How I Turned Getting Fired Into the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me
Twenty years ago, I was fired from my corporate job. After being walked out of the building after
the meeting with my boss and the HR director, I sat in my car and burst into
tears. I was devastated.
True, I didn’t enjoy being in corporate. True, I knew that
choosing to stand up to my boss in front of her boss 2 weeks before would be at
best a career-limiting move, and at worst would be the reason I got fired.
Still, it felt humiliating.
It’s one thing to wish your work was different. It’s another
to be told, you can’t work here anymore. We don’t want you. Rejected.
Even more, I was afraid that people would judge me harshly. I
wasn’t about to tell my parents, who would only fuel my fear with their own. I
was scared about the future, and how I would support myself. I felt utterly on
I was tempted to lay low, and come out only after I’d had a
chance to lick my wounds. Fortunately, I’d committed to meet a group of friends
that evening, and I spilled my story. I was overwhelmed by the support.
A few days later, when I was escorted back into my office
after-hours to retrieve my belongings, I found notes from members of the group
I managed. Words of caring and encouragement.
I tear up even now remembering how wholeheartedly supportive
they all were. They didn’t see it as a failure. They saw it as one more way
that I would show what I was made of. They saw something in me that I was
having trouble seeing in myself at that point.
So I felt more courageous as I faced the coming days.
I’d been given access to the resources at an outplacement
firm, plus 6 months salary as a parting gift. So I felt I had a little room to
maneuver, and recover.
I took 2 weeks and went west. A change of scene and
perspective. The trail of the pioneers.
After that, I showed up at outplacement, just as if I was
going to work. My assigned consultant looked at me like I was an idiot when she
explained that what I’d done in confronting my boss was not a good political
move. No kidding! And she was completely perplexed by the fact that I knew in
advance that it would not be.
She had so bought into the commonplace attitude that you did
what it took to keep your job. Leave your personal sense of priorities and
values at the door if necessary.
My deranged attitude (to her) was clearly an indication that
I would be a tough case. That was confirmed when I told her that instead of
spending time looking for another corporate job, I wanted to start a business.
The consultant was dubious, even actively discouraging. I
Despite being knocked down, I wasn’t out. I’d spent the last
5 years dreaming of and even planning for my own business. (What can I say? I really
liked to think things over!) I’d go home at night after work and research what
it took to start a business. I made lists of things I needed to do.
I was too afraid to make the leap on my own. So in
retrospect, I realize that I took the opportunity with my boss to engineer an
almost certain departure. Funny how the unconscious works. My unconscious was
certainly braver than I felt at the time!
So I took those lists of things I needed to do to start a
business and I did them. I chose something better for myself. I chose what was
right for me.
I turned that experience into a business that made 6 figures
from the first year, and continued to grow. It was more than I had ever made in
my corporate work.
I was hugely relieved! As long as I could keep it up, I
would never have to get a job again. Yay!
Most importantly, I created a business that welcomed my
whole self, and fed my soul.
I realized, you can
create the work life you want.The Truth About Jobs
Life in a corporate job, any job, is limited by the
structure of the organization.
Structures, especially large ones, require job descriptions, if only to
keep it all straight!
Job descriptions are like little boxes. When the boxes are all assembled, voila - a
The thing about this is that people are not like boxes. And when we try to fit ourselves into the job
description box, we feel cramped.
Inevitably some arm or leg is left hanging outside the box.
That means that some parts of you will feel constricted, and
some parts won’t get a chance to shine at all. The Bridge from Job
“Security” to Business Clarity
While it can feel comforting to fit into an existing
structure, it doesn’t leave you with a lot of room for your own
You often end up being a reactor. Someone who responds to situations. Instead, you could be a creator
. Someone who has choices. Someone who makes her or his own decisions
about where you will go next.
If you’ve been in a job that wasn’t a great fit, you know
that the experience can leave you feeling that you have little to contribute.
Even for those of us who enjoyed corporate work, the job
security that we thought we had can evaporate.
So how do we deal with the sometimes sudden change in our
daily work landscape? How do we take our
changed situation and make it work for us?
This situation is a wonderful opportunity. You get to turn
yourself from a reactor into a creator!
You have been released from a kind of bondage (think
Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments – Let my people go!). Not bondage by an evil mindless corporation, which
is really just a convenient and fabricated scapegoat, not bondage by something
that was just not working for you. Bondage by your own limited thoughts about
what you could do.
With this sudden shift in your circumstances, you’re no
longer restricted by the structure that you work in.
You can explore and find the work that truly lets you
stretch and grow. Work that does not contain you.
Now, it’s about work that you CAN create.The Truth About the
The life of the employee is often that of a reactor. The life of the entrepreneur is that of a
And yet, it’s not always true that just because you start a
business, you immediately shift from being a reactor. It takes time to learn
how to consistently be a creator of your work.
Here’s how I went from job to business, from reactor to
creator, and what I learned about navigating any significant shift that you
think you don’t want:
1. Accept that it’s a
. I didn’t consciously engineer my firing, but I sure made it happen in
an unconscious way. Either way, my inner self was trying to tell me something
important. Something that was ultimately for the best. Take a breath, a break. Look
for the good in what’s happened.
. I didn’t think people would cheer me on. I was afraid
of being judged. Turns out, the people around me were more than ready to see
the potential in me that I couldn’t see for myself. Take the support in when
you get it, and let it fuel you.
3. Seize the
opportunity to do what’s right for you
. Despite the “expert” advice of the
outplacement consultant, I knew that another job was not right for me. With my
severance package to help support me, I took the chance to do what I’d been
longing to do for 5 years. Use your own resources to do what’s right for you.
4. Work it
isn’t a sit back and wait for good things to happen moment. Do what needs to be
done. Do the research. Define what you need to do. Create the structure that you
need to do that. Be a creator.
5. Look back with
. Though it was stressful at the time, I still look at my firing
as the best thing that ever happened for me and my work. It launched me into
the entrepreneur’s life that I had been afraid to enter. Fortunately, the
better part of me won out!The Beginning
Here’s the good news – even if you’re feeling bummed right
now, you can do the same thing I did.
Whatever the challenge you have, it isn’t the end – it’s only a beginning.
The end of your work as you knew it can be the start of
something amazing, something YOU create.
A creation that is part of you and what you have to offer the
And it’s not just about you.
When you grow, you positively affect the people around you in all kinds
of ways. You have impact.
Only you can make the decision to stop being a reactor,
fitting into a box, and start being a creator.
Not just a creator of income, though that’s really important, but also
the creator of a workstyle and lifestyle of your own design.
Whatever change comes into your life, you have a significant
opportunity to be a creator.
MSc, MEd, mentors entrepreneurs starting their businesses and seasoned
entrepreneurs in transition to create the business of their dreams. Her coaching
programs provide knowledge, support, clarity, inspiration, and a community of
like-minded entrepreneurs to empower you to reach your goals. Start with a free
guide and other valuable info at www.WorkAlchemy.com
This article was originally published at http://www.workalchemy.com/getting-fired-change
and has been syndicated with permission.