In which I count my blessings …

Yesterday found me in conversation with one of the many generous, kind and talented people with whom I’ve come into contact since being launched towards redundancy. During our chat it occurred to me that there are many blessings to have come our way as a result of the enforced change ahead. Experiences, opportunities and people who I would never have known without being made redundant.

During yesterday I made a little list of these blessings and here it is, in no particular order.

  • ‘… to boldly go …’: Much of my life as a public servant has been about minimising and managing risk. Being made redundant changed the parameters for me though since the answer to the question, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’, had really already happened. The risks of not doing something became much greater than the risks of giving it a go. I’m now far more comfortable with being uncomfortable than I ever was before and that usually means you end up learning something useful.
  • ‘… two (or more) heads are better than one …’: When you’re all in the lifeboat together scanning an expanse of unemployment it hardly matters who amongst you was the captain and who was a stoker or a steward. What counts far more than previous status is the knowledge, energy and passion that, shamefully, went untapped most of the time at work. I’ve greedily drunk from that well of talent as well as, I hope, contributing my share too.
  • the kindness of strangers ‘ : My uniform experience has been that people are incredibly generous and kind in sharing their experience, knowledge and time. Outside of the anti-public sector trolldom most folks emphasise with what we’re going through – many having been through it themselves numerous times. Knowing the world isn’t actually full of people who want to burn you for having had the temerity to be in public service puts the rantings of some part of the media into perspective.
  • ‘ … scepticism is useful, cynicism isn’t …’: There’s nothing like being on the inside of news stories in providing powerful lessons about how the world works. After 20 odd years of public service I am still shocked by the cavalier attitude to the truth that many of our national leaders display. It would be easy to become cynical, and I know sometimes I stray there, but if that’s where you start and end you may miss out on opportunities to do some good. Scepticism helps focus my mind on where my talents may be useful, the weaknesses in whatever is being proposed that can be tackled. I do find this the hardest blessing to keep in mind though.
  • ‘ … what’s really important …’: For most of us, most of the time we take a lot of our lives unchallenged. Like the hull of an old man-of-war we accrete all sorts of stuff in our journey through life. Having this rude shock to the system has compelled us at RPS Towers to think about what is important. That’s a work in progress but one that wouldn’t have started without being keel-hauled by the coalition.

When I started blogging I promised myself that I wouldn’t waste time ranting but that doesn’t mean I don’t, every now and again, get thoroughly fed up. Writing about what’s going on has helped me clarify my thoughts though. And that has been far more helpful to me, and I hope to you, than creating effigies of my least favourite politicians for pin-sticking. (I can always do that later.)

Hearing from visitors to the blog is, of course, one of the greatest blessings. Your stories, often sad and frequently funny, have been a constant inspiration. Thank you and good luck to us all.

Now, what’s next?

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About redundantpublicservant

A redundant UK public servant looking for work, sharing his experiences and providing a space for others to do the same.
This entry was posted in 2011, bad news, blogging, Coalition, job hunting, kindness, Redundancy, success, Thank you and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to In which I count my blessings …

  1. cb says:

    I have followed your journey and probably don’t comment as much (if ever!) as I should but thanks to you for sharing your thoughts. In completely different circumstances, I’ve found that writing has really helped reduce my ranting quotient at work. The networks, relationships and human contact though is one of the more ethereal but no less beneficial positives.

    • Dear cb,

      Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment. You’re absolutely right about the benefits of scribbling and the sense you get of everyone out there wishing you well. That’s been incredibly powerful for us as a family.

      Best wishes

      RPS

  2. citizenr says:

    Hear, hear. And blogging is great isn’t it? Think of all the money we’ve saved in therapy.

  3. Martin says:

    Speaking as one who was made redundant from a comfy private sector job 18 months ago after 16 years in the job, I completely agree with everything you say in this post. Being scared and doing stuff anyway, reassessing what really matters in life, and making a bigger contribution to – and taking more from – that amazing collective well of kindness and wisdom that’s out there…it’s all life-affirming stuff. Even though I’m materially far less secure than I’ve been for decades, I’ve never been happier. Good luck with your work in progress 🙂

  4. Penny says:

    Just wanted to say thanks for this and the previous post. Both have given me a much needed boost as I go through one of the periodic troughs of a freelancer’s life (has anyone warned you about those?)

    • Dear Penny,

      I hope things have picked up. A couple of my oldest and dearest friends tread the boards and have taught me a lot about grace under the pressure of not much work.

      Fingers and much else besides crossed for all of us.

      RPS

  5. Hi RPS

    I enjoyed your blog as always – three thoughts:

    I have just returned from the international “Excellence out of Adversity” health and social care conference in Glasgow. Some great sessions with some very clever and interesting people – lots of learning and networking. But what stood out for me was meeting and chatting to some inspirational service users – people who were willing to travel huge distances to participate and learn, sharing their experiences, often despite severe disabilities and hardships. This contrasted to a few “professionals” moaning about “the cuts” in a way that seemed to concentrate more on themselves than on the services they were providing. It is easy to take so many things for granted as we go about our daily lives: health, family and friends, housing, jobs, supportive networks both on-line and in person etc etc. Counting our blessings can be very humbling.

