I got fired. I’d been fired before, so the experience wasn’t completely foreign, but still…it wasn’t fun. The worst part about most firings is that, prior to getting the axe, there’s usually some—if not several—indicators that things are not going well for you. There’s almost always a tell that you choose to ignore or rationalize as a blip or an anomaly. Things will get back to normal.
But they don’t.
Soon, you’re on the receiving end of said axe. And that’s when all those indicators become crushingly clear, when those minor episodes play over in your head like some video montage at the end of a thriller when you finally figure out the killer was the affable neighbor lady with the two dozen cats. (I know that seems terribly specific but I really should’ve seen that coming.)
Whether as an individual or an agency partner, being fired is humbling but it’s not always a bad thing. For one, it provokes introspection. Here are three things we should all ask ourselves after a split.
1. What do I value? Bosses and clients sometimes have a way of challenging what you know to be right, either morally or professionally. Know this: You don’t know everything, but you do know some things. When it comes to clients questioning best practices, you should feel empowered to push back. When it comes to a boss who insists you pad billable hours, that’s not the kind of karma you want to be swimming in. Being fired allows you to get back in touch with what’s important to you and the opportunity to find an environment that shares those values.
2. What is my purpose? Why do you do what you do? If the answer is “to make money,” then you’ll probably find yourself sitting across the table from Bob and Bob more often than not. But once you define a clear role for yourself, your chances of success skyrocket. Because once you find a job or client that is professionally rewarding and fulfills a purpose, work is infinitely more enjoyable.
3. What is my worth? I bet there are more lost jobs and failed client relationships due to disagreement over compensation than due to under-performance. After all, it’s human nature to get as much benefit as we can for as little expenditure as possible. Employees are to employers as agencies are to our clients: an expense. Unlike articles of clothing, where we discard price tags immediately, we all walk around with a dollar amount affixed to our work product, always. For this reason alone, it is important not only to know our worth but to demonstrate it during each engagement. For agencies, every meeting, every phone call, every assignment, no matter how small, is an opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the competition. For employees, being engaged in your work and demonstrating value at every turn will prove your worth. It will also make clients and employers think twice before brandishing their axes.