The End of an Era

I was fired via a Teams call, today. Financial issues as the result of COVID-19 was cited as the reason and I understood since the project pipeline was dry. I was hoping that I’d be the only casualty on the team, but my co-worker was let go as well. I’m not angry. I’m not surprised. I feel a sense of relief. Probably about four years ago, a former co-worker and I had started to setup a new business together. We had held several conference calls with potential opportunity partners, learned about incorporation options in a foreign country and attended business meetings together in Tokyo. I was skeptical. I never fully bought into the idea. My life was comfortable living in five-star, city center hotels. Obligations required little of my time. I could start the weekend partying in Kuala Lumpur before Hong Kong and then finally closing it out in Bangkok. Money was plentiful. But, I was concerned about lacking confidence in my leadership abilities. I wasn’t deterred though, at least not until I realized that my business partner found strength by creating chaos. He’s divisive and used that tactic to see where I stood. Not only did he try to win business from a customer by telling him that I would soon be changing companies, he also attempted to recruit a close colleague of mine under the same basis. I was furious after finding out from both of them because my involvement was supposed to be between us. The timing of my resignation was my decision, not one forced by his hand. I choose not to cede. I choose to stay. I choose loyalty.

My dream was to live in Asia. Coming from a life spent in a middle-class suburban area with a below average high school GPA and combined SAT score of 1000, my future looked unpromising by ordinary measures. Despite getting rejected by every major university in my home county, I started my post-high school education in the local community college. Other people might have been ashamed, but I was determined to use that opportunity as a stepping stone and, after just one semester, I was accepted to a four-year university where I studied for one semester before being accepted into an undergraduate business program as a junior.

IBM hired me as a consultant after graduation. I knew that my dream was closer to reality than ever before, but the path to realization was unclear and it got more distant with every passing year as life unfolded. Years later I choose to resign from IBM and join a company that was practically a startup where I had some of the most memorable times of my adult life working on projects in Europe and the Caribbean albeit short-term. Then right when I had almost forgotten about my dream sometime after buying a house, the company had won a project in Asia. That was almost eight years ago.

When I choose to stay, I choose my fate. I didn’t know exactly when my tenure would end, but I knew it would likely be the result of a company action. There were times when I had thought about quitting, especially after the Asia project ended or after my mom had died, but I always found the motivation to keep moving forward, put my personal ambitious aside and ignore opportunities from a competitor. No, I don’t have any regrets. I’m grateful. Coming from my upbringing and a culture pretty much telling me that I wasn’t smart enough, I have had the opportunity to live my dream.


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