Post-Firing Resilience

In January 2007, Dell Computers, Gap and Home Depot all bid a swift farewell to their CEO’s in order to change these companies’ respective futures.
It happens to executives and it happens to ordinary people too (with, well, some significant differences related to the size of the farewell package).
A study of 456 top executive firings over the past decade revealed what has been apparent to anyone studying workplace behaviour: Even after a thorny, non-voluntary departure from a workplace, people recover and often proceed to thrive. The study by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld & Andrew Ward (in `Firing Back: How Great Leaders Rebound After Career Disasters’) found that of those execs who left on `neutral’ circumstances (i.e. not on grounds of legal or moral mishaps), 67% found jobs of equal responsibility and stature (the other 33% made a personal choice not to re-engage).
Resilience, according to one definition, is `The ability to recover quickly from setbacks’. Clearly, the execs in the study demonstrated superb resilience. The problem for most ordinary folks, however, is that they let their fear of the world `out there’ drive their actions. They fret that they may not survive if they ever lost their current position and this serves as a deterrent from taking proactive action. I have seen, in the course of my change-related workshops, many a good people staying long after they needed to leave, or fearing to speak up solely due to their horror of what may happen and their lack of trust in their own resilience.
So yes, resilience is key: nurturing our resilience, believing in it, trusting in it.

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