Career Lessons from TV

Because TV Doesn't Really Rot Your Brain

Lesson from “Burn Notice”- Recovering From a “Burn”

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Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen on "Burn Notice"

Jeffrey Donovan as Michael Westen on "Burn Notice"

One of my favorite shows (when it’s on) is “Burn Notice” (Thursdays @ 9pm on USA). For the uninitiated, it’s about a former spy named Michael Westen (played by Jeffrey Donovan) who was blacklisted or “burned” by the CIA and dumped in Miami with nothing. While trying to figure out who got him burned and finding his way back into the CIA, he’s asked to use his espionage skills against criminal elements victimizing the innocent. On the surface, it’s about a cold, calculating, and dangerous individual that finds his humanity with his friends and family who back him up in his exploits, but it’s also about a story many of us have lived through. For reasons justified or not, we were dismissed from the jobs we loved and left alone to figure out our next move. So if you’ve been fired, sacked, laid off, or burned, what’s your next move?

Look Back Before Figuring Out What’s Next

As of the episode entitled “Signals and Codes”, Michael is hell-bent on getting his old job back, but it’s obvious to his friends, family, and even the fans that he’s already made a good life with his friends helping the innocent, and getting his old job back would be toxic to both him and the CIA. While most are smart enough not try and get their old jobs back (though numerous are still prone to pining for their exes), many don’t take the time to take a step back, go over what’s happened, and determine whether a change in career path is warranted. That’s what Anthony Balderrama from Careerbuilder.com suggests in his article “Make Getting Fired Work for You.”

In many cases, a change in career path is exactly what’s needed to develop new skills, appreciate new aspects of a career and recognize countless other opportunities that would’ve gone unseen if plodding along the same path. Not saying changing direction is always the case. It depends on you. If you can honestly say that doing the same thing for another company or for yourself is what’s best, go for it. Unfortunately that’s not the case for Michael. While he has aced the looking back part by figuring out who burned him at the end of last season, there’s a lot he still doesn’t know about them.  He doesn’t look forward to what opportunities he has in his current situation either. He has a chance to rekindle a relationship with his ex-girlfriend Fiona (played by Gabrielle Anwar), work with his best friend Sam Axe (played by Bruce Campbell) helping those in need and to re-connect with his estranged family. He also has a chance to practice his espionage skills without having to compromise his morals or ethics- a rare benefit indeed. So if you’re “burned”, take that step back. Figure out what happened, what needs to change. Make plans and go forward.

As For Me…

While I’ve taken a hard look at all the jobs I’ve held, taken stock in all that’s happened, made moves I thought were in the best interests of a career, I’m still waiting for the payoff. Yes, it can take some time, but in many cases, it eventually yields more than what was originally imagined. Vanessa Williams comes first to mind, but there are many other examples, famous or not, that have made the best of an unfortunate situation. Sure, fear and desperation can derail you, but it’s just a matter of keeping your chin up, your friends close, and remembering there’s still a lot of life left to live out there.

So do you have a career lesson from TV?  How did you, or how are you handling your job search or career? I’m happy to hear from you. Just a few ground rules- no personal attacks, name-calling, or otherwise ruining a perfectly good discussion. I’ll put up a new post in a few days. Talk to you soon.

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Written by Reginald Bautista

July 11, 2009 at 11:21 pm

One Response

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  1. i probably would not have supposed this was trendy many years ago and yet it is funny the way in which time varies the way you experience numerous creative ideas, thanks for the post it really is nice to read anything intelligent now and then instead of the usual crap mascarading as blogs on the internet, i’m off to play a couple of rounds of zynga poker, adios for now

    chips zynga

    March 20, 2010 at 5:26 am


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