Deal with the devil
We start our career by meaning well. We find a nice job that pays decent salary and infinite possibilities to learn new skills. We make new friends. We may even meet the love of our life in office. That love may not be reciprocated by the other person. We suffer and recover from an imaginary breakup. Even worse, we enter into a fling and become a fodder for water cooler conversations.
As years go by, we forget this simple work life and start chasing ranks. We diligently spend our time and effort to move up the ladder. Once we move to next rank, we are smitten with new opportunities and challenges that the new role has to offer. This doesn’t stop here. Once we are comfortable in new role, we set our eyes on next rank. On it, it goes.
We start by playing the game for the sake of the game and creative thrill we seek. Without realization, we abandon the previous game and instead play the dangerous game of status, power and money. This is a zero sum game and one that can negatively alter the tenets of a person.
Modern workplaces have created long enough ladder with many steps to climb. Every company starts small with no hierarchy. Once the startup moves up the growth trajectory, the nonexistent ladder starts appearing and new steps are added to it every year. One day, it will have long enough ladder for every employee to climb. In the beginning, we would have reported to the founder. Now we will report to a manager who is separated from the founder by four levels. For a company of this size, Peter principle is bound to kick in. We will have to report to an inefficient manager and learn to work with him/her anyways.
We actively participate in this rat race. We go along innocently and when in self doubt, we try to reason rationally and make peace with ourselves. Richard Feynman, theoretical physicist once said “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself. And we are the easiest person to fool.” We upgrade our lifestyle to the newfound money. More we earn money, better the lifestyle. Better the lifestyle, more money needed. A perfect example of Parkinson’s law(“Work expands to fill the time available”), just that, instead of time, now it is money. When money is not sufficient to manage lifestyle, we start scheming for the new role. We willingly engage in this viscous cycle as long as it takes, till kingdom come.
The rat race takes up more of our waking time as well. We sacrifice our time with family and friends. We put off that one vacation that we wanted to take for so long because of an important project with a tighter deadlines. We forget our anniversaries and miss key events in lives of our family and friends. Instead of enjoying experiences in life with our loved ones, we concentrate on buying and owning things.
Fast forward to future, We are now sixty years old. We look back at a life that has long gone by chasing power and money in exchange of time and effort. This is in hope that it will help us comfortably live the remaining 20 years. But we have done the deal with devil and that devil has taken away one thing that we own and can control. Time.