Are you afraid of getting fired? Do you spend time worrying about what would happen if you got fired? Have you ever been fired and feel humiliation or shame about it?
If you answered yes to any of those questions then this story is for you since it invites you to challenge your belief about what it means to be fired.
I was fired 4 times over the course of 10 years which translates to once every 2 and half years. As you can imagine, this decade of my life was extremely challenging–but the truth is, I wouldn’t be who I am today, nor have the career I have now, without it...
...which is why I say that getting fired can be good for you.
Let me explain.
My first experience getting fired was my first job out of college.
I was working as an assistant for the owner of a recruiting firm and felt conflicted about what I was being told to do. I worked there for 9 months until the day I decided to unleash my inner conflict onto my boss and threaten that if she didn’t change the way she did things that I would report her business.
The next day I was fired, escorted out by a police officer, and trespassed from the building. My experience of this was humiliating and demeaning and it wounded my self-worth significantly.
Little did I know, I had just boarded a shame train that had several more stops to make.
In my next job I was working the front desk of a busy ophthalmology practice–a job that I acquired only because I knew someone who knew someone. I worked there for about 6 months until one day I was overwhelmed by the demands of the job and allegedly didn’t provide a level of customer service that someone expected.
The next day I was fired and told I needed to sign a document stating I understood the reason I was fired. I yelled “I ain’t signing sh*t!” and ran out as fast as I could in order to hide my tears and shame.
My self-worth took another direct hit and I wondered if it could ever recover. How far away could the shame train take me?
At this point I was feeling traumatized from my failed administrative job experience, and chose to do something radically different in an attempt to avoid more suffering. Enter my retail experience.
I worked for a big retailer for a year and a half when I moved and transferred to a new store--only to discover that the commute was not worth the job. So I found another job with a smaller retailer that would be closer to home and put in my two weeks notice.
On my very last day, I showed up late and was fired on the spot since I was already on my final warning for tardiness. I couldn’t believe it! I was desperate to know that I could hold a job, so I morphed into an entitled child, crying and begging my boss to let me finish the day so I could leave the right way. She told me she wished I could, but that it was too late.
Even though I had technically quit...there was something so shameful to me about not making it to the end...and this third firing, was the final blow to my self-worth. It completely obliterated it. At this point the shame train had gone completely off the rails.
The shame I experienced from knowing that I had been fired from every job I had since college was excruciating, and I subconsciously attached getting fired to my identity.
It’s just what I do, I thought...
...this is who I am...
...I can't learn...
....I am not a good employee.
Hell, I may not even be a good person.
Then there was my husband–who was still my boyfriend at the time–who just couldn’t wrap his head around why I couldn’t hold a job. He would ask me, “When are you gonna learn Jen?” and I would reply, “I honestly don’t know”.
The tide began to turn a little in my next job which was in management for a mid-size retail company. I held this job for 3 years until the company began closing stores. Although I was thrilled to think I may have proved that I could hold a job, I diminished my accomplishment.
Instead, I gave all the credit to my store manager who had become a close friend, and who I felt graciously let me get away with things most employers wouldn't. I decided that if it wasn’t for her, I truly didn’t know if I could have held the job.
Naturally, since I didn’t know that I could hold a job without an asterisk next to it–meaning without an exception–my next job was crucial.
I pressured myself to hold my next job at all cost. And wouldn’t you know, it was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I applied for a random job to satisfy my unemployment requirements. It was for the manager of a large and long-standing salon and spa in a great little downtown area. I didn’t expect anything to come of it, but I received an offer.
Though I had no real passion or interest in the industry, I decided that since I frequented salons for my hair, that I was familiar enough with the industry to be able to figure it out and make it work.
I made it work for 4 years, although, in order to do so, I sacrificed a lot emotionally. See here’s the thing, I was a square peg, and the job was a round hole–we never fit together–but I did whatever I could to overlook that.
It doesn’t matter, I thought, every job is like this–just don’t screw it up! It’s time you learn Jen!
During this time my self-talk sounded comparable to an abusive relationship.
I was fully committed to learning how to hold a job so I could prove to not only myself, but to my husband, that I could. However, there were numerous times that I nearly quit or walked out. In fact, one time I did walk out.
