Seventy percent of Americans are unhappy at their job. And if you're reading this article at work, there is a near 100 percent chance you're one of them.

But no ever tells you to quit or get fired. That would be crazy. Right? Maybe. Although plenty of successful people have been fired.

  • Walt Disney was fired from The Kansas City Star for lack of imagination.
  • J.K. Rowling was fired from Amnesty International because she used her work computer to write stories.
  • Oprah Winfrey was fired as a reporter because she was too emotionally invested in her pieces.
  • Thomas Edison worked on an experiment, while at Western Union, that accidentally spilled acid and destroyed the floors. He was also fired.

All of these people had a calling outside of their current job. Sometimes, you need a push to become who you are destined to be.

If you have ideas, leave

Greg Larkin was the head of innovation for Bloomberg until one day--while hiking a mountain in Scotland--he decided enough was enough and left to start his own company. He now makes three times as much and works on projects he loves.

"There is an enormous, growing gap between an innovator's value in the economy versus their value inside a corporation. In this digital age, the ability to sense unmet needs and quickly develop and validate a differentiated solution acts as valuable currency," said Larkin. "In a huge company, it makes you an insubordinate troublemaker."

Getting fired shows you who you are

I have always been one of those insubordinate troublemakers. When I was 25, I was fired from a job I didn't like by an organization that didn't understand me. It was terrifying. But it forced me to brand myself, aggressively network, execute on my ideas, and build my own business.

Twenty-five-year-old me didn't know it at the time but it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. If that hadn't happened, my life goal would be to become the VP of Blah Blah Blah for Some Company You Don't Know that makes Things You Probably Don't Use.

"When you make that leap back out of the corporation and back into innovation, it feels reckless and suicidal," said Larkin. "You've been programmed to feel that way. But soon you start to think, create, and build and people start to notice."

Why you should leave:

  • Do the math. If you only need to land two or three clients to make your annual salary, you should leave and find work-life balance.
  • Assess your network. If you have enough influential contacts to help you launch an idea, then go for it. This can even be done while still employed in some cases.
  • Know what makes you happy. If you're not happy where you are, do something about it, even if it's scary.

How to leave

"Finish up professionally, close out your projects, share a (tasteful) 'see you later' with folks around the office, and depart so that your peers remember your class and your dignity," said Marc Cenedella, founder and CEO of Ladders. Nine million-plus subscribe to his weekly career advice newsletter.

It's never too late

"God fires you from jobs you're too dumb to quit," said John Tarnoff, author of Boomer Reinvention: How to Create Your Dream Career Over 50. The former Hollywood executive was fired 39 percent of the time in his career.

"Getting fired is not fatal in your 50s or 60s, it is the necessary jumping off point for the second-act or "encore" career that you're going to need to figure out in any event," said Tarnoff. "In a more unstable, rapidly changing world, getting fired is not necessarily about your performance, but more a question of fit. Learn from the experience, mourn if you must, but get back out there ASAP."

What if you can't leave?

It's unreasonable to think everyone can read this article and leave his or her job. Every circumstance is different. If you have to stay, make an exit plan.

"The potential for other opportunities within and outside of your organization increases exponentially when others know of you and your skill set," said Amy Cooper Hakim. "You can show loyalty to your current role and organization and still grow your network on social networking sites like LinkedIn. Remain positive, don't try to change what you can't, but be proactive with your choices so that you may ultimately achieve the end result that you want and need for your career."

Published on: Mar 17, 2017