In the modern world, corporations and enterprises are living embodiments of masculinity.
To get ahead, you have to be incredibly aggressive and shrewd – sometimes even machiavellian. It isn’t a place for those who believe hard work alone will make you stand out, because it does make you stand out – but not for the reasons you want it to.
Work Hard, Play Hard
If you believe working hard is the only deciding factor that will land you that promotion you’ve been drooling all over, then you will be sorely disappointed. By working hard and showing others you are willing to outperform them, you are telling your superiors that you are a mule willing to suffer any form of punishment for the exact same pay everyone else gets.
Read this once more, you are telling them that you will happily work yourself into a coma for the exact same pay. They aren’t going to raise your salary, and you know that, but you still hope that they will eventually realize just how valuable an asset you are, as you grind yourself to dust.
They might show their appreciation, and send you a mail or two commending you for your efforts, but that’s pretty much it. Is that why you bust your ass each day at work? For them pat your back and say you were a good little doggie?
You’re not there to receive compliments; you’re there for the paycheck, but you naively think that by taking on more than you can handle, it will impress your boss and he will reward you handsomely.
Sorry, but that’s not how it works. The corporate world operates on different rules.
Working hard and showing that you work hard might have paid off back in school, but it plays out differently in corporations, which is why we hate our jobs.
Working hard doesn’t reward you, it rewards them.
They’ve tied a rope around your balls and neck, and will keep yanking at them if you don’t behave as expected. I’ve had that happen to me on several occasions, and its not a good feeling.
The quote, “Work Hard, Play Hard” only works into your favor if you work hard on yourself, and play hard with the them, i.e., show your superiors that you are working harder than the others, and invest whatever time you get into new skills that will get you ahead in the long run.
I Shouldn’t Work Hard for My Company?
Don’t get me wrong, hard work is important, just as how a massive marine engine is what drives the ship out into the ocean, but where is the ship headed? Are you the captain or are you a stowaway?
Slaving away on the deck of another man’s ship won’t make you its captain. The chances of that happening is next to impossible and if by some miracle, they do decide to make you the CEO, its only after you’ve repeatedly demonstrated your ability to handle people, overcome massive hurdles and allocate resources appropriately, not scrubbing the decks till they sparkle like the stars.
But nonetheless, the point remains that to get ahead, one must work, but on himself. The skills are not the only thing you ought to invest in for that alone won’t boost your progress. Read the last paragraph again, and tell me what a CEO does.
More than anything, a CEO is a master at selling himself. You can only effectively sell yourself if you know how to handle people, and you can only handle people if you understand the power dynamics that govern their interactions.
If you can’t sell yourself, you can’t sell anything, so while you are trying to master the craft you’ve devoted your life to, it would be wise to spend some time sharpening your social skills with the intent of effectively maneuvering them to your advantage.
Also, Scrubbing the decks only gets you so far, so don’t get your hopes up about getting promoted all the way up. In this particular climate, your chances of bagging a fairly decent position is more if you switch over to another vessel, provided you have the necessary experience and can actually contribute.
If you start your career as a programmer, no matter how many corporate rungs you climb within the same company, you won’t earn as much as someone working in the management sector. Your practice head probably earns 10 times as much as you do, and for you to become a practice head yourself, you need experience as well as an empty position to fill.
This is why its important to switch to companies that either offer a higher pay or has positions to fill. Loyalty to a company rarely pays for the simple fact that people don’t show up to get along and talk about the wonders of life.
They are there to earn.
So Your First Task Is…
You read that right, it is to obey.
If you’re just starting off, experience with the craft at hand is more important than bagging that high paying position.
Say you somehow end up in a high position, but you know next to nothing about the department you are handling, that will dampen your resolve, and invite the scorn of your fellow employees. Incompetence is rife, and I’ve seen companies hire incompetent people into positions of power simply because they agreed to a lower pay.
To avoid that, the first thing you ought to do is invest in your craft before moving onto bigger goals. Those higher paying positions are “higher paying” because of the responsibilities those positions hold. Would you prefer reporting to an incompetent schmuck who stumbled into that position by sheer luck, or to someone who is backed by years of experience? Do you want to be that incompetent schmuck that everyone bitches and moans about?
