Gen. Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Army (retired), had a really tough time after he was pushed out of the workforce. Would you like to hear about it? He would like to tell you about it. Welcome to LinkedIn's Career Curveball® confessionals!
McChrystal, you may recall, was busy running the not-terribly productive Afghanistan War when he was fired for 1) giving Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings complete access to his staff, and 2) acting naturally around said reporter. Getting fired is just as hard for a general officer as it is for a civilian working joe, if a civilian working joe was fired and handed a $12,475 per month pension for life.
Stan McChrystal feels you, American worker! And now, as part of LinkedIn's series of testimonials from once-unemployed successes, he'd like to share his inspiring story of vocational reinvention, that it may inspire you:
In June 2010, after more than 38 years in uniform, in the midst of commanding a 46-nation coalition in a complex war in Afghanistan, my world changed suddenly – and profoundly. An article in Rolling Stone magazine depicting me, and people I admired, in a manner that felt as unfamiliar as it was unfair, ignited a firestorm.
A firestorm so vast, not even a C-17 Globemaster full of Bud Light Lime could quench it. So unfair!
Even seemingly mundane details like where we lived and what I was called had shifted suddenly.
Stan. I think you'd be called Stan. Also: anywhere. That's where you could live, debt-free, on your savings and continued income of $12,475 a month for life, Stan.
Most importantly, my very identity as a soldier came to an abrupt end. I'd been soldiering as long as I'd been shaving. Suddenly I'd been told I could no longer soldier, and it felt as though no one really cared if I ever shaved again. I'd caught a curveball directly on the chin; I wanted to find a corner of the dugout, away from TV cameras, to rub my head and maybe sniffle a bit.
I mean, I could probably motivate myself to shave and wear a nice shirt to the mailbox, if it contained a $12,475 monthly check from DFAS. (Sniffle!)
I'd never been more tempted to feel like a victim – an emotion that could have easily consumed me. Many would have supported, even welcomed me in the victim role; pundits would have let me rant, and a tell-all would have been an instant bestseller.
Thank God you didn't go that route.
How did you claw your way out of this abyss of meaninglessness, Stan? Laid-off mid-career professionals want to know!
While momentous at the time, the question was actually quite simple: what am I? And what do I want to be next?
...in the end, the answer was simple. My business, and my life, has been people. Like leaders in many walks of life, my business has been to serve with, and for, others. By focusing on this simple truth, and allowing it to guide my decisions through a difficult time, this curveball ultimately opened as many doors as it closed.
Simple questions have simple answers. Stan lives simply now, by simply living for people. Like the people who are with him on the board of directors of JetBlue. And the the people who are with him on the board of Navistar International. And the people who work beneath him in his capacity as chairman of the board of Siemens Government Technologies. And the people in the UAE who profit from his work for their arms brokerage. Or the people who hire his consulting firm, McChrystal Group LLC, and its nearly 50 employees to do whatever the hell it is they do. Or the 1.3 million people who listen to his TED Talk, "Listen, Learn... Then Lead."
See, people? It's simple! Now you go do it.
[Photo credit: AP]