It was my first job, which I needed very badly. I was barely 16 and wanted to earn money to gain independence from my parents.
I thought my job performance was superb. But my manager saw it differently. He sat me down and explained, firmly but still kind of gently, that although he saw potential in me my evaluation was such that he was justified in letting me go.
I panicked. I knew if I lost that job for not doing it well enough I’d have a lot of trouble finding another one and I really needed to work.
The manager gave me one month to improve. He told me what I needed to improve and how. He took the time to make sure I understood what I needed to do. And he gave me that month to do it in.
I poured everything into that month. I was so determined to improve and keep that job.
I did it. After a month he gave me another evaluation and was very pleased with my progress. He explained what I needed to do to keep myself at that level of performance and I worked diligently at it. Not long after that I got a promotion.
I stayed in that job a little over three years. The episode taught me never to be complacent - which in itself was a magnificent life lesson from which I’ve benefited ever since.
I never forgot that manager. Because he took the time to make sure I knew what I needed to do to keep my job instead of just sending me home and hiring some other kid, he gave me a chance to work on my character.
It may sound like a small thing. But that episode made my life better, because it made me better.