I walked out of the building into the parking lot, only to turn around and go back in because I didn't know if l had learned what I needed to. I even told those I managed that I knew there was something I was supposed to learn by being there, even when I knew it wasn’t the job for me.
Well guess what? My intuition was on point--but not for the lesson I thought I needed.
Now stay with me, cause this is where it gets good.
At the end of 2021 I got sick and was out for a few weeks. During that time I had a lot of time to think. I made the decision that I was going to give my boss one final chance to make a job I wasn’t a fit for, “worth it for me” by asking for more money. I decided that if my boss wouldn’t pay more, then I would confidently know that I did everything I could to make it work, had learned everything I needed to, and would be ready to look for another job.
My first day back was January 3rd, 2022 and although I had made my decision, I had not yet executed on it. That afternoon my boss told me to sit down so we could talk, with a tone that suggested that whatever she wanted to talk about wasn’t going to be good. She said:
“Jen, I want you to know that I think you’re great and I appreciate all the effort you make to try to do your job well…and this has been really hard for me as it has not been an easy decision…but…I’ve decided to let you go.”
Wait, I said, are you firing me? I’m letting you go, she repeated. Once I confirmed I had heard her right–I was indeed getting fired for the 4th time–I found myself in a magical moment where time slowed down.
At first I heard the loud horn of the shame train alerting me of it's presence, but then I noticed I had options and they showed up clearly in front of me...
...I could get upset that I was getting fired again, and make it mean a lot of terrible things about me…or…I could receive it for what it actually was–the gift of being set free from a job I wasn't a fit for.
I saw that I could choose to make it mean I was a failure and still hadn’t learned...or...for the very first time…I could honor my worth despite being fired.
Wait what? Getting fired has no bearing on my worth?! YES.
In fact, I have so much more to offer, so much untapped talent, and so many underutilized skills, that frankly, I need to be fired.
And then it hit me...I was grateful and humble in this moment, and it was beautifully ironic.
I started this job needing to prove that I could hold a job in order to feel valuable and worthy, and I was ending it feeling valuable and worthy regardless.
I don’t want to be able to hold a job I am not a fit for!
This whole time I thought it was about learning to hold a job...when in reality, it's been about discovering my inherent value, strengthening my sense of self-worth, and preparing me to step into my purpose.
Not even 3 months later, I got my life coach certification and began working for a highly regarded and top rated life coach school, Certified Life Coach Institute. I now have what my husband calls “the absolute perfect job for me” and we both fully understand and appreciate the purpose in my journey to get there.
Just over a year later, after continuing my coach education, gaining coaching experience, and being mentored by an esteemed coach, Daniel Olexa, MCC. I launched my coaching business: Jenuinely Concerned Coaching.
Now as a transformational coach, I see how getting fired provides a unique opportunity to discover your inherent value and strengthen your sense of self-worth. What I learned from being fired is useful and informs my coaching in a way that is meaningful for many of my clients.
My Useful Insights From Being Fired:
Getting fired doesn’t mean anything. You make it mean something with the way you choose to think about it. It’s a circumstance that is neutral until you decide to give it meaning. It's a great example of the power of the mind.
Getting fired from a job you are not meant for is a gift. Receiving it that way feels empowering and will propel you forward.
If you get fired more than once, instead of asking “When will I learn?” ask: “What is the value of this experience for me? What can I learn that will carry me forward? What meaning can I assign to this that will serve me at the highest level?"
No matter who you are, getting fired can be highly activating to the ego. This is normal, but remember...if you were a car, where would the best place to put your ego be? If you put your ego in the driver’s seat, it will more than likely run you into a wall, so perhaps put your ego in the backseat so you can keep moving forward.
If you need help with these concepts, coaching could serve you well, and I invite you to book an exploration call with me if you’d like to find out more about that.
With that, I send love to the four people who have fired me. You helped me to uncover my inherent worth. Each time I was fired, it led me to the next step on my path to becoming who I am today, which allowed me to step joyfully and confidently into my coaching career.
That is why I can genuinely say that getting fired can be good for you...it was for me!