A few years ago a friend of mine wrote something amazing about his experience getting fired. I've shared it with clients and others that have called from time to time, and wanted to share it with everyone because I think it is very powerful.
I can't tell you how many times we've talked to people facing something like this - probably a dozen or more per week. Though I myself have not faced anything like this yet, it is a basic reality of the way we've decided to organize our economy and society; at some point in our lives, the vast majority of us will have a bad experience like this at work. Whether it is ongoing harassment, or a really toxic encounter with a boss or coworker, or a firing, something like this is to be expected eventually over the course of a full career.
This reality should give us compassion for others in these situations, and it should help us appreciate the importance of strengthening the laws protecting due process, free speech and equal justice at work.
It can also be an occasion for self-reflection, like it was for my friend. How can I get better? Where do I have strengths and weaknesses? How can I be a better person and a good provider? There are real opportunities in a setback like this. In particular, if this experience is part of a pattern - if you always seem to beef with somebody in every workplace, if things always go sideways after a couple months at a new job - this reevaluation and growth is especially important.
But this is key: do not to allow a frustrated expectation, bad encounter, or setback to shape your sense of who you are at a fundamental level. An isolated bad experience like this frequently reveals more about your situation - and our society in general - than it does about you.
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