If you haven’t been there, imagine the feeling for a minute. Your family wakes up on a typical day and goes about its morning routine—breakfast, shower, feed the animals, get the kids off to school, whatever it is for you. Maybe you have plans for dinner out, or a movie, or just a quiet evening in your favorite chair with a good book. But when you come home at end of the workday, your world has changed. One of you is unemployed. One paycheck will no longer help support your family. Your dreams are about to be put on hold.
When Ellen brought this news home, she and Cameron dealt with their emotional reactions while diving into the practicalities of planning. Neither of them suspected it was the beginning of a four-year detour, down a winding road filled with potholes the size of elephants, and dead-ends every few miles. How did they find themselves in this Jurassic Park of unemployment?
Ellen is a mom, wife, daughter, sister, and a professional. In all of these roles, being a mom has always been her first priority. There was never a question that she would be there for Emily as much as possible to provide her with the love, strength and guidance she needed to grow from infancy to adulthood.
When Emily was a toddler, Ellen started a Pampered Chef business that would allow her to work in the evening and be home during the day. Her
entrepreneurial spirit emerged, and for eleven years Ellen grew her business from scratch to a sales team of 22 reps, whom she recruited, trained, and managed. But she left it behind for a nine-to-five job to be at home in the evenings as Emily entered her teen years. Then the road unexpectedly detoured and Ellen hit the first ruts. It was here that she drove off into that upside down day and came home with the news, “Honey, I lost my job.”
For the next four years, Ellen’s people and organizational skills brought her a succession of program development jobs and contracts in universities and non-profit organizations. Each of them ended because of loss of funding, restructuring, or changes in strategic direction. She bridged the gaps working part-time in retail sales. And she never stopped networking, participating in job support groups, or taking advantage of opportunities to build her existing skills and add new ones.
Although Ellen’s earnings were an essential part of the family budget, it had always been equally important to her that her work was meaningful and allowed her to add value to an organization and the lives of others. But now, when people told her, “don’t give up on your dreams,” her reply was “I have bills to pay!” It was the first time in her life that she did not feel successful. However, she refused to accept defeat.
Already a skilled presenter and public speaker, she realized she could help others learn and grow by combining these abilities with her experience training a sales force. Excited by the potential, she prepared herself by earning a professional training certificate through the Bob Pike Group. She then set out to enter the training field, willing and ready to start at the bottom of an organization. But the rejections followed, as employers were only interested in people with years of experience doing corporate training.
Throughout this entire period, Ellen’s personal life was dealing her one crisis after another. She frequently dropped everything to fly across the country for family emergencies, adding physical stress to emotional upheaval. When these demands finally began to subside a year ago, she took on another challenge to round out her credentials and earned certification as a professional coach. Now she not only had the training and experience to realize her goal of supporting the development of others, she also had the tools to achieve independence.
Ellen is enjoying flexing her entrepreneurial muscle again, branding and building her own coaching practice. At the same time, her persistence recently led to an invitation from a growing and highly regarded organization to join their select group of independent certified trainers.
Has Ellen’s long detour finally come to an end? I think it has. Is the road ahead nothing but smooth sailing? Well, I’m not sure Ellen would want life to be without some challenges. But she has established a strong foundation, and I believe she is about to begin harvesting the hard-won fruits of her unflagging determination.