May 24 is a big day for me for a couple of reasons.
The first and most important is that it is my mother’s birthday. Without this day, I would not be. Thanks, mom, you’re the best!
It is relevant to this blog for another reason. On May 24, 1999, I was fired. The day before, I was a general manager of a successful restaurant for a hot and happening restaurant chain. Now, I was unemployed.
It was a weird mixture of emotions. I had wanted to do something different with my life. I really didn’t like the way I was treated by my corporation. I also had a family to feed. I was relieved to be gone from there. I was embarrassed to have been fired. I was scared. How were we going to make it?
Maybe, some of you can relate. You had the rug pulled out from under you, and now you are unemployed.
What did I do? Well, my wife and I talked about it, and we agreed that I should wait tables to keep us afloat financially while I figured out what to do. (See, we only had a little money in the bank, and the company kept my last several weeks’ pay for “relocation expenses”–don’t get me started on THAT one.) I didn’t have the option to just sit around, feel sorry for myself, and go through the motions of finding a new position. I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway, and, I am quite sure, that even if I had, my loving wife would have squarely planted her loving foot in my lazy, uh, rear end and shoved me out the door to work. Just for the record.
This job turned out to be a huge blessing. It paid our bills. It bought me time to figure out what to do and interview for new jobs. Most importantly, it started changing my mindset.
You see, I had always followed the prescribed paths: Did great in high school and college. Started career and moved up the corporate ladder, strategically changing companies when appropriate. Now, I was OFF THE CORPORATE LADDER, yet we were surviving just fine. That should not be, yet here we were. Maybe, it was time to think outside of the box.
The interviews produced offers that were, shall we say, less than stellar. I guess fired middle managers have question marks attached to them that radically diminish their value. Some were downright insulting and made me very mad. This anger, combined with making all the necessary income for my family waiting tables, pushed me through one of the best doors of my life. One that I had wanted since I was 17 and had been afraid of just as long.
STARTING MY OWN BUSINESS. You see, I wouldn’t have taken the leap myself. I had to be kicked over the cliff (fired). Table-waiting was an amazing opportunity to have a relatively flexible job with decent income that could be slowly shrank down as my business grew. The infuriatingly pathetic offers overcame my last resistances. There was NO WAY that I was going to start back at the bottom (making less than I was currently waiting tables!) and scratch and beg to be promoted all the way up all over again. Been there, done that, have a closet full of t-shirts. I would not wait for someone to deign to dole out to me the leftovers of my hard work. I was going to show them. I would make it happen–WITHOUT ASKING THEIR PERMISSION. Success is the sweetest form of revenge.
It has been a tough road–one I needed more than a few pushes to get on. Have I wanted to quit? More times than you can imagine, yet between my wife’s encouragement and the determination I have learned from God, we still stand.
It has also been a good road. Within 10 months, I had quit waiting tables–the business was making enough to provide for us. By then end of 2000, I was making more money than I did in my corporate job–after 1 1/2 years. Over the year 2001, I doubled my corporate income. And I was afraid of this?
If we can do it, so can you. You have to be determined. Perhaps, you even have to, have to to make it. Regardless, you can if you are willing to do what it takes–whatever that may be.
Like I said, today is special to me.