Were You Fired Recently?

Some people never have to go through this experience. I’m not in that category. Getting fired is a painful, frightening, embarrassing experience. I don’t have any magic words to make you feel good about it. But I do want to encourage you to embrace it. Like any major loss in life, it happened. Embracing it doesn’t reduce the pain or sadness, but it does open you up to personal growth and wisdom. It does help you move into the future.

I once worked with a guy who told me – proudly – that he had been fired from his two previous jobs. He explained to me that he was not a quitter. He was completely determined to figure how to succeed. For him, giving up was not an option. If you wanted him off the job, you’d have to fire him. As his teammate I knew I could rely on him to give 100% every single day.

That conversation changed the way I thought about being fired. And subsequently it really helped me when I found myself working for a restaurant company and not succeeding in my role. I was a terrible fit for the culture. I told my wife I was not going to give up. It was extremely stressful. Every week I tried a new approach, but I couldn’t find the solution. Several months later, when the president fired me, I was enormously relieved. Although I’m not proud I didn’t succeed, I am proud that I didn’t give up.

Almost every person I know who has been fired finds a better job. And here’s why. What is the likelihood that the job you just got fired from is absolute best job you could find? There’s almost always a better job out there for you, but you’re rarely looking for it. When you’re forced to look, you find. This knowledge is of no help emotionally when you’ve just been fired, but it can help you embrace the situation.

Here’s my final piece of wisdom. At the time of being fired, you can’t tell whether it’s a good thing in your life or a bad thing. It certainly feels like a bad thing. But it’s only in hindsight that you can tell whether it was good or bad. It depends on where it leads you in your life’s journey. I know several successful executives who would tell you that being fired from a previous job was the best thing that every happened to them professionally.

Being fired is painful, and it might well kick off a very difficult period in your life. I encourage you to embrace it all – both the pain and the possibilities. Ask yourself what kind of person you want to be in this situation. Despite the pain, it can be a growth experience.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your stories about moving on after being fired.

Larry Sternberg