When You Lose An Election

I’ve lost a few elections in my time. It hurt. It left me feeling out of sync and uncertain. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride.

If you’ve lost an election or some type of selection process, I am writing this post for you. I imagine you sitting across a table from me and you’ve just heard the news that someone else has won…someone else has been selected over you. And you’re starting to equate the fact that you just lost with a sense that it means you’re a loser.

First off, stop right there. The one thing I want to say to you right now is THANK YOU!

Thank you for taking a risk and putting yourself out there as a viable candidate. Thank you for recognizing your strengths and giftedness and your willingness to use those for us. Thank you for giving us a choice, a good choice, for the position being filled. Thank you for wanting to make a difference. Thank you for being the one to step up and stand out when a lot of other people sat back and blended in.

I know that right about now you don’t feel like being thanked. You may not feel like what you did or tried to do during your campaign amounted to much of anything. But you have left us all with a great impression of who you are. Just because you weren’t elected or selected doesn’t change the significance of your heart, your desires, your passions, your abilities, your skills, your intentions, or your dreams. It merely changed your plans.

As you spend the next few days working through the all of the thoughts and feelings that come with this, please keep in mind the following:

  1. Even though you lost an election, you’re not a loser.
    Hold your head up. Respond positively. Don’t blame anything or anyone. Everyone who desires to be in an elected or selected position will lose out to someone else at some point.
  2. Take some time right now to thank those who helped you.
    Whether they made posters for your campaign or helped spread the word, make sure you thank them. They’re feeling bad as well (they wanted you to win). Your positive and encouraging words to them will restore their confidence.
  3. Congratulate the person who won.
    This may be difficult but it is absolutely the right thing to do. The campaign and competition is over. Now you are on the same team. Reach out to that person with heartfelt congratulations and offer your support as you both move forward.
  4. Reflect on the campaign.
    The best thing you can do with a failed campaign is to learn from it. What will you do different next time? Who do you need to bring on board? Don’t beat yourself up. Learn what you can from your experience. It will give you an edge when you enter your next campaign or selection process.
  5. Gather yourself.
    You will experience a whirlwind of emotion. Take the time to regroup and find your emotional center. You entered the campaign or process with a lot of confidence. Now that confidence has taken a hit and you need to recapture it. Talk to friends. Immerse yourself in something else. Find a sense of balance through the realization that your life and your significance is more than the results of an election.
  6. Begin to formulate a new plan.
    Like I said above, when you lose an election the only thing that really changes is your plans.  You don’t need to change your life, you just need to change your plan.  Start looking at your options. Now it’s time to start thinking about what’s next.
  7. Keep your campaign promises.
    I think this may be the most important thing you do. You might have originally thought you needed to be in a position of leadership in order to make a difference. But some of the best leaders I know don’t hold any type of formal position. Yet they’re very influential. Take a look back at your campaign themes and the ideas you were hoping to implement. You can still work to make those things happen. You can still influence your peers. If you were passionate enough and confident enough to run a campaign on these issues, then you are the one we still need to make these things happen. You’ll just be working at it from a different angle then you originally thought.

In the end, my hope for you is that you won’t give up. I hope this defeat is not the one that defines you. I hope that you take the words of Andre Malraux to heart and jump back in the fray…

“Often the difference between a successful person and a failure is not one has better abilities or ideas, but the courage that one has to bet on one’s ideas, to take a calculated risk – and to act.”

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.joshuablick.com Joshua Blick

    Thank you this was a huge help to me today. I just lost my election on Tuesday that I’ve been wanting for 8 years. I’ve just experience the worst week of my life and haven’t been able to eat a thing for 3 days. I’m having very hard time getting out of this emotional battle with myself. I put my heart and soul into this and ran a clean campaign. I’m ….. going to have to read this daily until my life comes back.

    • tim milburn

      Joshua:
      So sorry to hear about your election loss. That is hard. I went over to your site. Was it for a city council position? I hope you are able to find a new plan and a new path for the next season of your journey. Thank you for posting your comment. I’m glad the post offers you a bit of comfort.

      Keep going!

  • Jack Hollen

    Thank you so much for this, I have self-esteem issues and ever since I lost my election, I have felt very badly, however this article has helped very much, thank you.

  • Alexis Vasquez

    Thank you so much! I just lost my election today. And it’s my second time and I just feel like I’m a loser. I don’t feel like going back to school.

  • Goot Logwood

    Thanks for the direction. I lost an election in May and my mother in June. Tough on a person when you’re dealing with a million different emotions from the loss of an election, and the loss of your biggest lifelong supporter. It also hasn’t allowed time to deal with my feelings, since I have been consumed with not only taking care of my own family, but now an aging father too.

    This article sincerely helped me find my way through part of these trials. Thank you again.

  • Carol McAlister

    Thank you very much for your article. I just lost a school board election on Tuesday. Out of six candidates, I had the least amount of votes. I am on an emotional rollar-coaster and I am feeling like a BIG loser. I really thought that this was the Lord’s plan for my life, but I must have really missed the boat on what the Lord was saying. I am not much of a campaigner, so the whole process was very difficult for me. Your article has helped me tremendously. Thank you. Your words are blessing.

