Be forewarned some may find this to be a cynical post. Shield yourself from reality at your own risk.
Some people have a need to be first and consume in the now. I don’t. So I have just now started watching Season 6 of The Office, compliments of Netflix. In the second episode of the season, Michael (the manager of the office, for those who aren’t regular viewers) sabotages Jim’s (one of the office’s salespeople) promotion, thinking that Jim’s promotion would result in his own demotion. Michael tells his boss that Jim is his best friend, but not cut out for management. When Michael finds out that Jim’s promotion could lead to his own advancement, Michael changes his story. Infuriating and typical. I’d prefer not to be cynical. I’d prefer to think that managers always have the best interest of their employees in mind. And I think they often do – as long as it doesn’t threaten their own position of power.
When we are the Jims, we’re angry, and rightly so. We feel unjustly penalized. We feel boxed in – unless we are prepared to quit. And we know that acting the way we really want to would likely carry consequences greater than the satisfaction of speaking our mind.
Work is about work, regardless of your profession. You may be in a helping profession in the public sector, or selling widgets for as high as the market will bear in the private sector – it doesn’t matter – at the end of it all, work often comes down to power, ego, and money. Don’t be surprised when someone you trusted sabotages your advancement. Trust your colleagues to help you as long as in doing so they don’t jeopardize their own position of power.
So where in that lies fulfillment? It starts with realistic expectations.