“I am so glad that I got fired”

I just received a letter from Will, a long-time friend, which read in part, “Now I am so glad I got terminated…”.  It was not long ago that Will wrote me telling a sad take of unjustly being let go from his job in the Midwest.  Will had worked for me as a respected and competent teacher when I was the principal of a school overseas.  He also coached basketball and was loved by students and colleagues.

When he was let go recently, I even wrote a letter to his employer, suggesting some ideas for how to terminate someone appropriately, and asking him to consider explaining his grievous actions toward Will. It was a sad day for Will, and it continued for several weeks following.  I provided references as Will began to seek other employment.  And now this letter; “I am so glad I got terminated…”

Do you know what is common among these diverse personalities?  Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Mark Cuban, J.K. Rowley, Michael Bloomberg, Elvis Presley, Oprah Winfrey, Thomas Edison, Truman Capote, Robert Redford, Bill Belichick and Lee Iacocca!  You got it – they were all fired from their job at least once.

There are many reasons for being fired, but whatever it may be, one should always seek to understand what can be learned.  Some reasons may be legitimate and even timely.

  1. Your talents may better belong elsewhere.
  2. Did you have a bad boss who didn’t know how to recognize or develop talent?
  3. Maybe you need time to mature before pursuing the dream.
  4. Was there a merger and it was just tough luck?
  5. Maybe you weren’t really happy or compatible with the expectations of the job.
  6. Did it involve the wider picture of living cross-culturally or family issues off the job?

If you are involved in a BAM company and you are being let go (and I know many who should be terminated from Business as Mission companies), think about these things:

  1. Step back to cool off, pray and relax. Don’t blame yourself necessarily but look at it as a chance to move on to something which may be a better fit.  Take some time off to do this.
  2. Find a long-term friend to process it all with – like Will did with me. Ask yourself and others what might have caused it. We talked it through, developed a strategy, and prayed together.
  3. Write down what you can learn from it; consider asking your boss how you can improve, move on with your life, and do better next time – on your dream job.
  4. If you have not done so, try understanding yourself a little better by taking an Enneagram, Pro-D, or some other skills inventory. Be authentic and realistic about who you are.
  5. Keep the job search positive and focus on what you have learned and how you will be better on your next job because of it all.
  6. Work with your employer to determine how he/she will report the termination to references. Determine to not lie about your firing; but frame the conversation in a way that is positive and demonstrate your commitment to learning from it and improving.
  7. Take some time to prepare answers for interviews and applications – view websites which provide helpful insights. Focus on your skills rather than the firing.
  8. Plan your next steps – with counsel and with prayer.

The chances are that your best days are ahead, like they were for Will who is happier now than he was before the termination.  Look up and commit all to God – and look forward to the day you will say, “I am so glad that I got fired.”

Check out this link for tips on how to answer the interview question “Why Were You Fired?”

Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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