The Big Problem With “Making It” To The Top

Who are you really competing with?


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We live in a society which obsesses with "making it". Is there a fine line between success and an unhealthy obsession?

Irene McConnell
2 min read

When I entered the workforce I thought that my level of importance had a lot to do with my title. I looked at people in senior management and thought, “if only I was Director / Partner / CXO, then I’d really matter”.

As I moved to more senior HR roles, in which I got to advise C-level executives on HR strategy, the subjective nature of seniority really began to sink in.

When I was the new recruit, it was tempting to see senior management’s roles as holy place of having “made it”.

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Moving towards that place made me realise that seniority isn’t holy at all; it’s just a different point in the same journey, complete with its own set of problems (coupled with bigger risks and consequences, more fears to face and a longer way to fall if something goes pear-shaped).

Fair enough, being more senior can bring about more perks, but I think is it the same as “mattering”? What does it mean to matter, anyway?

(Related Article: The Smart Way To Deal With Recruiters.)

I don’t think that mattering is a function of what’s on your business card.

Mattering is a function of how you make people feel through your work. How many people you touch with what you do. A C-level executive may get a bigger paycheck, but to define his or her ability to matter by the title and wages is to miss the point.

How much time at work do you spend creating something which has a positive impact on others? Be honest with yourself.

If you’re holding back, perhaps it’s time to wise up and start thinking about how you can deliver more value to the people you work with.

And if the company culture doesn’t foster this kind of attitude and places you into a “You Don’t Matter” box, perhaps it’s time to start looking for a new job?

– Irene

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