Two rungs up the ladder

Two rungs up the ladder

Clients who come to us for help invariably want to improve. They want to ‘do better’ at work, be more of a ‘success’ (in their own eyes and in the eyes of others), rack up the sort of achievements they see other people gazetting. It is wholly good to have these aspirations but they are of little use unless you know why you want this record. If the reasons are purely selfish they will be unlikely to succeed. Pursuing anything exclusively for our own good, ignoring the needs of others, may fetch us material rewards, it never gives us personal satisfaction – the very thing we are looking for.

Whether it is the ladder of work or the ladder of life, you are on it. If you are even mildly ambitious you will have to work hard and smart to get anywhere near the top. What do you get when you reach as high as you can climb? A view of the world like no other view? A chance to choose from a menu of life that is available nowhere else? A sense of achievement you cannot replicate even by climbing Everest? Yes, all these things and more. You get a chance to fulfil your potential.

Not everyone wants to reach the top of a ladder. Dizzying heights can cause vertigo and there is always the risk that you will fall. But a risk-free life is very dull and fails to develop you to anything approaching your best. So from an early age beg to be taught to take risks. That implies failure and potential damage. I have yet to discover someone who has truly learnt without damage and I know nobody who has achieved their goal free of failure along the way. In Silicon Valley they realise the importance of failure and treat it as a rite of maturing.

Maybe your aspiration is merely to get further up the ladder, without being certain how far you want to go. That’s fine. Your aspirations are your own, nobody should impose aspirations on you. But it consistently emerges that those who have a little ambition generate more as they realise their early, perhaps modest, steps. So if your ambition is to get two rungs up the ladder, go for it. Be prepared, however, to aspire to greater achievements when you get there. It will be unusual if you don’t.

The implication of this is that your training, mentoring and coaching in the early stages needs to prepare you for greater efforts later on. A mountain climber learns how to climb Everest, not just the local peak, though that is where s/he will start. Regard your early career as a rehearsal for when you have greater responsibilities and you will be as prepared as possible for the big opportunity.

Your ambitions grow as you rack up your successes.