I was Successfully Climbing the Ladder. When I Reached the Attic – there was Nothing There!

We are used to talk about career ladders, steps, paths, curves. Something that refers to clear and continuous. Usually pointing the direction “up”.

People somehow find the metaphor of ladder quite exciting. Though if we really think about a long ladder – don’t we imagine it as boring and slow? And linear? And pre-determined? Metaphorically speaking, you climb one step after another on ladder. You cannot make a turn. You cannot chose the other direction in the middle. You can only come back, though – to the same point that you have already been.

What has inspired me recently is the metaphor of a jump or leap. When you look around, see the other side of something and the only way to reach it out is make a leap. Besides finding metaphor of leap inspiring, I also believe this is the metaphor of making career nowadays. We talk a lot about the new environment requiring a lot of learning, that careers and jobs (professions) are pretty unpredictable, the most successful people are the ones with very diverse portfolios of experiences; however when it comes to “career making” we still tend to cling to images of ladders, paths and stairs.

And in a way, this is not very strange. As metaphor of leap means:

  1. You have to assess, how trained you are – will you be able to make a leap that is ahead
  2. You need to own the risk – even though you see visually,how the other side looks like and how far it is, it only will be just after the jump that you can be sure you have succeeded
  3. You will need to bear a moment or two without any ground below your feet. You will need to trust you will land safely 
  4. It might happen, that after landing you will understand that this is not the ground you wanted. You need to be endure and trained enough to make another leap further
  5. You will need to find the best place for jump yourself, the place that matches your aspirations and capabilities. You will have to make a decision, when to jump. And how
  6. It is harder to jump back compared to climbing back on the ladder. You can jump back, but most probably you will land in a slightly different place
  7. With the leap – it is usually quite vast horizon in-front of you- and you just need to rely on yourself

So when we live in times where interdisciplinary experience and diverse knowledge are so important for successful professional lives – will we still be climbing stairs and ladders or will we start owning the risk and making the leaps?

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