Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Congrats! You're Fired!

It was about this time two years that I found myself sitting at the table in one of the conference rooms at the headquarters building of my corporate fitness job.

As I sat there wondering what the outcome would look like when I'd walk out of that room once our conversation was finished, I had a gut wrenching feeling that some bad news was about to go down given the atmosphere and current business practices that were happening around me.

Then a few minutes into our conversation, I was hit in the face (slapped is more like it) with the news I anticipated.

I was 'fired' from my job!

Well......'laid off', as they say.

Nah! Fired is more like it!

Knowing that I'd be relieved of my duties and being told that the company's health engagement program was no longer an area of focus and was going to be eliminated, I was taken back by the decision that the powers that be just made.

Surprised? No.

Shocked? Yes!

The 8 1/2 years of service that I committed & devoted myself to were taken away just like that!


This was the first time that I was ever let go by an employer and quite honestly, I was relieved.


Relieved I was getting fired?!

Yes! I was relieved because I knew it was going to be my time to grow, flourish and prosper elsewhere. I figured that if my employer couldn't see and recognize the value that I provided for the company and employees, then I didn't want to be associated with them at all.

My intention would be to wash my hands clean and start anew somewhere else where my skills, education and experience would be appreciated and highly regarded.

I was given a 60-day notice until my departure and I was on a mission to make it the best 60 days of what was left of my career as a corporate fitness professional. I didn't budge from my day-to-day duties and responsibilities as I committed (as I did from day #1) in helping those I served to empower themselves in defining their "Why" - discovering the true significance of their health, fitness and nutrition program and how it would impact everything about them. Themselves, their family & friends, their colleagues, their business, spirituality, well being, etc.
Providing clarity during a time when things would be somewhat fuzzy was quite ironic in the sense that in 60 days I would no longer be there. For the longest time, I had been the point of contact for the members and employees. I was their "go-to-guy" for access, guidance, motivation, association, and accountability. I couldn't help but wonder how things would be once I was up and out the door. I felt bad for the members knowing that there wouldn't be a qualified fitness professional to provide them with any practical, safe, and effective strategies and methods to make the most of their health & wellness program. After all, this had been the norm for a program that was in existence for just over 40 years!

On the flip side of all this chaos, I was scared shitless if truth be told! I was scared because I had no solid game plan moving forward as to how I would make a decent salary and continue doing what I do best as a fitness professional.

What I did know was that at the end of my 60 days, I would acquire a chunk of change from my severance package that would more than likely allow me to live without a job for at least 4-5 months max. That may sound like a long time but trust me, it would fly by pretty fast and I couldn't afford to waste any precious minutes/time without figuring out a game plan for any possible future employment.

Then again, I kept thinking about the 4-5 months that I could take advantage of and take a vacation and have some 'play time' which I could never get due to my work schedule. I would have $$ in the bank but I knew better than to spend my hard earned cash on silly things that wouldn't benefit me. My best bet would to be establish a budget on the things that I could afford as well as doing the things I wanted to do while living a little and having some fun.

When my 60 days were up, I remember saying my last minute goodbyes to my fellow co-workers and colleagues whom I had established relationships with over the years. Tears were shed and lots of hugs were given to many. After all, these were folks who would visit the onsite fitness center pretty regularly as well as seeing lots of others around the company campus on a daily basis.

As I turned in my security badge and keys to my office, I would walk off campus for the last time and I would never look back. And to this given day, I haven't stepped foot on the property. It's sad in some way as I have mixed emotions about the whole ordeal - sad in the sense that I had devoted so much energy and spent so much time there only have to the rug pulled out from under my feet, so to say, and get knocked down on my ass when I least expected it!

It also fuels my anger a bit due to some new CEO (who happened to have a net worth of over $40 million before he arrived) who took over the reigns of the company and started downsizing and cutting jobs for the sole purpose of meeting the shareholders demand on their investment(s). I mean, the people being impacted by these cost cutting measures were the employees and contractors (who were the life blood and pulse of the business) who devoted their life to the company. The resulting impact of a shrinking workforce meant that those who were given their 'pink slips' would be facing the dilemma of figuring out how they'd make their mortgage & car payment(s), put aside college funds for their kids, pay for that vacation they'd waited so long to take, save for retirement, etc. I empathized completely as I too was in the same boat as them.

Just as fast as this new guy took over the company, I was out of job just as fast!

That's Corporate America for you.

Dispensable commodities, I guess you could say. How ironic is that?

Despite the situation, I had no resentment at all. The company did take good care of me during my tenure and I learned a ton about myself and the things that I was capable of doing. I knew not to take things personally as this was the push that I needed to make things happen on MY terms.

I could take the time off to figure things out, find myself, create space to identify my purpose, determine my strategy for taking things to the next level, and take the initiative in making things a reality.

Walking off campus on my final day felt liberating. I had all the time I needed for me. The freedom to do whatever I wanted to do! Well, at least 4-5 months worth.

No morning alarm clock to set up, no boss to answer to, no set time for my next appointment, no meetings to attend, nothing!

All I had was a vision and a dream. A dream that is still very much alive to this day.

I know it's scary not knowing what the future holds and not knowing what tomorrow brings. But we shouldn't think that way. After all, tomorrow is not promised to anyone of us. All that we have is today - right now, this given moment. We can't spend the time looking at the wasted years that have already come and gone. Rather focus on the moment and how we can make the most of TODAY!

There's a great song by one of my favorite metal bands, Iron Maiden, that I want to quote which reflects the statement above. This particular one is simply titled 'Wasted Years':

'So understand
Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years,
Face up....and make your stand
And realize you're living in the golden years'

Like I stated above, make the most of the present moment and live life as if it were last day on earth. Seize any and all opportunities as they may never come again. Take those risks without the fear of any backlash or repercussions. If it's a job you seek, take the chance and inquire about it, connect with your network of colleagues and get after it. If it's the girl of your dreams, why not take the risk and ask her out for a cup of coffee. How about changing up the routine and ask her out to Sunday brunch? You just never know how things could turn out. All that's required are some 'cajones' and persistent ACTION!

As for me, I still have big dreams and have every intention in making them a reality. I always take full advantage of the days that I'm given and I'm also mindful to give Him thanks for giving me the breath of life so that I may get 1 day closer to fulfilling all of my goals and desired outcomes.

You can never predict or know when you'll be forced into freedom, just as much as when you'll be forced out of it. One valuable thing that I've learned and embraced is that when you give up freedom for your dreams, you no longer feel like your being held hostage! 

Onward and upward.


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