I have been working at what has been my dream job at Whirlpool Corporation for six years. Every day I was either working on something new or making something better. The way I saw it, every day I was given a great gift of being payed to play with toys. Sure, they were appliances or tools but those are just toys for adults anyway. They are designed to make the “suffering” in life a bit more bearable and I found that to be an enjoyable task.
This was my second Whirlpool life. I had previously worked at Whirlpool, from 2002 to 2006 and left there on my own accord to seek other opportunities. My second Whirlpool life lasted 6 years to the day and was far, far more enjoyable. This time, I was able to unite my creative and problem solving skills in a technical manner using CAD as the vehicle to do so. I was able to create, take images in my mind and turn them into real things. I absolutely enjoyed it.
Just over a week ago, after an All-Hands meeting, I received a “Job Impact Communication” meeting show up in my email. Based on the context of that All-Hands meeting. I knew exactly what this was. The company had been talking about a 20% reduction in force and based on my specific role, I was already mentally prepared for this.
The three individuals in this meeting to let me go were all very sad and somber, and I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t want that job. I made it a point to stop the “firing” early on to change the mood of the meeting. I said, “I am not dying, I am just going to find another opportunity, lets have some fun and get through this with some smiles.” I figured, I had nothing to lose, my separation was already decided. Nothing I did would change that so I will face my unfortunate news on my terms.
I made it clear, I was not upset. I understand the situation of the company and the reality is, I feel worse for Whirlpool and those that were doing the “Job Impact Communications” than I do for me. I made it clear that this is nothing more than a bump in my my road and I am now off to new adventures. Without sounding conceded, I know that I am a talented hard worker and they are losing far more than I am. I made it clear that I will miss being there working with some of the best people and most incredible projects I have ever done but that it was okay. The meeting did proceed to my liking after that. Everyone had a better disposition about the process. We had some laughs and I felt good about how the whole thing went. If nothing else, I know that I made a positive impact on the “firing squad” and I hope that I helped them face their day with just a bit more optimism and hope for the future.
I am quite sure that few others approached it in the same way I did. I had read some blips of angry, bitter and resentful people and I feel bad for them. I think they didn’t quite understand their agreement they had with Whirlpool.
I had one final one-on-one with my boss and I must say it was quite a lot of fun and emotion filled. I told him what I enjoyed, what I didn’t enjoy as much, the people I will miss for their fun and well defined personalities and my best wishes to the project that I felt very invested into. I finished off the meeting telling my boss why I enjoyed working with him why he was a great manager, why I enjoyed working for him and a hope that our paths will cross again in the future. I meant every bit of it.
Later that day, I picked up my things from the tech center. My 6 years at Whirlpool could be represented by three 12-gallon flip totes. Mostly books, some vintage tech that I had there and the things I placed around my cubicle that made it an extension of my home.
I did a Final walk around the facility after I was done picking up my things to say farewells to the the different people I worked with that were there. I received super kind statements from everyone to which I talked. Some were very sad for me saying it wasn’t fair and what not. As I progressed, making my rounds, I was in many ways more sad for them than I am for me, they are losing an awesome designer (that conceit again). I know that I can get another gig, maybe as good maybe better but certainly not the same.
I was leaving a great facility with great people and my only regret was that I didn’t have more time with them. I can, with great confidence say that I did my best, I learned a lot and grew not only professionally but also personally for being there and for that, I am incredibly grateful.
Some of the best parts of the job were my interactions with the model makers in the model shop. They helped me more than any training I had at being a better designer. They helped me to better understand manufacturing processes and better understand the limitations and capabilities of the equipment. There was a lot more to learn there but I think that goes with anything in life. There is never an end to the quest of knowledge and understanding.
I made it clear to everyone that I look at it as a new adventure. I wasn’t given news of having a terminal disease, I am just off on a conquest for knowledge elsewhere and I thanked them all for the time they gave me. I am glad I did indeed cherish my time there.
Before I walked out of the facility, possibly for the last time ever, I left a message on my little wipe board to my coworkers that I hope they take to heart.
“The future is whatever you make of it, so make it a good one.”
Obviously plagiarized from my favorite movie Trilogy, “Back to the Future” but that movie is a bit of fiction that hold some truth greater than reality. The future is indeed up to us.
I’m not in any big hurry, I have options. I need to take the time to interview my options and find the mutually best decision. The fact of the matter is, I’m not going to over-sell myself. If I’m not the best candidate they shouldn’t hire me. When I find the best option, I will know it in my heart and move forward.
My resume is going out to different places. I am currently enjoying some time of reflection and doing activities that I haven’t had the time to do. I am making the best of every day and doing everything I can to make the best of that time.
Sometimes when a dream ends, you wake up, you are disappointed, then you realize, there are other dreams out there to be had. I have, in a sense, woken up and found that my dream job has ended but there are other dream jobs out there. I find that I am quite content and doing a lot of things so making a good next step may take a bit of time. I still think Whirlpool is a great company for which to work. They are a fine “package deal” of a company but they are not an option for me today.
It is without dispute that life brings its tragedies and we will all be beaten down, tried and tested. That is the story of life. The key is, what are you going to do with the tragedies? Are you going to look at it as an opportunity to better life or are you going to let life better you and become resentful, angry and bitter? I choose to better my life out of the situation. I have failed previous tests in life and I will not fail this test. I will make my future a good one but not only that, I will do the best I can.