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They Fired Me!
Mom with a View

They Fired Me!

We all recognize that our jobs are not our essence, but many of us are far from living with that reality.

by

In an interview in More magazine (December/January 2005), former 60 Minutes producer Mary Mapes discusses what she learned from being fired.

"No job will ever snuggle me in bed, stand with me beside my mother's casket, help me raise my child or love me when I am at my worst. Only my husband can do that.

"No job will ever call for me urgently during a thunderstorm, write me a carefully scrawled Mother's Day card or tell me he wants to marry me when he grows up. Only my son can do that."

Those are wonderful ideas, and I really hope Ms. Mapes knew them before she was fired. I like to believe that we all recognize that our jobs are not our essence. I've yet to read an obituary where the "Survived by" includes spouse, children and their beloved corporation. We all know it's not real, even if we don't put it into words. We all intuitively recognize the truth of Ms. Mapes' statements.

But acknowledging that truth and living in a way that exemplifies it are two dramatically different things.

I don't know Mary Mapes. Perhaps she crafted her life in such a way that it reflected this wisdom. Or perhaps she was caught up in the excitement of her job -- the travel, the power, the important issues. Perhaps there was very little time to look at that Mother's Day card.

Maybe she found the perfect balance. I don't know. But I do know that most of us don't. Many people -- men and women -- put their careers first, no matter what they say. Just check the number of hours worked. Listen to their conversations. Observe their social relationships.

Many people put much more time and energy into doing their job well than they do into their marriages or their children. And it exacts a cost.

Although being fired can have serious financial consequences and be a tremendous blow to our self-esteem, it is also an opportunity to re-evaluate and start anew.

Did I really stay focused on my goals? Did I create the kind of work-family balance I desire -- the kind I promised myself I would? Am I focused on the most important relationships?

I'm not advocating that we all get fired! I'd like to learn the lesson without that pain. We need to recognize and internalize the idea that even the most meaningful job is just that, a job. We need to take more pleasure in the simple gifts and accomplishments. We need to maintain perspective that working 24/6 doesn't usually allow us.

We need to go out and throw the football with our children. We need to go for a walk in the park with our spouse. We need to put our work in perspective, and hopefully we won't be forced to hear those ominous Donald Trump-ian words, "You're Fired."

Published: January 14, 2006


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Visitor Comments: 8

(8) Esther Kustanowitz, January 16, 2006 12:00 AM

bravo

I could not agree more that sometimes something amazing comes out of something crappy. Unfortunately, it usually takes time. Jean's right; you need something to pay the bills, but that doesn't have to become the new post-firing you.

(7) Anonymous, January 16, 2006 12:00 AM

From both sides

Having been unemployed and also having worked long hours at a job, I understand the internal desperation that occurs as bills land on your doorstep and creditors call. I also have worked long hours at a job only to have someone promoted above me. And I know both things come from a place of fear. You work a lot maybe you think you will get ahead, but generally it is a very small voice inside saying "you will fail, or you will be fired..." And when you are unemployed your worst fears are realized...No one pays the bills....

To tell someone to go out and smell the roses while they are living in desperate fear of surviving is really stupid adivce! They should be afraid. They should be using every ounce of their energy to become reemployed and not give up on that. Then after they acheive a new job they can breathe deep and then go smell the roses because they will have learned no matter how hard they worked, it is better to carve some time out for themselves because the world of work is shaky in these times. Balance is everything.

(6) Jean Spencer, January 15, 2006 12:00 AM

Good advice does not pay the rent

I was fired 6 months ago and I'm living off of savings. I figure I can last maybe 6 more months if I have to. I've applied for countless jobs, even part-time answering phones. Nothing. My life is filled with people who tell me to appreciate the day, take the time to reevaluate myself and my future, don't let a job define me. Friends encourage "Don't give up. When a door closes..." All good advice, for sure, but something called reality pays the bills and in the story of survival, only money can pay the bills and keep me from being homeless. Let's be careful about advice that falls short of help.

(5) zvi tusk, January 15, 2006 12:00 AM

as a member of the t'chias hamaisim club, I am

As a member of the T'CHIAS HA'MAISIM club, I am able to understand clearly what Mrs.Braverman wrote. That it took so long for me to figure it out is not an issue. Now that I have recognised that hashem gave me a second chance,I have changed my ways.
G-D put us on this world to accomplish his goals. we have to internalize them and act accordingly. ESS ELOKIM YIRROH V'ESS MITZVOSAI SH'MOR, KI ZEH KOL HA'ADAM.
WHEN FACING A TEST OF FAITH, LIKE HOW CAN I LIVE UP TO MY OBLIGATIONS, OR REALITY IS STARING ME IN THE FACE AND ..., THEN YOU HAVE TO DIG DEEP INSIDE OF YOU AND SAY THREE WORDS. THEY ARE, "G-D HELP ME".
THE SAME G-D THAT TOOK US OUT OF MITZRAYIM, WILL TAKE ME OUT OF THIS PROBLEM.ALL THAT I AM ABLE TO DO AFTER TRYING EVERYTHING ELSE IS TO TURN TO MY CREATOR AND SAY"HELP".
IT IS NOW EIGHT MONTHS SINCE MY LIFE SAVING TRANSPLANT, AND I CAN SAY THAT HASHEM DOES LISTEN TO OUR ERNEST AND HEARTFELT PRAYERS.

(4) Anonymous, January 15, 2006 12:00 AM

It's all very well and I am sure the remarks are well intended but it's very hard to concentrate on the simple things in life when you are wondering where the next meal is coming from or how to pay the bills or mortgage. I have worked all my life but in 2001 I was made redundant (with only Government redundancy pay) and at 58 years of age that is not a good place to be I was out of work for over 2.25 years before finally being offered a position but during the unemployment period I must have applied for at least 5000 positions. Contacting my old friends and business contacts was surely the way back but it's amazing how sympatic people are to your plight but really don't care if you have a penny in your pocket they only think about there own problems.
So while it's a wonderful thought to go walking in the park or playing Football with the Children or Grandchildren in practice the person suffering with all the problems is under such stress that really all they want is to sit indoors or get back into employment as quickly as possible and the longer it takes the more that person feels that they are comnpletely useless and will never work again.

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