Friday Self-Loathing & Despair

Last night, I realized something and nearly fell off the chair.

For the first 90% of my life, I had a great career. Promotions every year and a half with a huge pay spike. It seemed like I was unstoppable. Then recently things haven’t been so great.

In the beginning, here’s how things looked.

  • Didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
  • The people in my team reporting to me were experts.
  • I spent most of my time listening to them, and making sure their ideas got executed.
  • Lots of free time. I spent most of my time trying to look busy.
  • Completely stressed out over the fact I had lots of free time and that my people were smarter than me which resulted in heavy drinking and binge eating.
  • Internal politics never really bothered me because I was just glad to have a job and didn’t really care about how big or small my role was.
  • My bosses thought I was amazing because I made difficult things look easy and always had bandwidth for more.
  • My subordinates adored me, because I made sure their ideas got the support from the top, and gave them a promotion every time I got promoted.

2 years ago, things started to plateau.

  • I got a new team. None of them were experts.
  • Or maybe they were experts, but as a result of being surrounded by experts for so many years, I had now also become an expert.
  • I spent most of my time ‘mentoring’ them because they’re not very bright and I am afraid they will screw up.
  • I have little free time, because I’m either ‘mentoring’ my team or doing stuff that I am afraid to delegate to them.
  • Completely stressed out over the time that I have little free time, I begin to spout the ‘work-life balance mantra’ and spend money on expensive vacations, toys and gym memberships.
  • Internal politics are a big problem for me, because I am overly concerned about how I am being perceived by others.
  • My bosses probably think I have priority and time management issues.
  • My subordinates adore me because I spend so much time with them and cutting them slack for not being able to deliver.

In short, I am now a living breathing example of the Peter Principle – having being promoted to the highest level of my incompetence.


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