Climbing the Corporate Ladder

This wisdom is inspired by Ecclesiastes 4.

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There are many things that rob our joy in our work life. There’s the power structure that might be oppressive, that requires more bricks with less straw. Sometimes you’re singled out as the cause of corporate misfortune. You may have to contend with the evil motives of others, not just unfairness. Perhaps your co-worker sees you as a rival and you must guard your flank as well as contend with those above. He or she may be quite the politician, and you’re not, or you don’t want to play that game.  Then there are those who don’t pull their weight (the lazy) and you must work doubly hard to cover for them. Enduring all this when you think you’re not adequately compensated can be a bitter pill to swallow.

What’s the wisdom for dealing with all this? First, recognize these forces as the default position. Rarely does an organization empower its people rather than overpower them. Rarely can an organization root out all the bad apples. Rarely is there true teamwork and a lack of politics and rivalry in business. Rarely is there not the attitude of “what have you done for me lately?” Once you accept this, the rule is to be “shrewd as a serpent and as innocent as a dove.” (Matt. 10:16)

You want to be an agent of change. You want to turn the tables. It’s like mountain climbing. Get a foothold and then climb from cleft to cleft fostering the good attributes that an organization truly values and codified. Empower people. Foster teamwork. Commend effort and selflessness. Applaud victories. Learn from defeats and disappointments. And so forth. Read about corporate values here and you’ll get the idea.

Leaders instinctively know that nothing really gets done in an environment of oppression and backstabbing. They want buy-in to positive actions. Those who put aside pettiness and jealousy and greed and evil machinations and strive for the greater good will rise like cream to the top. They’re exercising leadership from day one. You really can’t deny an authentic leader. If these inclinations are thwarted, he or she will switch ladders.

Truth is, Christians should be the world’s best employees and managers. They answer to a higher power and possess a higher power to gain traction in an every man (or woman) for himself world

I observed mountain climbers recently in Canada. There was what is called a belayer at the bottom with a safety rope. When the climber slipped, he yelled out and the man at the bottom used his own weight to break his fall. We will need  a mentor/friend to help us up the corporate ladder, and more importantly, to help us if and when we fall.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Eccl. 4:9-10

Friends in High Places–Genesis 40-41

14 Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house. Genesis 40:14

Here’s a quick overview of Genesis 40-41.

Joseph was in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. This wasn’t justified nor the place for such a gifted and godly man.

The warden put Joseph in charge of two servants of the king who landed in jail, the cupbearer and the baker.

Joseph interpreted dreams for both men. For the cupbearer, he had good news, for the baker not so good. In return for his service, Joseph asked the cupbearer to mention him to Pharaoh when he got out. Joseph made his case by saying he had been kidnapped and that he’d done no wrong.

Turns out the cupbearer forgot him, but later recalled his gift and told Pharaoh when he had a perplexing dream. Joseph was finally summoned to the court, and thereafter elevated.

40 You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.” Genesis 41:40

I gathered these principles from this account.

  • Your plight may not be justified. It might not be fair.
  • You may be godly and gifted, and forced to mark time.
  • Where you are is not where you want to be. Joseph put it this way. He said, “get me out of this place.”
  • This comment can be taken two ways, as a lack of faith, or an awareness of the potential for God’s intervention through this man, if he so wills. “Ours is not to reason why, but to do or die,” as the old saying goes.
  • What we are to learn–what Joseph learned–is that we are where we are because of God’s will. It’s all about his perfect timing. In the meantime, Joseph exercised leadership–and his faith–in the prison, and he was able to demonstrate godliness. In the end, God exalted him, at the proper time.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7

Here are the takeaways:

  1. Use your opportunities to plant seeds.
  2. Pray that God will use these opportunities that come your way for your benefit, in his perfect timing, and in his perfect way.
  3. Grow where you’re planted (see below).
  4. Be ready when your time comes. (2 Timothy 4:2)

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ Jeremiah 29:4-7

 

 

Stuck in the Gate

Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. James 4:17

This verse, of course, refers to serious matters where righteousness hangs in the balance. But there’s a worthwhile principle in here. Once you know the right thing to do in a particular situation, to not do it is foolish.

