The True Measure of Career Success


 As is the way the work society is, as is the way we seek and give recognition in families and friends, as is the way we mark our milestones in our career – so much skewed it truly is, as a measure of Success of Career.

Navigating the career journey with pseudo and cosmetic milestones decorates only the appearance of the career rather than long term endurance of the career. This treading on an unreal hollow path, puts a lot of pressure on one’s aspiration and the person ultimately reaches nowhere or grows up to be a Bonsai. Bonsai is the art of being ornamental, artificially decorated varieties of big trees in smaller pots. Bonsai’s are characterized by ‘Dwarfness in being Big’. Learn more about this from Dr. R. Gopalakrishnan’s book “The Bonsai Manager”.

Career can be defined as the progress by learning and practice of an occupation that a person undertakes for a long period of his life and continuously improve upon it, so as to offer it at a reciprocal value. Indeed, there can’t be a career where there has not been any ‘progress by learning’. However, and sadly so, the modern societal practice of career measurement ignores the ‘substance’ of career and celebrates the ‘artificial’ beauty tags. Thus, in most cases what we celebrate is our dwarfism in being a Bonsai. Bonsai’s rarely fruit, are mostly appreciated for beauty but a Bonsai Banyan can never give true shade and shelter.

Of all the things that make us a true Bonsai executive, the three most disguised and dangerous are the traps of Power, Title and Money. When Power, Title and Money happens to a professional on a career journey at wrong times, Bonsaism is guaranteed. The ‘look and feel’ is are there but the substance is missing in the inner layers. Nonetheless, how many Managers on the other side of the table truly has the courage and conviction to call a spade a spade. Which Manager would like to bear the perils of making a fast tracker on a societal race, realize that untimely stops at the PTM stations underscore no real achievement. This isn’t to say that aspirations and ambitions are bad traits to have. In practice, however, very few can back them with sensibility and logic.

It’s time to review how to measure the success of your career beyond Power, Title and Money, so as to have a real Career Growth and not a Bonsai.

 Dr. Marla Gottschalk offers interesting perspectives.

  • If, in your organization, you are in a role by which you are ‘Developing a Voice’ in the organization that impacts the organization as well as your professional practice positively… that’s priceless, go for it.
  • Learning and mastering something new – Whether your organization is small, medium or big – look for and get into roles that helps you to learn and master new things in your own professional domain or any other allied domain… you are making meaningful investments towards a long and endurable Career.
  • Find the challenge – In organizations, we exist in stages of “plates are full” and “can double hat”… periodically, depending upon a range of factors. Whatever they may be and wherever you are, look for challenges. It’s simple to find them. Whatever interferes with your ‘sense of comfort’ is a challenge and you would never regret welcoming a challenge now, to build a strong career base for future. Challenges on the first appearance seems to break us but they do give a tremendous high… a great feeling of satisfaction.
  • Create something. In every organization either small or big there do exist numerous chances of creating something new. Often invisible.Look for them. Try and give the organization a Practice, a Process, a Benchmark, a System, new Product, a new Line of Business, a new way of doing Something. This sounds impossible to many, yet, it’s both interesting and elementary. This is an experience which becomes so unique in our career that no traditional matrix can measure them.

As Kidambi Srikanth said after he clinched his fourth Super Series Badminton Title with an incredible straight-game triumph over reigning Olympic and World Champion Chen Long – “It’s just that I’m not thinking of winning or losing. I missed competitive badminton and wanted to enjoy the match. It’s like it happened because I missed that period of competitive badminton. It’s like I wanted to hand in and play as many matches as possible.”

Career success isn’t something you chase. It’s something you put forth with effort constantly and then it comes when you least expect it. Most people don’t understand that and only later realizes that they have become a Bonsai.




Are Organizations also in a way “Beings”?


Organizations are also in a way ‘Beings’.  The elements of Individuals, Groups and their Commonness of Purpose at the core of the organization go to indicate that Experiences, Feelings, Needs, Beliefs and Desires are very integral to an organization.  Almost every organization is a harbor where feelings, experiences, needs beliefs and desires are generated and exchanged.  These co-exist along with the central philosophy of dispassionate objectivity with which these organizations are governed.Practitioners involved with organizations and their development would agree that behind every objective process, there is a human process that has considerable influence mutually.  The technical processes are often measured and audited.  However, not many organizations pay enough attention or take notice of the unseen under-currents of human processes that impact the organization.

In a way an organization though is not analyzable as a single entity having its independent psyche; it has a unified psyche as a resultant of the collective exchange of human processes and patterns of perceptions of the several members in several roles.

It is the presence of this objectivity and the features of unseen but covertly present human processes – an organization entitles to be recognized as a Being.

Effective organizations are ones where operational leaders are not a bunch of numerous bewildered seekers, erroneously seeking organizational excellence only through objective processes but are the ones where the Leaders and the Managers pay heed to the unseen dynamics and parallel processes that are present in their organization but are not available to them for a ready surface level introspection.

Often, they are trained themselves or are aided by hired OD consultants to unearth these processes.  Unearthed because, the primary characteristic of these dynamic and parallel processes is that it is not Conscious and therefore, lies outside the purview of conscious awareness.  Organizations become effective when such Leaders and Managers heed to the Unconscious Processes as warning signals.  That they should work upon or as motivators that they should drive upon.

© Satyakki Bhattacharjee 2014