April 14, 2023

Confessions Of A Xoogler: Reflections On The Layoff And What’s Next

This article was first published by Sha Hurley on Medium.

March 31 was officially the end of my seven-year journey as a Googler.

It’s been a stressful, yet healing time. Below, I share my reflections in the hope they will be an inspiration for some and a resource for others.

Please share this post if you think it would help someone. I’ll be very interested in your thoughts below in the comments.

Or DM me if something more private you’d like to connect on.

This is going to be a long post, so bear with me…and perhaps get a cup of tea ready before you start to read. 🙂

“I could stay at Google for the next 10 years…” I thought, just days before I was let go

First, a true confession. I’ve been contemplating leaving Google for years. But I never had the courage to do so.

In January 2023, I came back from my annual 10-day vipassana meditation retreat blissfully thinking:

“Whatever we seek is already within us. The external environment doesn’t matter as much as we think, it’s merely a dojo for us to fulfill our inner growth, dharma, or the soul curriculum.”

“Since it’s not about the external environment, perhaps I could stay at Google and serve the community here for another 10 years,” I thought.

In those moments, I felt elevated, peaceful, and purposeful despite the daily stress and overwhelming amount of meetings and tasks being in Tech.

A week later, myself and 15 others on my team were locked out of the corporate system at 5:00 a.m. on a Friday.

My director called me a few hours later to inform me that I was impacted despite my great perf review result in this cycle. Ahh, the irony.

Even though I got what I thought I wanted, my ego pushed back.

Sometimes the universe overrides our momentary, peaceful acceptance of what is. It instead assesses that change is long overdue.

You’d think my background as a certified leadership coach with a focus on spiritual growth and holistic well-being would make a change like this easy for me, right?

At first, I remember telling people who reached out to me with genuine care “don’t be sorry for me, I believe this is a gift”.

Meanwhile, the reality was that I was sitting in my bathtub sobbing at 9:00 a.m. after walking around the house for 3 hours repeating “why?” and “it’s going to be ok”.

My mind and ego naturally wanted to make sense of everything, strategize my next steps, and regain control.

I even thought about helping others right away. After all, I had already taken steps to get trained and certified as a leadership coach and have supported hundreds of clients through my own business ShaHurley.com.

Yet I also knew clearly that anything I offered at that moment could be contaminated: it was not yet time.

I slipped into the grief spiral that I sometimes observe in my clients

As Ram Dass said, “we are not who we think we are. There’s a deep grief when who we think we are starts to disappear.”

Like it or not, a part of me, my ego — had died. Just like some of my wonderful clients, I slipped into shock. Inch by inch, I moved from shock to grief.

I would spend the next two months going deep into my hermit mode. My goals were simple: to quiet my mind, open my heart, and be radically honest with myself.

Here’s what I noticed as I was traveling through this inner journey.

Beyond the dark night of the soul… is possibility

Oftentimes our minds create stories to keep us in the ocean of self-pity. Once we quiet our minds and open our hearts, new possibilities will start to emerge.

My January layoff from Google triggered a heart-to-heart conversation with my parents. It started with me making a bold statement:

“Mom, the love you and dad have for me is so conditional. You only love me when I got good grades, got into top schools, and work at top companies, regardless I was healthy, happy, or not.”

(I believe a lot of folks with typical Asian parents can relate)

Guess how the conversation went?

Happy tears, deep understanding, compassion, dissolved resentment. And most importantly the “permission” that I finally granted myself to let go of the false expectation I created in my own head.

Capitalism makes everything seems urgent. It’s not!

Post-layoff, what I struggled with most was giving myself permission just to rest.

I battled my racing thoughts, which went like this:

“If I’m not adding any value or doing anything “productive”, then I’m not worthy”

“What did I do to deserve this period of time to just rest?”

“Maybe I should just start job searching while resting?”

“It will be easier to rest only if I have a job offer in place already” (sound familiar?)

What I needed to do, and slowly, finally did: was to let go of my inner judgments.

The first step in claiming joy… is letting go

In life, opportunities will show up from time to time to help us learn and practice “letting go”. Letting go of ego prepares us for the last moment of letting go of our last breath.

During my time in hermit mode, I was letting go of my Google identity.

I then realized that during my seven years at Google, what excited me the most was NOT deals, money, power, or titles. Instead, what I loved most was:

  • The authentic connections I got to build with visionary leaders and peers
  • Being part of innovative and transformational initiatives
  • Helping other heart-centered visionaries in Sales and Tech grow.

To reveal our answers … we must tune into our inner wisdom.

ChatGPT is dominating the conversation now and people think AI is cool. But I say: wait till you dive deeper into your own consciousness. There’s no comparison.

Here are some of the questions I pondered during my own reflection:

What do I really want? (Authentic connection? Healthy body and mind? Work-life balance? Make a difference in the world?)

Why is this important to ME? (the truth will be revealed as you dig deeper)

How would I feel about my life when I’m on my deathbed years from now?

If I didn’t take this deep, reflective time, I would not have received the clarity that I needed to move forward.

Soon after receiving the answers for myself, I was inspired to create Conscious 1:1 coaching packagesSoul Alignment Day, and Team Retreats and Corporate Events to help others accelerate their own inner journey.

Suffering is a doorway to self-mastery

Right before the holidays in 2022, I co-led a Blissful Mind Mini Retreat at our Google Sunnyvale campus for 50+ Googlers.

The talk I gave was about the 5 hindrances to self-mastery (desires, ill will, apathy and laziness, anxiousness, doubt) and the antidote to each.

But the truth is, we can read 1,000 books about emotional intelligence, and still be bad at it. Self-mastery can only be achieved through mindful embodiment.

At this time, I began to envision how powerful a soul tribe for heart-centered visionaries in Tech and Sales would be.

You can read about my free, weekly Soul Sundays Community here. If you resonate, sign up, and let’s grow together.

Follow joy, purpose will naturally appear

A wise man once said that the key to a purposeful life is to follow things that give you true joy.

(And don’t worry about whether that’s going to give your financial stability for now, we can always find a creative and practical way to make it happen.)

During my deep reflection and realignment, my passion has landed in the realm of elevating human potential and consciousness.

My joy is helping Heart-Centered, Visionary Leaders and High-Achieving Individual Contributors and Teams in Tech and Sales achieve success on their own terms with holistic well-being in mind.

Re-evaluating and realigning… is part of our natural evolution

After two restorative months, I am now clear and excited about my new direction.

I hope it doesn’t take a traumatic event like a layoff for you to pause, re-evaluate and seek your truth.

And I hope that sharing my story is a source of inspiration. At the very least, an enjoyable way to sip a cup of tea.

This article was first published by Sha Hurley on Medium.
Sha Hurley

Coaching, Leadership Development, Yoga and Meditation, Holistic Well-being Retreats for Heart-Centered Visionary Leaders and Teams in Tech and Sales. | Instagram: sha.hurley | LinkedIn: shahurley.