by Mary Lynn Pulley
Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1997
San Francisco, CA
239 pages, $25.00 hardcover
Mary Lynn Pulley's new book Losing Your Job, Reclaiming Your Soul offers stories of resilience, renewal, and hope for anyone who has lost, fears losing, or is thinking of leaving his or her job. Her book doesn't offer a “how-to” approach for job seekers but acts as a guide for the burned-out and downsized who need to listen to what their souls have been saying.
Pulley feels there are many people in the workplace whose spirits and souls are quietly bleeding from inattention, leaving them feeling empty inside. “Reclaiming your soul means being true to yourself and realizing you are more important than what you do. It means being true to your calling,” says Pulley.
The loss of a job can be a devastating event in a person's life, but Pulley feels it can also be a catalyst for personal growth and professional reawakening. For her book, she interviewed dozens of people who lost jobs ranging from vice president of a large company to director of a small non-profit agency. Initially they had feelings of shock, anger and betrayal – and in some cases, relief. All were able to bounce back, feeling better off than they were before.
Pulley feels professional security must now be based on a community of personal and professional relationships instead of a job or organization. She warns those who feel immune to downsizing to be wary: “The old ethic of working hard and remaining loyal to your employer for 40 years was killed off in an era of downsizing, restructuring, and acquisitions. Don't continue to believe in job security.”
Pulley is living the events she writes about. In 1990, she was downsized and felt the traumatic effects of losing her job and income. She is also an example of resiliency; her book is based on her own journey to examine her true calling and find work that had meaning. She is currently a principal at a workplace consulting firm. Pulley has learned that resilient people move forward with a sense of hope about the future. “Hope moves us into the future because it fuels our imagination,” she says.
Reviewed by Heidi Werber, a freelance writer who lives in Washington state.