I was fired! Now what?

Well the first thing that comes to mind is Panic… that’s normal.

Worse is tomorrow someone will ask you who you are and what do you do? We live in a society where so much is “who we are” and “what we do for a living. It’s as if you’ve just lost your identity.

OK unless you were fired for something blatantly obvious such as having done something illegal, immoral or criminal, then I can’t help you.

If you are like most people that were fired for “uncertain” reasons, I can help.

First . I can recommend two readings:

The Peter Principle. This principle states that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”, meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently. It was formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 humorous book, The Peter Principle,

Perhaps this is what happened, but you certainly will not accept this in the next few days/weeks or months.

The second book you must read is a classic. “What color is your parachute”, by Richard Nelson Bolles.

Paul…I just lost my job and you expect me to read? Answer: Yes.

I also expect you to:

  1. Disconnect from work altogether for some time – at least 2-4 weeks.
  2. Go out and have a few drinks ( perhaps many) with your spouse, partner or good friends.
  3. Talk to your friends that you trust, explain what happened and GET IT OUT OF YOUR SYSTEM.
  4. Take time to reflect on YOU, your skills, your interests and your plan.
  5. Take time to go do something for you: Cycle, walk, shop, travel, start a hobby, play Golf, get a manicure, pedicure and massage…do something you like.

As I said in my previous blog being fired is a life stage occurrence (Marketing term) where something impactful happens to you (i.e. new baby, divorce, marriage, caring for an aging parent). Getting fired is right up there with those other occurrences.

Therefore you cannot expect to get back on the phone and send your CV in a flurry of activity hoping that it will be ok. You may be lucky however I can tell you that I will be short-lived.

The most fundamental thing to do is to accept the situation – OK I know it’s hard; you’re upset and you want to hire 3 lawyers. I know. I can also tell you that that most employers have bigger lawyers. I have used lawyers – good ones and bad ones and the outcome is usually dismal or not really in your favor. Every situation is different and there is a great deal of satisfaction to get closure with a lawyer. However make sure you have money – this is not an option.

Getting over the DENIAL stage is fundamental. You need to accept that there was some form of inequality between what your employer expected and what you delivered – regardless if it’s your fault or not …it’s immaterial at this point. Dwelling on who to blame, how much your boss was difficult and why no one else stood up for you will not help. This is wasting perfectly good brain energy and besides there is nothing you can do about it.

Getting over the denial stage frees up your mind and enables you to focus as to who you are, what you are good at. Remember when emotions are involved it’s hard to think straight.

Reading The Peter principle is a good book to get your mind off things.

Reading What color is your parachute is a must read since it will help you in a variety of ways:

  1. Identify your REAL skills. There is an exercise that takes about 4 hours to identify your skills. This is pure gold and don’t assume that you know your skills. In fact you may not even know what a skill really is.
  2. It will prepare you for the worst case scenario: No work for 2,3,4,5 or 6 months. Again you will go in denial and say “well that’s crazy … I’ll find a job tomorrow”. Chances are that you will not so you need to plan that now.
  3. The book will enable you to re-discover yourself. Perhaps you were in the wrong job or industry, working with toxic people, not really able to explore your potential or maybe you were there just for the money.
  4. I tell my audiences to read this book not only when you are looking for a job but it’s a good read to develop yourself and to progress in your career.

Next steps:

  1. Set up a plan. Now‘s the best time for you to re-calibrate your plan and decide what you want to do in the next 1,3 and 5 years.
  2. Listen to your words: Attitude check. Your attitude now is critically important. No one will hire someone who is pissed off, frustrated, negative or grumpy. Now do you see why you needed to reflect for a few weeks to get over the denial period and to spend time for yourself?
  3. Make a choice. If you were not happy with your last job, identify the reasons and avoid something similar.
  4. Network. I looked at how I found my last 10 jobs as an executive: 7 were through people I knew; 2 from headhunters one through  cold calling – it was a revelation for me. As one my mentors Richard Eaton says. You can either Net -Work or Not –Work, it’s your choice.
  5. Find a Mentor or Coach. Remember a Mentor is free and with a Coach, you need to pay. I have both. In either case your Mentor or Coach will tell you that you are not thinking straight and won’t care if they hurt your feelings…do you think that a football coach puts on white gloves during a game? Find either a Mentor or Coach. Tell them what happened and get ready to move on.

When you look back at this tough period in a few years, you will realize that this was a good time to reflect and spend time to invest in YOU.

Although your job was important (perhaps too important) as ever in life what really matters is your support group; the people that were cheering for you: Your spouse, your kids, your family and your friends in other words, your fans.

You can get a job anytime but keeping real fans like these is far more precious.

Put this in perspective as you embark to discover your next challenge.

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