I hope you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving this year with family and/or friends that are special to you. In our case, our children and grandchildren are literally spread out from east coast to west coast, so it’s impossible for us to be with all of them. Fortunately, we do have children and grandchildren living close to us here in Virginia and we celebrated Thanksgiving with them in our home.
Gratitude Thought Starters
In the devotion before our meal, my wife prayed:
“Heavenly Father, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry; when I have work, help me to remember the jobless; when I have a home, help me to remember those who have no home at all; when I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer. And in remembering, help me to destroy my complacency; bestir my compassion, and be concerned enough to help; by word and deed, those who cry out for what we take for granted. Amen”
She then asked everyone to lift their dinner plate to reveal a different “Gratitude Thought Starter” that she had written especially for each one of us to think about and share with everyone. They were things like:
- Name something you smiled or laughed at recently.
- What is something you learned this year and are thankful for?
- What is a song you’re grateful for?
- What is a memory you are thankful for?
- Name someone you’re grateful for.
And when I looked down at what was under my dinner place, I read:
- What blessing in disguise are you grateful for?
I was seated at the other end of the dinner table from my wife, about half-way around, and when it was my turn to share, I said, “I don’t understand mine. I will pass and you can come back to me.” My wife said to me, “Think of it beyond the box of traditional Thanksgiving things.”
My Blessing in Disguise
After my wife shared her blessing, all eyes turned to me and I said:
“I’m grateful for all the times I’ve been fired.”
Which left everyone dumbfounded.
I realized that every time I had been fired from a job in my life, what always came next was better than what I had left behind.
The First Time I Was Fired
I was half-way through my undergraduate degree program at college when I was told by my radio station general manager that if I didn’t work the insane hours he wanted me to work, then I would be fired. I handed him my key and walked out the door.
I placed a higher value on doing my best in school and earning my college degree, than I did working in the career that I loved, radio.
Before the week was out, the other radio station in town called me and hired me to work for them. The hours were better (fit with my school schedule), the pay was better and I got to play the music of my generation that appealed to people my age.
The Second Time I Was Fired
For the next two decades I would enjoy being promoted and hired away for better and better jobs.
In 1997, the stations I had been the general manager of for 13 years were sold to new owners. I was called to a 3pm lunch by one of the partners of the new ownership group. He explained that one of the partners was to be the “managing partner,” and that my job would end with that lunch.
But, what came next in my life were two new general manager jobs that took me to Delaware/Maryland and Iowa, that provided me with new professional growth and a renewed enthusiasm for the radio business.
The Third Time I Was Fired
While I was managing in Iowa, the phone rang one day with the owner of radio and TV stations back in New Jersey asking me “What can I do to get Dick Taylor to come back and work for me?” As the station group I was working for was in the process of selling the group to Cumulus Broadcasting, I was anxious to return to New Jersey and be close to my two sons. I also was thrilled to once again be able to rejoin the New Jersey Broadcasters Association (which made me a Life Member in 2010).
However, that job would end in three short years, when the owner who hired me unexpectedly passed away while on a cruise. The stations were put up for sale and the number of managers were reduced from three to two, with the board deciding the last hired should be the first fired.
That’s when I was recruited by Clear Channel to manage their Lancaster, Pennsylvania properties. It would also be the second time I got a change to move radio stations into a completely new facility, while growing ratings and revenues.
Clear Channel would promote me to a station group back in New Jersey and all went well until the Great Recession of 2008, when the world would see the company doing massive RIFs (Reduction In Force).
After completing all of my property’s mandated RIFs (none of which I agreed with and fought hard to prevent) my regional manager came into the radio station unannounced, proceeded to my office and fired me.
Ironically, the day that it happened, the latest edition of Radio Ink magazine came out naming me one of the best general managers in radio.
In that same magazine, would be a classified ad for a radio broadcasting professor position at Western Kentucky University. I applied for the position and was hired by the School of Journalism and Broadcasting. Teaching at a university had always been my next career goal after working in radio. I wanted to “pay forward” what I knew to the next generation of broadcasters.
Always Be Grateful
The lesson in life that I want to share with you is, we can’t see how the twists and turns of one’s life will play out in the moment they occur, but if we choose to look for the positive in each event, we will find it.
Henry Ford put it this way:
Whether you think you can or think you can’t,
The simile to those words I would contend are:
Whether you think what happens to you in life is good or is bad,
Pick the positive, what have you got to lose?