A great example is Sree Sreenivasan, a colleague who, until today, was the Chief Digital Officer of the Met. The storied museum just let him go because of budget cuts. Instead of disappearing into the ether of guilt and shame, Sreenivasan turned his potential loss into a rare, public opportunity.
Shortly after he got the news, he went onto Facebook with an impassioned note:
ONWARD & UPWARD: Some personal news to share with you. After three amazing years, I will be leaving The Met on June 30 and consulting here through Dec. 31 (many of you are aware of the fiscal turbulence that The Met and many NYC museums are going through). The email below from Director & CEO Thomas P. Campbell and President Daniel Weiss just went out to the Met staff. Please take a look.
The note then asked his friends what Sree 3.0 should look like - including a Google Doc form! Myself and others are now contributing to what his next chapter will contain. It doesn't feel like a funeral, but a graduation.
Here's how you can emotionally intelligently master a loss:
Consider it reinvention: When I met Sreenivasan, he was an esteemed professor at Columbia University helping students understand digital media. Before that, he worked as a broadcast journalist. In short, leaving the Met feels like a natural part of his evolution - simply because he's always evolving. It is the very reason why you should continue to learn, cultivate side hustles and network well even as your main career keeps you busy.
Control your story: By jumping ahead of the news cycle, Sreenivasan created the type of dialog he wanted to facilitate. If he waited until the Met publicly announced its layoffs, then he would have lost that opportunity - and the public appeal for what to do next would have felt awkward and perhaps even desperate. In launching my app Cuddlr, we started the conversation before the app came out about our intentions. It enabled us to control the message, establish the dialog and, fortunately, ride the conversation to a successful acquisition.
Give others the opportunity to give to you: Losses are awkward for everyone involved, as friends don't know how to address it and you may be feeling intense emotions. By cutting to the chase, Sreenivasan established how he felt about it (joyously calling it the beginning of Sree 3.0) and therefore set the table for how we should feel about it. Even if we didn't have the Google doc, many of us would still offer him suggestions and support simply because he set the tone for how we could best help.
According to Quartz, Sree is currently scheduling walking meetings with people who would like to network. He's booked solid.