How to Get to the Top in Your Career

Think of the start of your career as the climb to the top of a multi-story department store.

How to Get to the Top in Your CareerThink of the start of your career as the climb to the top of a multi-story department store. You know each floor has something new and different to offer and each will be beneficial to your career. You simply have to figure out how to get to the top floor, how to reach your career goals, and how to not be too exhausted to enjoy your accomplishments. You need all the help and support you can get.

In considering how you will make that trip to the top, you have choices. You can climb all those flights of stairs or you can take the elevator or escalators.

The Stairs
The stairs can be difficult. You trudge upward under your own power one stop at a time. You have absolutely no help. By the time you reach the next floor, you may have to stop and rest and you have probably lost interest in what is on that floor. Your goal is to get to the top, so onward and upward you plod.

The higher you climb, the slower you go. Each step is more difficult than the last. You know you have to keep moving if you ever want to reach the top, but you are tired and you’re panting and sweating. This journey seems to be taking forever as the stairs go on and on with little evidence of progress except for landings at each floor. You can’t see what lies beyond the closed doors on the landings, but you have thoughts of quitting and calling it off.

The excited anticipation you felt at the beginning of your journey has evaporated. You conclude that the top floor was either too ambitious a goal, or not so important to you after all. The stairs can break your spirit, so you definitely want to avoid them if there is an alternative.

The ElevatorThe Elevator
The elevator may be the fastest way to the top, but the trip is exceedingly boring. Instead of feeling as though you are progressing upward, there is the illusion that the world outside the elevator simply changes each time the doors open.

There is much truth to the ancient Zen saying that the journey is the reward. Elevators, regardless of mirrors and polished brass interiors, are bleak ways to travel upward when there is a better choice.

The Escalator
The fundamental purpose of this moving staircase is to move you upward smoothly and effortlessly as you travel from one level to the next. You can browse each floor as long as you want, knowing your trip to the next level will be easy and unproblematic. You are not tired, swearing, and exhausted from climbing. You look forward to the next floors as you glide upward on the escalator.

If you take the escalator, you can simply “stand still” as the moving stairs take you to the top. Or, you can climb up the escalator step, smugly reveling in each “giant step” that the forward momentum of the escalator provides. The escalator multiplies any effort you choose to exert in its inevitable upward progress.

For the most part, the escalator is a more rewarding alternative than either the elevator or stairs.

The EscalatorIn this metaphor, think of beginning at the ground floor with your decision to pursue your choice of career, and then you begin your journey upward through a “department store” of career long opportunities. If you are using the escalator, there is continual support, progress, and movement as you progress from one floor to the next. You can stop whenever you wish to examine what various levels of accomplishment have to offer, or you can keep going. Each level has something unique to offer.

At times in your career, you may want to climb the escalator to gain the advantage of those giant steps and proceed even faster. Sometimes, educational programs or classes may be that giant step you need to get to the next level.

An escalator represents a system – a moving staircase with the purpose of supporting you as you go from one place to another in a smooth and consistent way. Ordinary things done consistently often bring extraordinary results. The climb to the top on the escalator may not seem glamorous, but it is an excellent means of support for you whether you are standing or racing to make giant steps upward in your career.

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