Many managers spend a lot of their working time, thinking about how to accelerate their promotions, how to impress the boss more than their colleagues, and how to earn money faster. The management world is indeed very competitive. So you feel that time must be spent thinking through such matters and taking appropriate actions–quite correct, but only in part.
The question to ask is whether it is the aim of a career to go far or in the right direction. Ideally, of course, you should achieve both, but that is not easy.
If you watch club level golfers, you will see the point. Some stand on the tee box with the longest club, and whack the ball with the might of an ox. They are the ones who want to see the ball soar away with an accelerating speed. A few seconds later, when they observe where the ball has landed, they curse and crib. The ball has perhaps been lost or has landed in a difficult spot from which it would be difficult to play the next shot. Other golfers take a measured approach of landing the ball on the fairway at a spot where they want to land. For them, the next stroke is as important as this first tee shot. Both are valid ways to play the game. If you are very talented, you may learn to do both i.e. go far as well as land where you want. Many club level golfers never achieve this.
The purpose of a career is to utilize your potential fully because that alone can give you satisfaction and a sense of self-esteem. This is so whether you are a chairman or an assistant. It becomes possible to achieve such satisfaction when you are surrounded by friendship and trust, which are essential for accomplishment in managerial tasks. Nobody can do a management job all by himself, this is a well accepted fact. It is the web of relationships and friendship that enables a manager to navigate the choppy waters that the ship of his career will constantly encounter.
There was a fine movie made by Frank Capra which I recall seeing when I was young. It starred James Stewart and Donna Reed and was named It’s a wonderful life. The story is about a man, who thinks he is a failure. So he prepares to commit suicide.
An angel is sent to prevent his act and to rescue him. The angel finds that the man lacks self esteem and hence he thinks that his friends and relations do not much care for him. The angel takes him in an invisible form to overhear what his friends and relations think of him in reality. He is surprised that he seemed to be loved by them all and that he mattered to them. His own perception of his failures in his career and his business activities bothered them little, and their love for him was overwhelming. He feels blessed.
The moral of the film is that no man is a failure who has friends.
Well, it is the same with your career. You take your own successes too seriously, and your failures in the same way. Other people do not think about either with the same intensity, they have better things to do!
Philosophers say that a good question to ponder about is when you die, who will come to your funeral?
When a loved man dies, lots of people come for his funeral out of choice. When a rich or powerful man dies, lots of people may come, but for the reason that they want to be seen to have been there.
If you aim in the right direction, the best possible distance will come automatically. That is a simple truth.