As a journalist, if you don’t get fired (or feel obliged to quit) at some point in your career, you’ve either been unusually lucky in employers or you have chosen not to live up to your own standards and goals. In the worst case, you haven’t even determined what your standards and goals should be. If you haven’t crystallized for yourself the things you’re willing to be sacked for, maybe it’s time to write your Firing Manifesto.
In a blog post today, “Don’t let your bosses’ decisions control your career success or happiness,” Steve Buttry writes that he once “blamed my editors and my companies for the things I didn’t like about my career.” But midway through his career, he realized that he had to take more responsibility for its direction:
“You can’t control everything about your career. But you can control your outlook. I had a lot of success and happiness in the first 20 years of my career. But I’ve had more of both since I changed my outlook and decided I alone would be responsible for my happiness and success.”
Buttry’s main point is not to let “bosses who are stuck in the past” control your career. But though he doesn’t say so explicitly, he also seems to me to be suggesting that if it comes down to a clear choice between saving your job and saving your career, you should choose your career.
Now, I don’t think he means that you should not care about the risk of losing your job, or that there aren’t circumstances where you should bend on your principles. As he suggests, there are plenty of ways you can advance your career outside of your job, if necessary.
But I think it’s a useful career exercise at least to think about what things you’d be willing to get fired for, and ideally to write them down.
Be reasonable, though. I’m suggesting you write a Firing Manifesto, not a Diva Declaration. Every job requires some degree of compromise, and you shouldn’t always get your way. But what are the core principles over which you’d be willing to challenge your bosses and risk losing your job? It’s better to clarify them for yourself now than to try to figure them out in a moment of crisis.
It’s unlikely that such a personal manifesto would have played a role in what happened yesterday to journalist Khristopher J. Brooks. He surely was unaware that writing on his blog about getting hired by a newspaper could get him fired before he even started the job. But it might make him feel better about losing a job at a place where, as Hamilton Nolan suggests, his career would have suffered.
I’ve written before about the perils of equating your job with your career. They aren’t the same thing, and they are sometimes at odds. Often they can be reconciled. But when they can’t, will you be ready to choose between them?
- 12 April, 2012 @ 19:52 [Current Revision] by John
- 12 April, 2012 @ 14:08 by John