I Was Fired: It does not feel good.
My former company is calling it a reorganization that does not include my position. My personal advisers have told me I’ve been laid off. However, a much more harsh reality exists in my mind.
I’ve been fired.
I was fired on August 11, 2017. At first, I didn’t feel anything. I kind of knew it was coming and I’m somewhat dispassionate when it comes to business. I really did not expect the onslaught of emotions over the following days.
Overwhelmingly, I feel fear.
I fear I won’t find another job.
I fear I won’t be able to fulfill my financial obligations.
I fear my career is going to go backwards.
I fear my days of doing what I love have ended.
And my worst fear?
I fear I won’t be able to fulfill my promise of providing a better childhood for my sons than my own childhood.
Rationally, I know my fears coming true is not realistic. Given what I do, the times in which I live, and the opportunities available to me, I’ll probably be fine.
But the fear is powerful despite not being a fearful person. It’s a foreign feeling and I’m surprised by it’s strength.
There’s also anger. Rage. Fury.
I did my job. I did my job extremely well actually. Glowing reviews. Raises. More and more responsibility. More and more freedom to get the job done.
Multiple times over the last weekend the CEO of my former company acknowledged how well I did my job and offered to write me a glowing recommendation.
But the powers that be still decided they didn’t need my services any longer.
I wasn’t fired for cause. I wasn’t fired because I sucked. I was fired because the beads on the abacus didn’t line up correctly.
I’m only keeping the anger in check because I know it’s just business. Having owned a business, I know the decisions that have to be made at times. I probably would have made the same decision were I the CEO.
It’s still infuriating.
I suspect many people in this position don’t have that understanding. I really feel for them right now. The anger could be consuming if I let it.
Aside from the long hours, I carved out a pretty good lifestyle with my former company.
I worked out a schedule that allowed me to maintain my health and spend time with my wife and two young sons.
I was well compensated.
I live in DC where traffic is awful. Yet, I only had a 12 mile, 15 minute commute.
I had full control over the technology stack. We got to build cool things. We were solving some hard problems. I got to pick my team and, man, they are a good team.
My job was a dream job. So much so that during the last three years I only seriously entertained a single opportunity.
And it’s all gone.
I’m going to miss my team and the work we were doing.
I’m going to miss the freedom.
I started writing this purely for private use. As I wrote, however, I started thinking about the people I’ve fired over the years who didn’t deserve it; the people for whom the beads on the abacus didn’t line up correctly. I decided to make this public because of them. Because I didn’t understand.
You see, prior to this, I had never been fired. Yet I’ve fired many people. Only a few truly deserved to be fired. Most of them were victims of modern business practices.
I can say unequivocally, I did not understand how hard it is to be on the receiving end. Unless you’ve been fired, undeservedly, I really don’t think you can understand what a person goes through.
That’s not talked about enough, especially in the technology sector. I’ve read all of the management books and blogs on the subject. I’ve talked to people who have done it many more times than I. Most of that knowledge was very antiseptic. Reality is not for the person being fired.
Most of that knowledge is now rendered obsolete because I understand now.
Finally, I’m a pretty confident person. I know I’m good at my job. I’m reasonably versed in business matters and understand the decision. I know, rationally, that I’m going to be okay. My kids aren’t going to go hungry. But I’m still suffering a little because I was fired. I was fired. It’s still weird to write.
There are a lot of people that aren’t confident, that don’t have the resources I have, whose kids may suffer. I’m aware of at least two people I’ve fired at times they could ill afford it. I wish I’d taken a little more time with them.
That’s the point I want to leave you with. If you’re in the terrible position of having to fire someone for reasons completely out of their control, maybe even out of your control, please spend extra time listening to the person. Be extra empathetic. Follow up with them. Reach out if you find a way to help them find a new job. I can promise you, in most cases, the person is hurting.