I’m going to guess that if you’ve run for office, if you’re the kind of person who sees at least the possibility of potential, then the idea of ‘losing’ isn’t something you’re particularly fond of.
I know I’m not.
Here’s how a friend described me after my race for office.
“You were all energy with no place to go…there was no outlet for the adrenaline.”
Running for office is a little bit like actual running. You get the right gear. You read the right information and talk to everyone you know who has done before what you plan to do now. You prepare. You learn — quickly — the difference between running a 50 yard dash and maneuvering a marathon. You learn what you need to do to pace yourself, to give as much as humanly possible each mile of the journey.
And then you get to the end. And it’s no-stone-unturned. You push with every single bit you’ve got and more that you didn’t know you had.
And if you’re lucky, you cross through that finish line and start the long process of cooling down. A brisk walk through the learning curve. A long walk through political office, which comes with its own unique challenges.
If you’re not lucky — if you lose — there’s not so much a finish line but a wall. You run as hard and as fast as you can and BAM!
You hit a wall.
I have to tell you…that wall can feel an awful lot like defeat at first.
And if you’ve just experienced that…if you’ve just hit a wall after running as hard as you could…it’s ok to feel disappointed.
It’s ok to feel a little down.
In fact, you may want to take a few days to take a little break. Take some time. Clean your garage. Go on vacation. Get your nails done. Spend time with your kids, or your bestie, or whoever makes you feel good. Take a break. You ABSOLUTELY deserve it. The break can be a week or a month or whatever it is you need. Because you can’t do anything for anyone else if you haven’t taken care of yourself.
But then…tired as you might be…you’re going to have to dust yourself off.
Because here’s the thing. You didn’t win your election. (And let’s face it…if you were willing to run, you had to be willing to lose). But you did use your voice. And the world needs it.
The world needs you.
All that preparation you did. All those people you met. All the ideas you had, the people for whom you advocated, the causes on whose behalf you spoke…they’re all still there.
What this means for you specifically is going to vary.
And the options are limitless. You can run again. You can help someone else run. You can pick one of your platform issues and commit to working with that. You can work with a non-profit. You can involve yourself with your political party or a grassroots organization. And those are the more obvious choices.
You can translate your leadership skills into a new field. You can contribute as a political expert in your community. You can write a book, start a business, be an adventurer, committed parent, an amazing friend.
The point is that the journey isn’t over. The loss isn’t the end. Instead, it’s a transitional moment…the challenge is figuring out how you want to participate in the next chapter of your life.
It’s knowing that you’re capable of more than you knew before you ran for office, and going forward with that new information.
Whatever you choose to do…do it. Don’t let something like a little loss stop you. As Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose. I either win or learn.”