The Stabwounds in My Back

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Popular belief states that "everybody loves a winner." However, popular opinion reflects human opinion and rarely observable and quantifiable reality, and generally couldn't be much further from the truth: Nobody likes a winner, and everybody loves to hear about a winner being torn down or a winner failing. If in doubt, consult the tabloids which bulge with scandals, accidents, and disasters.

That's why the so-called geek is bullied in school; it is why the eggheads are ridiculed; it is why the worst thing you can tell a religious nut out to save you is that you are already been saved, because the person doesn't want you to be saved; and it is the reason why expert opinions are consistently throttled and replaced by complacent yay-sayers by right-wing governments who need to "get something done."

It is the reason why you should never strive to become the best in your professional life. Strive to become second-worst according to the following two rules:

Rule 1: You must be better than the worst performer, because is the one that gets the ax during corporate "rightsizings," and you must be just superior enough to avoid the pink slip.

Rule 2: The best performer is the primary challenge to anyone who is threatened by the perpetually looming layoff rounds, which means that the best performer is always a challenge to everyone else. It is the best performer that gets knifed in the back, never the worst performer, because only the better performers pose a threat to your job security.

Your challenge is to strike a balance where you avoid as many knives in your back as possible while being barely skilled enough to make it through the next stable period.

Contrary to what you might think, your project manager will not appreciate your skills. Your project manager is paid to do his or her job, and the faster his or her team completes the project, the sooner the project manager is in need of a new assignment which may not be available. The project manager's job security increases with the slowness of the project team, and not only do the best performers expose the project manager's occasional ignorance, they also endager the project manager's job security by completing the project faster. If the project manager's boss begins to wonder, the worst performers in the team can always be sacrificed, because it is never the project manager's fault that the team is slow.

Hence, any skilled project manager who is determined to keep his or her job will slander the best performer and lie about the person if it helps. The project manager will usually choose to tell your boss that you are considering a new job or that you are helping some other department, because this is a codified message known only to senior management that a person is unwanted: it instructs senior management that a person is a threat to them, too.

And so skill is undesired. One would think that, in spite of our major scientific headway and occasional wonders of civilization, mankind would have progressed to a state where life could be a wonder to be lived rather than the battle to be fought that still charaterizes the life of less advanced species, but no; humans have not truly advanced to a state that is any different from the beasts of the wild. Mentally, we are still primitive apes struggling to survive being yet another experiment of evolution which, statistically speaking, is guaranteed to fail. Were it not for business competitiveness, we might have succeeded.

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This page contains a single entry by Ole Wolf published on September 1, 2011 11:01 PM.

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Politically Institutionalized Breivik is the next entry in this blog.

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