Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A corporate elliptical machine

Recently I was told about another CEO who got a raise this year to increase his 10 million dollar salary while his company has recently announced layoffs. I was struck with the realization that even after all the years this CEO has been climbing to get to the top, he's still trying to find a bigger payday.

The CEO of a company represents the top of a corporate ladder many of us think we are (or were) on. I remember getting out of college thinking about the number of years it would take me to climb a corporate ladder and become "Partner". After all, Partner is the top of something. Something pretty special sounding, and big-money making.

Even though the CEO above has been climbing all these years, even though he's done all this work his entire life, and "succeeded" at all sorts of goals he and others have set out for him, he's still climbing. He's still probably stressing about his next raise. The next monetary bump. The next promotion.

Most of us reading this have seen, or are on, or have at least considered climbing a corporate ladder. And sure many of us still concern ourselves with becoming better leaders and mentors to younger employees. But the first thing most of us want to hear with that promotion, is how much do I get paid.

My dreams have often gotten soured with thoughts of raises and promotions. When I got out of college my dream of Partner had as its top priority some kind of goal of "financial independence". I was pretty focused on raises and promotions and saw most everyone else was too. Everyone was climbing and climbing and buying more stuff their new finances allowed them too.

But this isn't a ladder for this guy. There is no end to it. This is a treadmill or a stair machine. A corporate elliptical machine. But calling this an exercise machine doesn't do this justice. Because this isn't exercise.

His version of climbing leads to stress and heart attacks. Stress that's passed onto everyone else around him. Stress that hides all the awesome things he's already accomplished and the people and events that matter in his life today.

How's work for you? Are you on a ladder, or have you stepped onto the elliptical machine?

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