As I train managers in how to give feedback and fire staff, I often ask new people I meet socially: ‘Have you ever been fired?’ I usually get a laugh and very emphatic ‘No!’ as though they are saying, ‘Me, fired? Absolutely not!’ I then go onto ask: ‘Have you ever left an organisation before being fired?’ This time I frequently receive a thoughtful and quiet ‘Yes’. From there I ask: ‘Was it the right thing for you to leave?’ and the answer has always been a positive ‘Yes’, often followed by the story of how the old job was not right for them, how they moved on to something they were much better suited for and success then followed.

When we enthusiastically enter the world of work in our late teens or early twenties we know very little about ourselves, what our talents and passions are and how the world of work actually operates. We learn these things by trying and failing. Eventually, over time we gather the information to ensure that we are working for good organisations in job roles that suit us. We also acquire an understanding of what organisations want from us in return for our salary. We increase our self-discipline around simple things like turning up on time, applying ourselves to meet deadlines and acting professionally. I guess you can say we mature.

And often during that process we learn by failing at jobs and either being fired or, realising that firing is about to occur, moving quickly on. I know that I have.

Yet we view being fired as some terrible occurrence: something to be denied with a ‘What me?’ laugh. Yet it appears that the majority of us have experienced something close to this. Why are we denying it? Perhaps because we consider it a negative judgement of ourselves. Yet being in the wrong job and being fired IS part of the learning process toward the right job for us. Even the very best in their field have been fired:

  • Oprah Winfrey was fired from her job as a TV journalist and, to avoid paying out her contract, the TV station gave her the job of chat show host where they considered she could do little harm.
  • J K Rowling was fired from her job as secretary when her bosses found out she was spending most of her time writing stories – which gave her the spur to stop working and start writing full time.

For both these people being fired was a step on the road to allowing their real potential to explode.

Who needs your help in accessing their potential today?

To find out how Converse Well can help you turn difficult feedback situations into opportunities to motivate and engage your staff, call 020 8870 9036 or 07734 944 515 or email