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3 Reasons Why You Should Fire Yourself This Week (Seriously!)

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This is a guest post from Nigel Green. He has spent nearly a decade in upper management with large healthcare companies and is an expert in sales and in leading successful teams.

A number of years back, I was serving as a regional sales manager for a healthcare company.

I got an email from one of my peers, Jeret. The subject line read: “New opening: Regional Sales Manager – Dallas, TX.”

That was HIS job. My heart skipped a beat. I didn’t even read the email. I just called him right away.

I said, “Jeret, what is going on?”

He said, “Well, I’m fired.”

I was shocked. Jeret had blown his sales goals out of the water. If he was in trouble, I was toast. I ask him what happened.

He said, “Well, it’s become clear that my region is going to demand better sales performance, improved processes, and a better attitude.”

But then he explained — the company wasn’t firing him. He was firing himself.

He had figured out his liabilities, and he was letting himself know that wasn’t okay.

That moment opened up a leadership opportunity for me. Now, it’s a habit I practice every year. (I hire myself back, too, but more on that in a minute.)

When I told Donald about it, he thought it was weird, but interesting. So he invited me on the Building a Story Brand podcast to explain it more fully and describe how it can benefit us as leaders.


Why You Should Fire Yourself

1. It keeps you from resting on your laurels and getting complacent.

Whatever got you to your current level of success may not be what you need to get you to the next level. If you celebrate and dance around too long in the end zone, you may lose your focus for the rest of the game.

By firing yourself, you keep yourself from becoming complacent in your own success. In my experience, it helps me stay hungry and aware that I can’t move to the next level by staying where I’m at.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for celebrating success. Just don’t conflate that celebration with satisfaction. Don’t go into the next year telling yourself, “If I just do what I did last year, I’ll be fine.” That kind of thinking is dangerous, and firing yourself is the best way I’ve found to disrupt it.

2. You get fresh perspective.

If you look at the 500 largest companies in the U.S., the average tenure of an executive is just 4.9 years.

If you go to the NFL, a typical head coach won’t last more than 38 months. It’s even shorter in the English Premier League, where soccer managers coach a team for just 1.31 years on average.

What does all that matter?

First, remember that having your job shouldn’t be a given. At the highest levels, you don’t keep your job unless you have major success to show you deserve to.

Second, learn from the people who beat the average. Look at longstanding leaders like New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

What do they do? They study the competition tirelessly. They go look at other industries. They get outside of their usual framework. They talk to customers. They go solicit feedback from people that really aren’t as intimately tied to their business to say, “Here’s what you’re not seeing.”

If you think of yourself as dispensable, you’re going to be more motivated to make sure you’re bringing indispensable value to your company.

3. You give yourself permission to walk away.

When you fire yourself, you can honestly pause and ask, “Am I up for another year of this?”

We have a responsibility to ask ourselves this question. And it’s okay if the answer is no. Life happens. Circumstances change. New kid, new home experience, new values.

It’s okay to go into a year and say, “You know what? I don’t think I am the guy,” or “I don’t think I am the gal.” That is a gift to you and to the company. It allows you to go be successful somewhere else and for the company to get the right person in the right role.

If you’re like most people, though, that won’t happen. Instead, you’ll realize that you love your job deeply and believe you are absolutely the guy or gal for the job.

Most people get even more excited. It results in a level of energy and excitement about the upcoming year you never thought you would have. It’s a gift, that I promise you won’t regret.

How to Re-Hire Yourself

Okay, so you don’t have to stay fired. If you decide to stick around, it’s time to hire yourself back. How does that work? Well, it’s a lot like any other hire.

First, interview yourself. Ask yourself the standard interview questions. For example:

Do I have the experience to do this job well? In other words, did you actually get new experience last year? Do you really have five years’ worth of experience or do you have one year’s experience times five?

What would my customers say about my performance? Would they vouch for what I’ve done? Did we ship orders on time? Did I manage their frustration in a way that kept the business?

Do I contribute to a healthy culture? Would you hire yourself based on how you spend your time? Based on how you interact with others?

