Always a Bridesmaid

career desire zone success Nov 09, 2020

If you are somebody who is currently in a corporate career, or in a job, where you feel like you are consistently being looked over for new opportunities and new projects.  If you find yourself saying, I'm always a bridesmaid, never a bride, or being really frustrated about why you can't get the next promotion, the next project, or just move ahead in your career, I have three questions I want you to ask yourself.  

These questions will help both make you comfortable with what happened in this situation,  and also prepare yourself for future opportunities, in case something like this comes up again.

For those of you who think you're always a bridesmaid and never a bride when it comes to getting ahead in your corporate career, here are three questions you should ask yourself.

The first one is, "Was this really the right opportunity for me?"

This question ties back to last week's conversation on working in your desire zone. A lot of times, we know exactly what we should be doing and the type of work that we want to be in, but we see a new opportunity and we get excited about it, even though it doesn't exactly fit into what we've decided is the right thing for us and for our future.

I distinctly remember, back at a previous position, I was so disappointed that I had applied for a position, and I did not get it.  I had a heart to heart conversation with the hiring manager, who was also a dear mentor of mine.  We had a really good conversation, where she explained to me that while I felt like this was the right position for me, because it was a promotion, it was not the right position for me in the type of work that would be done. She really coached me on how to understand the type of work that I like to do, and the type of position that would be really important to me.  This opportunity didn't fit the bill, and the truth is, she was absolutely correct. As soon as we discussed it, I knew that, but even now almost 20 years later, I see even more clearly that she knew the decision she was making, was the right decision. I really appreciate her coaching me through that.

That's something you should think about if you don't get a position is, "Was this really the right thing for me? Did this fit in my desire zone? As I'm talking to people about what I want to do with my future, does this fit into what I've talked about?"

Another situation where I've been disappointed that I didn't get an opportunity, the person came back to me and said, "You told me you wanted something totally different. I didn't even think of you for this because this isn't what we had talked about that you wanted".

I think this really comes to staying close to your desire activities, staying close to what you know you're good at and what you really like to do, and not being distracted by the shiny opportunities that come in your way.

Question number one was, "Was this really the right opportunity for you?"

Question number two is "Am I missing something?"

This question is kind of hard to ask yourself sometimes, because of course, you're upset because you think you were qualified for the position, and you didn't get it. It's hard sometimes to look internally and think of why that might be.

Just like when you're driving your car, we have blind spots that we can't see. If we have some behavior, mindset, attitude, lack of knowledge that's hanging on to us, and we can't see it, that's something we need to have other people help us with.

Lots of times what's happening in these types of situations, where you're getting overlooked for opportunities that you think you deserve, is you have this blind spot that's holding you back. The best way to manage those blind spots, just like in the car where we look in the mirrors, or we look to our indicator lights to remind us that there's something there, is look externally, to other people to help us see our blind spots.

Blind spots are really difficult to identify on your own. That's why they're called blind spots to begin with. This is an opportunity where you can bring in a mentor, or coach, to help you identify those areas that might be holding you back.

As far as blind spots for me, I'm an enneagram 8, which means I'm a challenger, and I also have the strength of futuristic, which means I can see down the road, the obstacles that will be in the path of any project.  In my career, I was going to the management team saying, "this is what's going to happen in the future, we need to get started doing these things to avoid that".  A lot of people saw that as me stirring the pot, or creating drama, or creating a problem that didn't exist.   In fact, I was looking ahead, down the road, trying to solve a problem before it got here.

When this blind spot was revealed to me, along with how I approached these conversations, then I realized I could change the tone, and change the way we talked about it.  I could talk about it in a way that didn't feel like drama, and it didn't feel like me creating a problem out of out of nowhere, but I was still getting my point across and challenging the process, to make sure that we did the right thing for a future end state.

The second question I want you to ask yourself, when you miss out on an opportunity,  is "Am I missing something?" Then see if you can find someone, like a coach or mentor, to help you identify what that is.

The third question that you want to ask yourself is, "Could I have told my story better?"

One of the things that I see from individuals, particularly women or particularly people who are in the mid level of their career, is they're not doing a great job of telling the story of what they've been able to do, experiences they've had, skills that they've learned, or results that they've gained for the company.

They either get shy, and don't want to promote themselves, or feel like they're bragging or overconfident. So they hold back on telling that story.   Sometimes they just don't realize the story needs to be told, and that people forget what they've done, or other people in different parts of the organization aren't aware of what they've done.

The third question you can ask yourself is, "Can I tell my story better? Can I tell my story more frequently and to more people?  Can I really express, what I'm good at, what I've been able to accomplish?

The trick is to do it in a way that comes across as confident, but not overconfident. Where you're promoting yourself in a way that helps to get the next opportunity.

One of the things you can do in this situation, is to go to someone that can help you with those opportunities and say something like, "I'm not sure if you remember, but a few years ago, I worked on a project.  The role I played in that project was...  I would like to do more of that type of activity. Are you aware of any projects or positions that could use the skills that I used back then, my skills of leadership, organization, etc.?  Are there any opportunities that would be able to take advantage of that now?"

By being proactive with those conversations, ahead of time, then you remind people that you're interested in something.  When something does come up, they think of you.

What you want to be careful of is that you're not over-promoting yourself, but instead telling the truth about what you've been able to accomplish.

If you feel like you're always a bridesmaid, never the bride, because you keep getting overlooked for career opportunities, and it's causing you some frustration or discontent in your current job, there are three questions you should ask yourself.

Number one, "Was this really the right opportunity for me?" Number two, "Is there something I'm missing, a blind spot that someone else can help me identify?"  And number three, "How can I tell my story better, so that people think of me for these opportunities, and so that I'm better able to convey my skills and expertise in the future?"

If you want any assistance with any of these questions, or if you have other questions, drop them in the comments below, I'll be happy to answer them. Also, if you want to think about moving your career forward and up leveling your career to the next level, there's a video I have that's The One Thing that you need to do before you start working towards that new career. You can find that video at