If your career is racing upwards, at a pace much faster than everyone you know, be happy, but only be happy for now. People, who only ever take the lift, never appreciate how high they have climbed until it is too late. There is something to be said for stepping back once in a while and standing still to take a look around, you might even enjoy it.
Taking the stairs instead of the lift, is not only good for your physical health and for the environment, it forces you to take notice of the small details. Ironically, people who are ‘fast tracked’, often come undone just at the point when they feel that their experience is matching the level to which their superiors have placed them.
When I look at careers spread over a period of twenty years or so, many of the high fliers who started out so strong, end up falling behind their slower running mates. And when they fall, then they tend to fall far and hard. An optimistic CEO who sees something special in a young recruit and brings them too soon into the board room, can only defend them from jealous board members for as long as the young executive comes up with brilliant ideas and the CEO is able to deflect the barrage of resistance thrown at him or her.
I write this because recently I have seen a few people very close to burn out and a letter from an old friend described the failures of a number of people that I knew to be once brilliant.
I knew someone who wanted to be a Vice President of his multi-national company within ten years of his joining the firm, something that no one else had ever achieved. And although his career went from strength to strength, the VP title only came after fifteen years and not ten, and probably not a day too soon.
In life, taking risks and learning new skills are the two things that keep ambitious people energized, but it is essential to always feel comfortable in your chair. It is not a good idea to have to deal with personal insecurity at a time when cool judgment is needed.