Your Career as a Pyramid

pyramidPyramids are the talk of my house right now for my 6.5 year old so when I happened upon the Pyramid concept in a recent Fast Company article it easily caught my eye. Pyramid style thinking in relation to a career progression is a current way to look at traditional statements like the ‘corporate ladder’ or ‘ladder of success’. These statements are so 1999. Life just doesn’t work that way anymore.

Nowadays some have even likened career growth to that of a jungle gym. Getting the picture? With corporate mergers, acquisitions and just about everything in between there will definitely be curve balls. You need to be nimble and agile and open to go in directions different from those you initially intended.

Carol Bartz, the CEO of Yahoo, shares her best career advice: “You need to build your career not as a ladder, but as a pyramid. You need to have a base of experience because it’s a much more stable structure. And so that involves taking lateral moves. And it involves getting out of your comfort zone.”

Bartz’s advice is sage for Managers leading their teams through career progression. Awareness of pyramid style movement helps managers work together with their teams to ensure their team get the most out of each level of experience and potential within their organization.  The pyramid is a great concept as you can build it as wide and as high as you see fit. Fast company writer, Lindsay Pollak writes, ‘It (the pyramid) suggests that a career is something from which you can’t “fall off” or “fall through the cracks.” It connotes stability and strength.’

Chris Brogan’s recent article, How to Level Up, gives a different take and for many, a nostalgic one. He references Super Mario Brothers and states that ‘leveling up is when you reach the end of a series of activities, face a big challenge, and then move to the next level’. For me I remember Pac Man and more recently Halo!

Two of my favourite points from Level Up:

Do the small stuff. In games, especially early on, there are repetitive tasks that bring you early victories.

Accept difficult challenges. Some games require you to fail over and over. They simply can’t be beat the first time out. Learning about failure is a huge thing.

And what I’ve learned over the years of building my pyramid is to not forget to laugh. You will find yourself on new levels this way.

~ Sarah McNeill

photo credit: tibchris

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