Someone said this to me the first time I got fired. Yup. I’ve been fired more than once. Not many people know this. Perhaps because I was ashamed to admit it (even to my parents). But, it is time for some honesty here, because I think you will find it relevant.
The first time, it was simply because the organization I was with just couldn’t proceed with the initiative I was brought on for. They had to restructure, and my division was part of that. Keep in mind, I had never had a bad performance review in my career. Everyone knew me for being a hard worker and passionate. I mean, every single box of a good employee checklist had been checked off as far as I could tell. So I was immediately confused. Why wouldn’t you give me something else to do in the company, as an example? Why wouldn’t you involve me in the conversation? SO. MANY. WHY’S.
So much so, that when my boss sat me down to tell me what was going on, I couldn’t help but laugh. (That’s a normal reaction, right?) I just didn’t get it. Laughter turned into tears shortly after, followed almost immediately by an unshakable feeling of being lost. I had dedicated years of my life to building my career. It truly was my identity. And without a job, I genuinly could not figure out who I was. Added to that, was the sheer panic around the lost source of income. I was lucky that I was living with a friend at the time. But I had recently purchased a house and I couldn’t help but think about failed mortgage payments, then trying to find a rental property, and then oh my goodness who is even going to want to hire me. aaaah! Adulting – nobody told me it would be this way.
The frustrating, and beautiful thing, about all of this, was that I was forced to slow down, and think about what I wanted to do. It actually is a beautiful thing if you can get past all the why’s. For a limited period of time, someone pays you to do nothing else but to figure out what you want to do. Where it became frustrating for me, was that I had no sense of identity or self.
The whole process of getting fired ended up triggering a self discovery journey for me, that to this day continues. I picked up a few books. Ego is the Enemy was a great reminder for me, that my frustration (and let’s be honest, anger) really stemmed from my ego being bruised. It wasn’t “why did you fire me”. Maybe it was more “How dare you fire me after everything I’ve done”. Like I said…it is time to be honest.
I read Daring Greatly. And not even half way through it, I decided to sign up for Landmark courses – begrudgingly I might add. BUT, I had free time, it was only a weekend course, and whatever path I had been on up to that point was clearly no longer servicing me and my purpose. (Without having a clue what either of those were, by the way).
When THAT was done, I found a therapist. For months, I drove an hour each way, twice a week, just so I could figure out myself, and my worth. It was painful. Everytime I was done our session, I felt exhausted. But it slowly got easier. I learned that there is never a bad time to define, or redefine yourself. You can reinvent who you are, as you choose! Isn’t that exciting?
OK. What is the point of this story exactly. I can tell you that I’m a fundamentally different person today than I was the day that I got fired. I’m still as driven (and goofy) as ever. And I do associate my worth to my professional success to a certain extent still (hey man, nobody said that would be fixed overnight), but I found my voice, and my power. And that, for sure, would have never been possible if I didn’t have the opportunity to pause, and reflect.
Here’s what I learned.
I learned that there is no shame in asking for help. I encourage you, if you haven’t already done so, seek out a therapist. Life is hectic, it has ups and downs, and challenges that on most days can be tough to handle alone. Family and friends, while amazing and supportive, might not always be objective. I found I needed someone to call me on my bullshit, tell my ego to chill, and tell me to smarten up. Every major athlete and every successful person you’ve heard of has therapy in one way shape or form. It might be just mindset coaching, but it is still an outlet to help them adjust, and adapt. There is no shame in it.
I learned that this happened FOR me, not TO me. That’s super important. My dear friend Jenna bought me a book called The Universe Has Your Back. It is beautiful, and I think you will find it fascinating. Judith, my therapist, also had similar beliefs. It simply suggests, that the Universe has an incredible way of putting you into a direction that fuels your fire and feeds your soul. The last time I was fired, I had been miserable at my job for months. MONTHS. I refused to make a change, because I thought things would get better. So when the time finally came for me to pack my bags, I knew it was because this wasn’t my path. (Clearly. Miserable sabba can be funny and all, but my goodness is she ever cranky)
What I had been resisting to do, the universe created for me. I just had to listen, and allow myself to be redirected.
I learned, oddly enough, to listen. Listen very closely to what your gut, and the unvierse, has been screaming for months. And to look back and, as Steve Jobs puts it, connect the dots. Everything that has ever sucked about my career, has propelled me into something else that I could have never achieved had I just remained stagnant and stubborn. I can tell you, having been fired multiple times, that everything does happen for a reason, if you can be open.
When I got fired, and was done crying about it, I incorporated my business. I sat with myself and thought about what I’m capable of. I talked to friends, old bosses, coaches, anyone I could get feedback from, and I made a plan. Within two months, I got my first client, who on a contract basis, paid me more than I had ever been paid full time. By the summer of the following year, I had to stop accepting new clients. My roster was completely full. I made my own hours, I went at my own pace, I got to travel, AND…I managed to pay my mortgage on time. Would ya look at that.
I know it is stressful. I know it is hard to sleep. The pressure you feel in your head and in your chest is overwhelming. Sometimes there is nothing to do but to sit and stare at a wall, or in my case, sit alone in a room and sob. I’ve been there. But I want you to repeat this to yourself everytime you get down on yourself:
You were not rejected. You are being redirected, and you just have to open yourself up to the possibility of what that new direction can be.
It didn’t happen TO you. It happened FOR you. And believe that you will look back at this in a few weeks, and you’ll see very clearly why things happened as they did.
Chin up, buttercup. You’re talented. You’re worthy. And you’ve got this!