Mr. President would get a kick out of the title of this post.
What I did when I got fired:
- I teared up for a few minutes after the phone call (yes, it was a phone call for me) – I had never been fired before
- I went for a walk and texted my Mom the news
- I reflected on the months leading to the firing – I was aware of the signs but never believed they would actually let me go; expect the unexpected
- I brought all my gear into my former workplace and gave it to co-workers who could make use of it
- I thought about getting a quick job as a waiter
- I thought about becoming a bar tender
- I considered my expenses – rent, cell phone bill, food – and how long I could live without a paycheck
- I considered how much longer I had on my lease (2 months)
- I thought about going back to school (to study what?)
- I decided not to go back to school (since I didn’t have a clear idea what I wanted to study)
- I decided to dive into the online real-estate coursework I had purchased in September
- I applied for unemployment benefits
- I used my tickets to travel to Germany and India – purchased by my good friend and teammate from college – as motivation to finish the coursework before traveling
- I got out of the last month of my lease because of life-changing circumstances
My life for the next 3.5 weeks looked like this:
7am wake up
8:50-9 walk with music
10:50-11 walk with music
1:30-2 walk/talk with family/friends
2:50-3 walk with music
5:30-6 stretch, relax, talk with roommate/phone calls/planning
8:50-9 walk/phone calls/planning
Saturday mornings I would go to the farmer’s market and Whole Foods to load up on groceries. Life was both simple and rigid. You constantly felt like you were chasing time and time was chasing you. The plane ride to a foreign place was waiting for you.
6 months is given to complete the 3 real estate licensing online courses. That’s 2 months per course. As a result of my routine outlined above, I completed 3 courses in 3.5 weeks. I also submitted the application to take the California Real Estate licensing exam. Studying real-estate was my life.
Because it takes 6 weeks to process the application, I was free to travel during those 6 months. Germany and India, here I come.
What I did next the last week in Santa Monica:
- Packed up all my belongings
- Spent time with friends in Santa Monica
- Worked out on Muscle Beach
- Rented a car and moved my boxes and 1 piece of furniture – a chair – to Paw Paw’s
- Spent time with family
- Continued to look for work on LinkedIn
- Hopped on the plane to Istanbul (and then on another to Leipzig)
The two month journey has evolved into eleven months of personal growth and adventure. The real-estate application for the licensing exam was processed my second week in India (6 weeks). I have until March 2018 to take the exam.
If you embark on a journey abroad, I suggest opening a checking account with Charles Schwab. Your debit card can be used all around the world without worrying about exchange rates or atm fees – they reimburse you. You don’t need to carry USD with you. It’s great.
If you haven’t gotten fired, you aren’t pushing the boundaries enough. Don’t seek to get fired, but seek to get out of your comfort zone. I realized early on that I was not growing at work and perhaps being passive-aggressive led to my firing in the end; remaining stunted for months resulted in the climax of being fired. You want to grow? Here, grow. *Fired*
Below is some advice from Brian Johnson’s Optimizer daily newsletter that will help you deal with rejection. This message was e-mailed 12/8/16 – almost 10 months after I got fired. It looks like I handled the situation accordingly.
GET KNOCKED DOWN? AWESOME. GET BACK UP. REPEAT.
“I used to be far more sensitive to failure, but worked hard to reduce my recovery time – to stand up taller, sooner. Here is the evolution I have gone through and recommend to you: What used to bum me out for two weeks, I eventually whittled down to two days by focusing my attention not on the failure, but on the lessons learned and the opportunities created. Then I got it down to two hours and then to 20 minutes. Now, when I get knocked down, I give myself about two minutes to sulk, and then I brush myself off and get back on the horse.”
– Darren Hardy
from The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster
This is fantastic. Successful entrepreneurs KNOW that failure is part of the deal.
In Originals, Adam Grant quotes Randy Komisar—one of the best entrepreneurs/investors alive: “Whether you’re generating or evaluating new ideas the best you can do is measure success on the kind of yardstick that batters use in baseball. As Randy Komisar puts it, ‘If I’m hitting .300, I’m a genius. That’s because the future cannot be predicted. The sooner you learn it, the sooner you can be good at it.’”
As Darren advises, it’s NOT about never failing. It’s about seeing how fast you can get back up.
We need to trim our recovery time. Go from being knocked down and out for 2 months to 2 weeks to 2 days to 2 hours to 2 minutes.
I describe this practice as the equanimity game in honor of Philosopher-Emperor Marcus Aurelius’s wisdom (see Notes on Meditations): “When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self- control, and do not remain out of tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.”
We need to PRACTICE recovering our equanimity.
Every.single.time we get a little knocked down, how fast can we recover? You practice with the little annoying things so you can build up the muscle for the inevitable bigger things.
P.S. I’ve shared this story before but it’s worth repeating. Nearly a decade ago when I was raising money for my second business (Zaadz) I was in Aspen with one of our investors who happened to be a billionaire. He was introducing me to his friends as part of an informal presentation about our biz to see if they’d like to invest. His ENTIRE introduction consisted of this: “Brian’s been knocked down and bloodied and he knows how to get back up. Brian, tell us about your business.” (<— I get a little misty typing that.)
The greatest know it’s ALL about DARING GREATLY.
See Notes on Brené Brown’s great book and remember:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again,because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”
Even rejection can be trained. Fail. Respond heroically. Here’s to the journey of growth. If you’re not growing, do something about it. Don’t wait for something to happen.
The world waits for you.