Career Advancement Win or Learn!

Career Advancement: Win or Learn!

Are you one of those people who believes you either win or lose? If you answered “yes” you are probably losing out on some great opportunities to learn and grow. I would argue that you don’t win or lose, you win or learn!


Successful people “fail” more because they try more, but they also “win” more. Imagine the impact on athletes if they realized every time they lost they had an opportunity to learn to fine tune their skills and attitude to consistently improve their game.  A perfect example is Michael Jordan. When he was not chosen to play on the varsity basketball team, he learned that he must play better than all the other players on the varsity team. He did that by working harder, practicing more, and consistently improving his game.


Think for a moment how that situation might be handled today. Would Michael’s parents call the coach and complain?  Would they call the Athletic Director or others who could convince the coach to allow Michael to play JV and varsity ball?   Would they tell Michael to sit out for a year? Would they transfer him to another high school where he would be a starter on the varsity team?


If they had done any of those things, Michael would not have learned the lessons that stayed with him throughout his entire career and made him one of the greatest basketball players of all time. (Can you tell I’m from Chicago?) Michael might not have had even one championship ring, had he and his parents not viewed this as an opportunity for him to learn.


This concept is applicable to your career, personal life, outside interests, sports, or any time you put yourself out there to try something new. When you are afraid to fail or lose, you will limit the success you achieve and how far you advance in your career. Throughout my career I’ve seen candidates devastated when they are not hired for a job they really wanted. Almost always they end up accepting a much better opportunity with a better compensation package.


When you replace the word lose for learn the experience is positive and will help you achieve more. Losing or failing at something should never be fatal because that destroys creativity, empowerment, and the benefits of doing things that are out of your comfort zone.


Think of the last three times when you didn’t get a promotion, didn’t get assigned to a project you wanted, or didn’t get a job offer you anticipated. If you allow that experience to lower your expectations, you will experience failure again. Or you could review the decisions you made and the actions you took and make changes, so you achieve better results in the future.


Most of my children and grandchildren are athletes. I’m often shocked at the bad parent behavior I observe in the bleachers. I’ve often wondered the negative impact their words and behavior had on their children. When children are told they are either a winner or loser, learning is not an option. What a lost opportunity to teach children how to cope with failures and losses in their future.


Another important element of learning is to refrain for blaming others or circumstances for not getting a raise, promotion, or job offer. It’s easy to blame the economy, politics, age, bias, or anything else when you don’t obtain your anticipated results.  However, blaming anything for your experience can actually begin to sabotage your future success.


When you don’t obtain what you want, take time to study what you could have done differently. How would you have prepared differently? What decisions would you make, knowing what you know now? How would you change your actions or improve your follow up?


Next, determine how you can build a stronger professional and personal network throughout your career. Currently over 80% of individuals seeking career advancement find their next opportunity through networking. Who you know and who knows you can be just as important as what you know, when it comes to winning.


Include people in your professional and personal networks who have achieved what it is you would like to achieve in the future. If you want to escalate your career advancement, pay special attention to your immediate circle of friends. Are you the teacher or the student? Do you earn more or less than your friends? Are they happy where they are in their career, or are they also trying to achieve greater success and career advancement?


You want to include people in your professional network who can teach you, who earn more than you, and also have lofty career advancement goals.  Successful people like to hang around with other successful people because they also want to learn and grow.  Think of the most successful people you know, They have all had failures they’ve overcome and learned from, and they can help you achieve your career goals.


For much of my career, I felt it was wise to learn from my mistakes. Later in my career I learned that it is wiser to learn from the mistakes of others. Associate with people who have achieved what you are attempting to achieve. Learning from their mistakes is much less costly, will save you a tremendous amount of time, and help you achieve your goals faster.


In the future, whether you learn from you own experiences or others, you will achieve more, handle failure much better, and not be afraid to lose. Rather than focus on your loss, you will immediately think of what you learned that can help you achieve even more in your future!



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