A little over two weeks ago I was let go, canned, terminated, relieved of my duties…fired. I’d been with the company for less than nine months.
It had already been a challenging, demoralizing week. It seemed like everything that could go wrong…did and I felt I was playing defense (rather than offense) in this game we call life. We were down to one car as our other vehicle decided, over the previous weekend, that it was time for a new transmission which set us back a little over three grand. Despite the undo financial stress and inconvenience this caused, we were still able to scramble about the necessities of our lives with the one vehicle (getting my three kids off to their schools, my wife to her job and me to mine).
We looked at each other (dumbfounded) and then both began to laugh in unison in the face of our newest adversity. We couldn’t believe the week we were having. It was either laugh or cry and we chose to laugh.”
By Thursday we had formulated an efficient system that seemed to work quite well until that fateful morning when a giant piece of jagged road reflector found it’s way into the middle of my left rear tire. It was the dumbest luck and a most improbable way to flatten a tire I had ever witness. I pulled the truck, cautiously, into a grocery store gas station and beheld this giant piece of plastic stuck dead center in the middle of that tire. My wife and I would now, undoubtedly, be very late for work. We looked at each other (dumbfounded) and then both began to laugh in unison in the face of our newest adversity. We couldn’t believe the week we were having. It was either laugh or cry and we chose to laugh. “Well…” I said. “If it were not for bad luck this week…we wouldn’t have any luck at all.”
We both made our perspective phone calls into our offices and then began the arduous process of changing the tire. I’m ashamed to say it but I simply could not figure out how to release the spare tire from beneath the truck and found myself under it sweating in my dress clothes in the midst of Houston’s humidity combined with embarrassed frustration. (Nothing like losing precious man points in front of the woman you’ve vowed to love and care for until the end of all time.) Anyway, we finally figured it out . A few good samaritans helped me jack up the truck and exchange the tire and we were soon on our way. The spare was essentially past its shelf life and unfit for us to use for any more than a few miles so we drove over to a tire shop and they were kind enough to sell us a brand new shiny tire. A couple hundred dollars and an additional hour later I was able to drop my wife off at her place of employment and head to my office. The day couldn’t have started any worse but a quote in my book A Walk With Prudence flooded my spirit and mind.
Friction is necessary. Ease of life leads to complacency and the atrophy of the human will and spirit. Within our struggles lives our strength, within our trials lives our triumphs. Friction creates a platform for change, generates heat and or fervor and creates a motivational charge that gives us an opportunity to be better. A gem cannot be polished without friction and so neither a person without hardships. Friction within and friction without sharpens our senses and revives our internal resolutions. Friction is uncomfortable, hardships are distressing but both are necessary. We cannot light a match without friction nor can we hone steel. Uncomfortable as it may be, our adversity ultimately lights a fire and sharpens our very will to flourish. Today, let us not be discouraged, let us not be bitter in our suffering rather let us be encouraged as we look to our trials as a medium that will eventually make us better.”
Coincidentally, driving in I ran into one of our executives in the parking lot and got him up to speed on the terrible week I was having. In hindsight, I can now recognize and understand why he had lacked such empathy for my morning drama and recent car troubles. The conversation seemed one-sided, he was distant and his mind seemed to be elsewhere. It was. He already understood that my day was about to get infinitely worse…a flat tire and a burned out transmission would soon be the least of my problems.
I worked until about three o’clock when my direct supervisor and the company’s senior executive requested to meet with me in the conference room. I’m not sure if I can adequately describe this moment but when I looked at their faces the air in the room seemed to have been sucked out and everything around me began to move in slow motion. I was suddenly extremely conscious and fully aware of everything around me. It was like I had Super Spidey senses and I could hear my own breathing, my own heartbeat and it was as if I could see their feelings and thoughts. I assessed their faces, their body language and their eyes…I felt their anxiety. I had never experienced this before but I instinctively comprehended that I was being fired. They were extremely polite, respectful and very professional. I felt for them, I suppose, because it seemed they were feeling for me. I harbored no ill will towards them. This was just an ugly part of business. I knew it wasn’t personal.
