Climbing the Right Ladder

Imagine four ladders propped up against four respective skyscrapers. Each skyscraper has a surprise waiting for you on the roof. For the purpose of this metaphor, let’s ignore the absurdity of climbing a ladder to the top of an 80 floor skyscraper.

Ok, now you’ve got to make a decision. Which ladder are you going to climb? To make that decision, there’s some different things you’ll need to consider. First, you’ll have to ask yourself which ladders you’re capable of climbing. Perhaps some ladders are too tall for you to have energy to climb. Or, perhaps you’re too heavy and the ladders aren’t strong enough to hold you.

Beyond your climbing abilities, you’ll also have to ponder what may be at the top of each ladder. While you can never know for sure, it’s possible consulting with other intelligent people could give you a general idea of what may be at the top. Climbing some ladder may be more profitable than others.

Finally, you’ll have to ask yourself whether you care about the reward at the top of each ladder. Perhaps one ladder has a loving wife at the top, but only a modest amount of money. Another may have incredible riches, but poor health.  One may have an endless amount of great sex with beautiful young women, but a disappointed family. The last ladder may be extremely short with lots of goodies as you climb, but at the top you’ll be ambushed and pushed off the edge to your death.

Life is exactly the same as this metaphor. There will be different ladders for you to climb. Some ladders be easy for you to climb, but ultimately unfulfilling (such as drugs or possibly the corporate ladder for some individuals). Other ladders may be difficult for you to climb, but provide a great reward when you finally reach the top.

The important thing, is you find the ladder that’s going to be the best fit for you. Ideally, you’ll choose the right ladder at a young age and be able to reach the rooftop. You’ll choose to become a programmer, become extremely successful in your profession, and be forever passionate about it.

This doesn’t happen for most us, however. More likely, you’ll “waste” some time climbing the wrong ladders in your life before stumbling on the right one. When this happens, it’s important to ignore sunk costs.

Just because you’ve been climbing the ladder in corporate sales from a young age doesn’t mean you need to continue doing so forever. Doing so could be advantageous, because others would have difficulty catching up. However, it’s important to also be introspective and balance the benefits you’ve accumulated from your past decisions along with the future you’d like to create for yourself.

There is no one right ladder. There’s only the right ladder for you. Climb it. Reach the top. Enjoy the rewards.