A question to think about,

‘How many people do you possibly know who have been promoted, only to then realise that they have made a poor career decision, and are now in the wrong role, desperate to be demoted and to return to a position of safety?’

How many people have you personally witnessed who have been promoted only to suffer from the prolonged working hours that they force upon themselves, the organisation happy for them to see the short-term benefits and increased productivity? However, the escalating levels of stress, the associated physical and mental health (burn out) and family issues all increasing as a result of their defiant quest to succeed. They see promotion as a route to happiness and fulfilment. In reality very, very few people, if any, decide or realise that this new role, along with its additional responsibilities, is beyond their actual innate talent complexity potential and is simply not for them. The only time that a warning shot is fired across their bows is when some form of health or social scare tells them so, by which time it is too late and the potential life changing harm is done!

Is this a common story or totally fictitious? Can you personally relate to such a scenario or have you witnessed once capable colleagues fall into this downward spiral and trap? Have you witnessed once supportive and loyal colleagues change their behaviour once promoted? Did those ‘struggling’ people simply get told that it was just a temporary blip in their performance, that they just needed time to adjust to the new role or even once they have attended the mandatory training course all will be absolutely fine? Once capable people do become trapped, deceived into thinking that promotion would bring that happiness and fulfilment. Having now gained that extra prestige of promotion, the kudos, the extra pay and increased pension along with a reserved car parking space and detached house they have no other option but to battle on, against all the odds. They desperately need to consolidate the faith put in them when promoted by their sponsor. They work extra hours because they are desperate to make it work and they may even witness fellow peers doing the same thing in order to ‘get the job done’. They may even seek further promotion, deluded by the impression that it may indeed be where happiness and fulfilment continue to ultimately lie. Success is but another promotion away! Colleagues may even support their efforts and attempts, coaching them through periods of reduced performance but unwittingly further compounding the issue. Their offer of ongoing support is actually counterintuitive. How many times have people been taken to one side by a trusted confidant and told that they need to remove themselves from the situation that they find themselves in as it is harming their health, their relationships and their future. No, we doggedly plough on against the odds with that Dunkirk spirit and desire to show the doubter that they were actually wrong in their premonitions.

There is a however a simple solution to this conundrum and that comes in the form of self-awareness. Self-awareness provides you with that vitally important insight into who you are and what you are ultimately capable of achieving, whilst not throwing you into burn out and incompetence. It is like a bullet proof vest, protecting you from the most destructive harm you face, yourself. That self-awareness also brings with it the ability to contextualise the surroundings that you inhabit in an ever changing, volatile, uncertain and ambiguous world.

Find the time to take a vitally important step backwards, then take a deep breath and then look in the mirror. It may be the only opportunity you get to protect yourself, from yourself and to make a life changing decision, not just for you, but for your colleagues and for those around you that you love and treasure.

It will be the most important step that you will ever take…