    • tim milburn

      Carol – so sorry to hear your campaign didn’t pan out as you hoped. I wouldn’t doubt the good that God can do in the midst of this loss. You put your hat in the ring, you gave it your best shot. It sounds like you did something that wasn’t easy. All of that, in and of itself, is a huge victory. Think of all you’ve learned. Think of all you’ve done to stretch yourself. You may not have met your goal, but you’ve taken more steps on the path to growth. So glad the article was helpful. I think the Lord’s plan continues to be fulfilled in you.

  • http://PKENYENSO.COM Peter

    Thanks dearly for this information. I have lost primaries (election) twice to represent my constituency in the nation’s parliament. I think if I could have had this information earlier it could have done me a lot of good; in any case it is still timely and God sent
    God bless you

    • tim milburn

      Peter.
      Losing an election is a difficult experience. But it is one that we can definitely learn from and bounce back from. I think it takes time to get over it. But after awhile, it’s easier to focus on the learning part and not the losing part.

  • Jessica

    Thank you so much!I’ve cried all day. But seeing this gave me clarity of why I was crying. I lost my election today to someone who hadn’t even campaigned at all. As of now, I feel upset and pretty worthless, but seeing this article really helped me see that I’m not the only person. Thank you so much.

    • Amrita

      The same thing happened to me!Even I lost to a person who didn’t campaign at all! I had worked so hard for it! I had been crying all day until I read your comment… Looks like there was someone like me too!

  • Lynn

    Thank you for this truly encouraging post, Tim. I haven’t lost an election as such, but I have recently been passed over for promotion where I work and the feelings are the same, as I am sure you are aware. I think holding your head high and congratulating the person who was successful may be the hardest thing, but it makes all the difference, because only then can you truly believe that others would have been genuine in wanting you to succeed.

    I really like your point no. 7, which is so true, that you can still achieve what you imagined, even without the official title. I see myself as a Leader Without a Title where I work, and this has allowed me to believe in myself and achieve things I never would have done had I not decided the title and position was unnecessary.

    And if we set out to achieve those goals, even though we weren’t successful this time, it can motivate us to keep trying, to persevere and be more successful the next time.

    Thank you for a great blog. Your words came at just the right time!

    • tim milburn

      Appreciate your response and comment here Lynn. I think this is applicable in your situation. It’s great to hear you are a “Leader Without a Title” – that’s often the best kind.

      Blessings your way in all of your future endeavors.

  • Lydia Long

    Thanks, I needed some outside words of wisdom. Now I’m figuring out how to win next time. I did everything right and even many of my opponents supporters gave me credit for my campaign. And, to top if off many of them said I was more qualified!

  • John

    Thank you. This is what I needed to hear. It’s not that I feel incompetent, it’s just that I’m an achiever and losing the elections knocked me down a bit.

    • tim milburn

      Hey John:

      Your feelings are valid. It takes something out of us when we lose an election. But don’t let those feelings continue to guide your actions or the way you view yourself. You are experiencing a change of plans. Time for a new plan. Wishing you all the best.

      • michie

        For the past two years I was the President of a union that has 400 members. Like others I put my heart and soul into it…made many positive changes at the workplace. But lost.
        My problem, is that I put all of myself into that job! So, now I feel that it defines who i am. So, clearly feeling a sense of loss. Its tough. I know how everyone on this post feels and it is crappy to lose! Lol,

  • AR

    Just lost my school election and got the position nobody else ran for which I see as nobody wanted. I thought I had it in the bag.

  • Jeanie Martin

    How do we address the presidential election for those of us devastated by the outcome? I am trying to go on and not look at my children and grandchildren without crying.

  • Iliana ortiz

    So about thirty minutes ago I lost the presidency to my high school national honor society which I already had, to someone ifeel was only trying to beat Me. I have been through so much stuff in the past three years. I have given my life and soul for NHS and yet I lost. I don’t feel like a loser because I know she won out of popularity but it angers me that such a decision was made. NHS it’s my life and I feel like now I have no say in it. I hate that girl. Really. I do. She took something that I earned and I feel like I let the people that voted for me last year down.

  • http://www.joshuablick.com Joshua Blick

    Tim,
    I just wanted you to know that I’m back in the saddle again and running for City Council. We just finished the primary and I won against three other competitors. The general election is within 30 days and I have a lot of hard hard ahead of me, but just wanted to give you and update. I walked over 4000 doors within 40 days and maintained a clean campaign during the primary. I had an opponent that broke the law by buying votes through his restaurant and attacked me through his own newspaper. I was also attacked physcally by one of his workings for catching them stealing my yard signs. I truly believe that persistence and dedication to my community allowed me to stay on the path and not get caught up in emotion during the attacks. I’m reading my first post daily as motivate to remind me how I felt after losing the last election. I’ll follow up with you on April 3. Thank you for all your word of encouragement.
    Joshua
    316-778-0095
    JoshuaBlick.com
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joshua-Blick-For-City-Council/174479169233719?ref=hl
    http://www.facebook.com/joshuablick

