Just into my forties, mid-career; hotly pursued by footsteps. Closer, closer. Soon they’ll be upon me.
Ascending the pyramid, I’m approaching the top. The climbing gets harder. Vertical musical chairs. Only in this game, failure to get a chair ends a career. The dilemma: reach for the next level or hold on to the chair at hand? The young ones are looking to leapfrog me; the old ones won’t let go of their chairs. They fight to hold on while the leapfroggers use their knees as stepping-stones.
There are two truths to this game. The first is the door that blocks the upper levels of the pyramid. The key that unlocks it is sponsorship. A sponsor is a mentor – but with power in the boardroom. Those without sponsors are as chum in the sea. We are happy when chum is around because it means that the sharks have easy pickings. They won’t yet be searching for more agile prey. But when the chum is consumed, the rest of us are fish at risk. Beware the unexpected invitation – chum.
The aggressive, confident faces of the leapfroggers belie the second truth. That’s because they don’t yet see it. But soon, they will. Others are coming after them.