Always Think You Are Going to be Fired

I hope you are never fired from your job. If you follow this post, there should be no chance of that ever happening.

Being fired is a rare occurrence in most companies. It is especially rare for people to be fired from in-demand marketing positions. When there is a shortage of talent, companies develop a high tolerance for what becomes a fireable offense.

Digital Marketing is an in-demand skill that will only increase in demand for the next several decades. Even if you are an average employee, your skills will be highly valued.

If you are a below average employee, then you might want to listen up.

Some of the worst employees I have come across thought they were doing the best job

When the time comes to fire an under-performing employee, I am always surprised by their reaction.

They are almost always blindsided by the news. As if they had no notion that they could possibly be fired, even though the writing has been on the wall for months.

How can someone be so caught off guard?

The best employees think they are going to be fired every single day

Bad employees think they are doing a great job. The best employees think they are on the verge of getting fired.

The best employees take this fear of firing to heart with every aspect of their careers. Every day that passes, every decision that they make. Great employees are always fearing the worst while delivering their best.

What is it about fear of being fired that makes employees excel?

Let’s apply some logic here. If you think you don’t have enough knowledge in a work subject, what would you do? I would increase my knowledge by studying the topic. I would seek expert opinions and tap into peer networks to better understand my craft.

If you worry about getting fired, the natural reaction is to reduce your weaknesses.

Employees who are not concerned about their knowledge don’t carry the same edge when it comes to learning. They think they can get by on dated knowledge and incorrect assumptions. Why would a company want to employ someone with dated knowledge that makes incorrect assumptions?

Knowledge is not the only area where the best employees work to improve their skills. If they don’t feel comfortable presenting their ideas, they will work to improve this skill. If they don’t feel like they are working hard enough, they will work harder.

The worst employees think they are doing everything the right way.

Maintaining that edge when you are no longer an employee

As a full time entrepreneur who owns my company, it’s impossible for me to be fired today. But that doesn’t mean I have stopped putting pressure on myself to succeed. My motivation levels are at an all-time high, because I am afraid of failing as a business owner. I am afraid of not living up to my potential.

I don’t want to be a failure. That would be much worse than getting fired.

Fear of failure can motivate some and discourage others. “Wantrepreneurs” will focus on the ways a business can fail rather than the reasons why it can succeed. Entrepreneurs make decisions that drive them toward success. They fight through the negative feedback and self doubt every single day.

Failure is not an option, even if the business does not succeed as planned.

Being fired for the right reasons is not too bad

One of the best employees I ever hired had been fired from their previous job a few weeks earlier. Red flags immediately shot up when I heard that story. Because only the worst employees get fired, right?

Not always. During the interview process I asked this person why they were fired. The answer was magical:

“I noticed that they weren’t doing things in a modern way and I challenged them to step out of their comfort zone.”

He got fired for doing what people who think they are going to get fired do. He tried to improve himself and the company.

In reality, he should have fired his employer. They did not deserve to have him on their team.

In the end things worked out, as everyone landed in a better place.

Call it fear of being fired, call it motivation, call it hard work

A fear of being fired is just one characteristic of the best employees I have worked with, but that alone does not guarantee success. The most successful people I know always have the same traits:

  • They are life-long learners
  • They always think they can do better (i.e. are motivated)
  • Their passion helps motivate those around them

It helps if they have hard work, talent and timing on their side of course.

Reality Check: Do you THINK you should be fired, or are you ABOUT to be fired?

Self awareness is not a natural ability we all possess, but we all need it to survive.

Do you think that what you are doing is good enough, or are you trying to constantly get better?

Do you apply the knowledge you gain from your experiences to do your job better? Or do you keep making the same mistakes?

If you think there is no chance of being fired, what makes you so sure of it?

If you are convinced you are going to be fired any day now, how does this post change your outlook?

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Originally published at on January 19, 2015.

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