    Article :

    http://www.kake.com/home/headlines/Candidate-Accused-Of-Ethics-Violation-In-Wichita-Council-Race-191759661.html

    http://www.kake.com/home/headlines/Voters-Turn-Out-In-Sedgwick-County-Primaries-193454081.html

    http://www.kansas.com/2013/02/26/2693073/blick-leads-district-4-race-for.html

    http://www.kansas.com/2013/02/27/2694771/city-council-candidate-craig-gabels.html

    http://www.kansas.com/2013/02/18/2681198/district-4-city-council-candidates.html

  • Lily Pennington

    My school was having a Student Council Assosiation election, and I was glad that all my freinds got through. Except Noah. I felt bad for him, since he had been here years before one kid who got through. Anyways, everyone has voted for the final ones, and I lost to a THIRD GRADER!!! Two other freinds, including my crush lost to another freind, and me and another freind lost to the third grader. Recently, my life has blown up in my face, and I lost two competitions today. I’m supposed to be doing homework, but I was surfing and found this. It helped me a ton. Thanks. I’ll give my freinds your advice, because two cried.

  • Lily Hayes

    I ran for four elections and I lost all of them. It brings me down to know that someone preferred another person over me. I’m angry, hurt, and sore because of that. The feeling of losing to someone isn’t great. I had a strong speech for my recent election and I got the results today. I feel like there is something wrong with me or how I do things. I had many friends help me through the campaign and I feel like I let them down. This year I was confident that I would win, but after hearing the results I feel like all my pride is taken away. Anyways, thank you for writing this article. It made me feel a little better

  • tim milburn

    Lily…I am sorry to hear about your string of defeats. Please don’t let it define you. Your willingness to jump in and TRY speaks volumes about who you are. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

  • Meghan

    I know everything happens for a reason but after analying this for so long I can’t find the reason. I’ve served on student council in the same position for the last two years and I just lost after running for the third time. I believe in God and I know whatever happens for the right reason but I still don’t see it. Is it because I did a bad job and people didn’t like me? Mind you it was only a 2% gap but I am still very hurt by this.

    • tim milburn

      Meghan – Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I am glad to hear you believe in God. I would push back a little bit and say that I don’t think God had you lose an election for a reason. But I do think God can take any situation and use it for His good. Even in the midst of your loss (which is confusing and saddens you) there is good that can come from it. Take some time to write down and reflect on every lesson you’re learning. What would you do different next time? How are you letting this affect you? Are you growing stronger? Your response to this is where all of the good stuff is that will better prepare you for the next time! Don’t spend too much time looking for a reason. Instead, look for your next opportunity.

  • Robert

    Thank you for this post. This was the first article I clicked on through my google search results. I need look no further. This is what I needed to hear. I lost an election last night that I thought was a sure thing. I felt like a player on the TV show Survivor who got blindsided. Several people had vowed their support but voted in the opposite direction at the last minute. The worst part is I feel like I lost a friend who was part of this “blindside.” I know it should not be that way and time will heal things. I needed to read your post this morning and remain positive and not act too quickly. I now understand I need to take a little time to regroup and formulate a new plan. I won’t give up. Thank you.

  • Katie

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. I have ran for an office of presidency in one of my groups and lost twice. And this really helpede with some feelings that have just been sitting inside of me. Every time I hear of this person or the officers meeting I just cRinge and feel defeated all over again. But just because I lost doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have run. Which makes me feel better. But The sad part is I kind of wanna run again, maybe not for president but perhaps vice presIdent. Would that be bad? I Lost out for president twice, but there was an entire year in between my two losses. Should I just give up and let this go or should I continue to put myself out there?

    P.s. sorry for spelling errors I typed this on an iPad and it drives me crazy!

  • Monty

    I was campaigning for Class President, but I lost by one vote via election fraud. After the initial voting, our supervisor said us that he didn’t want any more abstentions, so the two people who didn’t vote, voted for my opponent because his name was called first. So now, I feel a lot of anger towards those two animals because I wanted to show that I could lead the class, to show that I was capable of leading a body of people, and it seems like the people didn’t want to give me that chance. I asked the people who (sincerely) wanted to vote for my opponent why they voted for him, but they didn’t give an answer as to why. The guy who won doesn’t want to talk to me, keeps ignoring me and treats me like a lesser being. Even in Science projects where we’re grouped together, he keeps asking me questions to make absolutely sure that we get it right, yet doesn’t do the same when he’s grouped with anyone else. Even when I still try to keep order, the class just won’t listen to me and they stare at me like I was crazy. So now, whenever I fail at something, the election loss keeps coming back to haunt my mind. Has the Father even tried to care about my predicament? Help.

  • Azeez fatai

    Just lost a school departmental election to a friend, though very painful, i cried for my fans, those who beleive in my vision…i pray there will come another opportunity to compete in an election and i as well pray i dont dissapoint my fans next time,,,,thanks for the great post