Making the Jump

April 3rd, 2008 by cgergen

Figuring out when to make a jump out of a job (or career) is tough, but Ford Motor Company just sweetened the pot.

In an effort to entice workers to leave a company that was once a bastion of stable middle-class wages, Ford Motor Company is trying to lure thousands of workers to take a buy-out.   This includes college tuition plans for entire families or a cash payment of up to $140,000 (one of the most generous offers in the history of the auto industry).

As part of the effort, Ford distributed a feature-length DVD to each of its 54,000 hourly workers titled “Connecting with Your Future.”  In it, they encourage workers to take “the opportunity to try something new.”  According to a recent New York Times article, the DVD features multiple clips of former Ford workers who have started their own businesses or set out on their own after taking buyouts. 

One worker, Dale Beck, took a $100,000 buyout in 2006 and opened his own Little Caesars outlet in St. Louis, explaining: “I went from making cars to making pizzas, and it’s turned out pretty well for me.”

As workers like Dale contemplate their futures after Ford, they might be well served to ask a few important questions:

  • What’s important to me? (What are my values and passions?)
  • What are my needs (financial, emotional, social, etc.)?
  • What are my strengths? (What value can I add?)
  • Where are there opportunities that align with my values, fulfill my needs, and leverage my strengths?
  • How can I seize those opportunities?  (Who do I know, who do I need to know, how can I get in the door?)
  • What’s my game plan to make it happen?

In other words, what is my entrepreneurial life plan?

Stories like Dale’s are only likely to increase as we navigate today’s world of uncertainty, take bold leaps, and try to land on our feet.  That jump can be terrifying.  But, ultimately, if the appropriate tools and training resources are available, and the right questions are asked and answered in a supportive context, a brighter future can await for people willing to make the leap of faith.

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