The Best Version of You

The Best Version of You: Tired of climbing the corporate ladder - then try the Jungle Gym

Recently, I was taking an afternoon stroll, it was one of those breezy, golden February days and as I walked past a park with children playing cricket, football and climbing on a jungle gym, I thought of Sheryl Sandberg’s innovative analogy on career growth. As former VP of Google and Facebook COO since 2008, she spoke in her somewhat controversial bestseller, ‘Lean In’, of the jungle gym as a metaphor for career progression.

Although her theories have been criticised, for Sandberg there are alternative paths to success. Instead of vertical ascension, you can perhaps focus on being more flexible in your choice of route. So perhaps, look to lateral employment opportunities that are of interest, are in a similar vein and may be in a similar pay bracket, but with opportunities for greater learning, technical development and promotion. This is particularly relevant in relatively smaller job markets like the Caribbean, where opportunities to ascend the corporate ladder may not be as plentiful.

But through it all there must be a passion for learning and an understanding and embracing of change. According to Sandberg, continuous learning is an incredible asset. In her words:
“The ability to learn is the most important quality a leader can have.”

This perspective of seeking mobility in all directions allows a more expansive, inclusive way to achieve your career goals. But first, I’d advise thinking long and hard about what you want to achieve and where you’d like to end up. Then, seek advice from your mentor or HR professional so that astute and timely decisions can be made alongside opportunities for apprenticeship or training.

Try and evaluate your goals, look to developing the skills and expertise needed to achieve this path and also ensure that you network with friends and colleagues along the way. These gutsy moves require a great deal of resilience and tenacity – and Sandberg often encourages both. She said,
“You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are – and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”

It is with this advice in mind that I encourage you to become the best version of yourself, build that muscle, lean-in and take up the challenge. It may be incredibly frightening but in the end the journey may be also incredibly rewarding. It was for me!

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