Clients who have worked with me may have noticed a sea turtle theme in my office decor. Why? Simply put, I’m a fan of nature and also a fan of metaphors and believe that we can learn a lot about navigating job loss by channeling our inner sea turtle. Here are the Top 5 lessons we should take from the turtles:
1. CAPABILITY –Newly-hatched sea turtles may take as long as a week to dig themselves out of their nests after hatching. No one helps them out with this task, they figure it out by themselves. By channeling your inner sea turtle in job loss, when you are faced with hard tasks that take you well out of your comfort zone, you learn to trust and build your capabilities. Like the baby sea turtle, you know where your ultimate goal is and you have to learn to trust that you have the capability to get there. Like the baby sea turtle, you will absolutely not move in a straight line to reach your goal, but regardless, you need to plod determinedly onward, over and around barriers, because like the baby sea turtle, you have to believe in your own ability to ultimately reach your goal. Unlike the baby sea turtle, remember that you don’t have to face the hard stuff alone; your counselor is a great resource and partner as you’re learning to trust your own capability.
2. RESILIENCY - Unlike other turtles, sea turtles cannot retract their head and legs into their shells. This automatically makes them vulnerable, which also then forces them to become resilient. Sea turtles have to keep their head and legs out to keep moving forward as they are dealing with the varying currents, or plodding up the beach to dig their nests in order to lay their eggs. Everyone has had days when they want to pull their head and legs in and hide their vulnerabilities and feel safe. By channeling your inner sea turtle and intentionally exposing yourself to potential vulnerability, you will also expose yourself to the potential for movement. Sometimes the movement is lateral or backward, but during job search, movement in any direction is usually always better than retraction and hiding out. Remember that backward movement is sometimes a necessary component to drive forward movement, and remember that even if you’re plodding, you are moving! On the days when you feel like you want to pull in your head and legs, remember that you have a partner in this and reach out to your counselor or a trusted friend for encouragement.
3. TENACITY - Most sea turtles undergo long migrations between nesting and feeding grounds. Job search is also a long migration filled with different currents pulling you in different directions. There are a lot of other turtles in the water with you. The more quickly you can learn to ride the currents instead of fighting them, the better off you will be. You will absolutely have ups and downs in job search as well as in life. Think about and give yourself the credit due for other times in your life when you have dealt with some turbulence and survived. Riding through the ups and downs helps you grow stronger and gain more confidence so you can better ride out the turbulence of the ever-changing currents of job search.
4. BEATING THE NUMBERS GAME – Each nesting female sea turtle will lay 3-5 nests a year. Though each nest takes a huge amount of effort and energy, doing so increases the chance that some of the baby turtles will survive and make it to the sea. Female sea turtles create multiple nests because nests can sometimes be washed away by the tide. Cultivating and creating multiple job search nests will ensure higher chances of success. Don’t put all of your job search ‘eggs’ into one nest – connect with multiple people and start breeding multiple relationships as you’re not certain which relationship will hatch the turtle that makes it to the sea.
5. ADAPTABILITY – Sea turtles have been around since the age of dinosaurs and have adaptations that allow them to live in the sea as well as navigate land. Sea turtles move more quickly and efficiently in the sea than on land, but without adapting to land life to create a nest and lay eggs, the species would have died out long ago. Job seekers have also been around a long, long time. Job seekers who are open to learning to adapt to changing times are going to be much more successful than job seekers that choose to stay in the comfort zone of the sea. What adaptations can you make that will increase YOUR chances for survival? Do you need to update your skills or resume, refine your interviewing or networking? Use the collective wisdom of all of the turtles around you. Every turtle has a story that may include some useful information and if not, well, then you’ve still had the good fortune of meeting another turtle, to increase your turtle network. You never know when you may need to reach out for a friendly flipper during times of turbulence.
"Life doesn't get easier or more forgiving, we get stronger and more resilient." - Steve Maraboli, Life,the Truth, and Being Free