Been Fired?

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A friend recently got fired from her job. She'd been at the company for over a year, was kicking ass, and then was abruptly let go (along with three others), due to "toxic behavior." Understandably, she was devastated. She'd also never been let go before.

My response to her? It's a rite of passage! Many of us have been fired, including me. Here's my story:

I was working there for just over a year when I received an intriguing offer from another company. I loved where I was but this was a great opportunity. Deciding between the two companies was agonizing.

I was still making up my mind whether or not I should stay, when my boss asked me to lunch. He took me to a fancy restaurant, along with the head of HR. The minute we got our appetizers, he slid a piece of paper across the table. “I want to give you a promotion.”

I was shocked. I was doing a good job and figured it would happen, just not like this. He continued, “I want you to shift your focus from marketing to fundraising. We need to raise $1 million dollars this year and you’re the person to do it.”

My heart sank. This wasn’t a promotion but rather, an entirely new job. I blurted out, “I got another job offer.”

Before he could say anything, I began to tell him how compelling the other company was and how excited I was about the opportunity. I kept rambling until I saw how offended he looked, “So you’re leaving us?”

All of a sudden, I couldn’t breathe. I felt like something heavy had just dropped on my chest. I looked at the HR woman whose arms were crossed. I looked down at my food, which had grown cold and muttered, “I honestly don’t know.” 

He reached into his bag and pulled out another piece of paper. It was a contract. “You have 24 hours to decide.” He got the check and just like that, the lunch was over. We hadn’t even gotten our entrees.

Long story short: that night I wrote him a long email about what I loved about the company and a few operational things that needed to be addressed for me to stay. At 9am the next morning, he called me into his office and fired me.

This was a major learning experience and a pivotal moment in my career.

I realized that when given the new offer, I should have thanked him for the opportunity and asked for time to consider it. Raising $1 million is a tall order and it would have been a completely reasonable request to ask for more than 24 hours.

I regret that my fear of silence caused me to speak so enthusiastically about the other company; that must have been incredibly hurtful and it made me look disloyal.

I made a mistake by writing an email afterwards, rather than talking to him in person, where important nuances wouldn’t be lost. I'd do it over again if I could.

I've never told this story before because I was ashamed of the stigma of being fired. Then I realized, that shame is exactly the reason I need to share. If my experience can help others, I'm proud to talk about it. I hope you'll be too.

Now go get paid.

x Claire 


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