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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Professional Success May Not Always Mean Professional Happiness

"Nothing succeeds like success" this famous saying discreetly implies towards the fact that only the end matters, and the means to get to that end is not really too relevant. In the corporate context only those succeed who "can deliver" or who are the "high performers". In such a biased context "getting to the end, somehow" becomes a passion that consumes one and all. The alpha types roaming the corporate jungle is a reality that no one would probably disagree with.

The emphasis on professional success then is the behavior that is inculcated and encouraged when someone joins as a fresher (and maybe even before that as a student at a reputed institute). Achieving the topmost performance rating is considered as a direct measure of professional success and hence all those who join the corporate rat race become rating-fixated. This easily leads to a situation where the topmost performance rating may result from means which may not be truly fair. This in turn leads to professional happiness getting subsumed by professional success. There is another side to the story that those who achieve professional success are not necessarily the ones who constantly receive the topmost performance rating owing to Limitations of Performance Appraisal.

Professional success may come in various forms some of which are listed below:
  • Getting admission into a reputed institute that is visited by top notch companies for placement
  • Getting the best job offer
  • Getting promoted
  • Getting the highest raise or bonus
  • Getting inducted into a high visibility assignment

In the quest toward professional success there may be situations and occasions when the path oft chosen may actually decrease professional happiness.

Professional happiness may come in various forms some of which are listed below:
  • Feeling of personal fulfillment upon solving a complex business problem
  • Genuine appreciation from supervisor, peers and subordinates (if any)
  • Attainment of high degree of competence in specific activities or areas and being seen as the "go to guy or gal"
  • Ability to sleep well in the night knowing fully that the job was indeed done in the best possible manner and not just to create such an impression on those who matter in the corporate hierarchy.

Professional happiness is inwardly focused whereas professional success is outwardly focused. Maintaining a fine balancing act is the key to ensure professional success can lead to professional happiness since professional success may not always mean professional happiness.

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