“We’re letting you go Bryan.”
My boss slid a white envelope across the table.
“Here’s your notice.”
I felt like taking the envelope, ripping it up and throwing it at him.
“I left a good job to come here,” I said.
“This is hard for me,” he said. “So I know it must be hard for you.”
How could this be hard for him when I was the one losing a job in the middle of a recession and me with two small children?
“When do I finish?”
“You can stay till the end of the month,” he said.
I walked out of the meeting and got into my Renault Clio. Then, I punched the ceiling and swore as loudly as I could get away with in a business park, at three PM on a Monday.
Afterwards, I drove home and told my family.
Three months previously, I found out things weren’t going well knew during a performance review.
In a quiet room away from my colleagues, my boss explained I’d missed a deadline and caused confusion for another member of the team.
“You need to put that education into action,” he said.
I accepted I’d made mistakes. There was an important report with typos; a presentation with incorrect slides; a meeting with a client I’d missed. There was so much to learn.
“Just give me time,” I said.
After that meeting, I bought a popular book about productivity and implemented almost every strategy. I reread my boss’s emails searching for actions I’d missed.
I sent the management team weekly updates of what I’d accomplished. I even pinned a quote from Viktor E. Frankl’s Man Search For Meaning to the wall near my desk. It read:
“Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now.”
I discovered meditation before being let go. I first considered it as a way to focus on work and become a model employee.
Now, I was left with no job and an intimidating cushion that demanded I just sit. I refused to sit for weeks.
Damn that cushion!
One night, I couldn’t sleep. That day, I’d received a rejection from a new job I was perfect for, I was worried about money, and I was arguing with my wife.
I got up, went downstairs and sat down on the large red cushion.
I took a deep breath and clasped my hands.
I meditated on the faces of my family and thanked them for their support. I meditated on the faces of people I worked with, and I wished them well in their careers.
Finally, I meditated on the face of my boss. I could see his pale lined face, his crisp white shirt and his wavy dark hair. My hands tightened, my foot began to ache and a line of sweat ran down the small of my back.
“I forgive you for letting me go,” I said quietly.
I’m not going to lie.
Ten minutes of meditation didn’t siphon all my anger, but it pierced a hole and enough of it eased out so that I could sleep.
It took me another six months to find employment.
Several weeks into a new role in a profession I didn’t expect, I thought of my old boss and the pressure he was under from his boss. I thought of how he didn’t have to give me holiday pay, of how he didn’t have to write me a good reference, and of how he did all of those things.
I saw the mistakes I’d made and the role for what it was — one I wasn’t built for — and of how all of it was OK.
I could learn to let go too.