Having been dismissed by the nation’s most powerful boss, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal knows a thing or two about getting fired. And now he’s helping others deal with it.
McChrystal’s almost-40-year tenure in the Army, culminating in his leadership of NATO forces in Afghanistan, came to an abrupt end when impolitic statements he and his staffers made about the Obama administration were published in a 2010 Rolling Stone article.
In a blog post for the professional networking site LinkedIn, McChrystal wrote about how he overcame a period of self-doubt to restart his career.
“My very identity as a soldier came to an abrupt end,” he wrote. “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’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.”
Rather, McChrystal wrote, he re-evaluated his core skills and beliefs and, with the support of his wife, Annie, he was able to find a new career informed by his experiences in the military.
“What I’d learned, above all other lessons, was the importance of those you surround yourself with,” he wrote. “That lesson would be with me forever, uniform or no uniform.
“So in the end, the answer was simple. My business, and my life, has been people. … 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. From starting a company to teaching at Yale, the past few years have been full of incredible experiences shared, most importantly, with true and lifelong friends.”
McChrystal, who now runs a consulting firm, has written several posts for LinkedIn, but this was the first dealing with his dismissal from his NATO role and subsequent retirement from the Army.