‘My last redundancy was my rebirth.’

‘My last redundancy was my rebirth.’

“If you’d told me I’d be shooting a portrait of Dame Quentin Bryce, I would never have believed you.”

BY Jade Ferguson, 8 min READ
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 hit us all hard, and that the all-too-common, “no longer commercially-viable” call of redundancy has echoed for so many during these difficult times.
You might remember my last piece written back in March about resilience from redundancy after having experienced it a grand total of four times in my working history. Having mastered the redundancy dance so well, I had wanted to pass on some little pearls of wisdom gathered along the way to the Business Chicks Community. The reception of the article was nothing short of phenomenal and people from all over the globe reached out to me to share their stories of confusion, hurt and fear. This was a privilege I did not take lightly. In response, I took the time to reply to each and every message with one of hope and optimism to look beyond the immediacy of their circumstance, and to shift focus onto a bigger picture. Of allowing oneself the time graciously but perhaps not ideally granted, to become whomever they had always wanted to be.

Mine is one of those stories.

Truth be told, when the news hit home and the reality of unemployment finally landed around late March, I too became couch-ridden. Netflix was suddenly an everyday reality, as was the empty inbox and perpetual wearing of sweats (a cliche is a cliche for a reason!). The optimism began to fade once the emotional enormity of the COVID lockdowns took hold worldwide. Long days of trying to get through to Centrelink and crying out of sheer frustration at an unprepared system were also an unavoidable truth. However eventually I settled. Like everyone, a new reality needed to be embraced. Like it or not and being the audacious spirit I am, it felt better to whole heartedly lean into the discomfort of the unknown than to fight against something that I had no control over.

Control. Such a funny thing isn’t it. We’re often told to let go of it, yet at the same time paradoxically told that we should work with what we can control, not what we can’t. Being made redundant is a huge lesson in being stripped of choice and control and learning to balance that with our fundamental needs as human beings. Throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix and all bets are off. With choice and control immediately out of our hands, we can turn to but one place: our mental management of the situation. Cue Business Chicks Masterclass Online (an excellent pivot, by all accounts) and one particular event – In Conversation with Jay Shetty. As an avid follower of Shetty’s previous work, I enthusiastically signed up for the event in May. Hearing Jay speak from the confines of his home about passion and purpose really struck a chord with me. I was lucky enough to be able to ask him a question on the topic and his reply triggered in me the exact lightbulb moment I needed to move forward. (Missed Jay’s amazing masterclass? Luckily for you, it’s available to replay here!).
Passion and Purpose. Two words that often feel loaded. What if we can’t find them? What if we have many? How do we leverage them to better ourselves and our future? When Jay eloquently explained that interest is the infant, passion is the teenager and purpose is the adult, a big old penny dropped for me. For years, my interest in Photography had been a hobby. In its infancy it was something I did for the sheer joy of experimentation and expression until naturally it grew into its petulant teen self – my passion. I say petulant because like every teen energy, the journey was fraught with ups and downs, steep learning curves and challenges. In its passion stage, Photography became my side hustle – something I wanted to do deeply, but feared the leap of going all-in lest the fabric of my entire universe be torn to pieces. Little did I know that a global pandemic would insist on doing the work for me.

From that day in May, I decided that it was time to grow up. Not only was the adult in me born, but my purpose become clearer than ever before. That is, quite simply – to do the things that make my heart sing (namely, Photography). For the past four months I have focussed my energy on turning my side hustle into a full time gig. And by George, would you believe I’ve achieved it amidst some incredibly challenging circumstances. I redeveloped my brand and website, shot everything I possibly could to refresh and reinvigorate my folio of work, and snuck a few cheeky personal projects into the mix to keep my spirit engaged and unencumbered by the burden of making money from my purpose. My work-life balance has never been better and I’ve now got a job I love doing every single day! If you’d told me in March that I would be shooting a portrait of the Former Governor General of Australia, Dame Quentin Bryce, I would never have believed you. Nor would I have believed that this very portrait would become a finalist in the esteemed Brisbane Portrait Prize. (Check her out here and cast a vote for the People’s Choice Award). The time spent investing in myself, my passion and my skills has now truly revealed my purpose – a privilege would not have been afforded if not for being made redundant. This is my rebirth.
By and large, COVID-19 has been challenging for everyone. The associated lockdowns have seen businesses pivot like never before and our world as we once knew it has been turned on its head. But in my ever optimistic manner I think its timely to reflect on all of the good that has come from the experience; the stillness, value of time, patience, identity, revaluation, values alignment, and importantly a gentle push (or sometimes a shove) toward purpose. For me, this story of my latest redundancy isn’t an ending, its a beginning. I hope yours is too. 
Jade Ferguson is a Premium member of Business Chicks. You can connect with her here, or follow her on social media here.

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