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snakes and corporate ladders

March 22, 2011

‘Climbing the corporate ladder’ is phrase I think everyone is familiar with. It is what we are supposed to do. You start at the bottom and climb, one rung at a time, towards the top.

Then people start warning that you need to make sure the ladder you are climbing is leaning against the right wall. You don’t want to get to the top and find that you don’t want to be where it has taken you. A bit like the lands at the top of Enid Blyton’s Magical Faraway Tree – you start up the ladder expecting to find the Land of Birthdays at the top but when you get there you find Topsy-turvy Land instead.

what appears to be a ladder on the balcony of my roomDuring a recent trip to Malaysia this scene on my balcony prompted me to think about ladders and where they might lead to.

Being over water there was only one entrance to the room and there was some conversation about whether it might be used as a fire escape. The obvious problem being that it wasn’t long enough to reach down into the water nor was it long enough to climb up to the floor above.

Now it might be clear to you, but I will be honest and say that it wasn’t until toward the end of the first day when I saw it being used that I realised it is in fact a clothes line – a place to hang things out to dry!

So now I want to add ‘If you want to climb, make sure it is actually a ladder’ to the ladder related aphorisms that are out there.

Sometimes (all too often actually) I come across people who think they are climbing the corporate ladder to success and all that is really happening is that they are being hung out to dry.


Seth Godin’s recent blog Are you doing a good job? put the same concept in a different way. If you are being hung out to dry by the organisation you work for, Seth asks… ‘if that’s actually true, I wonder why someone with your potential would stay…’

Me too.

You might want to check out this free collection of stories from people who changed the way they see their potential prompted by Seth’s latest book Poke the Box.

Something in there might just get you seeing your potential a little differently.


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