Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Bumbling At The Top

It was mankind’s masterpiece, forty years ago the eyes of the world were set on their television sets as Neil Armstrong leapt out of the lander and thrust a flag into the moon.

You’d think the recording of this momentous occasion would be kept safe.

But like a sportsfan accidentally using the VHS of his wedding day to record the big Bulls game, NASA thinks it taped over the images of the moon landing.

Even the smartest people alive make mistakes. So it’s no surprise our society is rife with them.

Traffic jams. Delayed trains. Cancelled flights. Constant bug fixes. Poor legislation.

All across the globe people are slipping up at work.

In his best seller, The Peter Principle, Laurence J. Peter writes this incompetence is powered by our never-ending ambition.

Imagine you’re a psyched up college graduate and you just landed your first job. Because you’re a go-getter, you quickly get promoted. New responsibilities and better pay.

You knock your new chores out of the park and get another promotion. Bringing in more bucks for fewer hours.

You’re soaring up the ladder of success. But something is wrong.

Every time you advance, your promotion is based on your performance of the previous job.

Keep climbing and you eventually find yourself in a position trusted with tasks you’re no good at. You’ve reached your ceiling.

Rather than show you the ropes, or demote you, most bosses leave you to stew in your own incompetence.

And for over a century, the factory heads allowed gifted working stiffs to become moronic managers.

Great for the overpaid execs, bad for the staff and customers.

The Peter Principle was written fifty years ago, back when workers were pulling levers all day in hope of promotion.

But as machines took charge of factory work, jobs became more diverse and dignified. The more responsibility employees got, the more hierarchies faded.

What’s more, organisations started shying away from the promotion in favour of the bonus. Leaving people to do what they’re best at.

Peter’s book also leaves out the combined powers of the computer and the internet.

If you’re self made it’s you who decides if you move up. And your clients and fans determine whether your new elevated spot is deserved.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach