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Careers: Is there such a thing?

August 13, 2008

“Its a job!”

“Its a career!”

See any difference?

I had dinner with a friend last night. We had an interesting conversation and so I’ll dedicate the next few blog entries to some of the things we talked about.

My friend is a finance executive in a public listed company. He’s not enjoying it. Long hours, low pay, and the usual backstabbing. But what bugs him most is disillusionment. 5 years ago during the interview they sold him the idea of a fast-track career. His conclusion now is, “Career? What career?”

So I asked him what did they sell him. Apparently, it was the assistant manager’s post within 5 years and Senior manager within 10 provided he delivers. And deliver he did, except the promised reward never came. First, the company restructured. Second, they got a new boss and he needs time to decide who to promote. The latest excuse, we have to cut down so there’s only limited places for promotion. Better luck next year.

And in that time, the company had gone ahead and promoted 3 other executives to the spot he was eyeing. Having consistently maintained good-to-excellent grades in his performance scorecard, my friend is understandably livid.

So I told him what I thought. Yes, I do believe it is possible to plot a career path except it was never in the hands of the company. It was in his hands all along. All the company did was provide him a playing field but he had to score the goals. There are rules and there are rules. His competition knew the latter. He didn’t. They scored. He didn’t. There’s also the question whether he has the b*lls to kick a few groins along the way. And kiss a few asses.

Back to the question. Is there a difference between Bali the island east of Java and Bali the tropical paradise where you will enjoy fantastic beaches, great culture and breathtaking sunsets? You’re kidding me, right?

So why do people think there’s a difference between a job and a career? It is imaginary. The truth is, you can string along 10 jobs in the same industry and call it a career, or you can stay in the same job for 20 years and still call it a career. Whats the difference?

Sure, you can achieve a steady ascendancy in a carefully plotted path (the much sought-after ‘career’) and if that’s what you want, guess who must choreograph the journey. You.

And by the way, many millionaires became millionaires not because they planned it. They were at the right place at the rght time and they made the right call. If everyone told the truth, I’m sure we’ll see that not every success in the world has a plan behind it.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. LC Teh permalink
    August 13, 2008 11:11 am

    Ah, there… You’ve got the gist of what the Robert Ringer guy preached even though you didn’t completely read the book.

  2. stella permalink
    August 13, 2008 1:45 pm

    If your freind is not happy, find another jobs until he finds one that he’s happy with it. Or maybe your friend wants to endure it. Thats his choice. Millionaires become millionaires is also due to good pastlife merits. Job or career? In my opinion, Just earn enough. Especially now we have only 4 or 5 years to save earth. I mean global warming. If the earth is save, everything can be planned perfectly. Without earth, there’s no job or career to think of. I think your friend, its not lucky enough in that company. Maybe, his luck is at somewhere else.

  3. Damien permalink*
    August 13, 2008 9:43 pm

    @lc, there must be an art to seeing the dark side of the moon without feeling too bitter. But then again, they say one can’t know happiness until one knows frustration so the more frsutrated one gets, the happier one stands to be. Uhh… why does that sound weird.

    @stella, I think my friend simply put too much faith in the system. Too bad he didn’t do much to rescue himself in the 5 years he was there. Happens to all of us, especially when we’re fresh out of university.

  4. LC Teh permalink
    August 14, 2008 1:33 pm

    Appreciate should be the word, I think. One can know happiness without enduring frustration, but may not learn to appreciate it. Just like losing something to understand its real value.

  5. Damien permalink*
    August 17, 2008 11:02 am

    Yeah that makes sense, thanks. 🙂

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  1. Deciding if you have the personality to run your own business « Damien Tan

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