Getting fired or laid off can be a devastating experience. It’s more than the sudden loss of income; there’s the blow to one’s self-confidence and the sudden feeling of instability.
But if this is your situation, or if you’re in danger of losing your job, Roy Choi has some timely advice for you.
Choi is an award-winning chef and co-owner of seven restaurants. He’s the creator of Kogi, an uber-popular gourmet Korean taco truck, which led to his reputation as “the godfather of the food truck movement.”
But you might be surprised to learn the backstory that led to Choi’s success:
It all began back in 2008, when he lost his job as a restaurant chef. Ask Choi about the experience, and he definitely sees it as life-changing.
That is, it changed his life for the better.
“Odds are, there’s something that’s talking to you, there’s something that’s tugging at you,” Choi said in a recent interview with Inc. “And I’m sure a lot of you have those feelings…You’re sitting at your desk and you’re working, and you have these great ideas, but sometimes you don’t trust them.”
“Hopefully it doesn’t take your whole life collapsing for you to hear it, like it did for me,” he continues. But it takes something to shatter, where you completely open up to this idea, and listen to the idea, and trust it, and trust your gut, your instinct, and actually go out and execute it.”
Choi’s words hit me hard. Some years ago, a sudden turn of events left my wife, my son, and I on welfare. I wanted to believe things were going to turn around, that I would eventually find another job. But as the months went on, I started to lose hope.
But my newfound situation also lit a fire under me. Truthfully, I never wanted to build a business. But I was willing to do (almost) anything to get my family out of that dire position. I did have ideas, and I was no stranger to hustling. So I started consulting as a freelancer, and one job led to another.
And the rest, as they say, is history. (Here’s the full story, if you’re interested.)
What about you?
If you’ve gone through a similar experience, I encourage you to remember Choi’s words. The truth is, the world of work is drastically changing. We now live in a gig economy, and the number of freelancers and independent contractors continues to rise.
“If I hadn’t reached rock bottom and lost everything, I wouldn’t have been able to understand what it means to be an entrepreneur,” Choi relates. “I had to lose everything so I could see everything.”
There are those who were born to be entrepreneurs, and there are others who have this life thrust upon us.
I was the latter. But if I could go back, I wouldn’t change a thing.
As a lover of learning, I’ve thrived these past years. Forget about business school: With the unlimited resources available today, it’s possible to learn anything–and experience is truly the best teacher. Working for yourself also brings a degree of control over your life, one you can’t get otherwise.
Years ago, I could have never see myself working for myself. Now I can’t imagine doing it otherwise.
So, if you’ve hit rock bottom, my heart goes out to you.
But I also implore you not to give up. Don’t feel ashamed, because it can happen to anyone.
Instead, take that sad situation, and see it for its potential:
The best thing that could have ever happened.