The Price Of Promotion

Promotion Not Pay Raise

For most men, there will come a time in their professional lives when they will have to ask themselves an important question: how much is advancement worth to them, and is it worth the price. Now this may seem like a very simple question at first, and an obvious no-brainer, but is it really? Sure, every man generally has a desire to be successful in their chosen field or occupation, but the concept of “successful” is subjective, and the terms “successful” and “advancement” are not necessarily synonymous. Initially, most men will probably tend to associate the concept of “successful” with financial success, however upon further introspection may also associate success with less tangible measures, such as professional or academic recognition, status, skill, contentment, happiness, stability, or even personal satisfaction. Now obviously most men would like to earn more money in their chosen occupations, and therefore seek financial advancement in the forms of pay raises or moving up the pay scale, but that is not the kind of advancement which I am referring to. For the purpose of this essay I am referring to advancement in the form of promotion, or “climbing the ladder” so to speak, which may or may not be tied to pay increases. This type of advancement could be in the form of better assignments, better duties, better positions, power, or leadership and supervision roles.

Playing The Game

Now please do not misunderstand me, I am not at all saying that a man should not have drive and ambition to succeed and advance in his career. If you are a man lucky enough to be in an occupation or organization where promotional advancement is generally objective and merit based, then by all means set the bar high for yourself and strive for excellence.

What I am saying however is that sadly, this kind of objective merit based promotional process is extremely rare in 21st century America. In today’s professional environments, a man is contending with far more than just his own abilities versus those of his peers, he is also fighting an uphill battle against an ever growing progressive system. Today, promotional consideration in most professional fields will factor in far more than just a candidate’s merits and abilities, and will also include factors such as political-correctness, quotas, affirmative-action, protected classes, fairness, social justice, and feminization, just to name a few.

On top of all these “political” considerations, there are also the age old factors of nepotism, networking, and the “good ole boys club” to contend with as well. The old saying of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is still alive and well today, and I’m not naïve and ignorant to the fact that this has always been the case since the beginning of time. Yet where once a man could essentially get ahead on his own merits, skills, knowledge, and perhaps a little “networking”, advancement today in most professional settings requires not only those things, but also jumping over “political” hurdles and navigating the treacherous waters of political-correctness as well. Therefore, professional promotion and advancement today requires a man to “play the game” more heavily and more skillfully than ever before.

(On a completely secondary note, these same factors also apply today even in just trying to get hired for a job in most professional settings.)

So What Is The Price

So because a man is forced to “play the game” more than ever before, it brings us back to my initial question: how much is advancement worth to you, and is it worth the price. What I mean by this is very simple: is “playing the game”, and what you hope to accomplish by it, worth the cost and sacrifice to your own honor, dignity, values, integrity, self-respect, pride, principles, and character. In today’s professional environment, the analogy of a man “climbing the ladder” of advancement no longer applies in my opinion. As a good friend of mine once said, a more suiting analogy for promotion is that of “slithering up the ladder” like a snake. Much like a snake slowly and deliberately spiraling up a ladder, so too must a man seeking advancement. Slowly and deliberately he must slither around his organization, from department to department and person to person, “playing the game”, saying and doing the right things, padding his resume, and being politically conscious.

Now there are some men who may have absolutely no problem doing this. Perhaps their ambitions to advance outweigh any cost to their character and dignity, or perhaps doing these things does not go against their character at all. Some men may have absolutely no issues whatsoever with becoming a “company man” and “playing the game”, if it means future advancement and promotion for them. They see nothing wrong with kissing the right asses, sucking up, becoming a “yes man”, conveniently being in the right places to be “noticed” by superiors, doing favors for the “right” people, making “friends”, doing and saying the right things, being politically correct when necessary, and basically doing whatever it takes to get ahead no matter what the cost. To these men, achieving their goals of advancement is worth the kind of self-degrading behavior necessary to reach them. Some may even joke about the degrading things that they are willing to do in order to advance themselves. These men have either consciously decided that selling out their character to “play the game” is worth it, or for some, doing these things would not even constitute selling out at all because they have no character to speak of, or worse yet, these things are indicative of their character.

