A few years ago, when my sister got retrenched, her best friend dropped off a bottle of tequila and a hug. Short term comforts for a very real problem. Four years later, that same bottle of tequila made its way back to my sisters’ best friend when she suffered the same fate.  Retrenchment happens, and as South Africa moves into 2019 it is becoming increasingly common.

Years of corruption and mismanagement have left our economy in turmoil.  In newspapers we read about low GDP growth and ratings downgrades; fluffy concepts that speak more to those in the market itself, than the ordinary man.  However, there is nothing fluffy about a stagnant economy and the impact that has on a person’s daily living and livelihood.  It’s not uncommon for companies to close down or retrench during times like these.  And the reality is that the bottle of tequila may still make its way to many other friends.

Life will always be uncertain and at some point, you will undoubtedly face hardship. Yet some people manage to deal with adversity much better than others. Some people manage to transform that adversity into success. In talking to clients and people, I have been struck by recurring themes within their stories that have helped them overcome adversity.  And I would like to share those valuable insights with you.

It’s okay

Most retrenched people share the same emotional scars.  A feeling of inadequacy.  A feeling of loss.  Lacking self-belief or self-confidence.  Feeling vulnerable.

World famous vulnerability and trust expert Brené Brown says, “While vulnerability is the birthplace of many of the fulfilling experiences we long for — love, belonging, joy, creativity, and trust, to name a few — the process of regaining our emotional footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested, and our values are forged.  Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness in our lives; it’s the process that teaches us the most about who we are.”

How do you do that? How do you regain your emotional footing to rise strong and wholehearted? How do you overcome your emotional scarring? You acknowledge your emotions.  Acknowledge how you feel and why you feel that way.

Know that its okay to have these emotions.  Working through the discomfort is what Brené refers to as “the rumble”.  She says, “Rumbling with these topics and moving from our first responses to deep understanding of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours gives birth to key learnings about who we are and how we engage with others.  The rumble is where wholeheartedness is cultivated, and change begins.”

It’s not personal

Companies retrenching and restructuring are not unfamiliar in times like these.  In most cases it’s not a reflection of your abilities or the value you add.  Don’t take it personally!

If you realise this, you will be more confident and energised when searching for new opportunities.

Don’t procrastinate

Rising through retrenchment gives you an opportunity to reflect and learn. It is a time where you can reconsider what is important to you and what your strengths are.    This can certainly help you to focus on the opportunities that best suit your skill set.  Start this process immediately as it takes time and consciously needs to be engaged with.

Procrastination can lead to months of indecisiveness, lack of motivation, low energy and can put you under tremendous financial pressure.

Author of The Passion Paradox, Brad Stulberg says, “Resilience is not about bouncing back.  It’s about moving forward.”

Having a plan and acting daily may not always be easy but it ensures you keep you moving forward and build momentum.


Sometimes you need to compromise to move forward.  Some of the success stories I heard started with accepting a job below the level they were initially looking for.  However, the new job offered a foot in the door or better opportunities in the future.

You need to ask yourself what your values are.  What is most important and what are you willing to sacrifice?  Maybe you get the best job but it means spending 2 hours in traffic each day.  Are you willing to compromise on this?

Once you know what you will or will not compromise, you can open yourself up to various opportunities.  Even things you never dreamt of or were too afraid to do in the past, like starting your own business or consulting.


Firstly, use your network to look for new opportunities.  This is critical and often where the best opportunities come from.

Secondly, lean on close friends and family who offer their unconditional love and support – and perhaps a shot of tequila.

And finally, be kind to yourself and don’t give up.

Here are a few great reads for those interested.

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