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I work for a tremendous organization: DICK’S Sporting Goods. And, in times like these, business has to respond to the now in hopes of saving the future. I get that. So, when the news came that furloughs were being levied across the organization and my name was on the list, I went through a range of emotions. At first I was unsettlingly calm. I am a predominantly left-brained individual working in a right-brained field, so the move made sense. After sitting with the prospect of going without a paycheck for the foreseeable future, my emotions turned to worry as expected. The following day, however, I still got online to finish out the week’s duties knowing I had a team and partners to help get through this tumultuous time, some of whom were not furloughed. The leaders who succeed in their careers are the people who can rise to the challenge of helping other in spite of their own adversity, so I knew I had to navigate the next few days with care and empathy. After some thought, I decided to send the following note to all the people I worked most closely with:

Hi team.

I’m reaching out because, like many, I have been furloughed. And with that comes the need for me to not check my work email… or Teams… or any other work-sanctioned communication tool starting Saturday night. However, I want you all to know I am available for anything you need (not work related 😉). The nice thing about this message is that it’s not a “goodbye” email, rather, it’s a “see you later” note.

So, for all who will remain on staff, please use this opportunity to make a name for yourself in the organization. I know you’ll be busy, and the stress may mount, but please take time to step back and look at what you can do to further your career. Do you now have access to leaders who you may not have had access to before? Is there an opportunity to effect change and make a positive impact in your area of expertise? While the business does what it can to improve each day, don’t forget to keep your long term goals in view. Write them down if you have to.

For those of you in the same boat as me, know that this is temporary. You all know that I can be blunt, so there shouldn’t be a reason to think I’m just trying to make you feel better. I honestly think we’ll be back in due time. So, while you are away, take the time to enjoy the opportunities you may not have had before. Stay sharp on skills. Learn something new. Virtually collaborate with your fellow furloughed teammates on something fun. Take a good look at your career development plan and take steps to get closer to the future you. There will soon be an opportunity to come back and show off what you’ve managed to accomplish. I, for one, hope to get back to illustrating each day to start.

With all that said, everyone stay safe. Stay healthy. And stay sane.

The next few weeks and months will show what everyone is made of, whether they are furloughed or not. So for those whose organizations have gone through a similar exercise of furloughs or layoffs, the question I pose to you is, what will you do? For the leaders among us, how have you responded? Please comment to share your experiences.

*This article was originally written for and posted on LinkedIn. Please feel free to add to the conversation there.

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