Why You Need To Accept Responsibility For A Job Loss

So, you lost your job?  You got fired.  You got canned.  You got the boot.  Whatever you call it, the bottom line is, it sucks.  It’s happened to me, and trust me, it is something I hope to never have take place again.  Has it happened to you?

If it’s happened, there are a number of things you’re going to feel.  Chances are you’re going to panic a little bit.  You’ll be angry and hurt.  No matter how you look at it, the experience and the aftermath are going to weigh you down.

Once the initial shock wears off, which can take a few hours or a few days, then the time comes to collect yourself and start looking forward.  That sounds pretty simple, but as I recently discovered, that path isn’t the one that’s always taken.

Holding Onto Anger After Getting Fired

I was reading through Facebook, and stumbled upon an article that struck my fancy.  It was an article listing some things you might have done wrong that led you go get fired.   I clicked into the article, and also looked into the Facebook comments that followed the link.  As I don’t want to call attention to the person about whom inspired my post, I’m not going to link to the article or the comments, but I will paraphrase the comment.

“This article is annoying.  Women are awful to each other in job settings.  I was fired 12+ years ago.  The HR person, a judgmental lunatic named ______ _______ made my life miserable and ruined my job.  She was jealous of me and that I was smart and good at what I did.  I got fired and it was all her fault.”

I read this and was floored.  And, I’m going to tell you, even though I paraphrased this, I did not embellish or exaggerate one single thing.  If anything, I took a few things out of her comment.

Let’s look at some of the key things that happened here:

  • mb-2014-12stressedShe insulted the blog owner – She didn’t agree with the article but rather than put that kindly, she insulted the owner.  That’s just bad form.  The author didn’t bother to reply to the comment, nor would I have.  I’m all for meaningful discussion with my readers, and I know that some may disagree with me, but when the conversation starts off as disrespectful, there’s no reason to continue on.
  • She generalizes – She comments about how women are awful to each other.  Interesting.  Does that mean that she herself is awful to other women in job settings?
  • She has held a grudge for over twelve years – That is a long time to hold a grudge.  Was the job that great or important that she is still holding on to this much anger over twelve years later?  Many couples that go through terrible divorces hold less anger after that long.
  • She actually named the person – After twelve years, she put the person’s name in the comment field.  How passive-aggressive and unnecessary is that?  It serves no person except to show bitterness that should have long died by now.
  • She assigned all the blame – She blamed every bad thing that happened at her job on the HR person that ‘ruined her job’.  I find it hard to believe that one person, presumably not even her boss, could have that much influence.
  • She took no responsibility – The last sentence says it all. She assigned 100% of the blame of her getting fired on this other person, meaning that she took absolutely zero responsibility for what went down.
  • She is totally self-unaware – How can someone claim that a co-worker was that vicious when describing the experience with such venom and not see how any reasonable person is going to see them as the maniac?  She lists out all kinds of character flaws about someone else, then demonstrates them in glorious fashion.  It’s honestly painful.

You Got Fired: Take Your Lumps And Take Responsibility

As I said at the top, I’ve gotten let go.  I was angry.  I was hurt.  And, yes, I blamed my boss.  When I walked out of there, and even after, I was storming mad.  When I left that place, I knew that on one hand, my boss was right: I didn’t perform well at my job.  But, my boss was supposed to be my leader, so I put it on her.

Until I didn’t.

Eventually, as I got past the experience of being fired, I realized that some of the responsibility was mine to take.  Yes, I feel my boss underperformed in her job in the way she mentored and led me, but I still had other things I could have and should have done.  I have always been successful so once I struggled, instead of reaching out for help, I didn’t.  I assumed I would just figure it out and it would all come together.  That was my strategy.  It was a bad one, and that part was on me.

Taking ownership of that responsibility was key.

What Taking Responsibility For Your Job Loss Gives You

Once you take responsibility, here’s what you get:

  • You can let go of the anger – Being angry sucks.  It takes a lot of energy. I’m generally a peaceful person anyways, so when I get angry, it affects my whole life.  The job was over, but if I held onto the anger, the negativity was going to stay with me.  By finding a way to let go of the anger, I was able to release that anger.
  • You can learn for your next job – Once I took responsibility for getting fired, I was able to look back objectively at what had happened, learn from it, and apply those learning elements to my current job.  Which I’ve been successful at, in good part because I was able to make adjustments and understand things better after having gone through what I did.  Do you think the person who left the comment above has learned a single thing in the 12+ years since her firing? From what I can tell, I’m guessing no.
  • You keen your awareness – Having gone through my experience, I now have a better understanding of myself and of others in the workplace.  I now recognize people that have similar personality traits as my former boss that made us clash, and I try to steer my career away from them.  If I’m reading the person who left the comment correctly, her position is that she just avoids working with other women.  Great strategy.

