“Getting fired was the best thing that happened to me.”
I’m sure you’ve heard about remarkable people with a plethora of rejection letters that say rejection fueled them forward. Every rejection letter brought them closer to the right fit, the right job. Edison said, “I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” That is perseverance.
I am hopeful for a time where the hindsight becomes indisputably clear. The a-ha moment, where I say, “Oh!! That makes complete sense.”
This my friends, is hope. This my friends, is faith.
Getting fired. Just saying it (well, typing it) makes me…hopeful.
It allowed…no, forced me to take a step back and examine what was next. I hated the job where I got fired…the description was actually so perfect: creativity, facilitating change, creating a captivating culture, organizing. It all sounded so wonderful but job descriptions can be deceiving.
And when it vanished, or when they pulled the rug out from under me, it made me question everything. Maybe Human Resources wasn’t the right fit. Maybe I wasn’t good enough. I had a lot of free time now to doubt myself. Maybe it was time to try something completely new – or maybe this was a test of my own tenacity and I needed to push through and carry on. 1 down, 9,999 to go. That seemed daunting.
When I was a student at Central Michigan University (Fire up Chips!). I remember proudly declaring my major my sophomore year. Though I was ready to declare it at Freshman orientation (although, I could have declared it in the middle of sixth grade).
French, please. Ah-hem, Francais, s’il vous plait!
I wanted to shout it from the rooftop of Pearce Hall! I adored the culture, the language, the pastries, the literature (mostly Children’s) and everything about the Eiffel Tower to Mont Saint Michel to the white rocky beaches of Nice. My passion was clear! My excitement was unparalleled.
My parents, who have always supported me, cautiously, said, ok… They encouraged me to pursue something I loved and boy, oh boy, did I love French.
People would often ask me, French and what?
And I would say, “and what, what?”
Why did French need to be accompanied by something? Why wasn’t it good enough to stand alone? I tried some teaching courses and had to complete some hours observing and I was as bored as the students in the classes. And yes, could I teach French in a unique, dynamic way? Probably, but I just didn’t feel that tug, that lets you know you’re undeniably, on the right path; that passion, that is a necessary component of a powerful, impactful teachers (Read: Richard McMullan, Rebecca Schrauwen and Geoff Wickersham).
So I tried business.
Then, sorry, French, but for a brief moment, I had a tiny doubt. A doubt-let. I wondered, shoot! Is this what I am supposed to do? Is French it? Is that dumb? Is that a marketable skill or just a neat party trick? But a Bachelor’s degree is a Bachelor’s degree right?
Then I found Hospitality. That seemed like a natural connection. This would likely propel my soon-to-be amazing career and take me to amazing places far and near. And it did, but more on that later – it also helped me form one of most meaningful friendships, in my adult life. And our love of the language, perpetuated us on a trip to Paris, only after having met each other in person, one time.
So, I stuck with French. Because it has captivated me for so long. I often long for Paris, Angers, Auvers Sur Oise. I long for the metro smell and then the more pleasing smells like fresh bread, wafting and dancing over me as I stroll casually, immersed in my favorite country, wondering if anyone can tell, that despite my very French scarf, that I actually didn’t belong.
And my passion for French is similar to my passion for people. My favorite thing about Human Resources is the people. When I worked in retail, early in my career, specifically in Customer Service, I would often experience such shock at the unkindness and harshness of people who didn’t get what they wanted. They yelled and screamed like children. I used to go home at the end of the day, flop on the couch, in my red and khaki and say, exasperatedly, “I hate people.”
Ironic, right? But HR is the behind the scenes of people. The man behind the curtain. (Or the lady in the office upstairs). I was able to help people, just like at customer service, but I was helping them grow, chase their dreams (as corny as that sounds), provide development opportunities and encourage them that even when things get hard, it gets better. I was a champion for corrective action and helping teams get better or make a different career move. I helped women in abusive relationship, I helped people who were experiencing homelessness, find solid ground. I grieved loss and miscarriages with my teams and provided love and light and usually chocolate. I celebrated new marriages, new babies, promotions.
“We all have stuff.” My favorite boss used to say this to me and was a big turning point in my adult, leadership education. We take care of our teams so they are able to work hard for us and for themselves. This is core of my passion. When our teams know they are cared for, they care for us too. “We all have stuff”, makes us not just manager and employee but rather, just two humans. We relate to each other knowing that even though we may have different loads to carry, we are still both carrying loads, and sometimes they are too heavy and we need to know that we are allowed to set them down, even if only temporarily. I think this is called, compassion.
It is the people that my heart is called to.
So, my passion is clear. People. And French. No need to doubt. It tugs at my heart – so I know I’m on the right path. So, now, on the pursuit of what’s next, I will allow God to provide me with my undeniable a-ha moment. And I will be joyful and patient in the pursuit, because I know it’s coming.