There was a time in my life when I was on a steady upward journey in my career and I was overall very content with my position.
A promotion opportunity had arisen and I was confident that I was going to be selected. I mean, I had worked hard for almost a year and had also delivered results, my Boss was happy with my performance and even my colleagues congratulated me on my consistency.
However, on the day of the interview, my Boss informed me that I do not qualify for the promotion and I was dumbfounded.
What the fuck did he mean? I worked my ass off for a year, so how am I not qualified for this opportunity?
Speechless and nervous in that moment, I only could nod my head and walk away. He understood that I didn’t like what I heard but didn’t venture to soothe my disappointed heart.
I tried to swallow my pain and showed up to work day after day, just to underperform my tasks.
I know, I was being a dick on purpose but I just couldn’t let it go. I was really heartbroken and believed that my Boss deserved my behaviour for what he has done to me.
After several weeks of me delivering crap, my Boss invited me for a drink. I had anticipated this, so I was not in the slightest unprepared. I knew what I was going to say to him, hell, I even had a speech ready.
He very gently asked if my personal life is in a turmoil and I replied in the negative.
He then cut right to the chase and asked me in these very words, “So you are only behaving like this to make a point, eh?”
Fuck! I thought he would ask why am I behaving like this, but he directly went for the kill. I was caught off guard and broke into tears.
He sipped his whiskey patiently until my waterworks had stopped and asked me squarely, “Do you still want to work with us?”
I couldn’t understand what was happening. I was a good employee, he had said that so many times. So how can he so heartlessly give me an ultimatum?
I asked him, “Have I not done my best? Am I not doing what is required of me?”
He goes, “Yeah, that is why you have a job. However, you haven’t done much to improve yourself to qualify for the next level, hence you didn’t get the promotion, and now you aren’t doing your job well, therefore, the ultimatum.”
My mind was not ready to accept this, so I countered with, “But you could have trained me for the next job, I could have learnt it while on the job, you saw me doing that in the past, why didn’t you at least consider me for it?”
He smiled almost ruthlessly and said, “Because you became stagnant, you failed to realise that the world constantly changes and you must adapt with the changing times. You felt too happy with yourself and hence had lost your drive. I will now do you a favour, I am going to fire you.”
I almost screamed but he gestured for me to stay quiet.
He continued, “Go back out there and find out how much did you miss on while you were so happy with yourself. A rolling stone gathers no moss.”
I had no idea what the fuck did he mean but he didn’t give me a chance to protest. This is how I got fired from one of my jobs; I remember this evening like yesterday.
Angry and indignant I decided to show him what I am all about. And started to look for other jobs.
It took me about 3 months to find a new one but every day till I got that job I slowly realised what he meant. I really did lack a lot of the new skills. I had stopped reading about my area of expertise, I had started to believe that I know all there is to know about my field.
I had not even paid attention to the growing use of technology in my job.
Those three months before I scored my next job forced me to learn everything that I had missed on, he was absolutely right – I had become stagnant and I needed to roll.
A job is not too different from life. The more I feel happy with myself the lesser I grow and the more comfortable I get, the lesser I deserve anything greater. Why must I deserve what I haven’t worked for? How would that be fair?
I rang him up a year later and asked if I could buy him a drink. He accepted and before I could apologize, he complimented my success at finding an even better job.
I told him that his tough love worked and I learnt my lesson and he said,
“Be a rolling stone always, as soon as you see that you found comfort, quit and go back to being uncomfortable. The goal of life is to improve, if you don’t feel the need, you will rot. A tree that stops growing starts to decay. Keep growing.”
I couldn’t agree with him more.