Recently, I gave a speech at the International Coach Federation conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  As part of the ICF conference, they had a master coach demonstrate her coaching live on stage.  When she asked for a willing volunteer to be coached in front of a couple hundred people, up popped the hand of Erica Loren.  As Erica shared her story, I was inspired by her ability to reframe negative experiences and to stay resilient in the face of some very difficult circumstances.  Now a coach herself, Erica shares her techniques with others.  This guest post by Erica will give you a little taste.

Getting Fired (up)

So I finally landed that dream job, the one where I would be given the liberties to change and implement my best knowledge, skills, talents and experience all rolled  into one. On my first day, people were high-fiving and saying how happy they were to have me there.  I walked right into a place that was in desperate need of structure, re-organization, innovation, and compassion to help them to reach their full potential.

But even though it was desperately needed, it wasn’t necessarily welcomed.  Over the years my responsibility was increasing with minimal, authentic support along with underground attitudes that were demonstrating to me that although this company desired change they were not committed to doing whatever it took to get there.

In the beginning I started to detach, then completely disengage in the coffee chatter.  So much that people started to notice and the tides changed. I wasn’t the girl they were high fiving any more. With each day passing I asked myself, “How can I get out thriving and not just surviving?” This question saved my life.

It took a few years and then a major work incident to change things. I was accused of something that never happened. Seemed when I walked into the lunch room most new what the plot was but me.

Right around that time, I picked up a magazine and read an article about a diet cleanse. I could see that my job was toxic and that if I could apply even some principles in this cleanse in the context of my job how different life would be. Approaching my job in this way allowed me to thrive, and gave me the best chance to not be distracted by the negativity. My saving grace where my daily mental gymnastics to support my career health and leave that place better than I left it, myself included.

My daily (non-negotiable) career cleanse consisted of 5 ingredients that you can apply too.

#1. Start the day right

I started journaling how grateful I am  for all opportunities, not just  grateful to be employed in this day in age but more about what the lessons I was learning every day that were stretching and growing me. This caused me to cherish smaller things.

#2. Tapping into empathy and compassion

When people are yelling or being mean in the work place, it’s easy to think “why me?”

One thing to understand is they are in pain and learning that helped me to stop thinking of myself as the victim. Most days I would say, “if I was in this much pain what would I do?”

#3. Let it go

At the end of the day I would just say, “the day is over be at peace and all be forgiven.” I actually had a CD that would say this and hearing it was very comforting.

#4. Optimize your strengths

Every day I would write on a big gigantic piece of paper the strength that I thought would help me get through that day. I would read it often and exercise it like lifting a weight all day long.

#5.  Be vulnerable

I know this seems counterintuitive, and when you’re feeling under attack the last thing you want to do is be vulnerable but I found that actually doing this attracted people who began to embrace me and help me get through each day. Vulnerability is strength, connection, and whole heartedness not weakness.

So with years of doing this you may be envisioning the happily ever after and although this would’ve been a great ending, what was even greater were the gifts of discomfort, insight, and compassion that I turned into action. In the end,  I got fired. Being fired truly lit a fire from within me to take my career coaching practice to the next level and support those people who are in a job’s they are not happy in find their way out to one they love.

Further Reading

Top 10 Signs that your Dysfunctional Team is Getting Better

The Case for more Conflict

Vulnerability – a Strength or a Weakness?

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