It happened to Malcolm Gladwell within two months of being hired for the first time. It happened to Billy Martin five times spanning many years. Oprah Winfrey was fired and told that she was “unfit for television news.”
While you can check out the following Business Insider article to see just how “non–exclusive” the fraternity of the terminated is, the point is that almost everyone – including yours truly, has been on the wrong side of the severance slip.
If you have never experienced a firing, be sure to continue reading because there is much to learn from the wisdom of those who have. What they share could someday keep you out of the line of fire.
So, what are the three things that only people “who have been fired” understand?
There Are No Shortcuts To Success
I have on many occasions said that “failure is as much a part of success as success itself.”
It is a catchy theme that encapsulates the belief that you first have to fail before you can succeed. After all, it is through our setbacks that we learn the most about not only ourselves but the world in general.
Unfortunately, most people never come to embrace or understand this immutable truth because they do everything they can to avoid failure. This instinctive reaction results in an unwillingness to take chances or pursue new vistas of opportunity.
Because of an aversion to failure, people look for the easy route to achieving their goals and dreams. However, there is no shortcut to success. You have to take risks; you have to reach a little further than your present grasp because even if you shoot for the moon and miss, you will still find yourself among the stars.
Perseverance Is Omnipotent
Those who have been fired know how it feels immediately afterward. You feel like a loser, a failure, embarrassed, as well as a myriad of other unwanted and emotionally sapping emotions.
Even as the days and weeks pass, the sting of rejection can linger like a dark cloud over your head.
During such times, it is easy to give in and want to quit, believing that you will never be successful or realize your bigger dreams and future.
At times like this, the words of Calvin Coolidge should come to mind:
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”
Keep moving forward, even if it is at one painfully slow step at a time.
Even Negative Feedback Is Useful
In my book, The Future of You: Creating Your Enduring Brand I make reference to the Rita Mae Brown quote that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.”
In the context of being fired, this means that rather than cowering away in defeat, you face your firing with an inquisitive mind. In a termination meeting, ask questions. For example, seek feedback about where you missed the mark or what you could have done differently.
Those who have come back to fight another day have used the lessons they learned from their termination as a stepping stone to future success.
Don’t Wait To Be Fired
Of course, you do not have to wait until you are fired to apply the above lessons in your present day position.
Denzel Washington’s address at the University of Pennsylvania 255th Commencement sums up the value of taking risks.
“If I am going to fall, I don’t want to fall back on anything except my faith. I want to fall forward. At least this way, I will see what I am going to hit. Do you have the guts to fail? If you don’t fail, you’re not even trying. To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.”
By not fearing failure, you are free to accomplish more.
Through perseverance, you will not only endure difficult challenges; you will overcome them.
Finally, always be striving to learn more and do better; you will never fall behind or lose relevance within your organization as long as you are moving forward.