5 Things To Do When You Join The "I Got Fired" Club

09/01/2016 10:54 am ET Updated Sep 02, 2016

“Hey, Jamy, do you have a minute?”

Those were the words of the athletic director as I was getting ready to take my college basketball team on a team building experience.  It was early January and school had not yet started.   

Little did I know that in the next few minutes, I would be receiving my invitation to a well-known club that has plenty of members all across the country. 

“Jamy, we are going to go in a different direction at the end of the year and you will not be returning as our head coach.”

And just like that, as one of the younger head coaches at the NCAA level, I was a card carrying member of the “I Got Fired” club. Oh sure, I wasn’t technically fired.  But why get caught up in the details. This club can include people that get terminated with or without cause, people that are forced to resign or retire, people whose contracts are not renewed, people who are laid off or people who are re-assigned.

Notice, I didn’t say that you are really good at your job. Bad workers get fired.  Mediocre workers get fired. Good workers get fired.  Men get fired. Women get fired. Employee of the months get fired.  Young and old, alike, get fired.  It seems that no one is immune to this phenomenon.  Sometimes we see it coming; other times it blindsides us.  

When you find yourself joining the “I Got Fired” Club (or getting your membership renewed), here are 5 things you should keep in mind. 

NOTE: If you are one of the lucky few that are not yet a member of the “I Got Fired” club, then file these thoughts away or keep them in mind to help out a colleague.  Also, pick up a copy of Harvey McKay’s outstanding book “Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty”.  One of the best books ever on building a true network of friends/contacts that can be beneficial to you when you enter the hallowed grounds of THE CLUB.

1. Proper Attitude

The old Charles Swindoll quote, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it” is true.  Getting rejected (i.e. fired) stinks.  However, you can choose how you react to it. 

In The Pirates of the Caribbean, Captain Jack Sparrow says, “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude toward the problem.” Stay focused on what you need to do.  It may feel like the end of the world but you need to find the positive in your circumstances.  Be careful that your attitude toward the problem doesn’t become the new problem.

2. Don’t Burn Bridges

You never know when you’ll need a good reference, help with another job, or something else.  Burning bridges rarely helps.  It might make you feel good at that instant but it is not a long-term solution.  

Since joining the club, I have gotten two job offers from people directly associated with the school that fired me. In fact, in different ways they had some influence over the decision.  You never know; some of the same people that didn’t think you were a fit for one job might see your value in a different position.

3. Provide a Positive Example

Many people don’t want to listen to how you got the shaft or were wronged or what your problems are time and time again.  They have their own problems.  However, think of how refreshing it would be to be out with friends and to talk with them about their life?  To ask about their issues, their families, their hopes and their dreams?  Most of us want to talk about ourselves and the predicament that we now find ourselves in. 

Turn your situation around and encourage others.  Be an inspiration. Wouldn’t it be great if someone said this about us . . . “Wow, so-and-so really is staying positive after what happened.  I know I’d be ticked.  I wish I could have that attitude.  But I guess if they can be positive, then I can be positive in my situation as well.”  

4. Bad Things Happen to Good People

This doesn’t mean it is easy or fun, but you can move on from this (sometimes to bigger and better things). Harvey MacKay, in his book “We Got Fired! . . . And It’s the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Us”. mentions many examples of famous people who have gotten fired and made better things come of it (Lou Holtz, Larry King, Bill Belichick, Joe Torre, Michael Bloomburg, just to name a few). 

If you get fired, you are not a loser.  It is not the end of the road.  It is just the beginning of a new adventure.  Don’t dwell on the bad stuff or think you are worthless.  See where this new road takes you. Seriously, look back at the previous paragraph and check out those names.  It can happen to anyone!

5. Be Prepared

Think about questions people might ask or situations that might come up and know how to address them.  You may or may not be able to control the news of your firing. Try to keep a clear mind and have a long-term perspective on this short-term problem.  Much like the bridge burning issue, in the age of social media, internet and “small-world” networking, a mistake in handling your dismissal could limit your future opportunities.


This article first appeared on JamyBechler.com

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