You’re not doing your job if you've never been fired.

I had a professor in college who preached to us that if we, as future business leaders, did not push the status quo; create risk to make better; and make change to create growth, we won’t be doing our jobs. And, acknowledging how much fear there was in corporate America around change, he presented us this provocative statement that, even 25 years later, I still remember: 

“You’re not doing your job if you've never been fired.”

Of course he wasn’t talking about being fired for coming in late, harassing other employees or embezzlement—he was speaking of being let-go for standing up for what you believe is right, and for the betterment of an ideal.

He knew that in business we’d see things we didn’t believe in, and come up with ideas that might rock-the-boat of the status quo. Speaking up might be “political suicide” in an organization, and we’d be forced to choose between fitting-in, or standing-up.

As a professor, he knew his role was to help guide students morally, ethically, and intellectually. It was not his place to teach political game-playing, or how to be a kiss-ass, and how to fit-in. There’d be plenty of mentors in Corporate America who could teach us that. His job was to help us stand-up for what we believed in. 

So, he encouraged us to form fact-based, knowledge-rich creative ideas, and to feel comfortable attempting to sway others towards our opinions. He also taught us to feel comfortable with our beliefs, even if others choose not to be swayed. 

“You’re not doing your job if you've never been fired.” 

We know the kiss-asses, and those who know how to “manage-up” to the bosses in the boardroom. They never seem to lose their jobs for “fitting-in,” but they don’t I know no one who retires from a job with a sense of fulfillment for “fitting-in” and not getting fired. And what, if anything, did these contribute to the betterment of business, or society?

Because let’s face it, being shown the door by security for a cause you believe in, is far better than the curse of complacency.

And remember, you’re not doing your job if you've never been fired.

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