Taking your firefighter promotional exam and passing and getting promoted in one go is the goal, but it is not always the case for everyone, and that is okay. Failing your firefighter promotional exam and failing to achieve firefighter promotion can have some surprising benefits.
Benefits of Failure
One major benefit of failing your firefighter promotional exam is the character building that comes with it. You get so much mental strength after experiencing failure. You need to make sure you don’t let that failure hold you back and go for your goal again. It is not easy to fail, especially if you give it your all. There are people you have to tell you failed, it can feel embarrassing and even shameful. Then you have to do all the work over with the potential for failure again still lingering. These are not easy things to do, but in the end they make you stronger and so much more resilient to other failures that will inevitably be a part of life.
If you fail your firefighter promotional exam or just don’t get promoted for one reason or another, it has the potential to cause a spike in creativity for you that would otherwise not have been there. After some reflection on what went wrong, you may realize that traditional study methods don’t work for you and you need to do something else for yourself to study and retain the material. You may realize that what you did during the oral interview was boring and unremarkable and you need to step it up and find a way to make it more memorable for the interviewers. You will get creative and find ways to overcome the failure and do better the next time. In this creativity, you will learn things about yourself and the process that you otherwise wouldn’t have if you hadn’t failed. Ways that actually make you successful in the long run and stick with you as you continue to learn and promote in the fire service, versus just scraping by in the promotion process and struggling with each successive promotion. You will learn things about yourself that you never otherwise would have, things that can help you for the rest of your life, that you likely wouldn’t have without this failure.
When people fail they have a tendency to look back on what happened and figure out why that failure happened. When doing this you may realize your perspective on promoting in the fire service has changed and is not what it once was. You may realize promotinging in the fire service wasn't your dream after all, but that you did it because other people wanted you to. If you realize being a ranking officer in the fire service isn’t your goal, you may find that something else is. Or you may actually realize how much you truly want to be promoted in the fire service and it may kickstart your motivation (see below) and the energy and passion in you. You may realize you screwed up and should have spent more time studying and learning and working towards this goal because it is what you want. It may reignite a passion in you that hadn’t been there for a while. When in the thick of studying and working and promoting, you may forget why you’re doing it and think it’s too hard. Once you try and fail though, your entire perspective can change and you may realize how badly you actually wanted it.
Lights a Fire Under You
There is no better motivator than failure. If you fail, don't just sulk in it, use it. Let that failure be what motivates you to study harder, to reach out for help if you need it, to prioritize practicing interview questions, not just going in and winging it. Failure can be a powerful motivator if you let it be. Don’t let failure hold you back from your goals, let it be what pushes you to have more goals. Grieve your failure for a moment, but then use it to work harder next time. If you use your failure as a motivator, as a tool to keep you going and to try again then it ends up being less of a failure overall.
You Gain Experience
A huge benefit of failing your first or even second attempt at promoting in the fire service is the extra knowledge that you gained about the firefighter promotional exam and promotion process. This will make the process so much easier if you decide to take the exam again because you know almost exactly what to expect. You know the exact format of the written exam, you even saw some of the exam questions so you know what to expect. They will likely change some the next time you take it, but the type of questions will be the same. This will allow you to go into the next round of the promotion process with more confidence because you will know what to expect. After all, you have done this before. Also, studying will be much easier since you are somewhat familiar with the material, even if you aren’t quite the expert you wanted to be just yet.
Failing sucks, but it doesn’t have to be completely devastating if you use the failure to your advantage. Use the failure to motivate, to get creative, to learn about yourself. Don’t use it as an excuse to give up or stop trying because failure plays a key role in everyone’s story.