Today we will talk about the paradox that makes it difficult for people who are extremely intelligent and very committed to working to get promoted at work. Explaining this mechanism can help you avoid frustration at work and prevent burnout. It can also be a very effective and practical guide to building your career path. So, to a large extent today we will be doing ... career coaching!
But before we discuss intelligence, promotion, frustration, and burnout, let's start with a broader perspective. And there is a very specific reason behind this approach.
How much are you committed to your work? Is your job your life?
As always, in the morning I admire the view outside the window. It's beautiful. I chose it myself 🙂 (ie not the view, but my home from which I can admire the view).
By the way, one quick digression: do you know that in Switzerland, when buying a property or a house, you can also buy a view for a sufficiently large amount? Really. No one can build anything in the vicinity of our property that would obscure the selected projection of space.
If you have seen how beautiful the slopes of the hills above Lake Geneva look like, how harmoniously the images of vineyards combine with the view of the several thousand-strong Alps and the lake that stands at their feet - you can understand.
Coming back to my "not bought" view 🙂 I have often thought that it would be worth keeping the shades of this view in the photos. There are as many seasons, as many months in the year, how many days, how many colors on trees, how many shades of the sun that rises or hides behind clouds, how many phases of the moon, how many moments when the fog is absolutely unchallenged over everything around. It's amazing how many shades one Polish view can have from the window. How many shades does the world have? How many shades does Life have?
How often during the working week can we notice the world around us?
Isn't it so that when we shave and do makeup we think about what will be at work? The same thoughts accompany us at breakfast. We are in a hurry to go to work, and along the way, another driver will stop in a hurry (or we will pass almost red, deceiving ourselves that nothing happened).
Or we are stuck in traffic, get mad, and are already "cooked" before we get to work. In fact, what does it matter if we arrive 15 minutes earlier or later? Why are we in such a hurry? For what? After all, at the end of our earthly path, it is exactly the same - death.
Do we want to reach the end of this road as soon as possible? I know, sounds strong. And I'm not down at all today. I want to say that when we rush to something, we completely take away the present moment and all its shades. And our life is with us here and now, every moment. Not where we want or we have to make it.
Why don't extremely intelligent people get promoted so easily?
How can I now neatly move to the topic of promotions in the company and the fact that in most cases brilliant people do not get promoted to higher positions?
Before 2020, I would simply use the car as a vehicle that would take us to the world of work 🙂 So we would arrive at the company's parking lot. Then the elevator, a few jokes on the way with colleagues from work (or a few common complaints), coffee, mailbox and we go into high gear. Today we don't even need a car. After breakfast, we just go to the room where our laptop is.
Anyway, we're already at work. We are running a presentation. One of the meeting participants is very active. He asks a lot of questions. He is from a different department, but he constantly asks about things that do not directly concern him. He slowly begins to irritate us with his "over-zealousness" (this is our interpretation). He draws attention to matters which, in our opinion, are of little importance (let me add that there is no malice in his questions. This is important).
Who is this man?
This is probably a person with great intellectual abilities. He sees much more than the "average" worker. Recognizes the links between various aspects of the project. Can think in "what-if?" Terms. He can analyze many elements very quickly and make an accurate synthesis. Moreover, he genuinely cares about making it ALL TOGETHER work. He has the best of intentions.
But why will such an intelligent person find it difficult to get promoted to a higher position?
First, he may not survive or will burn out. Seeing many more imperfections than others, he will struggle with them internally. More often than others, he will react to problems that others do not see or that do not really concern them. Paradoxically, in this way, he will generate additional work for himself. And he will want to do it!
Secondly, very often such a person is perceived by others as cocky, and arrogant. As someone who "always knows better". None of us seem to like having someone else point out our mistakes. Only people who are truly mature and aware of their limitations (but also of their strengths) are truly open to constructive criticism. Only they can see that consulting the concept with such a "firm mind" can only benefit them.
Apart from the intellectual sphere, however, there is an emotional sphere, and here, both the "strong mind" and the person "pressed (in his own opinion) to the wall" fail.
That is why it is so important how questions are asked and what body language is. And in remote mode, our expression as well as the tone and dynamics of our voice, are of particular importance. Because often the questioned person perceives our questions as personal criticism and develops a negative attitude towards us. This attitude remains for a long time and is then very difficult to change. As Maya Angelou said:
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Paradoxically, people with great intellectual abilities walk on very thin ice. They advance rapidly in their early career, but then the stairs begin.
Because emotional intelligence is becoming increasingly important, interpersonal relationships are becoming more and more important, and more and more often the ego of other people hungry for success comes to the fore (mature or immature).
So it is often the case that those very (intellectually) intelligent people with the best intentions, high commitment, with a sincere desire to do something worthwhile - experience frustration.
Because they can't let go. However, it is up to them to decide whether to bring a subject to light. And if the pursuit of perfection is the main criterion of choice - they lose out on the trick. Moreover, they often don't understand why.
They also often lose twice: firstly, they do not advance, and secondly, they pay a high emotional price due to the frustration they experience.