Have you ever been the victim of identity theft?  I have and it is no fun.

I’m not talking about the type of identity theft where your personal profile, credit cards, medical records, bank accounts and other things are compromised.  I am talking about loosing your sense of  purpose, direction, motivation.  The identity theft I am talking about is a by-product of being laid off, downsized, right sized, reorganized, displaced, or whatever new phrase is tagged onto the fact that you were recently terminated from your job.

I bet you never considered that as “Identity Theft”. Here is some food for thought.

I have discovered that when most people are asked to tell something about themselves, a leading topic is their title, position, or employment.  You know how it goes, “I am a teacher, a banker, an engineer”, or perhaps “I am the VP of Operations for …” or even “I have spent the last 10 years as the ..for a major corporation”  Perhaps you have given this as a response.  I have.

Suddenly you find yourself unemployed.  Suddenly you no longer have the title, position or job to describe who you are.  Suddenly the thing that you have hitched your identity to has disappeared.  Now who are you? The words that you may have used to describe yourself are now in the past tense, “I used to be”, or “I spent my career as …”  This is why I suggest that you have fallen victim to “Identity Theft”.  To me these responses have you living in the past.  You have allowed your job(past job) or your employer (former employer) to steal your identity.  Are you really that shallow of an individual to be defined by your job or title?

General Colin Powell has a list of rules that he lives by.  One of my favorites is:

Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position fails your ego goes with it.

As individuals, we are more, much more than our jobs and titles.  Stop and think about who you really are.  Think about the things that are important in life.

I love to read about people who describe themselves as thinkers, entrepreneurs, fathers and brothers, mentors and teachers, volunteers and servants.  We are all more complex and diversified that our job title and position.

Don’t let the loss of a job steal your identity.  I combat this every day.  I once managed multi-million dollar construction projects until I was laid off during a major recession (to me it was a depression).  I was lost, I didn’t know who I was or where I was going.  Yeah my ego and position were tethered together pretty tightly.

I had a course correction.  I become an entrepreneur, a business owner.  These things added mentor, visionary, dreamer, bookkeeper, salesman, laborer and many other aspects to who I am.  I also continue on the road as husband, father, grandfather, friend, neighbor, thinker, reader, fisherman, Christian, brother, etc etc.

Thanks General Powell for your great advice.  My identity is intact.

That’s the way I see it.