Friday, January 23, 2009
SURVIVAL Part 10: Skills You Already Have
by Jim Davis (Print complete Job Loss Survival Guide)
Identifying the Skills You Already Have
Even though you may not believe this right now, you have something in common with John and Walter in the story you just read. You have survival skills that you have developed over the years, without even knowing it. What you have to do now is to identify those abilities and figure out how to put them to work. John and Walter were not intentionally preparing for the emergency they found themselves in, but they were prepared for it anyway. They could have panicked, because they weren't actually qualified to meet the challenge that they faced. They chose, instead, to meet the challenge head-on by using the skills they had developed.
The abilities that you discover in yourself may not be the answer to all your problems. They may just help you get through some rough spots. As far as I know, neither John nor Walter ever became professional pilots or even got their instrument ratings. They just got through a really rough situation successfully.
You may find that you are able to use these previously untapped skills to get a temporary job that you never considered. It may just put food on the table for a while, or it may open new doors. You may find abilities and interests that provide the gateway to an entirely new career.
You may have developed abilities through hobbies or volunteer work that you can use in ways you never thought of. Or, you may have had work experiences outside your "job description" that may now point you in a new direction. That is how I wound up pursuing a counseling career after I took "early retirement" after 25 years in a highly technical job as a computer systems analyst. I realized that my interests had changed over the years in the direction of working to help people solve their personal problems rather than their technical ones. And I have been amazed at the basic similarities between these two seemingly unrelated types of work.
As you develop your list of your "survival skills," you may notice that what many people call "surviving" is a lot different from what you are going through. Survival seems to have another meaning to many people nowadays. It's common to hear conversations that start something like this. "How's it going?" "Oh, all right, I guess. Just trying to survive." Maybe people think that this attitude helps them to cope with day-to-day living, but what they are actually talking about is "just getting by," not surviving.
True survival takes a great deal of effort. But is it enough just to survive, or is there more to life than that? Consider the experiences of people who lived through Nazi concentration camps, Vietnam POWs, flood and earthquake victims, or situations like John and Walter went through.
What can we learn from them?
There are several reasons why people become survivors. One is luck. We have all read of people who survived lightning strikes, floods, or tornadoes. We don't have much control of those situations, except perhaps to avoid them. Most people become survivors, though, because of something they do. They may train to be ready for crisis situations, such as John and Walter did. They may call on inner strengths they have due to the values and beliefs they have developed. Many of the survivors of the Holocaust and the POWs who survived imprisonment in North Vietnam did so because they had a vision of their future that they would not give up. It was a vision they actively worked toward, even though things looked hopeless to others in the same situation.
Whatever hardships they may have faced, these survivors all had one trait in common. They never gave up. They didn't depend on luck, although they took advantage of any that came their way. They knew that there were no guarantees that they would succeed, but they did everything they could anyway. Many of them continued to use the attitudes they had developed to survive their ordeals and went on to make a real difference in their lives and in the world. They realized better than anyone else that "just getting by" is not a real survival experience.
They are the ones we can really learn the most from.
End of Part 10