Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Captain of the World experiences humility

Are any of us really irreplaceable?

“We decided to go in another direction,” I was told by the assistant manager. 

“What does that mean?” I asked after being called into his office.

“Bob and I don’t feel things are working out the way we think they should.”

“I’m not sure what you are saying,” I said with a puzzled face.

“We are letting you go.”

I was stunned.

They are firing me?  I thought to myself.  How could they fire me?  I am the best manager in here.  I’m the only one who knows how to do things right.  I am the only one the employees listen to.  The other managers don’t relate to the employees like I do.  The crew is always asking me about things.  I am the go to guy, I keep this company going.  Surely it won’t stay in business without me.

I protested to the assistant manager, “Why?  Why are you getting rid of me, I am the best manager here.  I have the crew on my side.”  He responded, “That is the reason we are letting you go, you are alienating the employees from the management team.  You are causing a division in the store.”  I couldn’t understand, “They work harder for me than any of the other managers” I protested again.  “What can I do better?”

“I am sorry, the decision is made.”

I was devastated.  They don’t know how many times I saved their butts.  They just didn’t appreciate all I have done; now they will get their due and all of them will be out jobs.

Really, this is the way I was thinking.  I was sure they wouldn’t survive in business without me.

McDonald’s has been doing very well without me since I was fired in 1972.

I started working there in High School and moved up through the ranks to assistant manager.  I was a “know it all” and Captain of the World.  I was the only one who knew how to do things right.  I had no humility.  I was simply the best.

This attitude did not do well for me in the long run.  In a space of three months, I lost my job, my wife left me, had to hide my car so it wouldn’t be repossessed, and was 3 months behind on my mortgage when I received a letter that the bank was going to foreclose.

The Captain of the World didn’t really know too much after all.  The “know it all” was failing miserably in his life.  At first, I blamed everyone for being so stupid.

This humiliating experience of being fired brought me back to “earth.”  It was the best thing that could have happened to a “know it all” bully like me.  I learned a lot about myself in those days; however, the most important lesson I learned was humility.  The ability to admit I am often wrong and I can learn more by listening than by telling.

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