How I Turned Getting Fired Into the Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me
A major unwanted change like getting fired only feels like the end of the world. It doesn’t have to be. Learn how to create a new beginning.
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 my own.
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 switched consultants.
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 company!
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 creativity.
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. Consolidations! Industry changes! Reorganizations!
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 Entrepreneur’s Life
The life of the employee is often that of a reactor. The life of the entrepreneur is that of a creator.
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:
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 world.
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.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ursula Jorch, 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.