Book Chapter - Becoming Invincible (Issue #349)
Sharing another excerpt with you
This is an excerpt from Chapter 2
Our boss looked around the conference room, sighed, and said, “I need your final list of employees for the layoff next week. Have you decided who you’re keeping and who can be let go?”
There’s nothing like a corporate layoff meeting to reveal the truth about who is valued in an organization. Some employees are so precious that they are untouchable. You might even say they’re “invincible.” Others are so vulnerable that their managers are happy to put them on a layoff list. Most people fall somewhere in the middle.
I still remember that conversation with the leaders of the various organizations in the company. We were discussing numbers and debating names. Someone mentioned another team’s employee as a potential candidate for the layoff list.
His manager snorted. “Yeah, right. Matt is the only one who understands the code for our legacy system. He wrote the whole damn thing, it’s not documented well, and no one else could keep it running. If we get rid of him, we’re screwed.”
The senior leader frowned. “Ok, ok. We can’t afford to lose Matt. What about Tim? What’s he working on?”
Tim’s manager looked uncomfortable. “Umm, he’s on a new project testing some experimental concepts. He’s a good guy. I want to keep him.”
The leader grunted, “Uh-huh. I see. Well, we don’t have the luxury of experimentation right now, and someone has to go.”
Guess who lost their job that day?
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Before I continue, I should clarify what I mean by vulnerability in your career and life. After all, doesn’t Brené Brown tell us that there is power in being vulnerable?
Yes, she does. But, to be clear, she’s talking about vulnerability in the sense of being your authentic self and not being afraid to be human, make mistakes, and connect with others more deeply. Even she doesn’t recommend that you’re vulnerable with the wrong people or in the wrong situations.
You can be confident, authentic, and willing to be vulnerable. But you still wouldn’t turn your back on a tiger.
Similarly, at work, it’s good to be your authentic self, honest and open, and human. But, never forget that your job is a transactional relationship, and the workplace is a competitive environment. Your coworkers are not your family, and your boss is not your friend.
You’ll be treated well as long as you’re delivering more value to the organization than the bottom 10% of employees. You’ll keep your position as long as your paycheck is a positive ROI for the company. You’ll have job security as long as your employer remains profitable, the leadership keeps making good decisions, and the company doesn’t stumble in the competitive market.
You may be thinking, “This doesn’t apply to me. My job is rock solid, and it always will be.“
But… will it?
Sooner or later, we all become vulnerable in our careers. Welcome to the joys of growing older and age discrimination! If you haven’t experienced it yet, you probably will one day.
The reality is most of us are always vulnerable, even if we don’t realize it or want to admit it. Eventually, something will happen that wakes you up to this fact. I certainly experienced that and learned the hard way that I had let myself become vulnerable over the years. For example:
If your primary source of income is from one job and you have a single boss who controls your fate, you are vulnerable.
If you heavily depend on a single source of income to make ends meet, sometimes paycheck to paycheck, you are vulnerable.
If your regional cost of living is so high that your rent or mortgage consumes most of your income, you are vulnerable.
If you want to quit your job and find a new one, but you discover there are no opportunities for you elsewhere, you are vulnerable.
If your profession vanished — or your industry collapsed — and you don’t have a sufficient financial cushion to pivot and rebuild your career, you are vulnerable.
If you’re growing older and age discrimination makes it harder to find employment in your chosen profession, you become increasingly vulnerable with every passing year.
I’m excited to share more of my book with you this year. Subscribe now to read the draft chapters as I complete them.
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Larry Cornett is a leadership coach and business advisor who hosts a private mastermind community for ambitious professionals with weekly challenges, office hours, and confidential support. If you’re interested in starting your own business or side hustle someday (or accelerating an existing one), check out his “Employee to Solopreneur” course (launching later this year).
Larry lives in Northern California near Lake Tahoe with his wife and children, and a gigantic Great Dane. He does his best to share advice to help others take complete control of their work and life. He’s also on Twitter @cornett.