In the past few years, I have noticed that those who have moved ahead in their career paths are the ones who understand “the game” and who actively “play the game.”
Most times those who are stuck or seemingly stuck refuse to play the game.
Some refuse to play the game because they are genuinely happy with where they are, work for a salary that they find is comfortable, enjoy the work that they currently do and may have time for other things like hobbies that make them happy. They know what the game entails and realize that they have no interest in moving up the career ladder. For example, if you are in software development and enjoy writing code and the next level is to be a manager which you don’t enjoy, then by all means consider staying with software development.
On the other hand we have people who are stuck but want to move up. However, they either don’t know what the rules of the game are or they know but don’t want to put in the work.
Instead of learning the rules of the game or putting in the work, they bitch and grime about others who learn the rules of the game, play the game and reap the rewards. They envy the rewards reaped by their playing colleagues.
Our stuck and unhappy colleagues also tend to take quality and morality high ground. They may complain that their progressing colleagues put out low quality work. They may even go as far as questioning the morals of their colleagues who are advancing in their careers and call into question some of the strategies used.
What amazes me is how often morality of the person moving ahead with her career is brought into question. And in many cases, morality may have nothing whatsoever to do with the advancement.
Now don’t get me wrong. I believe that your career advancement should not cause harm or deceive another person. These are the only two cases when you should refuse to play the game.
However, I also believe that some of us often don’t know how to play the career advancement game and try to rationalize that our colleagues are producing poor work or using immoral strategies to get ahead.
When you create quality and moral high ground reasons when none exist and refuse to play the game, you remove yourself from opportunities that may be available to you whether these are monetary gains and greater perceived stature or fame, or simply the opportunity to grow and realize the extent of your potential.
When you have the potential for growth and are not content with what you currently have, then learn to play the game.
If you intend to play the game, ask yourself first if you will do harm or deceive others if you do play the game. If not, the game offers you a genuine opportunity to grow in many ways, provided you enjoy the work to play the game.
If you still refuse to play the game, then consider that maybe you have not yet learnt what exactly is the game, the rules of the game (the system and process), the metrics that are used to advance in the game, the players in the game and their motives, and the networking skills you may need to develop. Find out about these before you decide to not play the game.
For example, if you want to create your own career by writing and self-publishing books, then you need to learn how to write in a genre, how to research and fact check, how to produce reasonable quality products (books), how to write to a market, how to market your books, and how to hire people to do the parts you don’t like.
Notice I said reasonable quality. When you are now starting out and are learning the rules of the game, the quality of the product will not be as high as the professionals who have been playing longer than you. Reasonable but not shoddy quality is good enough for amateurs now resting the waters.
So don’t just take yourself out of the game before learning and practicing how to play it. But, do take yourself out if you may harm or deceive someone.