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by Kate Lorenz | March 31, 2009


When it happens, you might think you're the only one who has been fired or suffered a setback in your career. In reality, you are far from alone -- some of the world's best and brightest have been sacked too.

J.K. Rowling, Lance Armstrong and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg are among those who were fired before they found success. Their resilience, however, gave them the means to transform their job loss into a positive experience.

Before she was a best-selling author, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling lost her job as a secretary because she was caught writing creative stories on her computer. She used her severance to begin the first Harry Potter book. Today she is a billionaire, thanks to the books and related products.

Cycling superstar Lance Armstrong was fired from the French racing team Cofidis in 1997, after he began cancer treatment. He was also refused the rest of his salary and medical bills. He went on to win the Tour de France six consecutive times, his most recent in 2004.

At age 39, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg received his pink slip and $10 million when the company he worked for was sold. Instead of retiring, Bloomberg created a billion-dollar media empire. As an encore, he was elected of Mayor of New York City in 2001.

In We Got Fired (Random House), Harvey Mackay interviewed successful people who bounced back after career setbacks and shows people how to positively affect the results and turn a traumatic event into a means of empowerment.

"When you're fired, you're rejected. It's as simple as that," says Mackay. What's the key to bouncing back? Beat rejection.

Here are his 13 tips for rebounding after the brush-off.

1. When you're rejected, don't take it personally. You're not bad; you just might not be good enough.

2. Don't waste time on bitterness. It only hurts you and it holds you back from moving on to newer and better things.

3. Rejection happens to everyone; accept it as a fact of life. It happens everywhere, especially in highly competitive endeavors. In major league baseball, just one player out of 748 is named MVP. Only 11 percent of applicants are accepted to Harvard and Princeton.

4. Don't let go of your dreams. A bad situation can push you to strive in your next opportunity, ultimately getting you closer to your dream job.

5. Figure out why you were fired. If it's your mistake, learn from it. If it's not, learn from the situation.

6. Don't burn bridges. Maintain a civil relationship with ex-colleagues. You never know where your next recommendation or job will come from.

7. Don't wallow in failure, even when you're clearly responsible for it. Get back on your horse if you want to beat a setback.

8. Visualize acceptance. Instead of dwelling on your current situation, focus on a time when you'll be working again and doing great.

9. Do doable things. If you take one step at time, you'll eventually get you where you want to be.

10. Do some charity work. You can build contacts while providing help to a much-needed cause.

11. Look for the doors opened up by losing out. Maybe now you can go to work for a boss you admire. Or take the chance to break out on your own. Perhaps it's time to switch careers.

12. Seek out a winner's circle of people on the outs. Do you know anyone who is going through the same thing you are? Make sure you surround yourself with people who are positive and action-oriented.

13. Find things that motivate you. Don't punish yourself and deny yourself things that bring you pleasure. That can only make you feel more dejected -- the opposite of how you should be trying to feel after a job loss.

Kate Lorenz is the article and advice editor for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.


Filed Under: Workplace Issues