There are three ways to tell this story:
1. Although after winning a commanding 43% in the final round of The Washington Post’s @Work Advice Contest, they chose someone younger with consistently fewer votes.
2. I don’t care that I didn’t win The Washington Post’s @Work Advice Contest because I really don’t have time for it anyway.
3. I gave The Washington Post’s @Work Advice Contest my best shot – I wrote like Monet painted – but the judges preferred Van Gogh. And that is OK.
See, there are always many ways to tell a story. And I told all of those versions of my story in the first 24 hours after I found out that, despite having the vast majority of the final vote, I didn’t win.
It was hard.
It really hurt.
Because I had put myself out there, and told all of you that I really wanted the job.
And I worked hard.
And I put other things aside to focus on the contest.
And I fell short.
Then I got a grip, and thought of all the clients over the years who have been final candidates in some executive search and haven’t been offered the position. What do I advise them?
Honor the full sweep of your emotions. Because there are no “wrong” emotions. There are just emotions.
So, heeding my own advice, I was – by turns – angry, sad, self-chastising, denying, accepting.
No pretending. Just whatever it was, as it was.
And, after all of that emotion, I settled into this thought: Close, baby, but no cigar.
But the damn cigar is completely within reach.
The cigar that’s coming next for me may just be a different brand, and aroma, and size than I expected. And I will welcome it.
You all know that I believe we each have 100 units of energy to spend each day. Yesterday’s are gone, and tomorrow’s belong to tomorrow – so how I spend my 100 today is vital. And totally up to me.
I know that in order to achieve anything, I must use my energy to support my greatest priorities:
Being a good enough parent.
Doing work that makes a difference, and that I am proud of.
Caring for my emotional, spiritual, physical and financial health.
Truth is, I would have loved writing for The Washington Post. But not writing for The Washington Post offers me the opportunity to put more energy units on my true, real priorities.
Plus, there are gifts for me in not getting what I wanted.
(Which is something I often suggest clients look at – and after they throw something at me, they usually find the gifts inherent in any difficult situation.)
For me, the gifts were multiple:
I tested my writing skills and found them strong, coherent, and well-received.
I connected with people who love my work.
I found new people who love my work.
I felt tremendous gratitude for an ocean of support from people all around the world.
So, I am a loser. No doubt about that.
How do I know? Because I did not win.
But, I am a happy loser who feels like she got the best possible part of the whole deal.
See, in losing I found more of myself.
And that’s a win, sugar. A big, honking, bona fide win.