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Unpopular Opinion: Forget Climbing the Corporate Ladder, Find Yourself First

We are all inclined to aim higher. We aspire to better ourselves and climb the corporate ladder. It’s a law of human nature. But we are usually overtaken by our ambition to grow that we fail to realize the latent, singular creative energy within us to develop our sense of self.

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We are all inclined to aim higher. We aspire to better ourselves and climb the corporate ladder. It’s a law of human nature. But we are usually overtaken by our ambition to grow that we fail to realize the latent, singular creative energy within us to develop our sense of self.

Photo credit: Decker

You’re probably working diligently towards realizing an ambition you’ve harbored for a while — steadily rise through the corporate ladder in your organization and make it to the top. This envisioned ascent is not a destination per se. It is rather systematic and is made possible by a cumulation of actions, interpersonal relations, know-how, ability to execute efficiently, expertise and sagacity in discharging the demands of your role.

It is natural to aspire to higher pedestals in life and your field of activity. And considering that your organization is propped up by a sturdy hierarchical framework and providing a critical fodder for its overall sustainability — employees at all levels, predictably, aim to assume a management role at some point. Even to the point of irrationality.

Ask a new recruit (freshly minted graduate) if they’d like to be a chief executive or vice-president or offer this hypothetical junior staff any farfetched role that requires many years of hard work, a calloused hand with all the bruises and scars, as it were — without prior work experience of any kind. I’d wager the farm that he/she will not decline. While those already in management positions desire to be named top boss somewhere down the road.

To this cohort (the top guns) — it is a little red cherry atop the cake and a sense of completion and professional closure. We all are victims. Career advancement benefits you in several ways: you get to bolster your skill-set and professional experience — this in itself is self-reinforcing because at every step or gradation of the corporate ladder, you’re exposed to new knowledge and experiences.

Your degree of understanding and error rate in execution would set you up to take on higher responsibilities — translating to higher income for a more comfortable life (but not necessarily so because as you earn more, chances are your lifestyle becomes proportional or sometimes outweighs your earnings. It is one of the reasons credit card companies are still…well, credit card companies. And they are going to be in business for a while, trust me.

More so, higher management responsibilities are sometimes, oddly, less tasking, in my opinion. Chief executives and other company “brass” have retinues of aides and lieutenants that oversee/supervise certain fronts of the business, coupled with advisors and assistants.

What is left for the honchos to do are, in the major, attending high-level meetings, partaking or sleeping through symposiums, deciding what course to steer, navigating the organization to success (or destruction) during an existential storm, and occasionally giving boring pep talks. That is if you’re lucky enough. In some organizations, employees in the mid and lower rungs have possibly never clapped eyes on their helmsman or woman.

But if fate is a little conciliatory and you get to listen to a sleep-inducing sermon from the overall boss, ain’t that something? You’d get to brag to your counterparts from the office down the street, “Hey I saw my CEO, and he spoke to me…well, sort of.”

Ponder, what’s the shade of you?

Achieving one’s life purpose is elective…of course. And if you decide to go this path, i.e., from a finance expert to the new role of a musician – you’d have to construct your own worldview, which stems from having figured out your essence of being.

Everyone has got a place in the giant patchwork of life. Like all the pieces to a great puzzle. Your day job can safely, easily pass for a means to an end. And what is this end? Earning a living to cater for yourself and your loved ones – and a means to give your life meaning. Like awakening at dawn and feeling healthy and energized and looking forward to reaping the spoils of the day’s work, that is cool.

On the flip side, waking up in the morning or at midday (or whatever time of the day you consider your morning) and looking forward to nothing — no work, no plans and definitely no goals, is physically and physiologically damaging and mentally deadening. Instead, you want to look deep within, an introspection if you will, to ascertain who you really are and what makes you tick. Talk of your individuality and uniqueness. What’s the shade of you?

It is like the tethering of the visual specialty of individual colors in an artist’s palette to the confines of our collective existence and the individuality of one person from the other. It is your little contribution to the table of humanity.

What are the things you can accomplish exceptionally well without breaking a single sweat? Or without experiencing a bout of awkwardness. If you’re an employee and well poised to grow in your career, you might want to consider co-opting this specialty and unique touch – into your career advancement repertoire.

Tunneling towards the singular moving up the corporate ladder will inevitably lead to an impasse — well, whether you tunnel or not. If along this journey you find your place, mind you, not necessarily your day job — you’d be more involved and in touch with yourself for a more fulfilled life.

Do you intend to change careers? These are the three people you must first connect with.

Written by

Tobey C. Okafor

Internet Entrepreneur and Content Writer based in Lagos, Nigeria.

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