In reality both spoke to me quite normally but in the realm of my experience their words seem to come out extra slow and deliberate. I felt numb as I listened to my direct supervisor’s explanation for the termination but simply found myself looking into the eyes of the senior exec. The monotone words and reasoning hit my consciousness but I was unable to break my stare. Again everything around me had decelerated and I nodded in agreement that I understood the reasons but in truth…that was just an instinctual response. Surprisingly, I heard my breathing and felt my heart beating but neither was panicked. I experienced no anxiety and simply felt a comfortable familiar sense of peace. If you play sports the only way to describe the moment is that feeling you experience just before you shoot a basketball free throw when the game is on the line, or that moment in between the snap of the football during a goal-line stand right before everything will soon collide, or that moment before a pitcher winds up and throws that third strike over the plate. Everything slowed to almost an absolute stop and as I comprehended the levity of my reality I recognized it was just me and that moment…completely aware, completely conscious and completely in the now. And so I was able to respond to what was happening with clarity of mind with conscious awareness and surprising emotional control.
“The bottom line Jason, this simply wasn’t a good fit.” Those words of wisdom catapulted the moment back into real time for me and I found myself, sincerely, agreeing with the senior exec’s assessment. “It wasn’t a good fit.” I was repeating those words within my spirit but I had already known this truth for the last few months. I had been too timid to break away and find something else. You see something in me quit long before I was fired and it was in that moment of clarity that I could freely accept this termination with a sincere sense of honest calm and peaceful character. In that moment…I felt as if I was freed.
Yes, I was experiencing all the insecurities that rush in when someone loses their job but in that moment I recognized that they didn’t fire me…I fired me. Although, I did my job everyday I didn’t do it with the passion and desire that I was capable of. I wasn’t compelled to play the usual corporate game and looking back I had withdrawn from the corporate players and found myself disinterested and turned off by their personas and personalities. My sales production never quite got off the ground and it was only a matter of time that if I didn’t start producing, there was a mighty good chance I could be let go like others that had gone before me. Even knowing this truth I found it hard to get motivated. I was unmoved. “It wasn’t a good fit.” This was obvious to both of us.
I once heard it said that getting fired is nature’s way of telling us that we had the wrong job in the first place…there is great wisdom in that. At age 45, in all my years as a professional, I have never been fired from a job. It was a unique and profound experience for me and I’m (actually) grateful for it. I’m truly filled with gratitude that my previous employer had the courage to cut me loose when I failed to find the will or courage (within me) to do it my self. For that, I will be forever grateful.
At the end of the day, it didn’t work out and it is…what it is. I’m a better person because of this experience. It taught me to listen more closely to my instincts and my spirit. Life is much too short to go to a job that you have already (internally) quit on. That being said…getting fired just might be the best thing that ever happened to me or you, for that matter…
sums it up like this. “Just like with relationships, once you get past the sense of rejection and loss – the financial implications as well – getting fired is usually the best thing that could have happened to you. You see, there are five basic reasons for getting fired:
- Your company’s not doing so well.
- You’re not doing so well, i.e. job performance, you’re miserable, etc.
- Your boss is an idiot or dysfunctional.
- You’ve done great but have become complacent.
- Stuff that has nothing to do with you: market changes, executive turnover, reorganization, restructuring.
In every case except that last one, you’ll be better off somewhere else, in the long run. And getting canned was the kick in the pants you needed to get out and find a better career, company, job, situation, or whatever.”~ Steve Tobak
The day after I was terminated guess what I learned? Yup, you guessed it…the sun still shined, the birds still sang and my phone still rang. As miraculous as it may sound…I was quickly hired by an amazing new company a week later and (truth be told) I couldn’t be happier. I only share this with you because there is nothing particularly special about me… so if it can happen to me, it can certainly happen to you. My sincere desire for you is to be encouraged.
It’s really quite astonishing (when you think about it) what we all can achieve if we maintain the right perspective and attitude in the midst of our most difficult moments. It’s with this very real experience that I wish for you all nothing but great success in your future endeavors. If you are going through a tough time right now…hang in there because today is the day it will all turn around! Many blessings. ~Jason Versey
Sometimes we scratch, claw and climb so hard to conquer a mountain that, once achieved, we cling to its summit much too long and it ultimately instigates our fall. As we dangle by our fingertips we grasp and claw at what’s no more; with a fear of falling into the dim unknown. But, ironically, it’s in that very moment that we are empowered to choose. We can stay cliff hanging in our darkened fears, clinging to a time that has past us by or we can faithfully and freely fall into the hands of a new destiny. Sometimes, persevering…is simply having the courage to let go. ― Jason Versey, A Walk with Prudence
Title photo credit: flickr
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