    The second one is more practical. Have you seen this – it might be useful to you and your avid followers: http://www.guardian.co.uk/local-government-network/2011/jan/31/public-to-private-sector-jobs?&

    Finally, a book. “Feel the fear and do it anyway” by Sue Jeffers. This powerful little book was my mainstay when I took my “leap of faith” and jumped ship from the public sector to set up my own company. http://wp.me/p1enjT-1e

    Despite all the uncertainties, I have never looked back, as I feel I can now follow my heart and “make a difference”. No more looking over my shoulder or receiving “missives from on high”…

    Good luck and very best wishes

    Gill

    • cb says:

      Hi Gill
      As one of those ‘professionals’ moaning about cuts I would heartily disagree with the point that it is out of self-interest that I am objecting. I see the effect every day that cuts have on the service users I work with. They won’t be the ones who attend conferences and have debates – but to pretend cuts aren’t happening and that they won’t affect people’s daily lives is a little bit ‘head in the sand’. And to accuse us who ‘on the front-line’ oppose them for being selfish, isn’t fair.

      (sorry, RPS about hijacking your comment thread but I couldn’t let that pass!)

      • Whose Shoes? says:

        Hi cb
        Thanks – I am really glad you have said this as I am certainly not accusing front-line workers of being selfish for opposing cuts! The vast majority of professionals have services and their service users at heart. They see first hand the effect of cuts on real people – that is the reason they entered the profession and their passion comes shining through. This is true in all walks of life, but arguably particularly in social work where people enter the profession to make a difference and support disadvantaged people.

        However, academic conferences can sometimes be very far removed from the real world. This can be inspiring – great thinkers seeing the big picture (international comparisons, exciting partnerships, future possibilities) or quite simply …removed from the real world! It is frustrating to witness conversations or debates where a few people appear to have lost sight of the reason they are in post. One service user commented very eloquently “If it wasn’t for us, there wouldn’t be ANY jobs”.

        You are right that many service users are unable to attend conferences. “One month before heartbreak” was a fantastic, incredibly powerful social media campaign enabling disabled people to tell their stories and open people’s eyes to the effects (immediate and knock on) on their lives and the lives of their families of losing Disabled Living Allowance. As in your point about attending conferences, however, not everyone has access to computers or social media outlets. The challenge is to make sure that everyone has a voice and that the true effects of the cuts are made known.

    • Dear Gill,

      Thank you so much for the links I will definitely have a look.

      Hope that all remains well with you,

      RPS

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  7. Hazel Edmunds says:

    Reading this brought me back to a point when both I and a man I had previously worked with in a large government department ended up in a role/status reversal situation. He became the chair of an advisory committee whilst I was the boss of the consultancy firm managing the project that the committee was advising. He thought he could say jump – and I, unfortunately for all concerned, took some time to learn that he was no longer my boss’s boss’s boss!

    • Dear Hazel,

      That sounds incredibly tricky to navigate. I was once told a story about a group of colleagues who had started their careers at the same time in the same organisation. Over time they went in different directions and some enjoyed greater success than others. They continued to meet up every now and again. Then the day cam when one of them made the Board. He ‘happened’ to mention this casually at their next get together.

      ‘Well,’ he said, ‘looks like I’ve won the race to the top.’

      ‘Yes, you have Brian,’ replied one of his unimpressed colleagues. ‘But you’re still the same old w***** you were right at the start.’

      Best wishes

      RPS

  8. Joan says:

    Hi RPS
    I must compliment you on one of the best, and most articulate blog posts I have read in a very long time!

    As somebody who as spent 20 years selling into public sector organisations, I have seen both sides of the fence – I have been made redundant in the past, and similarly can empathise with the hoards of public servants losing their jobs at this time.
    First time around for me, it was a horrendous jolt to my system, confidence and general wellbeing, but eight years on, it truely catapulted my life into another direction that I never could have dreamt of.

    While I am a big believer in fate, I also believe that you make your own destiny – if life closes one door, it opens another, so stay positive, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box and consider ‘left field’ options in response to your parting words of “whats next?”!

    I now work in the whole field of internet marketing, and right now am seeing A LOT of people coming into the industry in pursuit of their ‘plan b’ , either because of redundancy, or the likelihood of it! Interestingly, many of these people are 40+ and with the right mindset, determination, coaching and tools, they are having a good run at it. At any rate, check out the following link as one possible response to your “whats next” question – http://tiny.ly/CYL2 and http://tiny.ly/X0F5. Additionally, I have written similar blog posts on the topic, and they can be found on http://tiny.ly/TEpW.

    Finally, stay positive and keep plugging away – the answers will come when you’re ready!
    Kind regards
    Joan

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