Being fired should spark many new beginnings

It's one of those things you don't think about much-until it happens to you: you're fired. Your world is suddenly altered. And if you are going through it, some of life's most important lessons are going to be taught. If you are a receptive student, you will learn new ways of operating that will make you more self-reliant and confident in the future.

Lesson # 1: You are not your job.

In our society, we tend to identify with our job title. One of the first questions to be asked at a cocktail party is, "What do you do for a living?" The answer to that question often determines our status, influence, friends, income and our lifestyle, among other things. That's why someone who has been fired dreads that question.

Often, it's those who climb the highest who fall the hardest. For instance, when they are no longer the "Vice President," who are they? How about you? Imagine that you were fired. Your title, perks, power are suddenly gone. Who's left? Who are you as a father, mother, friend, child, and citizen?

Lesson #2: You will learn who your real friends are.

"One of the most depressing things I discovered was that people I thought were my friends were only people who associated with me because of who I was-not because of who I am," reflected a well-known media personality who had been fired. "People who used to jockey to get on my calendar before I was fired, wouldn't even return my calls after I lost my job."

Let's face it; it's not so unusual to have relationships with people because of what they can do for us. It's naive to think that everyone who is friendly with us is our real friend. But vulnerability occurs when you never take the time to cultivate deeper give -and-take friendships with people outside and inside the job.

Lesson #3: You will reap what you sow when it comes to how your have treated people in the past.

If you've never been one to help anyone else in their career or to invest some time in someone who needed it, you may have a tough time when the tables are turned. Colleagues who have made time for others are often pleasantly surprised at how many people will remember their kindness and return the helping hand. They find jobs quickly because of the contacts, informational interviews and leads that are sent their way.

Lesson #4: You will never take your network for granted again.

If there is one lament I hear from people who are job hunting, it's "I wish I had been more proactive about building my network while I still had my job." A healthy network requires time and attention. It means taking time out from a busy schedule to have lunch, write a note, help on a committee- in short- develop relationships. Cold calling when you're out of a job can't compare to tapping into the relationships you've built over a long period of time.

Lesson #5: You will never again say, "I don't pay any attention to corporate culture and office politics."

Many people who are fired admit that they turned a blind eye to the handwriting on the wall. For instance, they dismissed the merger as "no big deal" and thought they were safe, or they fought with their boss so often, they thought it was a normal part of their relationship.

People, who were fired as a result of a political difference of opinion or culture change, usually change their ways. They keep one eye on the job and the other on the political landscape. They take time to clarify expectations and get feedback.

Lesson #6: You will take a more proactive role in staying marketable and up-to-date.

If you haven't been in the job market for awhile, you may be out of touch with reality. For instance, a quick scan of the want ads may reveal that you would have a tough time competing against younger or more experienced colleagues. Often, long-term employees with no degree, no computer skills, and narrow experience are shocked to find they can't find a job like the one they lost--and certainly can't find one at the same salary they were expecting.

If you are fired, you will never perceive "job security" the same way again. Ironically, many say that getting fired was the best thing that ever happened to them. They say it forced them to take a more proactive role in managing their own career, it caused them to get in touch with their families and friends and themselves.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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