A year ago today, June 17, 2013 was the Monday after Father’s Day and my wife was on her first day at a new job. She’d been out of the workforce for a while, but with our youngest able to drive and get around (and have her own job), she decided to go back to work, too.
At the time I was Vice President of Sales for a large distribution company. A few minutes after settling in at my desk, the President of the company stopped by and said, “I need you to come see us in the conference room.” OK. No problem. I’d seen the owner (who didn’t come around every day) earlier so I grabbed my Daytimer and headed down. I walked in and sat a few chairs away ready to take notes and see what was going on.
“We’ve decided to move in another direction.”
“OK. Great. What direction are we headed?”
“No, I mean ‘we’ have decided to move in another direction. This just isn’t working.”
And it hit me.
I was being fired.
I’d never been fired. Not in 48 years.
“You mean you’re terminating my employment?”
No reason was given. Just the “moving in another direction”.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. I was floored. Things were moving in slow motion—I’d never experienced a situation where I wasn’t wanted.
I quickly packed my belongings and made that walk of shame out of the building. I called my wife from just outside as she was on her first break at 10:00 a.m.
As soon as she answered she launched right into, “I think I’m really going to like this job!”
After telling her why and letting her get her crying over, I assured her it would be alright and things would turn out OK. They were OK, because I decided they were going to be OK.
Did it hurt? Absolutely. I went through anger, depression—you name it.
The second call I made that day was to my mentor—a friend I’ve been able to count on for more than 25-years. “Butch, you were too big for that place, anyway,” he told me. “You need a bigger stage.”
Then he challenged me. I want you to do two things: Think of your dream job and work back from there and raise your price. He reasoned there would never be a better time to raise my own value in my eyes than right then. I told him my dream job was to be a speaker for the Zig Ziglar Corporation.
Fast forward one year exactly: I’ve published my first book, found a bigger stage, raised my value and on May 19, 2014 I spoke at the Zig Ziglar Corporation.
And I’ve touched hundreds if not thousands of lives.
How does all this happen in a year? Very simple: I had goals and I wasn’t going to stop until I accomplished them. My value isn’t determined by the people who fired me, it’s established by me. Just because they didn’t see it, didn’t mean I had to accept their assessment.
Secondly, I left with my head high. I wrote thank you letters to the two men who fired me. I thanked them for the opportunity and even though it didn’t work out I wished them the best. That’s just class.
Finally, I saw it as an opportunity instead of a setback. I chose to respond positively and that’s the way it turned out. That’s not a coincidence.
While I wouldn’t wish that one anyone, just know: YOU set your own value, YOU determine what your dreams are, YOU decide what is an opportunity and YOU get to make the decision on how you are going to move forward.
It’s been a great year.