A key to the success of an executive is being visible but inaccessible. That’s cynical, sure, but true.
Perspective will help. The corner office is not an elective office. It does not require being top of the class or having passed a preparatory examination. It isn’t the Hunger Games or SURVIVOR, although it may appear that way to one not playing. Getting to the corner office is not an achievement.
The corner office is an opportunity made by appointment. It should not be confused with achievement. The person in the corner office was picked by someone or some group to occupy the chair. And it is an appointment by others who were, well, also appointed to their jobs. It is a self-perpetuating foolishness, but it is the process, and sometimes it even works out the right way.
The higher up the appointments go the more likely the appointment process itself held less sway than the person and his or her qualifications.
Sure, the corner office itself is an accomplishment, a faux-achievement singular to the job itself, a one-in-a-million golden ticket. But someone put you there. Look at it this way. You have a birthday celebration every year, but your birth was really your mother’s accomplishment.
The appointment to a corner office is not for what you have done last year, last month, or yesterday. It is a promise made to others for what you will do in the future, which is being a good steward of your corner.
All Marines remember and point to February of 1945, and the battle for Iwo Jima. All Marines with a pulse are both saddened and proud of the effort and sacrifice of men facing the evil Japanese empire. I had the honor of meeting in 2017 a survivor and Medal of Honor recipient from that fight, Woody Williams. He was shocked then, and is humbled now, of his recognition. Yes, in August of 2020, he is still with us, as spry and talkative as ever. Woody shared with me that there were more heroic Marines on that island, but the tragic attrition prevented many men from having their stories told, and that the losses prevented a full accounting of the ultimate heroism of thousands of unknown individual Marines.
Achievement and accomplishment. Achievement was becoming a Marine. Accomplishment was taking Iwo Jima, the fulfillment of the achievement. Those who perished in the attempt at the accomplishment had, for all time, secured their achievement long before, and it could never be taken away, even in death. The honored dead won the accomplishment more than the survivors.
Perspective. Your problems seem small now, right?
The last cubicle on the left has more achievement in it than the corner office. Something you bring to that job or assignment put you in the bullpen for ambition, among other eager people looking for the one-in-a-million shot.
You earned that cubicle, baby; now go get a bigger one.
Achieve, first. Multiple times a day if necessary. Appointments may or may not follow, but no one can take an achievement away. Appointments are yanked all the time.
Remember the Marines of Iwo Jima. It will temper your perspective.