We’re on our own but having people around us can make all the difference.

Standing, falling and getting up

Job hunting is about falling down and getting up again and again. Thomas Merton, prolific monk and social activist from the 60’s said to his Buddhist colleagues when he was visiting Tibet during the Korean War, “From now on, Brother, everybody stands on his own two feet.”

Job hunting success does come from our individual efforts. No one is going to give us a job. And whenever I meet with coaching clients for the first time, I’m struck by the loneliness of transition work. I’ve preached for years about the value, ye the necessity of not going it alone. We all need support from others when managing change. Friends, family, mentors, coaches, counselors, advisers—each can help in unique ways.

But as I listen to job seeking stories of people in transition, they are inevitably characterized by frustrations from time worn strategies conducted on their own. “I’ve applied for 15 jobs and no interviews.” “I sent my resume to 34 places and no one got back to me.” “I saw a recruiter once and he or she didn’t understand what I really wanted.” I never hear, “I’ve been really supported by my colleague who helped me reach out to a fresh contact with a new idea for our industry.”

Yes, we’re on our own but having people around us can make all the difference. I experienced this in meeting my on-going health challenges.

From Tom’s Journal–Fortifications for a Cancer Journey
October 24
Monday overlooking the campus in my UWM office. This a good place—a quiet place. I reflect on the people who are supporting me in this hard time. My family is first and foremost, especially my wife, Les. She’s been right where I need her to be. Most people don’t know how to react. They just want me to be well and not have to think about that word, “cancer.” Can’t blame them. A pal from high school, however, really surprised me when I told him of my plight. His sincere concern was expressed in tears as we hugged. I can’t describe how nourished I was by his heartfelt reaction.
Chuck Pagnano, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, has leukemia. His inspirational email to his team and fans had the line, “We all will be better for this”, referring to his illness and those who were supporting him. I love the insight there. Hard for people on the sideline to take that in but as one on the field, I get it. The helped and the helpers benefit.

I too believe people in any kind of transition require support from others to be successful. It’s that hard line to walk when times are tough. Stand on your own two feet, sure. But having someone to lean on and help you up when you fall can make all the difference. And everyone wins.


Name those you depend on for support and guidance in your transition. Make a point to thank them. Now make a list of 3 others you need to add to your “team.” In what ways can they help you?

*Tom was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in summer of 2012. Following 6 months of chemotherapy, the cancer went into remission and continues so as of this date. These writings are intended to draw connections between Tom’s experiences with this disease and challenges related to work/career transitions.

Thomas Bachhuber, Ed.D., President of the Board and Executive DirectorThomas Bachhuber, Ed.D.
President of the Board and Executive Director for The Center for Life Transitions. Tom is responsible for overall Center leadership and strategy. His individual coaching/counseling as well as workshops and retreats focus on integrating leading career development ideas with spiritual exploration. Read more.