Finding your way out of the unemployment wilderness

By Scott Hammond

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17 2013 10:07 a.m. MDT

Wilderness survivors envision the “ideal home” and unemployed the “ideal job” to motive themselves through the difficulty. Homes and jobs are never ideal. When we come back into the home after being lost, or back into the workplace after unemployment, we are changed. For some they are fearful, stressed and insecure. But for others, they are hopeful with a new resilience and a generous perspective. “I know now that I can survive anything,” Victoria told me after her four-day ordeal. “Well not anything,” she corrected herself. “But a lot more than I thought I could.”

Most of the people who have survived the trauma of prolonged unemployment or wilderness survival have said that while they would not want to go through it again, nor would they wish their experience on anyone, they would also not trade the experience for anything.

Why? Because we crave confidence and strength. We grow from the confidence and strength that comes from facing the unknown with the untested solution, then adapting and adopting until we get it right. So wilderness survival and unemployment is rarely about brawn. It is always about problem solving, creativity and a little luck.

Scott C. Hammond is a writer, consultant and teacher in the Jon Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. He researches lost person behavior and innovative solutions in business and families. He can be reached at

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