Wisdom is applied knowledge. The flip side, therefore, needs consideration. To not apply knowledge is to be a fool. There’s a saying about leading horses to water. Have you gotten excellent advice and not employed it?

Surely procrastination could be categorized in the Christian life as sin, especially if God has directed you to the right road, and you hesitate to traverse it.

There’s another saying about it being easier to steer a moving ship. Is it that you haven’t begun to move that’s making it so hard? Ponder the concept of inertia.

Inertia, property of a body by virtue of which it opposes any agency that attempts to put it in motion or, if it is moving, to change the magnitude or direction of its velocity. Inertia is a passive property and does not enable a body to do anything except oppose such active agents as forces and torques. A moving body keeps moving not because of its inertia but only because of the absence of a force to slow it down, change its course, or speed it up. Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

It’s demoralizing to stay at rest too long wallowing in self-pity. It’s discouraging to be stuck behind your intimidating fears and what-ifs. It’s high time to put the body in motion, or perhaps to burn an engine to gain more velocity.

It’s fascinating to watch the jockey guide his racehorse to the starting gates. A slow but steady walk. But once in the stall, it’s only a matter of seconds before a bell rings and they’re off!

Are you still stuck in the gate?

Author’s Note: In your career search, the right things to do are first to self-assess, then to strategically plan, then to select and seek out networking partners, then to generate sales tools (business cards, 30-second elevator speech, resume, Linkedin page), then to set narrow goals and go after them. In the meantime, you research the marketplace and your intended targets and read up on the trickiest interview questions. All this is done, as my old boss used to say, not in sequence, but in parallel. There, now you know the right thing to do and the onus in on you! I say this lovingly and empathetically, but somebody needs to light the fire under you!

Everybody Cares About Something

I enjoyed reading these “corporate values.”

My favorites were Coca Cola and Southwest Airlines. Of course, I like biblical values, and I could square mine with these.

I don’t know about “being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect.” You might want to discuss this one with someone over a cup of coffee, but not too loudly.

Nevertheless inspired, I decided to see what the wisest guy in the world thought was important, and here are his values from Ecclesiastes 7:

Verse 1—Keep your good name

Verses 2,4—Stay sober

Verse 3—Learn from loss

Verse 5—Listen to rebukes

Verse 6—Laugh last

Verse 7—Pay your way

Verse 8—Finish

Verse 8—Patience

Verse 9—Stay cool

Verse 10—Look forward

Verses 11,12—Know

Verses 13,14—Accept fate

 

 

Know Thyself

Advising job seekers can be frustrating if sufficient time hasn’t been spent assessing one’s aptitudes. Added to this review is a mandatory study of past successes and failures.

But I like to focus only on successes, because these will be indicative of one’s preferences and predispositions.

It’s bad enough in between jobs, and then to dwell on failures? Better, hit the high points from grade school on, and you’ll get a pretty good picture of your predilections and passions.

Taking this keener understanding of one’s self into account, it’ll be easier to target a new position or career.

And let’s not remain in an aimless mode too long. Don’t wallow in self-pity! Know this, that a hiatus of any kind can cause debilitating rust to form. Each day, it’ll be harder and harder to get going again.

So attack the self-assessment phase with a vengeance, and zero in quickly on a plan. As the saying goes, “if you don’t know where you’re heading, any road will get you there.”

Here’s the progression.

Know your God.

Finding a job these days is next to impossible! Face it. Knowing these odds, go with someone who can do the impossible!

But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Luke 18:27

“Know thyself”…and “to thine own self be true.”  Socrates and Polonius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Don’t try to swim against the current!

Know your world

That is to say, is what you’re aiming for a gathering wave, or just foam on the shore?

 

 

Nine Guys (Way Better than Five Guys)

The best advice you can get if you’re embarking on a job search is to enlist your own “advisory team” for timely instruction and counsel.

Proverbs 11:14, says, “Where there is no guidance the people fall, but in abundance of counselors there is victory.”

