How all the time CEOs fire people
I was fired when I was 29 & it was the best thing that ever happened to me
On my way to work on Thursday morning, I thought it would be a day like any other. Little did I know that I would be going home by noon. That morning, I didn't notice how quiet my team was while I was giving my presentation. I didn't notice that my colleagues kept giving me funny looks. Then my manager came into the office and asked me to talk to me in private. And still I was clueless about what was about to happen. On the contrary, I was looking forward to the interview because I had recently raised some issues and thought they had finally been heard. And yes, my concerns had been dealt with, only the solution was to end our employment relationship.
Getting fired isn't like being in a sitcom where the boss yells in your face, “You're fired!” And then slams the door in your face. In my case, the word itself wasn't even used. And yet we both knew exactly what the conversation was inevitably leading to. I was told my contract was about to expire and it was decided not to renew it. Although up to that point I actually thought I would stay with the company. After all, I was responsible for marketing a new tech product and the presentation I gave that morning was the launch plan for the coming year. A plan that I would carry out - or at least I believed it was.
Getting fired isn't like being in a sitcom where the boss yells in your face, “You're fired!” And then slams the door in your face.
I wanted to be open and honest about this situation, so I didn't try compulsively to come up with a ridiculous explanation just to get rid of my responsibility. I accepted that the resignation was entirely up to me. And yet I remember everything rather vaguely. I remember being told not to blame the company for this, please. I was also repeatedly assured that none of this had anything to do with my performance - it was just about me as a person! He said I had been seen how bad I was and that a new career perspective would be best for me.
It's true, I haven't been satisfied with my job for a long time, but I never thought of quitting. I complained about my situation because I was too naive to see what could have been improved. Half of my team was in a different office in a different city, which created a lot of communication difficulties. As a result, I gradually lost the respect and trust of my employees. At the same time, my private life was one big building site. I was struggling with mental health problems, but I was unable to cope with them in a healthy way. All of these negative influences also affected my mood at work.
I tried to maintain my composure while talking to my manager and didn't let it show how I really felt at the moment. "Thank you," I said to my manager. “It's a shame that you made that decision, but I get it. Could I go home now, please? "
I ran back to our little office and quietly packed my things. The CEO came by to say goodbye, but I ran out of the building quickly because I didn't want him to see me cry. Outside the tears could no longer be stopped.
When I got home, this emptiness spread inside me.
When I got home, this emptiness spread inside me. Some of my (now ex) colleagues sent me sympathetic messages. And to top it all off, the person I was supposed to hand over my work to called me. He said encouragingly that it had happened to him too and that one day I would look back and be happy about it.
But I was far from ready to believe that.
I wrote to my friends about what had happened. Many of them called me right away, telling me over and over that there was absolutely no reason to be ashamed. Over dinner with my mother, she assured me that I was just in shock and that everything would look better in a few days.
When my boyfriend died six years ago, it threw me completely off track. My mother told me at the time that everything else would be easy to cope with in comparison. She was right about that, but the feeling I felt after my resignation came very close to the grief from then. And like then, I scolded everything and everyone. I wanted to be angry because anger numbed the painful emotional wound that was left.
I couldn't blame the economy or a failing business for getting fired. It was all my fault. Still, I was very lucky because financially I didn't have to worry. And so the emotional aspect was my only problem as an unemployed 29-year-old: I was deeply ashamed.
It was like I had a contagious disease and people were scared of it.
People don't like to talk about being fired. I also found out very quickly why that is so: getting to know new people as an unemployed person is an act of strength. When I couldn't give them a satisfactory answer about what I do for a living, it confused them so much that they sometimes became rude. For example, one woman asked me directly, “What did you do wrong?” And while it was very rude, at least she was honest and said what everyone was thinking.
The fact that I was unemployed actually reduced my chances in the relationship market. When I told men why I wasn't working on dating apps, they ghosted me. At a wedding, I was sitting next to the only other single there and while we were talking, I told him my story, whereupon he said I sounded very bitter. It was like I had a contagious disease and people were scared of it.
The stigma attached to unemployment is definitely real. The longer a person does not work, the less chance they have of reintegrating successfully into the labor market. We have created a work culture in which our job defines who we are. If that is lost, we lose ourselves. Depression and anxiety are particularly common in people who have been unemployed for a few months. In addition, around one in five suicides worldwide can be traced back to unemployment. It is shocking! Why don't we talk about it a lot more?
For me too, the job was one of the most important things in my life. I was very success-oriented from a young age. When I was 26, I was the international Head of Communications for a successful and well-known start-up. But now I had to find out who I was without the job - that scared me.
One in five suicides worldwide is due to unemployment.
But one day my mindset changed when I met a former colleague for coffee. It was midsummer and just as we were enjoying the rays of the sun he said: “I want to do what you do too.” At his words I almost fell off my chair. He explained to me that he longs to find the time and space to find out what he really wants in life. He saw my life as something that he wanted to strive for for himself. Finally, I was able to try out other professions and redefine myself. And admittedly, I enjoyed the time I wasn't working. I was finally able to do all of the things I've been putting off for so long. Reading the newspaper or going to cool events was always possible - I could literally feelhow I became a more interesting person whose mind wasn't constantly buzzing around meetings and emails. I loved life outside of rush hour - an empty gym, no queues at the post office, no commuters crowding the trains. I had lunch with people on parental leave and freelance creatives. I had a lot more time for my friends. And now I was the one who always was on time! This lifestyle and the freedoms it gave suited me. I liked the person I was becoming a little more each day. The normal everyday office life became an absolute no-go for me!
After a while, I decided to start my own consulting company and I can proudly say that it's been going very well so far. I am independent and no longer make my self-confidence dependent on others. My success and happiness are no longer in the hands of employers and it no longer matters whether I am sympathetic enough or whether I fit in with the work culture of a company - it's all about whether I do a good job. So far, my customers have been very satisfied, which may also be due to the fact that I've been working much more motivated since I've been doing what I enjoy.
The worst that could have happened to me professionally has happened. But it didn't bring me to my knees, it just made me stronger and less fearful. And now there is only one man I get up early for and that is my personal trainer, for whom I now have the time and the money.
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