As the restructuring axes have swooshed over head during the past few weeks, the least likely of all the f words to be heard uttered at the top of publishing organisations is ‘failure’. We all know how information and communication is spun (‘has decided…by mutual agreement…with sincere thanks for everything’). But when the decision to leave a high-ranking job is not your own then, whatever the pay-off, assumptions of hierarchy pretty much disappear. It is exposing. It is humiliating. It is a little frightening.
You will find that people take a delicious delight in being as close as possible to the eye of this most personal storm. Even those you would consider your friends and not just work colleagues will utter the most chilling homilies designed to make you feel better about yourself. These things happen for a reason. You will look back on this as a blessing. You weren’t very happy anyway. And, by far the worst, this is the best thing that has ever happened to you. When it is clearly and by some distance one of the worst things that has ever happened to you.
How should you react in that situation? Wallow in self-pity? Employ your creativity in plotting revenge? How about embracing your inner-American.What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all the rest. I was casually flicking through a book celebrating the achievements of my daughter’s netball club the other day and I saw a quote from Michael Jordan:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
The trouble is, I love this. I want to be a fully paid up Brit and believe that life is just a series of more downs than ups and that you’d better just get used to being another piece of flotsam. But I can’t. I have learned about myself and life and particularly other people from bad situations. There is only gain in facing up to what has happened and using it as best as you can.
I’ll be watching with interest to see how some of the real Players of the last two decades of publishing emerge after they’ve spent a few months tending their metaphorical gardens.