Getting fired from your job is one of the most traumatic, stressful experiences that an employee can have in their career. The experience, though unpleasant, does not need to be a career-killer. According to a 10-year CEO Genome study of over 2,600 leaders and 360 executives highlighted in Harvard Business Review, what separated the people who never bounced back from the people who went on to have even more success was a difference in perspective.
The researchers found that leaders who saw their setback as a failure were 50% less successful than those who took the experience as a learning and growth opportunity.
“Strong performers own their mistakes, and describe what they learned and how they adjusted their behavior and decision making to minimize the chances of making the same mistakes in the future,” ghSMART researchers that compiled the data wrote. “Having several different types of career blow ups does not derail you. Repeating the same blowup over and over does.”
Own your mistake so you can move on from it
The researchers found that participants who owned their mistakes instead of deflecting them or blaming others set themselves up for future success. Learning from a setback is a lesson you can take to heart even if you are not an executive being surveyed. Becoming self-aware of your limitations and strengths will help you learn how to conduct yourself in front of others. Once you can tell the story of your firing to yourself, you will be able to tell it in front of future recruiters without negative emotion. That can help you build confidence. The researchers found that confident candidates were more than twice as likely to be hired.
If you see failure as a teacher instead of an insurmountable barrier, you can learn to listen to the lesson that it is trying to tell you. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey once advised students to see failure as a wakeup call that you need to be moving in a different direction. “Ask yourself what is this here to teach me? And as soon as you get the lesson, you get to move on,” she said. “If you really get the lesson, you pass and you don’t have to repeat the class.”