As much as I preach about setting goals, planning your life and taking responsibility for everything that happens to you. There are things that are going to happen to you that you have no control over. You cannot control what other people are going to do, how they will treat you, decisions they make that effect you or how they choose to live their life. You can however choose how you are going to act. These past couple of months I have learned so much. Last Tuesday I was fired from my lululemon job. The months leading up to my termination were filled with manipulated documentation, dozens of meetings to dispute those claims, belittling threats and lots stress. I decided the minute that the bullying started that I was going to do the right thing, to stick up for what I believed in and not sink to the level of respect to which my manager was treating me. I did a lot of hard things in terms of reaching out to the manager that was bullying me. My ego told me to talk behind her back, complain, and figure out a way to sabotage her efforts. I battled myself daily to be the better person. When I was not getting anywhere with the manager I reached out to my old manager and asked for guidance on what I could do to resolve the issues, she told me to reach out to our regional manager. I did and felt great about the advice that was given to me, which was to sit down with my manager another time and just listen to her point of view. I did. I wanted to know why she was treating me the way she was, I wanted to know what I was not understanding, most of all I wanted to know what I needed to change so that we could be on the same page. The meeting did not go well she told me I wasted her time, her boss’s time and that I was very difficult to manage and we were going around in circles. She also asked if I expected her boss not to support her, that she would support her no matter what and she felt like I was the one bullying her. I felt worse about the situation and started questioning whether I had made the right decision to even bring it up in the first place. I think that’s what bullies do, they try to isolate you and make you feel guilty. I decided that it was not going to prevent me from being the best that I could be while I was at work. I came to work everyday committed to doing everything in my power to going above and beyond my job duties. I asked for feedback from the rest of the leadership team regularly, everything was always positive. Without going into too much detail a month later, at 5 1/2 months pregnant, I was fired for “who I was being” and other misleading and unclear reasons in a very unprofessional manner. My pregnancy was held against me and used as a way to “document” performance issues. In the beginning I was angry, sure I know I made mistakes along the way but not anything that I felt would get me fired in terms of performance. I was disgusted that a company that preached so much about integrity, people and culture would let this happen. I was hurt and disappointed that my experience with lululemon at the Cleveland store was such a bummer compared to the experience that I had in Orlando. Most of all I felt obligated to share my story so that others could maybe find the strength they needed to stand up for what is right. I take full responsibility for where I’m at today. I chose lululemon last year, I chose to relocate back to Cleveland, I chose to get pregnant, I even chose to get fired when I stood up for what was right. Now I’m choosing to view this experience as a blessing, I am so grateful for the lessons that I have learned from this entire experience:
- There is no such thing as business ethics. – Businesses can not be ethical, only individuals can be responsible for being ethical. A company can have all the culture, integrity and good intentions in the world but in the end the wrong person on the wrong seat of the bus can ruin it for a lot of people. Seth Godin wrote an awesome blog on the topic.
- God is always listening to my prayers. I prayed a lot for God to make me a stronger person during the lululemon experience. I did not want it to be easier, I wanted to be stronger. God gave me an opportunity to be stronger. I read a quote once that said, “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?” I thank God a lot for my husband, my new baby, my family, for the food on the table, the car that I drive, the clothes on my back and for the people I got to meet everyday. When I called Jeremie to tell him that I got fired he said, “It’s my fault you got fired, I kept praying that I would get to spend more time with you.” How awesome is he? It occurred to me that God did in fact know exactly what I needed and was listening. He presented it in a way that I would not have chosen for myself, he presented me with the opportunities that I was praying for. I trust in his plan for my life with all my heart. Honestly, the stress of being in that environment was effecting me more than I thought. I have been so happy since last week, I have a huge smile on my face right now as I think about never having to be in that office in those crazy meetings ever again.
- I am a lot stronger than I thought I was. I never in my life would have thought that I had the courage to stand up to a bully. I did. I did it with integrity and I was fired for it. That puts a big smile on my face. Being a people pleaser my entire life, this is a major breakthrough for me.
- As a leader personal responsibility becomes even more important. I believe 100% in personal responsibility and it killed me to watch the leaders of our team used “personal responsibility” as a way to diverge their own responsibility. It tore apart our team, sent the wrong messages and did not accomplish anything accept for passing blame. I learned that if you want to be a powerful leader you have to be willing to take personal responsibility first, no excuses.
- Owning your own business really gives you the freedom to control your financial future. I gave a year and a half of my life and a lot of creative ideas to lululemon and was terminated like a replaceable cog in a machine for questionable reasons. I’ve seen worse, people that have worked for companies for 30 years and have the same thing happen to them. You just never think that those things will happen to you. It taught me why that freedom of owning your own business is so important.
- Forgiveness is a powerful tool. I’m choosing to forgive and move on. I don’t know why they treated me like that, I don’t know what they’re going through. I hope that they get the help they need so that they can stop living a life of lies and drama and find peace. It has to be exhausting. I’m forgiving them because holding a grudge does not serve me in any way. I don’t agree with how they acted but it is not my place to judge. I don’t have to agree with them or like them to forgive and it is the right thing to do. And guess what? They don’t even have to deserve it, I have the power to forgive, I decide to let go or not.
- You may have to forgive more than once, or twice, or three times. Actually you may have to remind yourself that you already forgave everyday until you stop all unproductive thoughts about the situation. Andy Andrews has an amazing book on forgiveness called The Heart Mender, that taught me this important lesson. Now I really understand what that lesson means.
I feel like I just woke up from a 6 month long dream, like I was stuck in a real life sequel of Mean Girls. The rumors, the cat fights, the talking behind people’s backs, the created drama, and everything in between. I’m so thankful that I got out a better person, that I did not let it change me negatively. I sleep like a baby at night knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I did the right thing. There are some really incredible people on the team that inspired me, I’m also so grateful that I got to know them. That they shared their goals with me and let me be a part of their lives. The people that I met working at lululemon, for the most part, were absolutely amazing, they changed my life, they made me a better person. If I had the option to go back and do it all again, I would just to have the opportunity to meet them.
With no job, no health insurance, a gutted house and a baby on the way, I’m taking each day as it comes. I’m appreciating every minute and focusing on being present to right now, not the past, not the future but now. I thank God everyday for all the wonderful things that I have and know that he has a better plan for me. I’m not wasting one second being negative, I’m choosing to count this as a blessing and I wouldn’t change this amazing journey that he planned for me in any way.