrastructure and our economy. Too often we are left thinking “I want to work for ...” instead of thinking “I want to create ...” or “I want to build ...” or “I want to ...” I believe that the difference can be profound. For generations, instead of building on our own strengths, we have built our lives on those who are already successful. Instead of believing in ourselves and our own passions for income, we go elsewhere. I think that has been the mistake of thousands of American’s. And, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore because we live in the greatest country in the world and we can be whatever we want to be. We can pursue our dreams—but no one is capable of making that dream come true for you but you!

The biggest difference between working for someone else and building up their dreams and working for yourself is huge. How wonderful would it be to be working doing exactly what you love? How better for your health and the happiness of you and your family would it be if you got up each morning with a smile and a skip in your step? It’s possible. We just have to change our mindset. Even now, as I home school my children, I am teaching them the importance of designing their life and their future on their strengths and passions. Instead of going to college and learning how to work for someone else, how about going to college and learning everything you need to know to be “you.” To be the “leader” that I believe you can be. I tell them now, “If you want to be a scientist, then go for it. If you want to be a software designer, then go for it. If you want to be a composer, then go for it.” That is the mindset I want my children to have from the beginning, to grow up believing in themselves.

We can only hope that this tide will turn soon. So many Americans are losing their homes and suffering with no health insurance or protection. It is frightening as so many Americans are living this experience. We all need the ability to utilize our resources. We all need to step up and re-evaluate what it is that makes us happy. We all need to pursue our dreams and passions and see if we can’t actually make a go of it. I, personally, am hoping that Obama and our Congress are able to create a Federal Healthcare system that would protect Americans from health and financial crisis, thus enabling them to pursue their dreams without having to sacrifice healthcare or benefits that are otherwise provided by working for large Corporations and others. I believe the “benefits” as they call them, are the reason that we seek out employment elsewhere but in our own backyard. If these “benefits,” such as healthcare, can be realized and afforded on a Federal level, then more Americans will be able to wake up each day with the comfort of knowing that their family’s health is protected while they reach for their dream.

It takes hard work, but ... I believe in you—it’s time for “you” to believe in you.