You gotta be, cruel to be kind, in the right measure
I am still pondering the question that I was asked by Patrick OShaughnessy on his podcast “what is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you” that I wrote about recently. I came to the realization that the kindest thing that anyone had ever done for me was actually painful. Made me think of the Nick Lowe lyrics, “You gotta be, cruel to be kind, in the right measure. Cruel to be kind, it’s a very good sign”. That has been bouncing around my head for days.
So, in the end, the thing that I keep coming back to is when I was fired. I was running a clothing manufacturing company. We parted ways. When I left I decided that I should take a job vs running something again. I had two young daughters and had it in my head that if I was running something that I wouldn’t be present in their lives and I did not want to be that parent. I’d end up thinking about work 24/7 and that would not be good. If I had a sales job, it would be just 9-5 and work would not take over my entire being.
I had multiple offers and landed in a company that had a sales team that all sat in one big office together. It was awful. I was absolutely bored out of my mind. That was not well suited for the sales team. The guy I reported to realized that I had run a garment company before and knew most of the answers he didn’t know. He would ask me stuff all the time….that was until he fired me.
Culturally I did not fit into the place but that isn’t why he fired me. It was just one of the reasons. He told me that not only should I not be in just sales, that I should be running a company and that I was way above his job, that he should report to me, not me to him. I was devastated. We had just bought a home in the burbs and I was the bread winner many times over. I called Fred, he told me to come home and never get off at that subway stop again, that I needed to get out of that industry and I should now concentrate on our move, our girls and rethink my career.
Financially it was tough but those years where I was home every day with my kids (eventually having a third) until I thought I would lose my mind, was a gift. Firing me put me on a new trajectory that I wouldn’t have necessarily found myself on. In many ways I can point to that boot out the door that started my journey to where I sit right now. So as cruel as it was, it was the kindest thing that anyone has ever done for me.