Take Charge Today

If you’ve been fired, whether it be recently or years ago, I would encourage you to take responsibility.  You don’t have to take 100% of the blame, because usually there’s plenty to go around, but make sure you be honest and take the portion that’s yours.  That may seem weak, but it really can turn into an opportunity to strengthen you professionally and personally.  I can’t think of a single person who wouldn’t benefit from that.

Readers, if you’ve been unfortunate enough to have been fired, how have you responded?  What are some of the best and worst takeaways you’ve had or seen from others that have gone through the experience?

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8 thoughts on “Why You Need To Accept Responsibility For A Job Loss

  1. Those that have never been fired can also take this post to heart as to how to help prevent from being fired. Accept responsibility for your job performance, your lack of being assigned the next “big project,” or whatever. The thing I tell myself each and every day (being a football guy) is, “Be worth of a First round Draft pick.” Corny, but it works for me. 🙂

  2. You are spot on! Many past employers should take responsibility for not addressing past issues too. There is plenty of blame to pass along, but it does no real good. The ex-employee should learn from it and avoid similar situations.

  3. What a great article….And you’re right 12 years is a long time to stay angry. I lost a great job long ago and it was almost like a death in the family. I felt hurt, ashamed and wronged. And carried a bit of a chip on my shoulder….until I saw an ad for an auction for the company that I had worked at. I stopped by to view the items up for auction and am glad I did. The work force had shrunk from 200 to 18 and all the workers that were left remembered me and showed me around…what was left. Most gratifying was finding out that after my departure that many in management wanted me back….that I was missed and had value. After that visit I no longer had angst and came to understand it worked out for the best. I think the important thing is to learn from the mistake/firing and move forward….and for the record I bought nothing at the auction, I had all I needed from that experience already. Thanks for the article.

    • Thanks for the kind words. It sounds like it worked out for the best for you, and that had you stayed, you would have seen the demise firsthand, which would have left you with a whole host of other emotions to deal with.

  4. Great post!

    My ex wife got fired from a job and recently many of my colleagues were fired too… they all had something in common.

    It is not an easy time for someone. But it’s true that one can learn a lot from it.

    I was mad a some point in my career because others always had promotions while I was left behind. I felt I had more experience and should have been chosen but that’s not how it works!

    Someone I trained even became my boss a short while after… I was mad but took the time to analyze things out and I realized that I was doing a lot of things wrong… Since then I had 8 promotion and recently got a new one. I changed the way I act and behave at work. A work place is like high school… it’s jungle. And we are all “products” for sale – we sell our person and our workforce. Look dirty and negative and no one will want to buy your product. Look positive, healthy, clean and well-dressed, engaged, become a problem-solver, help your colleagues and bosses, do more than what’s in your job description, stick with the right people not with the black sheep, show the decisionnal people that you are great at what you do but that you could be even better at what you’d like to do and things will go better next time.

    My ex never accepted being layed off. After a couple of months, I started asking her open questions about what she thought she could have done differently and she was unable to answer. It was 100% the fault of others and even partly my fault based on her own opinion. After more than a year we broke up partly because I had been a witness of her “failure” and she couldn’t accept it. We met a the same job so I knew how she was acting there…

    She was asking too much questions to her boss all the time and looked like if she couldn’t take a decision on her own. She could take decisions but was so perfectionnist that she preferred asking twice to be sure. The perception of others was that she was not confident enough to do her job.

    She never mixed with people and she was never talking about her life… she wasn’t part of the crew… She used to go to lunch alone. When people were asking her questions about her week-end she just used to say “it was great” and stopped the conversation.

    When they had to chose and lay someone off, she was the obvious choice – not part of the team and no apparent self-confidence.

    Many people get laid-off because of their reputation, because of how they look and how they fit in the team. It’s all a matter of perceptions. They can be very good at what they do but if their not part of the community… then they are the first one to go!

    Thank you
    Allan recently posted..WARNING! Don’t let the house of your dreams turn your financial security into a nightmare!My Profile

    • Thanks for the great comment. I think your ex definitely could have owned up that her personality wasn’t a match, but that is a pretty tough situation. It sounds like she’s just not the outgoing type and a lot of times you can’t force that on yourself. I’m not giving her an out because it sounds like she might now have been exactly self-aware, and you do need that, for if no other reason that if she looks at another job and sees the same type of setup, the warning signs could go up in advance. One thing she could change is her self-confidence. As a manager at various times, I completely dislike when someone always asks for reassurance. I’d rather an employee make a mistake with justification of why they chose their path than refuse to make a decision at all. There are classes and seminars that your ex could take to help her with that.

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