Darwin's theory of evolution argued that those who adapt best, survive. Mutations of stronger or better or faster traits survived, bred and ultimately flourished. That is, until something stronger, better or faster came along and ate it for dinner.
Now think about the current economy. Stocks falling, companies closing, swarms of jobs being lost. Everyone seems just a bit nervous about how this economic downturn might affect them.
Enter Darwin. And I will use myself as an example. Recently I was bracing for the possibility of being laid off after one of our biggest clients moved to another Y&R office. It felt like a low, underlying sense of nervousness that I can pretty much say everyone in the office was feeling.
People cope with the potential of being laid off in one of 3 ways: 1) They ignore it. Not sure if this is confidence or ignorance, but these folks will continue on in their jobs status quo with a c'est la vie attitude or 2) They stress about it. And this was me. Worried I may lose my job, my benefits, my ability to support my children. You name it, I was stressed about it. And, as a single mom, even more stressed knowing that I am the sole income earner in my household or 3) They do something about it. They refuse to sit waiting for an axe to fall, they take that opportunity to seize new skills, take on more projects, and make every effort to become increasingly more entrenched in the work while growing their own personal skills.
If a rumor of an impending layoff hits your company, I absolutely recommend you do #3. EVOLVE. Become better, stronger, faster.
Look around you, oftentimes the skills and tasks that you can learn are staring you right in the face. Are you a junior art director working on print? Ask to take on an online banner project. Start learning flash. Are you a junior copywriter? Ask the strategic planning department if you can help do some research or contribute to a case study. Are you a production artist in the studio? Again, learn flash. Learn action scripting. Even if you take this stuff on at night or on the weekend, those who expand their skills will become more valuable and certainly less expendable. Or even, at the very minimum, will be able to survive in the outside world with stronger, better skills than before.