Failing at a Job, Getting Fired and Bad Feedback

Warning: Tough love ahead. Do not get discouraged.

Many of us have been there before, sometimes the news comes without any filter, raw and uncut, like a manager screaming at us for making some sort of mistake and saying “get out, you’re fired!”. Or maybe you’ve encountered the more subtle, “hey we appreciate all the work you’ve done, but we’re going to have to let you go”. Or maybe you’ve been laid off, but other people doing the same job are still there?

Either way, the result is the same; you’ve lost your job. Resolving that in our minds is where things get tricky. Many of us will internally tell ourselves that it wasn’t our fault, management sucks, they didn’t give us enough training, the company went bankrupt, or maybe they are just flat out wrong, or have some sort of issue against us.

Here’s the key and probably the toughest thing to wrap our minds around: While any issues that are not our fault, or are outside of our control may have occurred; using those reasons adds very little value. What do we learn if we are fired, and we say it’s not our fault? How would we be receptive to anything if that was the primary thought in our mind?

We wouldn’t be receptive to anything suggesting we could have changed or done something differently. Which is why no matter how true it is that something wasn’t our fault, we have to look at the situation without bias, without that perspective to gain the lessons from failure.

If losing your job or getting bad feedback doesn’t feel like a failure to you then there’s a good chance you weren’t trying that hard, or don’t care. Which is ok, but why are you taking on jobs that you don’t care about? Why are you doing anything without care? There’s a good chance the firing or bad feedback was appropriate if you truly don’t care.

So you’ve lost your job, got bad feedback and you’ve put down the blame gun. Now ask yourself did they give me feedback? Did I do everything I could in the best way possible to  accomplish the tasks in the way the customer wanted? Was I consistent? Did I listen/Follow instructions? Did I have a good attitude? Did I focus on giving value, taking pride in my work? Was I assertive, and constantly looking for ways to ensure the job is getting done to the highest potential? Was I able to actually do the job? Did we all interact morally/ethically? And finally was I prepared for this outcome?

If you answered no to any of these, then you have some things to learn from. Even if the feedback is something you don’t agree with, you have something to learn from. Even if you were fired due to some sort of discrimination, blackmail or other moral/ethical situation. These situations are all still part of failing and learning. We can always do something about it, no matter how small. We can show a racist person why their paradigm is flawed, we can bring legal action to a company doing something unethical, we can identify and avoid the situation in the future, and on and on. There are always tons of lessons to learn.

If on the other hand, you’ve answered yes to all of the questions and you did actually get fired/bad feedback, there’s a bigger problem. You are mistaken about one of the questions, or you are perfect. If you answered yes to everything you are essentially saying “there’s nothing I can do” at which point you are giving up, not getting up. It’s the nail in the coffin for learning.

Tell us about your experiences in the comments below or in our forum!

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