Getting Fired Is Easier The Second Time

August 2, 2012

First, let’s define “fired”: At some point, you were informed that your company has made the decision that they no longer want you working there. There are 3 broad categories for which you can get fired: The first is a violation of company policy, which includes absenteeism, tardiness, poor personal hygiene, threatening a fellow employee, discrimination, and sexual harassment. If you’ve been fired for any of these you deserved it, and you better get your life right before you look for another job. The second is incompetence, but most companies require extreme incompetence for a long period of time even after their attempts to train you have failed before they fired you. If you’ve been fired for that, well, you may not be smart enough or hard working enough for this line of work. Blame your parents for not making you study and do your chores. Finally, there is getting fired for standing up for what you believe in, but what you believe in is not in line with the what the company wants.

Getting fired for what you believe in is still getting fired, and it stings just the same. When we’re kids we’re taught (or should have been taught) to do what is right, and some of us bring doing what is right into our professional careers. The problem is, doing what is right doesn’t always line up with doing what you’re told. “Right” is a difficult thing to pin down, as it is based on nothing but your subjective assessment of the situation. If you disagree with your employer, and refuse to do what your told, they’re well within their right to fire you. And really, if they do, you shouldn’t be totally shocked. They were paying you to do what they tell you, and not what you felt like doing. If you choose to stop doing what you’re told to, why should they keep paying you, and presto! You’re fired.

Is there any honor in getting fired for sticking to your personal beliefs and doing what is right? Yes, there is. If you refused to cook the books to save a couple million in tax liabilities, then hold your head high. If you refused to tell your team they have to cancel their Christmas vacation to hit an arbitrary project deadline, then be proud of yourself. If you committed yourself to doing what was in the best interest of the customers, even if it wasn’t in the best interest of your boss, then good for you. When it’s all said and done, your life isn’t going to be defined by a single job, it will be weighed in it’s entirety, and history looks fondly on those who stay true to their convictions. Still, if you’re setting yourself up to be a martyr, make sure that you have an updated resume and a couple of months of cash to float you, as bill collectors are unmoved by excuses from the moral high ground.

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I would like to point out that if we work together today, or have in the past, my opinions may or may not have been influenced by working with you. Most likely they have been, but I have to say that to avoid offending people. You're so vain. I bet you think this site is about you.