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Whether you’re fired for performance, or let go because some numbers on a PowerPoint don’t point exponentially up, losing your job is a humbling experience. And, while it may feel like the end of the world, it’s not — it’s actually the opposite. Like any bad relationship, be honest with yourself and acknowledge that it just wasn’t working out. Your employer felt it, maybe we felt it, too, but now it’s time to close that chapter and start a new one. The next question always is where do I go from here.
One of the hardest parts of losing your job is bailing on the way you thought your career would unfold. But the only certainty in life is that everything is susceptible to change. Look at it not as an ending, but as a fork in the road.
In 1985, Steve Jobs was fired from the company he helped created, Apple, and after he proved to have extraordinary levels of success. But he was a difficult person to work with. The Apple board didn’t feel like he was fit to be CEO, but Jobs had a different belief. It wasn’t easy for him; he spent the summer figuring out his next step. His ousting was extremely public, and during the midlife crisis that followed, he would weigh all his options, from politics to becoming an astronaut. He decided to start a company called NeXT, and this endeavor lead to him later starting Pixar Animation Studios. Steve Jobs would, of course, come back to Apple, and lead the company into the next generation, releasing new tech like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. Had you asked Steve Jobs in 1984 if he could imagine ever being fired from Apple, I’m sure his answer would have been a very definitive — "Oh. Hell. No." — but it’s clear that Jobs needed to step away from Apple to become the genius and visionary that he ended up being after losing his job gave him that perspective.
Being fired is so often the precursor for greatness. As Vogue’s renowned editor-in-chief, Anna Wintor, would tell you, “I recommend that you all get fired once.” She was canned as a junior editor from Harper’s Bazaar by famous editor Tony Mazalla because her style was too edgy. But it was that style that helped her turn Vogue into the pinnacle of fashion magazines, and help her grow into one of the greatest editors ever.
And, from one Maverick to another, Mark Cuban was also on the receiving end of being fired from his first job. More motivated by cultivating new business than manning a cash register, he got canned for failing to open the store one day because he was busy with a potential client. After that, Cuban swore never to work for anyone besides himself again. Shortly after, he’d start MicroSolutions, and, within a few years, he’d go from living on friends’ couches to running a multimillion-dollar business. Mark Cuban is known for taking gambles, and he took one on himself back then, with it turning out pretty well (to the tune $2.7 billion net worth).
What it goes to show is that rejection can be the catalyst to success, even if losing your job is a hard pill to swallow in the moment. Even if it feels like you’ve been discounted, written off and left for dead, know that every story has a second act. And you only have to look so far as the reigning Super Bowl MVP to believe that.
In 2013, Nick Foles had a career year for the Philadelphia Eagles, posting 27 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. After struggling in the coming years, he’d find himself bouncing around the NFL until, once again, opportunity found itself back in Philadelphia — except, this time, as the backup to promising signal-caller, Carson Wentz. After Wentz went down with a season-ending knee injury, all of a sudden, the entire city was hopelessly looking at Nick Foles as their starter again. The rest is history. World Champion. Super Bowl MVP. In his postgame interview, Foles talked about struggle, and it’s worth listening to (even if you’re a diehard Tom Brady fan):
"In our society today, Instagram and Twitter is the highlight reel. When you are having a rough day … you think you are failing. But failure is a part of life. It’s about building character and growing. I wouldn’t be up here if I didn’t fall thousands of times and make mistakes. … I’m not perfect. I’m not Superman. We might be in the NFL, but we still have our daily struggles. … When you look at a struggle in your life you [should] look at it as a time in your life for your character to grow. If something is going on and you are struggling, embrace it. You are growing."
That goes for tough times, like losing your job. It can turn out to be the best thing for you, if you take the opportunity to grow and become the best version of yourself. It can define you down the road. It can help you fulfill your potential. It’s about believing and embracing the challenges that lay ahead. So believe in yourself and continue to be great.
Lead image via Getty.