Looking down on others

So there you have it: you have wowed[1]your bosses. They promoted you, after the undoubtedly long and winding discussion in their Organization & People Review in which (unbeknownst to yourself) your promotion was given to your boss after he allowed his agreement to be taken in a case of somebody that needed to be fired[2]. I apologize. That was uncalled for. This is your moment of glory. You should be all free to savor this glorious moment of recognition. You made it! Congrat’s! You are somebody special now.

For God’s sake: don’t be ashamed. There is no reason to feel this pain in the chest – this mild panic when looking at the others around you, unpromotedly awaiting your every wish as their command. Call it innovation or call it entrepreneurial skills, or call it above average analytical skills. Just feel it as the charisma of the natural born people leader; just feel it like your colleagues managers feel it: do not be ashamed to have it, boast it, bullet it and rumor it. You are all set (apart)! Meet Rick & meet Iwana. And meet Udo too. Enjoy talking to HR as if your every word potentially is an anecdote that they can repeat later on to the younger hopefuls[3].

You are a high potential. Or at least a key performer. At any rate: somebody who is flagged in some SAP-like system as special, in kind of a secretive kind of way.

I’m Joan. And I am not just a little bit worried all of this has left you quite a bit too ‘up’ to still see it in the proper perspective of learning how to be underpromoted. It is so easy to look down on others that you might get carried away with it like all of the others that believe they’re saving the world receiving a ‘pay for performance’ on which one could easily feed the better part of an African country[4]. I need to stop you. It isn’t that kind of looking down on others that will get you anywhere. At least not anywhere interesting.

So let me warn you in time: there is most definitely some brainwashing ahead. It’ll obviously start all warm and cosy. Iwana will bump into you when you are waiting for the coffee machine to eject black sugary fluid in a plastic container[5]. Smalltalk will come natural. Eventually she’ll tell you how she wanted to be a musician; how she still plays regularly, “For fun, you know.”, but finds it more and more difficult to keep up. You will hear yourself muttering “how you’d always wanted to run a marathon”, or something; checking yourself just in time not to say what you really want to do[6]. Just in time, because this is networking and networking is a game for winners; not one for the faint of heart that will blabber on about the truth and what they feel and all such girly-man stuff. Next thing you find yourself in a bar or other place suggesting a more informal setting, with Iwana and Rick, joking about Udo (at least if Udo is not there himself, because when he’s there the joke will be on HR (or it will be about Rick, when Rick happens not to be there (or you …))).

Lest you’re getting carried away again with all of this being one of them, I need to caution you again: this is heading towards an unavoidable hi-po training seminar in which there will be even more drinks and posturing and, ultimately, taking sides in one of those inevitable ‘big boss corporate civil wars’ that are always going on in some form or other. Before you know it one of these big bosses will be the mentor of little old you. She will be glad to be sponsoring your career on the basis of your personal commitment to “[place any word here and it will mean – “her”]. As long as, that is, you’re willing to get out of your comfort zone[7] & get with the program – the program being that you accept consecutive challenges during which you’ll be reprogrammed into a management machine carefully tuned to take down the other clan, and do it remorselessly[8].

Heck, after a while you might even be stretched & boosted 😉

The thing is: as much as I liked (and still like) Iwana and Rick the ‘them and us’-gig of pre-selection (chapter 1) and selection of those that fit best (chapter 2) is a bit of a self-frustrating prophecy. I mean, socially what’s going on is more or less what is described in ‘The Catcher in the Rye.’; it really is and all. It’s the psychology of the in-crowd locking others out not so much because they dislike them but because it is the shortest path to liking themselves even better. It leads to all things juvenile – all things juvenile, minus the youthful and enjoyable stuff that is – for those that when young missed out on all that shit[9]. But whatever they thought and whatever you’ll think: they were, and you are, not part of the selectorate. There is too much doubt in you. There is too much of an urge to look around at the unpromoted others & too much of a desire for their wellbeing[10]. You just never wanted to be a wannabe, not  enough at least. You know you don’t want it hard enough.

