I think the title of this post says it well. I’ve been fired from a few different jobs in my life. None of them have been pleasant experiences. The last time it happened was four years ago tomorrow. May 2 is the day that changed my life. In a very good way.
I had worked as a data analyst/business analyst for the same company in Oklahoma City for almost 9 years. I remember very clearly sitting in a meeting that day discussing a project we were working on. I really enjoyed the project team and the overall mood of the meeting was very upbeat. As the meeting was coming to an end, I looked at my computer and I saw that I was receiving a call from our division’s vice president. My feelings went from good to uncertain in a hurry.
Up to that point I had been on very good terms with that VP. So, I went back to my office and called him back. I told myself there was no need to jump to conclusions. There could be a very good explanation of why he was calling me. It didn’t have to be negative, right? When he answered the phone he said, “Please come to my office. Thank You.” He hung up. No, this wasn’t going to be good.
There have been a few instances in my life where I can recall a moment in time with perfect clarity. It was a beautiful day. It was 15 minutes till nine when I walked out my office door and headed over to his office. I remember feeling a mixed range of emotions. Was I going to be fired? What was going to happen to my family? I remember the feeling of fear starting to come over me. I also remember taking a moment to pray. I prayed, “God, I don’t know what’s about to happen. Give me the strength to face whatever it is with honor and dignity. I know you’ll take care of me.”
I knocked on his door and it opened. There were three people in the office. The vice president, and another man and woman. There were very few formalities. He simply told me the times were hard and a cut back was necessary. He then introduced the woman next to me as a member of the HR team. He told me that she would lead me through the rest of the conversation. He stood up and walked out of his office. I had worked for him for two years and that was all he said to me.
Have you ever seen the movie Moneyball? There is a scene in the movie where Brad Pitt’s character teaches Jonah Hill’s character how to fire someone. Jonah walks in the room, says less than 10 words, and the conversation is done. It was painful in how inhuman it was. I never thought I would experience something like that. That is exactly how it felt when that VP walked out of the room.
Then, something strange happened. The HR representative was a very kind person. You could tell right away that she did not like the situation anymore than I did. She very quickly and apologetically told me that there was a severance package. I took a deep breath. She continued to talk about additional things the company would provide as a part of the severance.
She continued to struggle. I finally stopped her. She was having a hard time. I smiled and said, “Ma’am, you’re doing a good job. I know this isn’t easy, but the terms you have given me are fair. Thank you for the way that you’ve handled this.” She gave me some additional details and then I was lead out by the other gentleman in the room. He was a member of corporate security.
I had worked for the company for a very long time. I felt insulted that a member of security had to lead me to my office to collect my things. However, to my surprise, that gentleman was also kind. We talked briefly and he admitted he didn’t like the situation any more than I did. I thanked him for that as I gathered my things. Before I knew it I was sitting in front of the building in my jeep, numb, in shock, and unemployed.
There is a detail in the story I’ve left out so I could reveal it now. That morning, May 2, 2016, contains another moment that I will never forget. It happened before I went into work. I was sitting in my jeep in that same spot in the front of the building just two hours earlier. There was a different prayer that I said that God was about to answer.
I remember pulling up to the building. I was in a shirt and tie. I remember the tie being a bit tight around my neck. I looked in the rearview mirror after I had shut my jeep off. I was tired. I was frustrated. And I looked up to heaven and I said these words, “God if they would give me severance, I would leave. I don’t really like it here anymore.” True story.
OK, back to my earlier story. I now have my personal effects in my jeep and it was time to figure out what I was going to do next. So, in true David fashion, I went to Starbucks. I needed a coffee and I needed it fast. I wasn’t ready to talk to anyone yet and I needed to sort out my thoughts. When I got my dark roast and sat down, I realized I was more peaceful than I had been in a long time.
As I sat in the coffee shop and sipped my coffee I knew it was time. I pulled out my iPhone and I called Marixa. “Babe, I just got fired. But before you panic, I did get the severance and we will be OK for a little bit.” She surprised me with her reaction. “I know we will be OK. Now, come home, take a nap, and we will figure this thing out.” I love this amazing so much.
After that conversation ended I called a former manager from the company that I had just left. She had retired a few years earlier and I wanted to let her know what had happened. I asked her if she knew of anyone that was looking for someone with the skills I had. She mentioned there was a company in Texas looking for someone just like me. She told me to fill out an application and she would send a reference letter that very day. I did. She did. Three months later, my family and I moved to Texas and I started a new job. It is a good story that I will tell some other time.
I know times are not easy right now. The story I told above is not everyone’s experience when losing a job. However, I want to emphasize two points about this story that I believe are relevant to everyone.
1. I was in a job that I had really grown to dislike. I wasn’t happy when I went into work. Nowhere close. It became very clear to me with the prayer that I prayed that morning. It wasn’t a planned prayer. It was me admitting to God that something wasn’t right. Many of us don’t realize there are other work situations out there that can utilize out talents and abilities so much better and provide for us as well. (I recommend Dan Miller 48days.com and Chris Guillebeau sidehustleschool.com if you are trying to find work that is more you.) Life is too short to stay somewhere you hate.
2. Getting fired is just a part of working. It doesn’t mean that I was a bad worker. Tons of awesome people lose their jobs every day. It is possible to do things right and still get the axe. It is up to us, when it happens, to provide evidence to our next employer of why they can’t live without us and keep doing awesome work. I was afraid losing my job would hurt me. Nope. It freed me up to do work I love even more.
I pray that whatever situation you are in right now you know that God loves you and has a plan for you. If you are doing what you love…awesome! If you are toiling at something you hate…there is something better out there. If you are displaced and looking…keep moving forward. God has you. Trust him.
I can’t believe it has been 4 years. I can honestly say, I am so thankful I got fired this time.