Have you ever been fired?

You know, fired? Not in the sense of being told, “You’re fired, now go get yourself a book deal” on national TV, but actually being fired. As in, “Go find yourself a new job and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Don’t be shy. You can tell me. It’s true that most people get fired as a result of incompetence, breaking the rules or simply not being up to snuff. But in many organizations, not only are such laggards not reprimanded, they are applauded because they never rock the boat or make waves. And you don’t want to work in such organizations to begin with.

But not everyone gets fired for incompetence. Some dismissals are symbolic, while others are the product of personal beefs. In some cases, people get fired simply because they stand out, take risks or go against the grain. To some extent, making waves is welcomed and even encouraged. But when the waves get too wild, such people pose a big risk to the status quo… and then the axe is wielded and it’s time for them to go.

Given this diversity of underlying circumstances, most everyone gets fired (or asked to resign) at one point or another in their lives. Getting fired is as much a part of the employment process as getting hired and, believe it or not, sometimes the impact of getting fired can be a very positive one.

Walk away

When it’s time for you to go, you should go. You should not try to make amends. If your girlfriend wants to dump you, you shouldn’t start to plead in an attempt to change her mind. Similarly, when an employer wants to fire you, it’s already way too late to change anything. In all likelihood, the swords have been sharpened for some time and the actual firing is only a technicality.

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and walk away. Take the high road.

Honest assessment

The second thing to do after getting fired from your position is to take a step back and ask yourself why. What happened? Was it really your fault? Did this totally catch you off guard? Probably not, right? Most employers will let you know that you are on probation and on shaky footing before canning you. But some lack the requisite tact and professionalism, and will not offer you this courtesy. Of course, they do not owe you anything, so stop feeling sorry for yourself and simply think of the next stage in your life, the next challenge, the next cause.

Opportunity is knocking…

Pause, relax and enjoy

So you received your walking papers? It’s not the end of the world; there is a whole sea of opportunities out there and it’s time for you to dive in. But before you do, why don’t you take a moment to pause and smell the roses. Go on a trip, sleep in, spend some time with your friends and family, and just take it easy.

Explore and inquire

While you are relaxing, it helps to expand your horizons. If you’re anything like me, you have probably deeply immersed yourself into your now-previous job and industry. The last thing you should do now is limit yourself to the field you were in.

You can grow horizontally by finding a similar job in a new industry, or you can grow vertically by looking for a new position within the same industry. The bottom line is that you have plenty of opportunities to find new work or start your own company.

It helps to relax a bit and re-examine your career path. But by the same token, you shouldn’t waste your time and you certainly shouldn’t procrastinate. The world is a fast place and the business world is an even faster one. No matter what, make sure you have a set timeline to kick your plan into action.

Show yourself off

Before you venture out there, make sure that you polish yourself off — both your CV and your appearance. Get a new wardrobe (if you can afford it); it’s an investment that’ll pay good returns.

Immediately after you get fired, you should research some worthy seminars and conferences to attend. If you or your company’s name is reputable, it doesn’t hurt to be out there being seen and heard. If what employers say is true about the most valuable asset being their employees, then show yourself off. You are a free agent now and the more options you have, the better.

Search within

As you go through these steps, you should search within yourself to find out what happened. What did you like about your old job? What did you hate about it? What do you want to make happen? And how can you use your dismissal to remedy your current plight?

By this time, you will have done enough soul searching, researching and contemplating. You should have a game plan and set that plan forth in action. No more excuses.

Have a backup plan

No matter what you do, be it starting your own company or accepting a new position, always make sure that you have a backup plan. Hey, employers always do, so why should you be any different?

In life, one way or another, you always have the power. Once you realize that, everything else will fall into place.

E-mail of the week

I’ve been assigned to train a new recruit and we do not get along. What do I do?

You…get along! Last time I checked, work was not a playground or a fraternity. In other words, socializing is part of the mix. The greater focus should be on productivity and getting the work done. If you don’t get along with somebody, you should definitely address it and try to find a way to resolve any issues. If there are no issues but only conflicting personalities, then perhaps you should try to avoid some hot topics. In life, you will always meet people that you prefer not to run into but have to work with, so get used to it. Don’t make any excuses and be a diplomat.