If you want to successfully traverse the job search wilderness, you’d be wise to take along comrades-in-arms who can and are freely willing to direct, encourage and motivate you back to civilization.

In assembling your team, it’s good to cover the gamut of needs that you might experience along the way. You’ll draw on these points of view throughout the vicissitudes of your trek, more so if it becomes a long slog through dense thickets, murky swamps or foreboding forests.

May I suggest these potential teammates?

You can’t make it without the I-Believe-In-You Guy. Chances are you will begin to doubt yourself after your first pitfall, so it’s good to have a boost in your self-esteem when you need it the most.

The Don’t-Give-Up Guy hangs out with the I-Believe-In-You Guy, but is most often heard to say, “You can do it!”

There’s the See-the-Possibilities Guy. Everyone needs someone who can distinguish the forest from the trees. He’s the guy with the binoculars who sees the potential clearing up ahead.

Everyone will need a Let-Me-Help-You-With-This Guy, who will roll up his sleeves and get a little dirty with you. He’s there to help you hack through the underbrush. This can range from doing serious edits on your resume to asking you “behavioral” interview questions.

Before you get too far down a particular path, check first with the Been-There-Done-That Guy. You may save yourself a lot of trouble and avoid major backtracking if you talk to him first. He will call a spade a spade. He will burst a few bubbles, but you can’t afford a time-wasting detour.

Where would you be without the I-Know-Someone-I-Can-Set-You-Up-With Guy? He may not have a map, but he likely knows someone who does, and he can lead you to him.

If you’re worn out and “just taking a little break,” you will benefit from the Get-Off-Your-Duff Guy. You will have to voluntarily put this guy on your team, knowing full well what you’re getting into. Remember, he will need free rein. By the way, his brother is the Swift-Kick-In-The-Pants Guy, who is just itching to join the expedition, but you should be fine without him. Keep in mind, though; the Get-Off-Your-Duff Guy has his brother’s phone number and will want to “tag team” if he gets no results.

Under no circumstances leave without The Lord’s-Got-It-All-Under-Control Guy. Talk to this guy regularly, hopefully before you’re at your wit’s end.

Partner up with these mates often so that you can avoid the inevitable “blind spots.” You be the instigator. When? At breakfasts, lunches, at the gym, at the ballpark, in the church hall, you name it. Sort through the advice you get and heed what seems wise.

However, remember there’s no substitute for God’s direction on your journey. He’s the only one who really has all the answers. After all, he’s the only one who knows where you’re going!

Righting the Ship

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Psalm 73:23-24

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalm 143:10

Emotions can run high with a job loss. They’re much akin to the stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

But if you pinch yourself and it hurts, then the worst case hasn’t happened; you’re still alive, and likely no one has died. So it’s better for everyone, especially yourself, to move through the stages quickly, or to skip them altogether, if possible.

It’s understandable, though, to have to right the ship, because we’re human. We’ve got our plans and dreams, and when we are rerouted, it takes time to get to acceptance.

It’d be good if we all were like the Apostle Paul, who was thwarted by God’s spirit from ministering in Asia and Bithynia, and saw a vision of a Macedonian man, and quickly hopped a ship to Greece.

We normally resist change, and when forced to change, it angers us and we dig in.

The Bible addresses these natural inclinations, and offers hope and encouragement. But it also motivates and exhorts when our humanity gets in the way.

Think of Sarah when told that she’d have Abraham’s son. She laughed. God’s response to the realities of age, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14) I guess we know what The Lord thinks about age discrimination!

Then there’s Elijah, who hid himself in a cave after being used mightily by God. He was despondent and wanted to die! What? He exclaimed, “I alone am left!” God asked the simple question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:9

And there’s Jonah who resisted the will of God to go to Nineveh, and was beside himself when they repented and the Lord relented. He was fit to be tied. The response from on high:  “Do you have a good reason to be angry?” Jonah 4:4

So pull yourselves together. Nothing’s too difficult for God. Get yourself some good counsel and focus on all that God has done for you in the past. Don’t be angry with the hand of God. Don’t slap it away. Let him lead you on level ground.

Trust him.