And sometimes the cost of advancement goes far beyond that of just being a spineless sycophantic kiss-ass, and falls into the realm of treachery. For some, “playing the game” also involves lying, cheating, deception, gossip, rumors, taking credit for others work, throwing others “under the bus”, stabbing peers in the back, or various other selfish methods of making yourself look good at the expense of others.

For some men who may already have supervisory positions, yet who wish to advance themselves further, it may mean putting their own interests and well-being before those of their men. This could include things like not supporting their men in the face of superiors, not looking out for the best interests of their men, using the hard work of their subordinates only to make themselves look better, or even blaming their subordinates instead of taking accountability when things go wrong. If by chance they do support their men, it is only because doing so aligns with their own self-interests and benefits them in some way. This kind of piss-poor leadership (if you even want to call it that) is personified in the fictional character of Colonel Cathcart in the classic Joseph Heller novel “Catch-22”. In the novel, Cathcart cares more about his own promotion and advancement than that of the well-being of the men under his command. His concern about pleasing his superiors in order to gain favor is at the direct expense and safety of the men under his command flying combat bomber missions in WWII. In the novel, Cathcart would regularly volunteer his squadron for dangerous missions, while never flying any missions himself. This kind of behavior is illustrative of the classic distinction between a true leader, and merely a supervisor.

Once again, whether it is “playing the game” by ass-kissing, treachery, or any combination of such, these men have either consciously decided that selling out their character to “play the game” is worth it, or for some, doing these things would not even constitute selling out at all because they have no character to speak of, or worse yet, these things are indicative of their character. If you are a man lacking character, or see nothing wrong with what I have discussed above…congratulations, you are part of the problem.

For Those Not Willing To Compromise

So now some may look at this essay as an excuse for defeatism, or for justifying a lack of ambition. That is far from my point. As I said before, if you are lucky enough to be in a field where advancement is pretty straight forward, objective, and merit based, then by all means set high goals for yourself.

So then, what is a man who refuses to sacrifice his character, principles, and dignity just to advance in his career to do? To begin with, he should always strive for excellence, proficiency, and professionalism in his chosen field, regardless of advancement opportunity, and should always work hard at performing his job to the absolute best of his abilities. He should pursue advanced training and education opportunities when available in areas of personal interest or direct job applicability, rather than those classes meant to simply “pad a resume”. He should also strive for self-education and self-improvement in his field, by reading, studying, and practicing. He should also try to find a passion or niche within his field, in which to focus on or become particularly knowledgeable and proficient in. Improving one’s proficiency and knowledge in their profession, or finding a personal niche or passion, will help provide self-confidence and self-satisfaction, regardless of whether or not it helps you advance. He should also try to maintain a professional and respectful relationship with his peers and superiors, while avoiding anything that would compromise his dignity and constitute “ass-kissing”. He should also avoid office “drama” and gossip like the plague, and steer clear of those who perpetuate it. Most importantly, he should remain stalwart in the integrity, values, dignity, and principles he refuses to compromise simply in the name of promotion. If perhaps one day the opportunity arises to be noticed and promoted based on merit, character, and achievement, then he can hold his head high knowing that his position was earned without sacrificing his character.

In Conclusion

Honestly though, the most important thing to remember for a man who refuses to compromise his character to “play the game” is that…in the end it’s only a fucking job. There is far more to life than just your career. Do your best and don’t compromise your job needlessly, but at the same time don’t compromise your principles. At the end of the day, there are far more important things to focus on. Family, friends, self-improvement, education, hobbies, passions, recreation, all of these things should carry more weight than a career. As the saying goes, no man on his death bed ever wished that he had spent more time at the office.

© 2014 By AB Nihilist, All Rights Reserved

 

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