“You can’t climb the ladder unless you’re willing to let go of something.”
I don’t remember where I first heard this line, but I see evidence of its wisdom all the time. As the New Year begins, take stock of your aspirations at work and see if you’re actions are moving you in the right direction. For fun, use the ladder metaphor.
To climb a ladder safely, you need have solid footing at one level before trying to go any higher. At work, you increase your safety by adding value in the role you’re in. It makes sense, but I’ve seen people who are so obsessed with climbing the ladder that they forget to add value in their current roles. The result is more likely to be a termination than a promotion.
Remember: You won’t make it to the top of the ladder if you fall off on your way up.
As the adage says, “you can’t climb a ladder unless you’re willing to let go of something.” Just imagine it—trying desperately to get your top hand higher while clinging with your other hand to the rung below. Are you doing the equivalent at work? Are you trying to add more value, trying to be seen as more strategic, all the while doing the work of someone a layer or two below you? If you want to be promoted, stop taking on work that should be done by others—even if it’s work you enjoy doing!
Remember: Letting go below frees you to reach for more above.
You will never get any higher than you are today if you aren’t prepared to reach for something that feels beyond your grasp. Find ways to add more value. How can you make your contribution more strategic? What opportunities are there to take pressure off your boss? Where can you get exposed to novel ideas to stimulate innovation? You won’t get promoted until you show you can add more value than you are today.
Remember: When you’re climbing the ladder, you’ll be in over your head sometimes.
Are you eager to be promoted? If you’re stalled, think about whether it’s because your actions are out of line with your ambitions. Resolve to do your part this year by adding value in your current role; letting go of low value work; and finding new ways to contribute.