When you are out in the middle of the lake and ice starts cracking underneath your feet, what do you do?
I was curious about this so I did some research and found some guidance from the Minnesota Department of National Resources.
Advice was to take two short lengths of a broom handle with nails sharpened on both ends and joined with a piece of strong rope and carry them with you. If you fall through the ice you can drive the nails into the ice and pull yourself to safety. They also suggest you turn toward the direction you came as that's probably the strongest ice. If you don't want to stab yourself carrying sharp nails in your Parka, you can also use two screwdrivers and once you get out of the water, you should lie flat on the ice to keep your weight spread out so you don't break through again.
If other people are around you they can: throw you a rope or floatation device, use a boat and pull you in, call 911 if the situation is too dangerous, and encourage you that help is coming and to fight for survival.
As a child growing up, I would ice skate all the time on Lake Barcroft in Falls Church, Virginia where I grew up. The community came out and would bring jugs of hot chocolate or something stronger every weekend to celebrate winter.
Sometimes in this Norman Rockwell picture-perfect moment I would hear the ice crack under my feet and I would pick up speed and momentum and glide past those weak spots keeping a mental note of which part of the lake to avoid.
I never fell through. In fact, falling through was not an option in my 10-year-old mind so I did not come equipped with screwdrivers or broom handles.
Sometimes at your current career or job search you might feel like you are standing on thin ice. You might feel you are standing alone out there and you can hear the cracking sound under your feet. Some people look like they are sailing through life and onto their next venture/adventure, but at some point in most lives, we all hear the cracking and fear the fall into the shocking reality of change and financial insecurity.
From Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources learning I think we can all learn a few tips for these tough moments:
1) Carry the Tools: Hopefully you will not need them but think about it as carrying a small umbrella out before it rains. Insurance.
Tools' List: An updated LinkedIn and hard copy resume, three months cash reserve to cover your key bills, samples of your work, a sheet of the accomplishments you are most proud of, knowledge of good professional support and networking groups. A print out or easy access to your most important contacts.
2) Call for Help: Other people in your life and their connections are equipped with rowboats, cell phones, flotation devices, ropes, morale support, perspective and great jobs. They are in earshot. Do not stay in the freezing cold water alone. Ask for help. Spread your 'weight' around by leveraging at least one networking opportunity a week.
3) Some Cracked Ice Can Be Good: Instead of being paralyzed by fear, consider that the thin ice might be a big learning moment or motivate you to try all that much harder at work. Stress can be a motivator and it can lead to results and good outcomes that can put you back on solid footing with a warm coat in hand.
Sometimes you will fall. Sometime you need to fall and get back up. But months later you just might be sitting fireside with a glass of wine or iced coffee celebrating your new job or that great promotion you just got at work as someone who skates the extra mile.
Julie Kantor is co-founder and CSO of Barrel of Jobs, an online platform using social and financial rewards to incentivize us to become recruiters for our friends & put America back to work