Your Ambition Can Outpace Opportunity and Ability

Yes, it’s about you.

Except for cancer, car wrecks, and crazy people, we pretty much get what we deserve in this world. And if you smoke, drink and drive, and hang out with strange people in stranger places late at night, you’re a contributor to your own demise, too.

You’ve been passed over again at work. Told you’re not the right fit, or it’s not the right time, or that they want you to be in a position to be successful (which is an awful euphemism for they think you’ll fail in the job you want).

Look in the mirror, pal. Don’t deceive yourself.

And don’t look at the person who got the job. Root for that lady. Support that guy. In a sense you are one step closer than you were before.

Your ambition will hit one or both of these roadblocks: Opportunity and Ability. Whether it’s one in ten or one in a million, that opportunity is shrinking every day.

But this is about you and your ability. You cannot undo whatever it was that gave the impression that you were not ready for the next promotion. It could have been inadvertent, accidental, or even not of your making. But it’s there.

What you can do is reinvent yourself just a little bit. A peer’s promotion is a clarion call to you to change something. Somewhere along the line you were either given a subtle hint or a figurative punch in the face as to why you were not being considered.

Listen to it. Change it.

Surprised by a promotion to someone else? There is some culpability in the hands of the person(s) who contributed to the decision. Your reporting senior may be telling you one thing, and telling his boss another. If your reporting senior is showering you with daisies, he either wants to sit on you (small percentage) or he wants to avoid a confrontation and difficult conversation.

You will run into those cowards. Try the direct approach, and ask what it is you need to do to get the next rung on the ladder. Keep in mind, though, that the boss’s opinion is the one that counts, and you have only one card to play if you don’t agree with the answer: resignation. Please don’t let your ego get in the way of your judgment.

And lastly, maybe the job really is outside of your ability. But make them tell you that. Don’t volunteer it. The person who thinks you can’t handle more just gave the promotion to someone he thinks can handle more. Don’t rationalize yourself out of a chance at the corner office.

Keep chopping wood. It is always about you

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(c) 2019 Kevin Horgan,

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FROM THE CORPS TO CORPORATE and Points in Between... is a series of personal musings using the Leadership Principles and Qualities of the USMC, through my eyes and experiences.  I had a wide variety of successes and failures both large and small, and perhaps you will see yourself or others in the opinions herein.

I am a retired UPSer, having spent a fast 33 years with the organization.  I served in management positions in engineering, operations, and as an attorney in real estate.  I started law school

and loading trucks for Big Brown on the same day in 1984.

Before UPS, I served as an infantry officer in the Marine Corps.

That experience was the great privilege of my life.

I was nothing special:  I deployed, but was never shot at!

I have written two historical novels on the Civil War, THE MARCH OF THE 18TH, and THE MARCH OF THE ORPHANS.



I have a political blog using a fictional character that spanned from January to August 2019. (See 

If you like this work, please share.  Your comments are always welcome!