Occasionally I find myself working with bloodthirsty self-promoting ladder climbers. You know the type.
These vultures clamber at every opportunity to brown up their noses.
They push for promotions they have yet to earn after roughly three weeks of working (versus talking about working all day on LinkedIn).
They're quick to pontificate about business 101 but slow to execute. Unless it's to tell you shit you already know in the name of gaining #followers.
They talk about innovative leadership principles when they've only "led" a group of disgruntled interns—or rode the coattails of a rocketship already in flight.
Boomers call these folks Millennials. But if you're like me, you're guilty too.
They're clogging up the candidate pool and keeping you trudging the mucky muck. Of course, this article is about THEM, not YOU.
Actually, this is about me, but please don't pay heed to my career-damning confessions.
Anywho, I've noticed that the more these folks really, really, really want to be executives—the harder it is for them to get hired, let alone perform in the role.
Executive Rubber Band Effect
You've heard that getting a job is easier when you're already employed.
Is that because you can say no to anything that isn't better than what you have?
Is it because you don't technically need something (money) from someone else and can be more selective?
Is it because someone else is already paying you, so you must be at least decently competent?
Alright, so I got this theory. Feel free to unsubscribe now.
Your career is more like dating than typically meets the eye.
The desperate singles have a lot of baggage. Sounds like too much work for a relationship. Maybe we'll screw around instead. Oops, this article isn't about fractional work.
Overbearing and clingy partners are a turn-off—but those who walk away or are fine without us are more attractive, especially if they move on to date someone hotter than us.
Hmm. The rubber band effect is in full swing.
A few last jabs at dating—which I know nothing about anymore.
Sure, you both probably don't want to die alone, but that doesn't mean you should talk about how many kids you will plague the world with on your first date.
Speaking of turn-offs—what about the hyper-arrogant and vocally braggadocious partners?
If you're so good, why are you single? Why aren't you promoted yet?
"Hey baby, three of my last six partners achieved orgasm—and you're next!"
Yikes. Is your past really an indication of a great relationship moving forward? The boastful position is not a pragmatic approach to career growth.
In dating, the harder you try, the more you repel a partner—at least the ones that don't have "the crazy" eyes.
Shouldn't it feel more natural? Are you sending the right signals?
Is trying too hard to be an executive, talking about being an executive, and wanting the executive lifestyle—a turn-off?
Coming To Grips With Reality
I've written extensively on why executive work isn't as sexy as some would have you believe. Sure, the paycheck is nice, but sacrificing your life for it isn't.
Always having your head on the chopping block isn't for everyone, either.
Ultimately, if you are not genuinely fired up and passionate about what you do, you are the fool playing in someone else's game for your life.
It may not be worth it.
Yet, if you come to this conclusion and step back, thousands of eager folks are in line, ready to grab your spot at the top.
Indeed, with so many people ready to take what you have, they must know something you don't. Right?
What if they are wrong?
Perhaps those that are more laissez-faire about being an executive leader are the ones that are better qualified to lead.
In my observations, the executives who approach leadership with more matter-of-fact candor and confidence seem more authentically happy.
And they negotiate much more meaningful outcomes.
These executives tend to:
- Have more humility and self-awareness.
- Refrain from taking credit for wins.
- Be patient and methodical.
- Face major headaches with a reassuring calmness.
- Be honest about the challenges that executive leaders face.
- Accept both wins and losses as routine.
Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu stated:
"Mastery of the world is achieved by letting things take their natural course."
Yes, there's more to it than waiting for nature to take its course—and I have no scientific data to suggest that the rubber band effect is real—but I have noticed anecdotally that nature tends to do what it needs to.
Forcing your career is a fool's errand that will lead to anxiety, frustration, and living for the future instead of in the moment.
So chill out and let it come. As with romantic relationships—be smart with your boundaries and don't settle.
You'll be more desirable and attractive when you're content with where you are today.
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