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How to Learn from Failing to Win a Promotion - USAA Member Community


Failing to win a desired promotion can be one of the most difficult experiences to accept and learn from inside of corporate America. You have to accept that you failed, you have to put aside the disappointment, and you often times have to work with or for the person that won the promotion.  Learning and moving forward from these disappointments is one of the best things that you can do for your present and future career.


Follow these points to understand how you can learn and benefit from not being selected for a promotion to achieve future success.


Get upset & then get over It.  Before you move on, give yourself some time and perspective to be disappointed, to get mad, and then to get over the emotion involved in the failure.  Too often, people may try to be too mature with the loss and do not allow the emotion and feelings of the experience to be felt and to work themselves out.  Find positive ways to work out the emptions.  Talk to a friend, go for a long hike in the forest, run 5 miles, make your family’s favorite dinner, or take a day off from work and take your family to the zoo.  Finding a positive outlet for your frustration and disappointment while finding a way to be thankful for what you have is a great way to ensure you have the positive mindset to learn from this experience.


Take a critical look at your skills & experience against the successful candidate.  Next, assess yourself in an honest and open light against the successful candidate.  Did the successful candidate have a technology background that you did not?  Did the successful candidate have a background more suited to the financial challenges in the position?  Did the successful candidate have a wider background in sales experience to be successful?  Comparing yourself to the successful candidate helps you understand areas that you had not considered to improve in your experience and skill sets.


Look at successful leaders in your industry.  Once you compare yourself to the successful candidate, look around at other similar leaders in your company and in your industry.  This is a great way to identify trends and experiences that leaders in your industry have identified as important or new experiences that are becoming important in your industry.  Biographies from industry conferences and speaker biographies are a quick and immediate way to identify trends and backgrounds that are important to current and future leaders in your industry.


Take on new responsibilities in your current position.  Finding ways to perform new duties or take on additional responsibilities in your current role shows depth of character, grit, and the ability to lead by example through disappointment to the success of the company.  It is so easy to pull inward after a failure and you need to instead turn outward and find ways that you can be supportive in helping the organization achieve its goals.  Moreover, leadership by example and leading more, not less, rapidly demonstrates that you are ready and able to tackle on additional responsibilities and are prepared for promotion.


Gain more visibility to senior leadership.  Look for important company initiatives that you can assist as well as vital local community initiatives that you can work on that highlights your skills, leadership, and determination to help others.  Showing thought leadership in an industry presentation, a presentation to a customer, or a conference presentation are other ways you can gain leadership visibility as well as contribute to a positive impression of the company in the community. 


Plan your next three alternate moves.  Finally, once you have studied the successful leaders in your industry and taken on new responsibility with greater visibility, then plan your next three career moves.  Think about lateral moves to gain greater responsibility and experience that may not be direct promotions, but new responsibilities that will give you experience to be successful in your next roles.  Talk and network with other senior company leaders to explore non-traditional career moves that can give you insight into how to successfully perform in new roles.


Learning from not being selected for promotion is never easy. Learning from the experience is always good for your future.  Following these six ideas will help you gain the most from your disappointing experience and help ensure success in your next career opportunity.


Share how you overcame the loss of a promotion in the comments below.


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About The Author:

Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published over 230 articles in over 110 publications on military veterans, career advancement, business, leadership, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics.  Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better.  Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Creighton University.  Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.  Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and

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How to learn from not listening to your members. The ones who are responsible for your success.  Your NFL sponsorship is a marketing failure which will be studied for years to come in business schools.  Hope you are keeping track of how much this will cost your bottom line.