Coping With Job Loss: Opposition or Opportunity?

by Brian Dobak
November 16, 2009

This is not going to be your ordinary article on how to cope with job loss, like those that might be found in any of the countless business and trade magazines. One of the aims of Pay It Forward Golf is for the content to be raw, filled with true and raw knowledge straight from the gut. As a fellow golf professional, I only offer my humble perspective and what worked for me. Maybe it will help you, maybe it will make you think. At the end of the day, your career is in your hands.

I was and still am influenced by a sermon my pastor, David Yarborough, gave some time ago. It rang true in so many ways. But let’s begin with something else before we get into that. Getting laid off isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you (Getting fired is worse as well as many other unthinkable events), however it is a pretty significant setback in your career and potentially your life. Getting laid off in February of  2009 was very difficult for me, but it wasn’t devastating.

Like many other clubs during the economic downturn, my facility fell into a relatively dark period of "despair" and they performed significant layoffs, golf professionals included. In a period of 6 months, I was one of five golf professionals (all Class “A” professionals) that got laid off. I was a part of the last wave of layoffs. Each time I survived a lay off, I had to come into work with one of my friends not there anymore. To the best of my ability, I appreciated that it could have been me, but even then its still difficult to appreciate. Then it happened, one day we heard more layoffs were coming, and we were suddenly asking each other and ourselves, are you next? Am I next? Indeed, I was next. One day I was working hard, the next day I wasn’t working at all. My time finally came and to this day it amazes me how fast it all happened. This was how I came to approach it.

When I got laid off, on an outwardly basis I immediately recognized this trial as a challenge. For nearly 7 years, I had gathered quite a bit of momentum as a golf professional and I didn’t want it to stop. I know golf professionals that were laid off many months prior and were still not working or had only just found a job. In my humble opinion, I felt that the longer I was unemployed, the bigger the gap would be in my resume and the more questions I would have to answer down the road. More importantly, I didn’t want to get caught in a lull of nothingness in which I wasn’t moving forward with my work experiences. I didn't look at this as a time for a vacation. The day after I got laid off, finding a job was my new full time job. I spent all of my days preparing and printing resumes, cover letters, reference pages, brief portfolios, making phone calls, and meeting with contacts that could help me. I did not give myself a choice other than to be aggressive and jump right back into a work experience. No time off. I didn’t want to stop learning.

I created a handful of options for myself, some top clubs in inconvenient areas, and some mid-level clubs in convenient areas. Because I didn’t want to compromise some things in my personal life, I chose the mid-level club in a convenient area. From a facility standpoint, the club was a step down, but my responsibilities were a step upward. I got laid off and my life and career were drastically rerouted, however my goals and aspirations in this business did not waiver one bit. When all was said and done, I was unemployed for about three weeks. Although I still struggle, this episode in my life actually became an experience that turned out to be very healthy. Here is why.

Opposition or Opportunity?

My inward approach to the circumstances were such.  My pastor, David Yarborough, puts it best time and time again. Between the voting of our new leader and the significant economic struggles including unemployment levels, our lives have been going through a lot of change the past few years. So many of the things we have put our hopes in, have been taken away. For many of us, whether it’s a home, an investment fund, a relationship, or a job, some of the things we have worked so hard to build over the years have been taken away in a matter of months. Have you ever asked yourself, what is going on? Why is this happening? Is there a God? If so, what is God doing? What is God doing in my relationship? What is God doing with my health? What is God doing with my job?

When I got laid off, I immediately recognized it as an opportunity. I could strongly feel my ground shaking, that some major changes were about to take place in my life and I had a good idea on how to approach it. It is said that God will shake everything that can be shaken so the things that can’t be shaken will remain. Putting my faith in God made me a member of an unshakable kingdom, one that is infinitely better than even the most exclusive country clubs. I put my faith in Him.

My faith has been what has worked for me. James 1:2 says: “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds”. There isn’t only one trial in life, there are many trials. Trials come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, we will face them. In that verse, God is telling us flat out, "Hey man, I am going to test you, you will struggle many times and in many different ways!" Consider it joy because you are about to embark on a learning process and you will come out of it faster, stronger, and wiser.

Do you see your trials as opposition or an opportunity? Our lives are always changing. All situations in our lives, good or bad, will become a catalyst to something greater. There is a reason they call them "blessings in disguise". There is a reason it is always said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. Losing your job will eventually become a blessing; it is only a matter of time, you just have to trust Him.

One of the greatest instruments God will ever use in our lives for change is life itself. It is circumstances that we face in life, it is adversity. God uses adversity in our life to bring about change. Can you imagine life without adversity, without challenge, without trials? If we won every game, got an "A" on every test, surpassed every sales quota every time, and experienced no emotional or physical hardships, how would we learn, what would we learn, how would we grow? I think we would just be zombies walking around in our perfect lives. The greatest school room for change is life itself and the greatest teacher is adversity. Trials are not an elective course, THEY WILL HAPPEN – count on it! They are a core curriculum for life. Embrace this undeniable truth and approach them as opportunities.

Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that God works for the good of those who love him”. It doesn’t say that ALL things in life are good; it says God works FOR the good. Everything in our lives won’t be good. We will suffer. If you didn’t yesterday, then you will tomorrow or the next. If you had a good day, you will have a bad one, if you had a bad day, you will have a good one. If you had a great tournament today, you will surely have a bad one in the near future. How are you going to balance this undeniable truth?

How many times have you overcome a hardship? How many times have you come out of a trial clean, fresh, and stronger? There is a reason and a purpose for that. If we treat difficult times as an opposition to our life, then we’re going to wine, pout, get mad, blame others, be frustrated, and be bitter instead of better. How do you approach hardships? Do you hide and ask why is this happening? Or do you face it and challenge the challenge? Do you see them as opposition or opportunity? Embrace these questions and embrace the discipline that will come with hardship. There is nothing God puts in front of us that we can not overcome and become better for it.

Have you lost your job? I don’t know what’s going on in your life, but I do know enough to be sure that there are hardships in your life as there are in mine. Getting laid off was not the worst thing that can happen to me. There will be more difficult hardships to endure in my life than the loss of my job. However, looking back on the period in which I got laid off and moving further away from that time, the more I realize what a stressful time it was. If you have lost your job, don’t be succumbed by the hardship, let the hardship be succumbed by you and your faith. See it as an opportunity.

To land back on the ground, I vividly remember a quote from the movie, “The Greatest Game Ever Played”, said by the character Harry Vardon: “Even in our darkest hour you must remember, never despair”.

Opposition or Opportunity?