Second, rewrite your job description. Where are you the most effective with your time? Eliminate the things you were doing last year that aren’t going to get you where you need to be. Think about how you need to behave differently. How you need to respond differently in the upcoming year. What your new goals and expectations of yourself should be.

Third, accept the job. Say yes to the new challenge and pop that champagne. You’re not celebrating your past success. You’re celebrating the opportunity you’ve been given to go out and do something even greater.

Remember Jeret from my story earlier — the guy who gave me this idea? Well, he and I still do this every year. We keep each other accountable to stick with this ritual every year. In fact, I got this text from him last month.


It’s an unexpected process, but it has served me well. I get priceless perspective on myself and my performance each year, and I find new levels of excitement for the challenges ahead. I hope you’ll find the same when you try it.

Ready to try this exercise for yourself? We’ve put together a short downloadable resource that will guide you through the process of firing yourself and hiring yourself back. Just fill out the form below to request it and we’ll email you a copy for free.

Executive producer: Tim Schurrer
Additional production and editing: Chad Snavely

How to Lead a Difficult One-on-One

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Today’s post is a guest post from Nigel Green. He studied at Harvard Business School and spent nearly a decade in upper management with large healthcare companies.

According to a study by Psychometrics in Canada, nearly a third of employees deal with conflict on a regular basis.

And the cost of these internal politics is staggering. Another survey showed that 35% of people leave their jobs voluntarily because of internal politics.

Issues often start small. Most of us hear that small internal voice saying, “You need to deal with this.”

But we put off dealing with it because we’re afraid of the difficult one-on-one. And as a result, the small issue snowballs into something toxic.

If you’re having a conversation in your head about someone on your team, then it’s time to have the conversation with them. Here’s how to have the hard conversations. Follow this advice, and you can diffuse that tension before it starts costing your team.

1. Get in a Positive Mindset.

We’re calling these “difficult conversations” — and for a reason. Emotions can run high. You probably feel some amount of frustration. But it’s important to check your frustration at the door.

Instead, frame the conversation as an opportunity for improvement. If you tell yourself this conversation is a necessary step toward a positive outcome, then you’re more likely to get that result.

2. Get Clear on the Problem.

Before you go into the conversation, make sure you can state the issue in two or three succinct sentences. Cite specific observations as examples. This gives you the confidence and clarity to direct the conversation. It also safeguards you from our natural tendency to ramble and say something we don’t mean.

3. Make the Right Kind of Assumptions

As managers, we often think we know the backstory behind the issue. Get rid of those assumptions.

Instead, assume you are missing key information. Assume your teammate has only the best of intentions.

This attitude helps you listen to your employee’s perspective. When you do, you’ll probably discover new information that gives you fresh insight on the situation.

4. Ask Questions that Start with “What” and “How.”

Compare these two questions:

Why didn’t you finish your quarterly report on time?


What happened with your report this quarter? Did I see it was submitted late?

The first question feels like an accusation. The second opens up a conversation.

Ask questions that start with “What” and “How.” Avoid questions that start with “Why” and “Who.”

The “What” and “How” questions establish a neutral tone and help you assume those best intentions. It allows space to transform the situation from a top-down reprimand into a coaching moment.

5. Let Your Employee Do the Talking

Here are two common mistakes managers make in these difficult conversations:

• We create a mental script of the conversation ahead of time.
• Then, we dominate the conversation.

There are two key questions that can help you avoid this.

First, after you’ve asked questions and described (simple and direct terms) the reason for your talk, ask, “Does this feedback sound fair?”

Second, ask your employee to describe to you how things will be different moving forward.

This gets your employee talking and keeps you listening. It helps you both stay focused on the goal of the conversation — basically, to understand and resolve the issue at hand.

6. Separate the person from the problem.

Before you end the conversation, affirm that while the result wasn’t good, your employee is.

In difficult conversations, always separate the person from the problem.

Emotions are a natural part of the workplace, but as managers, we have to be clear that we’re not reviewing our people’s worth, just their performance on the job.

No one enjoys difficult conversations. But low employee morale and high turnover are much, much worse. Use these simple tips to address issues and resolve them positively.

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