Elisabeth -Ross first described five stages of Mourning in her 1969 book “On Death and Dying.” A summary of the stages by Julie Axelrod is in the article “The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief.” What you may not realize is that these same stages are possible for those experiencing the loss of a job, failure of a company, or other devastating business events. Understand that these feelings are normal and where one is in the process may be helpful to those experiencing them. They may even get over the losses and moving on to better things a little easier.
The stages are associated with any major loss such as death or breakups. A job loss can be extremely traumatic to some thus triggering the stages. Building a company and having it fail after devoting enormous energy and time is devastating to the founders. Each person may experience the losses in different ways. Some will skip steps or have them occur simultaneously. The feelings from business losses are just as real as if one experienced the death of a loved one.
Recognizing the feelings are normal and part of a grieving process allows the individual to understand where they are in the process. The goal is to keep things in perspective while rebuilding or finding a new job. Carrying negative feelings and showing them in interviews or on road shows is counterproductive. So find a way to channel your energies toward reconstruction after you have taken time to grieve.
The stages are:
- Denial & Isolation: It is hard to believe you worked one day and were unemployed the next. The loss may cause you to want to be alone and isolated. However, you need to find the energy to get back into the search. The early period may be the time to determine your goals and next steps. Take time to plan a course of action that takes you where you want to go!
- Anger: Everyone becomes angry on having an extremely negative event happens: loss of a job or company is no exception. The thoughts of revenge can slow the healing process and derail the actions needed to move forward. Getting even can occur by living well and getting a better job or company started. The ability to say, “I built that company” or “I got a huge salary increase and am much happier” goes a long way to getting revenge.
- Bargaining: In this phase, you may try to convince yourself that if you had done things differently you would not have lost the job or company. That may be true, but you are not there anymore and cannot remake history. You can only move forward. Stick to the plan and direction that will get that ideal company started or the wonderful new job.
- Depression: This phase is very likely to happen, but sitting around sulking and being sad will only keep you unemployed longer. It is very hard to interview or get investors for the startup if you spend too much time dwelling on the sad events. They will see you are not happy and it will cause them to look elsewhere. Try to get control of your feelings and only express a positive attitude when interviewing or seeking capital.
- Acceptance: Eventually, you will accept what happened. It may occur even before you find the new job or get the startup off the ground. You will never forget the negative events, the feelings, or other losses, but you will move on to a new and better place.
You can follow Taffy Williams on Twitter by @twilli2861 and you can email him with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him via company contact info in the website. More Startup information is contained in his personal blog.