Should Everyone’s Career Ladder be the Same Height?

  • Post category:Career

If we all aspire to take the same top role, who’s left to do the job?

When you were young, what was your aspiration? Was it to be a dancer? A Fireman? An Astronaut? You just wanted your dream job and probably never considered being the highest paid or the most senior.  

I was thinking the other day about my career path.   How far up the ladder do I want to go?  But then I questioned my own question.  Should the question actually  be “how high do I want my ladder to go?”  That got me thinking …. should everyone aspire to be at the top of the ladder?  Well, yes I suppose.  Everyone should aspire to be the best, but not everyone is actually on the same ladder.  We each have our own ladders, and it’s up to us to decide how high our individual ladders go. 

Let me explain. 

If I was offered a job as a CEO, I probably wouldn’t want it.  Why?!?!? It would give me more money, I could go on better holidays, buy a bigger house, tell people what to do and my decision would be final. But, would that all be worth it? The role holds a far greater responsibility, the work hours would probably be longer, the stress would be higher, it would take time away from my family, it would take me away from working in a “team” environment which is what I love. Taking all of that into consideration, at this point in time I would probably turn it down.  But does that mean I have given up trying to reach the top of the ladder? No! It simply means that my ladder doesn’t go that high.   

I think the “top” is personal preference.  Don’t get me wrong. I think everyone should dream big and have aspirations. But I think we should all consider the fact that we need to be happy in what we do, and if you’re happy in what you do now, have you already got to your top? Are you already at the top of your ladder?

I remember reading something somewhere which was an interview with a cashier at a supermarket, they were asked why they worked as a cashier for so long (it think it was 20+ years) and the answer was because they loved what they did.  They probably could have become a manager at some stage, but they chose not to.  They loved the interaction with customers, being nosey trying to work out what somebody was having for dinner that night based on their shopping content.  They loved it, and stuck with something they loved.  They had reached the top of their ladder. 

I saw an image the other day, it was 2 kids after what appeared to be a school sports day race.  The kid in 3rdplace is over the moon, holding up their third-place sign and absolutely beaming with pride. The kid in 1stplace is unhappy, in floods or tears and crying at the happy kid in 3rd place.  The title of the image is “happiness is a state of mind” 

This is what I took from that image, the kid in 3rd place is just happy to get on the podium maybe just happy to have finished the race, the kid in 1st place is jealous of the happiness of the kid in 3rd despite the fact that they won. 

Happiness really is a state of mind.  It’s a personal choice.  What makes me happy is not necessarily what makes you happy and vice versa. 

There are all kinds of people in this world, those that are happy with where they are and what they have, and those that always strive to go further.  I think to have a balanced world, we need both types of people.   If we all strived to be the CEO then we wouldn’t have anybody working for us.  We need people in the world that are just happy to take part, we need those people that just want to be on the front line chatting to people, but we also need the people that strive to be the boss and strive to make the company bigger and better.   It doesn’t mean that any one person is inferior, it doesn’t mean that they are worth any more or any less.  We are all valuable, and we all have our own ladders, it might just be that some ladders have more rungs on than others! 

Are you the kid in first place, or the one in 3rd? Have a think about how high you actually want your ladder to go.  How high is the top for you?