One thing I don’t want to do here is pollute the Internet with war stories, but I have to tell one to get to the point of this post.
I was on a contract, and the client decided that it wasn’t working out. It’s tough to describe it in any other way: I was fired. I learned, in front of everyone else, that I was leaving, effective immediately. It was six months of communication problems, crammed into a fifteen-second shouting match.
That day, and the days after, were a low for me. I’d been wildly successful on a number of engagements, and highly sought-after. (In fact, this was a second stint with this particular client, who loved me the first time.) I couldn’t make sense of it. I was miserable. I had stress and anxiety for days, made worse by the fact that I didn’t start another gig for a week. I cheered myself up with comedy and music. I did everything I could to stay positive.
And my next gig was another return engagement with a different client. I had the most fun I’d ever had working at the next place. I met the best manager I’ve ever had, I worked with the coolest team, and I spent four years there.
It wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t been fired. Once I became a manager, I got some new perspective on contractors, communication, and attitudes. While I had empathy for the people in that unfortunate environment, I tried to learn lessons from that day, considering deeply how the people in my new environments perceived the people around them.
You’re going to lose something. Where you work right now, it won’t always be that way. It’s going to hurt, and you’re going to hate it. And it might not immediately bring another amazing thing. But if you don’t see the joy in the challenge, if you cling to things that are changing (and insist that they aren’t), and if you stay with that past, you put real limits on the growth that can come out of the experience.
On the anniversary of that day, I say a quiet thanks to the people who pushed me out of my comfort zone. Gosh, I think of it as “toasting your enemy”, but I don’t have an enemy there (I don’t think). It’s just a reminder to me that, even when it feels like the end, it’s almost always the beginning of something else.