The Space in Between

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Ronin were Japanese samurai warriors who became masterless, with no feudal lord to serve. Ronin literally means “wandering man.”

Societally, ronin were in a difficult position. They were excluded from the traditional samurai hierarchy and lacked the privileges and benefits associated with serving a lord.

They were displaced.

Sounds like what happened to a lot of people during and after the pandemic.

Layoffs. Job change. Income loss. Loss of benefits. Loss of status. Business failure. Isolation. Starting over. Reinventing.

The space in between one thing and the next.

Most of us, at some point, have been there.

What can we do during this time to keep moving forward and actually make the next thing better than the last?

Before I share my thoughts, remember that the first in between days are normally accompanied by a variety of conflicting emotions. Acknowledge them. Then move forward.

What do I mean by that?

It’s natural to derive some sense of identity from our work. When that changes, it can be devastating, and cause a struggle with re-establishing meaning and self-worth. You may feel like you got the wind knocked out of you.

Others may view you differently. Friends and family may judge you. You may also feel shame or embarrassment, especially if you didn’t have a voice in the change.

Being in between can cause anxiety, self-doubt, and paralysis or inaction.

None of these emotions, however, change this one simple and foundational fact about you.

Your identity, worth and purpose have NOT changed.

Swirling emotions aside, you are still the same person. Your skills, abilities and gifts didn’t change overnight.

You’ve simply concluded one chapter in your story.

And now it is time to begin the next.

So now what?

Here are seven ideas that may help.

Reflect – Pause and take a breath. Take a fresh inventory of your strengths and needed growth areas. Take a strengths assessment. I really like Gallup Strengths Finder.

Ask yourself what you learned from your last experience that you can carry forward. Just as important is what you need to leave behind.

Learn – Identify skills or knowledge gaps that could enhance your leadership. Take courses, webinars or workshops to acquire these skills or strengthen existing ones.

Sign Up – Volunteer with professional associations or outside organizations that you are part of. This will give you an emotional lift and you’ll meet new friends that may be able to assist you. Take time to assist them, as well.

Connect – Reach out to those you haven’t connected with for a while. Attend industry events or mixers. Consider attending some outside your current industry. Don’t be shy.

Care – Being in between is stressful. This is not the time to abandon exercise or self-care. In fact, consider stepping it up a bit. Also do some things you really enjoy. It will help keep your personal batteries charged.

Coach – Sometimes an objective third-party helps you see with fresh eyes, and may illuminate previously unthought of opportunities or possibilities. A good coach or mentor can help you with this. Coaching is one of my favorite things to do during this season of my life.

Brand – Today’s mobile workforce virtually demands that we create and curate our own brand. Identify your transferrable skills. Integrate those into your resume, social profiles and other professional platforms. Also contribute to on-line forums or groups aligned with your interests.

Being in between may seem like getting sucked into a black hole. If you embrace the gravity well, however, it will slingshot you out the other side toward something better.

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