Since 2006, I’ve been working as a designer in different companies (and countries). I only got promoted twice, and one of those was my own company.
I came from a culture where people aren’t asking for their promotion. We tend to do as best as possible and wait for our manager to recognise and promote us.
For many years, I never asked for a promotion and didn’t realise that I had shut the door for my manager to help me out.
In other words, I missed the opportunity to be rejected.
Unfortunately, we are likely to overestimate learning from success and underestimate learning from failures.
The fact is, even you follow the footsteps of the most successful people step-by-step. Nothing guarantees your success.
But on the other hand, if you do what failure people do—I guarantee you too shall fail.
My point is you’ll have a better chance if you understand why people rejected you rather than try to imitate others’ success.
At the time of writing, I am the Principal Product Designer, and I have a goal to become a Head of Design by 2022.
I want to be the first person who serves other designers. I believe that’s what the Head of Design does and mean.
Before I asked for a promotion, my manager(s) said I was doing fantastic and noticed the great works I’ve done with the team time after time.
So I thought maybe its time to share my personal goal with my manager—hence I asked for a promotion.
Long story short—I got rejected.
Nothing as honesty as rejection.
“You’ll have a better chance if you understand why people rejected you rather than try to imitate others’ success”
It’s hurt, but the rejection allowed me to learn from my manager perspective why I can’t be a Head of Design yet.
In my case—I’m an individual contributor (IC) but asking for a manager role. It was a career path shifting.
As Marshall Goldsmith said, “What got you here won’t get you there.” Doing great with the IC role does not necessarily mean I can be a great manager.
My manager suggested it would be better for me to stick with the IC role and leverage my strength rather than start over again with a new career path.
So instead of Head of Design, I should aim for a Design Director role where I still can stay close with my craft & creativity and start managing a small design team to see if it suit me.
I can switch from IC role to manager role later if I enjoy managing people more than managing the works.
I think that was fantastic advice.
I discovered that I asked the wrong question. My definition of Head of Design doesn’t align with my manager. I’m now aware of what is my happiness.
Everything starts from a superb rejection. I have to be lost in order to be found.