A Growth Mindset

Why losing a job wasn’t the end of the world
Dan Davis ’16 is the center director for the Mathnasium of Beverly Hills and resides in Los Angeles.

After graduating college, I spent a long time searching for the perfect job. Most important in my search was finding a job where I felt like part of a team that was pushing me to be the best I could be. Following months of interviewing, I found one I was willing to leap into. It seemed perfect. My bosses not only seemed to understand that I was looking for a mixture of personal and professional growth, but they actually seemed to encourage it.

Two months into the job, I started to notice the contrary. As I completed my more advanced duties, they were replaced with clerical work. I felt confused because I thought I was taking the challenges in stride and returning quality work. Soon thereafter, I noticed a shift in my attitude as any hope of my position delivering professional growth began to expire.

Four months in, I was finding myself incredibly irritable — not only at work but also in my personal life. When my boss asked me to make a personal dinner reservation for her, I questioned how I could have been so disillusioned initially to believe she ever valued my professional growth over her own needs. I politely told her I did not feel comfortable making such a reservation. She replied that I was expected to do anything she requested. I left that day without making the dinner reservation and immediately began looking for jobs elsewhere.

A week later, my boss called me into her office and fired me. I had never been one to fail at anything growing up, so I imagined getting fired would hurt. Instead, I felt immense relief that I wouldn’t be required to stay at a place that offered me nothing more than a paycheck. 

I left that night and sought out a temporary job while I continued my search for something more long-term. I took what I assumed to be a short-term position at a math learning center, Mathnasium, but by the end of my first day, I realized that something was fundamentally different with this job than my last. My boss genuinely cared about my well-being, and the higher-ups at the headquarters actively wanted to know how to improve their systems from those working within the centers. It became apparent to me that this was a position in which completing challenging tasks would return more complex problems to me to solve instead of any regression.

Sure enough, a little after a month in, I was asked if I’d like to continue my growth as a management trainee for the franchise headquarters. I jumped on the offer and began tackling any obstacle put in front of me, with the help of my bosses and the understanding that my failures were fine as long as I learned and continued to grow from them. This focus on a growth mindset wasn’t something I just felt in my core, but it was something stressed very often by those around me. It pushed me to work harder and gain more confidence in my skills.

Less than four months into my career at Mathnasium, I was given the opportunity to run my own center and manage a staff of wonderful people that I hope to continue challenging every day I work here. And that’s why I’m so glad my previous boss fired me. She wasn’t able to give me the one thing I wanted most: growth. I hope to use that experience to not only prioritize growth in my future opportunities but also to remember that my employees deserve the same. 

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