“You don’t seem to be happy in your work here anymore, and we’ve decided that it’s in everyone’s best interest if you stopped coming to the shop as soon as possible.”
This was the first time in nearly 55 years of a continuous working career that Kevin had ever heard these words or words with a similar impact. “You’re fired!” In retrospect, after the initial shock had worn away, Kevin realized that it might not have actually been the lightning strike that it seemed at the time. There were signs along the way that he simply overlooked.
There is a security that one feels having lived a full and satisfying work life. The post retirement second career seems easy. The financial obligations of raising a family are mostly met, so employment becomes more of a “want to” than a “have to” proposition. And that made Kevin comfortable, perhaps too comfortable.
Kevin enjoyed what he did. He worked hard and felt he was doing a good job. He enjoyed the work relationships he had formed and with only a few exceptions over the years, he considered his coworkers as friends and treated them so.
The owners of the business had kind words for Kevin and except for their desire to make more money on a monthly basis, rarely had a complaint that Kevin heard. And that may have been the problem leading to his dismissal. Kevin didn’t “hear” the dissatisfaction behind the owners’ words.
It may have been that during the dozen years of this post retirement job, Kevin began to take ownership of what he was doing. It may have been that in time Kevin began to feel that he “owned” the place. He, after all, was there day after day after day for more hours than a retirement job would seem to warrant. He was there, and the owners were not.
There may also have been coworker dissatisfaction that Kevin missed. Some of the younger ones who were still struggling to make ends meet may have looked at Kevin as “the old man who makes more money without working as hard as I do.” Some may also have felt that Kevin was “old” and that young ideas are better than old ideas. But Kevin was happy with who he was and what he was doing and may have missed these feelings.
Kevin may also have missed directives from the owners that he interpreted as possible ideas to consider. If Kevin thought the ideas had merit, he would act on them. However, if he thought for whatever reason the ideas were ill advised, he would ignore them and hope they went away. Usually that happened. However, maybe they really didn’t go away, but remained as fuel for eventually replacing Kevin.
Whatever the signals, Kevin missed them or ignored them, and the result was that the tree was shaken and Kevin fell from his perch. However, the exciting conclusion to this story is that this is not a conclusion, but simple the end of a chapter. Kevin discovered as he fell from the tree that he still had wings and that by spreading them, he could soar to new heights, to new adventures. And for this Kevin must be grateful for being “fired.”
Kevin learned several things from this experience. Never take anything for granted. Listen carefully to others, both to what they say verbally and what they say nonverbally. Be grateful for friends, but more important, let them see your gratitude. Be grateful for all experiences, those that seem positive and those that seem negative, for in every moment there is the seed of joy, and no matter how you fall, you can still spread your wings and soar.