How to Manage Your Career: Part 1 — Taking Responsibility for Yourself

A Hike at Deseret Peak

Our Career as a Climb

The analogy of climbing has often been used to describe careers. (“climbing the corporate ladder”) The analogy is apt in that we must expend energy to move up and to expand our worldly influence. Where the analogy breaks down has to do with what is at the top. Is what we want to reach, more riches, power, and glory at the top of a “corporate ladder”? I don’t think that’s the ultimate goal. What we want instead is to head towards a sense of peace and fulfillment. It’s the feeling of arriving at the summit after an arduous climb and surveying the vista around us, while enjoying the satisfaction of the effort.

Stage 1: Developing Skills and Taking Responsibility for Yourself

We start off at the bottom of the mountain at the parking lot (or basecamp) with a bunch of other people. At this stage, we’re all fairly undifferentiated. None of us have to expend much energy at this stage. We don’t even know how we stack up with the others or whether we even have “what it takes” to make the journey.

Expect more from yourself than others do

If you are to “move up” and transcend your current role, you must first exceed the expectations of your current role. If you want to run, you must first master walking. If you are a student, you must learn beyond what is in the formal curriculum. If you hold a job, you must contribute and deliver beyond your job description.

Take charge of your learning

Every year, I sign up for a number of seminars and training events. A few months ago, I went on an Outward Bound trip to Patagonia just to relearn camping skills so that I can go camping with my family.

Invest time to develop a niche set of skills

A few years ago, a segment aired on NPR about learning. The thought question posed by the program host was, “If all of us are driving every day, does all this practice make us better drivers?”

Summary of Career Stage 1: Learning

The foundational practice of Career Stage 1 is about learning. Learning is a life-long practice that you own. One of the core yield of learning is skill and mastery, which allows you to deliver value at a higher level.



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Antonius Tsai

Antonius Tsai


My work is in helping people connect to their greater selves and authentic purpose. (