Why Are You In Such A Rush?
October 27, 2015
I feel like there is an epidemic plaguing our workforce right now. Employees are eagerly -- often naively -- chasing that next job title too quickly. Employees appear obsessed with getting a new set of business cards. Something changed. I don't know when, but it did. Now, more and more employees seem motivated by the idea of getting promoted rather than becoming competent and successful in their current position.
I have to ask myself, what's the rush? Why the urgency?
Is it fear? Are people so worried that if they don't take the next step immediately they'll close the door on future opportunities? Where did this anxiety around not progressing come from? Maybe it comes from the misguided belief that if you aren't constantly climbing the corporate ladder, then you aren't growing; you aren't as good as your peers; your company will think less of you; you will be disappointing those who have invested in you so far.
Is it superficial pride? Society unfairly recognizes success in material terms. The more grandiose your title, the bigger your paycheck, the sportier your car and the bigger square footage of your home the more successful you must be. Is this social pressure causing employees to recklessly hit the gas on their career? Are we allowing our job title to define ourselves more than the values we chose to live our lives by? It would be a sad step back for the humans if that is true.
Is it a misunderstanding of hunger? I believe wholeheartedly in the importance of hunger. You need that built in drive and fearlessness to propel you forward. Without hunger you simply can't achieve all that you dream of. Maybe employees misunderstand hunger, believing that if they put their hands up for the new set of responsibilities and title, then they've demonstrated their hunger. If we're creating a business culture where "wanting more " has become greater than "doing better," then we're in real trouble.
There was a time where mastery in your role was highly valued. Businesses wanted their employees to become experts in their discipline. They wanted employees to be committed to the pursuit of excellence. This required employees to build comprehensive experience and skill. They needed to test the boundaries of their thinking and the thinking of others. Take some risks. Fail a few times. Win a few more times. Mastery takes time. To gain experience and skill you have to invest time. You need to amass a deep understanding of your role. It takes time! Mastery is what leads to world-class performance. It is through mastery that we make significant improvements to the way we do -- and win at -- business.
Employees who are fixated on reaching the top of the ladder, and do so at the expense of mastery, will always be failing to reach their fullest potential. Greatness comes through exceptional performance. It comes from achieving your goals and dreams despite the failures along the way. It comes from perseverance. It comes from the time invested. Greatness comes from being the best and achieving things that no one else is. It requires you to stand out from everyone else through the results you are delivering. Greatness doesn't come from your title or how many people you are responsible for.
I am not saying that getting a promotion -- and progression - is something I discourage. Quite the opposite, in fact! Individuals who grow and perform at the highest levels inspire me. I'm in awe of those who seem to achieve with ease while the rest of us are still trying to figure it out. What I do believe is that employees should earn their promotions because of the mastery they have amassed. In fact, employees should only want to be considered for promotion because of their successes. Employees should feel empowered to say no to the next step if they haven't gathered a comprehensive understanding of their current role and the results to prove it!
Employees need to stop being concerned about what comes next and focus on the right now. How can you become better at what you're here to do today? More people will notice you when you succeed at what you're doing now than when you accept a promotion that came too early. Success is about results; tangible results that others can see and understand. Your colleagues, clients and managers all need to see the same results.
Our reputations are built on our successes, not the job titles we collect. Having one win is far better than rising through the ranks of a company.
Let's slow down and stop chasing. Focus on mastering your current role. Chalk up some wins. When you've achieved all you have set out to do in your current role, then it's time to climb to the next rung of the ladder.