I just celebrated my Firedversary. While it may at first seem strange to celebrate being fired, like many things in life, I prefer to celebrate change. If you’ve ever been fired, or freed up for future opportunities unexpectedly, then this post is for you!
We’ve all heard that hindsight is 20/20, and y’all I clearly missed some big red flags during my tenure as an employee. So on this particular Firedversary, I’d like to share with you a few key takeaways from my experience:
Believe people when they show you how they are.
Get super clear on what is motivating you before taking a job, and while you are in it.
Watch your language, as words are the building blocks of the stories we tell.
Don’t go to the office while on strong pain meds.
Believe people when they show you who they are – preferably the first time. For sure the second time. And without a shadow of a doubt the third time. I tell candidates this all the time. If companies are treating you a certain way when you are a candidate, do you really think it is going to change once you’re employed there? People are mostly predictable, and if they are late to meet you – consistent in their need to reschedule with you – believe them. Within two weeks of joining my employer, I was told by a leader that a teammate of mine was not performing up to standards and would be let go. I was like, what?!? Prior to joining, I was told by the leaders that I would spend the first month mostly learning and running back-up on projects. On my very first day, I was given full responsibility for a President-level search that was six-weeks in and in very bad shape. Had I taken a beat, and realized that these folks were showing me who they were and who they would continue being – I would have called out these integrity questions. Instead, I went along and just did my best to be a team player.
As Shakespeare says, really, y’all need to know yourself. Get deep with the question of Why? Why are you taking this job? What is motivating you? Is someone or something pushing you away and out of your current job? What is that thing? Who is that person? If you are not clear on your true motivation, I can promise that you will meet with similar challenges, annoyances, and problems in your next job. Know what you are willing to put up with – and know for how long you can do that! People are weird and they will continue to do and say and be weird after your new job honeymoon ends. And if you end up in a tight spot, like taking a job and then within months knowing the job and/or the place and/or the people are not a good fit, your motivators should remain clear.
In my own experience, this was the killer for me. I was telling myself a story that I wanted (needed) to be part of a team again. I had been a solopreneur for about 3 years, and I missed seeing and being with people on a daily, consistent basis. All true. But getting a job was not the thing motivating me. Being part of a community is what motivates me – then, now and always. That’s what I felt was missing, and that’s what I thought this job would solve for – and boy, was I wrong.
The only people from my former employer that I’m connected to today are the others that got fired within weeks and months of me, along with the amazing candidates I built connections with while I was there. At PeopleGetters, we are building a Winning Work community. This motivates me every single day. It’s not about how big we get, or how much money we make, or how many clients we have, or how many likes any post gets. It’s about building community. Now that I am super clear on this, I know myself better and can avoid wrong turns in my work future.
Words have so much power, y’all. Recall that story I was telling myself – that I needed to be part of a team again? I was choosing words that put me in a position of weakness – that this external employer was the solution to my problem. But I did not have an actual problem. That’s the word I chose – and it led me to look singularly for a solution. What I could have done is use more words to talk to more people around me – to reach out to a coach – to talk more with my spouse about how I was feeling – to give myself permission to take time to come up with other alternatives to taking a job.
Approximately two weeks before I got fired, I worked up the courage to write my resignation letter. I had it on my personal Google drive. I was believing people, I knew my motivation, and I crafted the words on a page to free myself up from an employer that was not a good fit. And then I started telling myself another story – I can’t leave now, not when I have two major search projects at their final stages. I have developed relationships with candidates who are calling/texting/emailing me often and are just days away from receiving offers. I can’t let them down. I’ll resign after these searches are completed and offer letters are signed. I put my own well-being on the backburner. I knew myself and my motivations, and I was deeply believing this was not the right place for me – yet I crafted a story that kept me in a position of weakness and dependency.
Pain Meds, doh!
The day before I was fired, I had surgery on my hand to remove a big chunk of skin cancer. It was a minor surgery, but I needed to take some strong pain medication. You forget just how much you actually use your hands – for like, every single thing. And I was expected to be in the office the next day as we were doing a big Quarterly Planning session. So with my left hand all wrapped up, I headed into the office. I was planning on leaving after the meeting to work from home. Minutes after that meeting ended, however, a leader announced that we needed to have an All Hands meeting. So I stayed. And the leader announces that another teammate (who was a big participant in that Quarterly Planning session) had just been let go. The guy I had just been sitting next to for the past 2 hours, planning out the next three months of projects, had just gotten fired. What I assumed was stunned silence filled the open area in the All Hands meeting.
The only words in my brain were: What the fuck?
When the leader asked if anyone had any questions, I look around and no one is making any motion to speak. Again, the only words in my brain were: What the fuck?
Soooooooooooooooo, I was like ‘yeah, I have a question.’ You can probably guess what that three word question was.
And so, about an hour after speaking up and defending my teammate and what I felt was a very unfair and unkind dismissal, I was dismissed myself. Fired. Exited. Let go. Freed up for future possibilities, and little did I know just how bright that future would be until I got pushed into it. At PeopleGetters, we understand Firedversaries and we work to help build more Winning Work stories for people and companies.