One of the things I’ve not resolved fully in my mind is whether getting to the top of your chosen career means you increasingly get specialist skills, reducing the options you can take up or if you actually “zoom out" and become more generalist or broad.
Because I think options are really important. In banking here in Nigeria (where I worked for 8years until 3years ago) I’d seen men who were pretty senior, AGMs, DGMs and even GMs endure all manner of abusive behavior from people who were sometimes just one step ahead of them as per level in the bank. When I spoke to some, the feedback I consistently got went along these lines
“where do I want to move to? How many opportunities are in the industry for an AGM/DGM/GM to move to? And the pay is good so it’s all part of life. You know I have an 80Million mortgage I’ve taken from the bank, where will I move that they will take this up from me?” And then when one of them finds a new role that is outside banking, they celebrate as if he is lucky to have been liberated from some form of imprisonment.
The overarching sentiment that came out of the conversations I had with them was one of helplessness and not seeing options they could take. Hence they were resigned to their fate of abuse. They knew it and their ogas that verbally, psychologically and sometimes sexually abused them also knew it. It was like those aristo babes I knew back in school who had been so hooked on the life the aristo was giving them that they would endure anything from him and who had convinced themselves young guys or less money was not an option.
It is why I’m inclined towards the second school of thought. It is of little value to rise to those levels in one’s career and endure such a loss of dignity. So my philosophy is to ensure that I build myself to continue to have options, great options at that as I rise. Options are valuable. They cost time and resources to build, the investments in oneself, necessary relationships and vision to strategise and react properly to changing circumstances. Again, options are valuable and costly to create but I strongly believe that a lack of options is infinitely more costly.