I worked with a gentleman many years ago (Let’s call him John). Every time I think of him, I am reminded of the lesson that I learned from him – that no matter how bad things may be, I must always be my best self, no matter what. In what become a highly teachable moment, he became the man that lost two jobs.
The Man Who Lost Two Jobs
One day we were at the bank waiting to be paid. John was quite annoyed with our employers due to disputes about his pay; but up to this point, he remained largely civil.
A former coworker, who had left the week prior, was waiting with us to collect the rest of his earnings. The former coworker bragged about his increased salary and informed us that we were currently working for ‘peanuts’. John then asked our former coworker for assistance in getting a job with him, to which the former coworker agreed. They then exchanged numbers.
Then it started. John, now very happy and seemingly sure that he was soon to be gone, started to become loud and rambunctious. He then, in front of every person present inclusive of other coworkers and bank employees, expressed every honest opinion he held of our boss. It should be noted here that absolutely nothing John said at this point was positive or censored. In fact, it was so vulgar, it would be extremely difficult to present a sanitized version of what he said in this post. It was bad!
Word quickly got back to our boss and, needless to say, John was promptly fired the next week. Even worse, during John’s tirade, our former coworker watched John’s entire performance and, unsurprisingly, lost all interest in recommending him for a job.
At this point, John had lost two jobs.
MY TWO TAKEAWAYS:
Lesson 1: Don’t count your eggs before they hatch
Here, as John assumed he had the second job, he reacted as if he did not need his current job any more. He essentially counted the potential job as an egg about to hatch before it even materialized.
What this showed me what that my response in all circumstances matter, and not just to me, but to others. People watch the way we respond to stress and frustration and it informs them of what to expect of us in the future. Had John been more cautious of his behaviour, things may not have ended as badly. Having said that, he, as well as others, were justifiably frustrated; but there was no coming back from what he did. No matter how sure he was of the opportunity – he was not his best self. This leads to the second lesson learned from this ordeal:
Lesson 2: You must be your best self, even in the worst situations
The reality of life is that not every situation will feel fair to you. Many times, circumstances will be less than ideal. Life is not fair. As said earlier, John was quite justified in being angry and frustrated; and he should not have simply remained docile and quiet. After all, closed mouths do not get fed. He should have merely found a different response to his frustrations.
John could not control the circumstances, but he could have controlled his response. He allowed his negative feelings to lead to actions that would ultimately result in his detriment. In life, we cannot control everything that happens, but it is our response that will determine the outcome. When things seem unfair, we need to ensure that we ourselves don’t do anything to negatively impact our own end goals.
John had a family to feed and bills to pay. And while he might have gotten his frustration out; in the end, John was left without resources for his family. What made this whole ordeal more sobering was that a few weeks later, John had to swallow his pride, apologize and ask for his job back.
A FINAL THOUGHT
Aside from the two clear lessons above; an additional lesson is to always remain in control of your emotions. Be slow to react, speak or make decisions; especially in moments of emotional vulnerability. I know it’s easier said than done, but those who can achieve this will find that they have great power in many different kinds of situations. So be careful how you respond, less you end up a cautionary tale like John who lost two jobs in one day.