Why the corporate ladder is overrated

March 07, 2016 Laina P

A blog article to get your thinking about your career options

Why the corporate ladder is overrated

Climbing the career ladder

You’re in a jungle, a concrete jungle. You’re in a line and all the people in front of you are stepping onto a ladder. So you do the same. You’re not sure why, but it’s just what the people in front of you are doing, so you follow their lead. The aim is to get to the top — why? You’re too scared to speak out and ask the purpose because then you’ll be THAT person. You do ask the people in front of you and they respond with ‘It’s just what you do’.

To get on the ladder, you have to start at the bottom. The climb to the top may seem far off and you’re not even sure that you like ladders.Nevertheless, you start with momentum because you know you have many steps to climb. The more energy you put in, the quicker you’ll get to the top. The problem is the person in front of you is climbing slowly, and you can’t overtake because that’s just not how a ladder works and so you start to lose momentum.

Sometimes when you’re on that ladder, you get tired and it’s difficult to jump off — you’re halfway there and you seem too far up the ladder to take that leap off; it might hurt, as it’s a concrete jungle, and concrete hurts when you hit it. Besides, you don’t see anyone else jumping off, so it’d be quite embarrassing if you are THAT person who couldn’t cope with the climb. So, instead you concentrate and struggle because you’ve been told the view at the top is really good and you get the title of being ‘top of the ladder’ once you reach it — you’ve been told this is a label that everyone wants.

You get to the top of the ladder and you get your title straight away but you’re out of breath, it also feels quite lonely. You’ve put in so much energy to climb up that you almost forget why you were climbing there in the first place; the view. The view — it’s grey and dull, it’s a concrete jungle, remember? Actually, now you’re there, you realise you climbed the wrong ladder. No, that’s not the issue, you realise you don’t like climbing at all.

Jumping aboard the Rope Swing

It’s risky, but there’s something insanely fun about a rope swing. Somehow on the rope swing, even though you’re scared it’s a ‘good scared’, that must be the adrenaline. You’re in a natural jungle where the vibrancy and variation has brought you to life. You’re being egged on to go on it, but even though you say you’re scared you want to, because it’s obvious as to why you want to get on to a swing rope; you can see for yourself it’s fun. So you hold on to the rope swing, take a few steps back and then with all the excitement in the world, you feet lift off the ground. You’re more inclined to scream and laugh and show your emotions more; it’s not a ladder, remember, there’s no room for sensibility on a rope swing, You feel more yourself on the rope swing, and the thing is, you can swing as high as you want and what you love the most is you’re in control of the direction this rope swings towards. When you get bored you can jump in the river; there’s still an impact, but it isn’t as bad, water doesn’t hurt as much as a concrete floor. What’s great about the rope swing is that you can actually swing towards other ropes that look fun, and when you’re bored with your original one, you can let go and latch on to the others.There may even be another person swinging on that rope, that is happy for you to join on to.

If you manage to discover rope swings, you may actually find yourself in unfamiliar territory. This may be daunting but to be honest, it’s part of an adventure. An adventure you can’t really have with a ladder because a ladder needs to stay grounded.

The Ladder and the Rope Swing is your career. Climbing up the corporate ladder, well it’s a climb. Rope Swinging your way through your career, on the other hand, is fun and can take you in a direction you didn’t really envisage.

If we treated our careers like a series of exhilarating rope swing exercises, we may show off the best version of ourselves and connect with other people swaying on other ropes nearby along the way but most of all we can have an enormous amount of fun doing so. On the other hand, you don’t usually see people leaping from one ladder to another and sometimes the view at the top wasn’t worth all that effort. Ladders restrict us and lead us only down one path. Rope Swings allow us to be in control and let us go in whichever direction that pleases us.


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