How Getting Fired Can Inspire Career Action

Photo: Kal Loftus on Unsplash

Of all the scenarios I imagined, this was not one of them. My boss said “I’d like you to leave right now.”

Have you ever been fired? With a bit of discomfort and slight embarrassment, I admit it happened to me. As I mentioned earlier job security is a myth heightened by optimistic ideals and high expectations.

Well, my firing happened after giving notice, where I was promptly escorted to the door. Since my departure was already planned by me, my ego was partially intact, despite the surprise walk of shame to the exit door.

Note to anyone who gives notice, instant dismissal can happen even at a place where employees are referred to as family.

Business Gets Personal

Remember, business is business. Yet, at times, it feels so personal.

And let’s face it. Under the best of circumstances, when you decide to leave, your short-timer status might not be as helpful as you think. Transitions via a departing employee may not be that productive.

There is a whole lot more anxiety when poor performance sets the stage for your exit. Or you simply find yourself on the wrong side of a powerful boss who does not like you.

When is Getting Fired a Good Idea?

Which caused me to wonder when being fired can be a good thing.

What do you think? Did getting fired open doors for you or change the course of your career for the better? Did you discover it was time for a necessary change?

A recent episode of Madam Secretary highlighted a unique twist on this topic. Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord gave her assistant Blake Moran a one-year advance notice of his termination.

While her reason was noble—she expected him to grow out of his current assistant role—Blake feared for his job.

She encouraged his professional growth, in spite of her comfort with smooth operations of the department. Her life was easier having Blake in his current role. In her opinion, however, he was overqualified for this position.

One big problem. He loved his work! He was at the center of everything. An integral part of an ensemble cast of policy advisors, researchers, and analysts.

He also felt overwhelmed when envisioning his future in a more advanced position. He suffered with insecurity and feared he did not have what it takes to succeed at a higher level.

To counteract his imposter syndrome fear, however, he stepped in to advise the administration on a critical strategy to resolve a foreign government mishap. The current president noticed, bolstering his confidence.

As the episode wraps up, Blake gets fired from his job and is immediately offered the role of policy advisor within The Secretary of State’s Office. An impressive title, considering his boss is angling toward a run for the office of President.

All is well in TV land, but what about you? Everyone would like a boss like Elizabeth McCord who cares about your personal development and professional growth. But all bosses do not have your best interests in mind.

In Summary, Getting Fired Has its Benefits

When you move beyond the turmoil of surprise or disappointment, here are three insights to consider as you navigate your career.

  1. You can still reap the rewards of taking risks and moving forward with your own power (and a little help from some advisors and friends).
  2. As a manager, remember your career path includes an ensemble cast of helpful characters, critical to the success of a company or department. You will benefit from maintaining a communication network with those you meet and connect with along the way.
  3. It’s not necessary to wait for the F word to grow in your profession. Progress happens via intentional actions that take you out of the comfort of everyday routines.

What would you do if you had advance notice of getting fired? Or if it happened tomorrow?

If you are interested in the future of work, career development, the workplace, personal branding, workforce trends/ideas, agility, or how to cultivate happy profitable employees, subscribe to Marti’s 52 Ideas. For more details on career agility, check it out here.

You can also check out the best-selling book on Amazon, Activate Your Agile Career: How Responding to Change Will Inspire Your Life’s Work.


Marti Konstant
Marti Konstant is a workplace futurist with an agile mindset. She is a career growth analyst, author, speaker, personal brand architect, and founder of the Agile Careerist Project™. What started out as a quest to fine-tune her evolving career sparked a research project, a book, and workshops, where future of work and career agility are central themes.

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