The reason why I say that your first task should be complete obedience, is because you won’t learn a damn thing if you keep running your mouth. Learning happens when you submit. Jack London learned whatever he could from the works of those before him, which means he obeyed them, practiced whatever they had to offer, before trying something on his own.
Remember what Bruce Lee said?
He advised us to empty our cups, so that it may be filled in its totality. If you insist on retaining what you know and arrogantly press on, then what you know will push out what you desire to know, as well as any opportunity for growth.
It’s after you make it past this obstacle that you become competent enough to spar off against the blackbelts in the corporate arena.
The Corporate Battle
I know I’m dancing back and forth, but more than anything, our corporate zone is a battlefield leaning heavily on wits and selling yourself, than it is of labour. A lot depends on the image you project, so you have to be conscious of every word that comes out of your mouth because believe it or not, everyone is out there to get you.
The reason I encourage you to master the craft first, is so that you won’t have to suffer when the time comes to fulfil your duties and deliver, as you get ahead and eventually take up positions of power.
On Moving Up
As you plan your way up, you don’t need people working against you, it’s better for them to think you are a less qualified fool with nothing going for him, than as a threat to be dealt with immediately.
It’s in this gap you’ve deliberately created that you study the people around you and how to manoeuvre past them, as you slowly make your way to the top.
Don’t be flamboyant – showing off too much will incite jealousy from those above you; those you are trying to replace. If you’re good, and you make no effort to conceal them, then they will do everything in their power to get rid of you. That’s a headache you are better off without.
I am not saying that you should underperform. See what others are doing and try to blend in. You should stand out when you are confident you can handle more than whats currently on your plate, or in situations that warrant your display of skills, such as when an opportunity to get ahead arises.
If you have no intention of staying at the company, even then it works into your favour to stay on a low profile. They won’t assign as many tasks to you, and you can use that time to deepen your knowledge, invest more into your craft and plan for the future.
Again, don’t go around telling people your plans about switching companies – that includes your workplace friends. Surprise them with your decision after you have handed in your resignation, that way they can’t get back at you.
Get Back at Me?
This may sound like paranoid ramblings, but if you look closely, no one is satisfied with their jobs. They will vent their frustrations and say all sorts of nasty things about their managers, the workplace and the pay, but if you try to plot an escape, they will drag you down mentally.
Switching jobs? C’mon Timmy, you know how hard it is to get a job, that too in the current economic climate. Sure, our manager is begging to have a pole shoved up his ass, but he’s doing what’s best for us and what’s best for the company. If you’re still planning to switch, well, good luck with that!
It’s the crab bucket mentality in action.
Switching jobs is stressful as it already is, would you want someone you personally know, talk to you with such disdain? Some will think you’re crazy and their disapproval of your decision will have a massive impact on your psyche.
It will be your undoing, never underestimate it.
People talk, and you have to be wary of it.
Appearance is Just as Important
Don’t be surprised if people ignore you when you dress up like a hobo and vent incessantly. I can’t stress this enough,
Appearance is bloody important.
If you want people to treat you right, you dress sharp and speak only when it’s absolutely necessary. You are there to work, not to make friends. That doesn’t mean you should avoid interaction, but strive to minimize distraction. Most conversations revolve around dissatisfaction with the job, and if you put yourself in those groups, it will affect your productivity and overall happiness.
Your masters are paying you to perform your duties. Whether you enjoy the work or not, depends on the mentality you currently harbor, the habits you’ve cultivated so far, and the kind of people you surround yourself with.
The Other Appearance
Appearances aren’t just limited to the way you dress, but also to the show you put on.
Show off too much and you will become a target for those above and on your same level.
Show too little and you will be seen as a drain on the organization. Strike a balance between the two, and you are viewed as someone that isn’t exceptional, but gets the job done.
In other words, you remain invisible from the prying eyes of the vultures.
You might find some or all of what I’ve written so far objectionable. Some of you might have stopped paying attention the moment you read the first line, but do keep whatever you’ve read in mind.
It could one day come to your aid.