“Be water my friend”: The only way up in the professional ladder.

When you ask people what they want to do in a future many reckon that progressing becoming a senior member of the staff and being much higher in their professions is the way to go. However, they don’t realize that progressing is not just about taking higher responsibilities and becoming, in some cases, the person to go to for referral, guidance or approvals. The problem they often ignore is that the higher you go in the professional ladder the demands for a new state of mind are bigger…and so are the stakes of failing.

Regardless the profession people must realize that taking on other duties will mean that you have to letsomething go, and this is the point where people may either succeed or realize that it is not their cup of tea. Some people feel very comfortable with the normal day-to-day duties but they would also like to take on the “glamorous” (?) life of the high management or director level. Some not sooner are they offered a management position to understand that it is not for them. They realize that they have to speak with people (many people live in their own bubble and the bare idea of having to talk with another human being is just not part of the normal existence), exchange ideas, become politically correct (very in some environments) and have a very logical and structured mind so cold decisions are also taken…not everybody is up to this.

If you want to progress you must be realistic. The very first think it will dawn on you it will be the lack of time to continue doing what you were doing as you have new duties. It does not mind how simple this sounds but it is a reality that many people just can not cope with the idea of not being the expert they were in certain areas. Progressing is equivalent to becoming a not-so-expert in some fields and become more of a strategist at a higher level.

Regardless the position the time at hand is still the same: a day only has twenty four hours. Thinking that new duties can go on top of what you used to like doing (more technical and less managerial) in your job will not work out: you have to let things go and perform on your duties at your level best as that is what you are paid for and is expected from you. If you plan to do new tasks and still take on the old ones, forget it, it will not work. I strongly believe that success is only achieved when work is done carefully, with love, pride and dedication for what you do. If you think that you can work in a rush and with quality carelessly you’d better start going back to your previous role.

“Be water my friend”…a few years ago these words became famous again (some may recall they were used in an advertisement), many years after they were said originally.

How this applies? Simple, you have to be open to the opportunities that are presented before your eyes, but equally you have to be open to change, adapt, forget old abilities, give up previous duties and learn new skills. All these tasks are probably outside your comfort zone and, believe me, the path may be difficult to walk and, in many occasions, you will be on your own when presented with difficult alternatives to make a decision…but the reward (in my opinion) is worth it.

Your ability to progress in the professional ladder and become a better professional only depends on your ability to adapt, learn, mature and let things go…

“be water, my friend”


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