AMBITION IN THE WORKPLACE AND THE GREEN EYED MONSTER
Everybody loves to sing that tune “I am very ambitious and highly motivated “, I once sat through an interview panel and it was like sitting in on a B rated monologue class.
Most Entry Level Job Seekers had almost the same answers for the same question, they were only a few who had something else to add outside the usual one liners, bringing me back to the overused phrase “I am very ambitious and highly motivated”
What does it really mean to be ambitious? I remember fresh from college when I was asked the question “where do you see yourself in the next Five years?” I was not even sure I even wanted to be in that organization within the next six months but some people knew exactly where they saw themselves in the next five years, they saw themselves taking over your job.
Being fresh ,young and clueless my entry into the corporate world was filled with to do lists on how I was going change the game, stand out, be noticed for my brilliance, hard work and all other phrases that were synonymous with my Pollyannaism at that time. And to my credit I actually kept that attitude for more than a few months until of course my work desk kept overflowing and the piles of files would not reduce, I suddenly realized that I had other team mates who were slacking off some of their work duties to me. I started learning that it was not just about doing the work I had to also look at what the rest were doing, it was not just about your eyes being on the ball, but your eyes had to also be on the field, on the audience, your eyes had to be literally everywhere if not you may start having balls thrown at you.
Ok I will stop with the analogy of balls, in retrospect what I suddenly realized was that there was something else lurking within the workplace, something pungent, Green and Slimy. If you were cheerful, clueless and ready to keep on being everyone’s larky you would not see it, but immediately you came to a sort of self-realization , when you dare to extend your feet slightly above the rest, you begin to notice slight shadows across your contemporaries faces, it could come as a smirk in a departmental meeting when your suggestion is accepted by your bosses, or a sly remark by a group of your colleagues when you walk by them on your way to deliver a proposal you had been specifically identified to present, the color becomes brighter when you start to confront the status quo, when you begin to introduce new concepts, more effective mechanisms to aid productivity, and then when you finally emerge from your larva like stage of nescience to a Jedi Stage of Self Awareness , realizing your full potential and you finally make your move , the color becomes a Bright green target on your back.
Don’t get me wrong, there is such a thing as Positive Competition, a competitive workplace spurs a creative environment where employees push each other to exceed their normal limits, which can result in increased production, both at an individual level and among the entire workforce as a whole. So there are fantastic benefits to derive from a positive competitive workplace, but then what happens when the players transform the environment from who motivates me to work smarter to who can I pull down to climb up the ladder. These Players are smart, focused and implacable. Fierce competition with Players like that may result in a "win at all costs" attitude that may bring out the worst in some workers.
Am I exaggerating maybe or maybe not, perhaps you could even argue that your organization was different, everyone was a team player, the support system and psyche at the Office was all positive and one person’s success was the whole team’s success and if that is the case I applaud your team.
How rare, how parfait ……it must be a beautiful thing in LaLa land where you work but as for me when I meet the next young bright star who is truly “Ambitious and Highly Motivated” I will have to refrain myself from buying them a pair of thick sun glasses to shield them from the green eyed monster that is bound to sniff them out or better still I will refer them to this post……
Ambition comes with a price, never forget that.