But you still bought this ‘looking down on other’-bit. You bought it because I talk as if I am a highly paid management consultant. You tend to buy this because I’m writing a book and because I say so. You have bought all of this motivational and all of this inspirational shit on networking and opportunities and challenges and on comfort zones because you wanted to believe it; it is the suspension of disbelief that makes us into a cheap second rate character of a third rate book written by some or other testosterone-addicted guy that does a fourth rate rant on talent and creativity and spontaneity … then goes on to explain how to engineer that spontaneity.

You and I alike went for these wet managerial dreams like fifteen-year old boys for their full frontal internet nudity. The only difference between us and Udo is that we can’t take ourselves seriously, not at least without occasional interruptions. With Rick that we are very bad at self-deceiving ourselves into thinking our popularity is unrelated to the fact that we are powerful. With Iwana that we are far too modest to seriously entertain the idea that, without us, the team would be helpless.

So, stop buying it. Stop trying to be like them. Think for yourself! The key thing is indeed to look down on others: but only insofar the others are this pitiable bunch of managers that look down on others like us, lacking the constant need to feelings of superiority. We will feel superior; but only as regards the overpromoted 😉

Back to Table of Contents.

On to Chapter 3 (come back around June 13th!).


[1] For those not having seen any televised talent show (and therefore probably those best properly called ‘Martians’) ‘wowed’ is the transitive verb-form of the expression: ‘wow!’, as in ‘to wow some people who are prone to hysterical outbursts’, meaning (loosely) – doing something rather boringly common in a very loud and deliberately attention-seeking manner

[2] For those not familiar with management speak: in the case of people seeing their labour contract suspended for an indefinite period of time, it is always a matter of objective need and never, ever, a matter of subjective liking or disliking of the owner of said labour contract.

[3] People that are exactly as you were and that have every hope of becoming what you are. People who are being gently moulded into the frame of their predecessors that would have much preferred cloning but have learnt to settle on brainwashing wannabe’s into wanting to be like them.

[4] &, said in passing, based on a performance that may well be codified in a Specific, Measurable, Accountable, Reliable and Team-based way (in a SMART way where the acronym has – as per usual – only the most whimsical of correlations with the word it is the spelling of) but that is, in the end, assessed by somebody motivated by the own desire to have a high mark and the strong push not to have to get into awkward arguments on something as intangible as a “grade” with somebody else.

[5] Because you don’t want to be even just seen carrying these mugs with either a funny remark on them or a sentence in which your name is featuring as a personalization (or worst of all: both these elements at the same time).

[6] Like (sorry, I just had to make this remark): writing a book, or something idealistic like that.

[7] I tell you: stay firmly within your comfort zones. Not a single kid has learned to walk because she was challenged to stand up and cross the room. People learn things because they are interested, and curious and because it seems, all in all, like a kind of handy way to get about.

[8] Like a sociopath having to earn his squeaky clean super mansion, foreseen of dungeon-like lower floors, in which to torture his own prey to death by being the hired hand professional killer of mafia like outfits that are perfectly convinced of having taken the right in their own hands rightfully.

[9] Being locked out themselves or, maybe more common: being locked in, but having to be on their toes constantly to make sure they would be on the inside next time as well (and plotting all kinds of devious shit – too imaginative for the real leader to have come up with – that remained unrealized because they were too afraid people would laugh at them). I retract what is between brackets: most of the shit wasn’t devious at all, it was boring but retained the feeling of deviousness because it was never challenged by anyone else, being unspoken and all.

[10] Do give some of it to these others; some attention and some praise and sometimes just some of your undivided interest. It’s a difficult thing to give (and most people never realize giving any of it) but that’s precisely why you should give it to them: because it matters, not only to them but also to you. And don’t go all teary eyed on me now.

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