Best Books for Business: How JobShift Helped Me Survive

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Best Books for Business: How JobShift Helped Me Survive

In 1996 my family faced multiple—nearly overwhelming—crises that included me leaving a long-term stable job in a ministry setting. No big deal, just the loss of job, church, friends, and a deep-rooted support system.

One challenge involved helping family members make it through each new day. Another was the added pressure of an employment search. Oh, and because of the depth of our stress, I committed to not moving. I feared moving for work might become a final tipping point. I hoped that somehow holding place would provide a bit of hope that everything hadn’t been lost, a possible place to build from going forward.

Rare was the day I had energy and excitement about the search process.

My JobShift

A friend suggested a book. To be honest, many friends recommended many books in my season of survival. I read a few. Only JobShift: How to Prosper in a Workplace Without Jobs, by William Bridges, actually stuck.

Bridges made the case that traditional jobs were vanishing. By the mid ’90s we had observed corporate shifts in structure that had diminished security for many in the workplace. Little did we know that this shift was headed for something like a steroid-fueled increase in changes in the coming decade.

Bridges championed becoming “You, INC.” He encouraged thinking and acting like you are self-employed no matter how you get a check; thinking in terms of (multiple) streams of income; acting as if you are always a temp, ready to tell a current employer you have met your goals and will be moving on.

So while I looked for a new, traditional job, I began taking steps toward going solo and becoming a consultant.

Nine months into the transition, just after my Dad died of cancer, a position opened that I hadn’t applied for. It was one of those right-place-right-time situations and the deal was done. It wasn’t self-employment, but in a strange twist—perhaps because I worked to keep JobShift ideas as a philosophical base in the new setting—it ended up being the longest lasting job of my career.

Then three years ago, I returned to JobShift again, this time for another kind of survival. The day I turned in my keys, I finally went solo. I set a plan, began building a base, and made connections. I was starting my own business.

I Must Be Doing Okay

In these three short years, I’ve had an innumerable string of employers and projects. Some I’ve loved and others I’ve endured. I have been able to live into my strengths and passions. I’ve also said “yes” for little more reason than I was capable and the money was needed. Some days I love the variety and flexibility of being a free agent. Other days I miss working things out with a team.

A good friend occasionally asks how I’m doing. After I rattle on for a bit, he’ll say, “If you’re not looking for a (real) job, you must be doing okay.” I think he’s right. I’ve applied for a few specific traditional positions, but I’d rather keep finding my way in this new world of work than taking “anything” in the old world.

Living into Jobshift has been a true gift. It encouraged a better fit for career, life, and family, and my wife reminds me of how much less stressed I appear. My long-range hope is to grow fully into the person God is shaping me to be. Lessons from JobShift have played a significant part along that journey. More and more, I move toward career wholeness.

I know I can’t live in the past, so when I reflect on 1996, I remember the lessons that grew out of that stressful season. JobShift was instrumental in the learning. The book provided great value for being ahead of its time in seeing the shifting landscape of work. In addition to clarifying these ongoing changes, it offered (and still offers) practical ways to navigate the new reality.

Simply put, JobShift supplied insightful and practical advice. My story proves that it works.

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Best Books for Business

As the saying goes, “So many books, so little time.” We all love a good book list. The stacks of books on our nightstands threaten to reach the ceiling, and we are constantly combing yard sales and thrift stores for a bargain on a bookshelf to store all our treasures. Which books are your favorite? And, if you had to narrow down that list to your favorite books for business, which titles would we find there? We asked a few writers to share their recommendations with us, and we thought we’d share their suggestions here with you, in this series, Best Books for Business. See if any of your favorites make an appearance here.

Featured image by Marty Hadding. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.