My direct report had a chat with me the other day. He’s thinking of promoting me and making my head of the department.
I declined politely and told him I’m perfectly happy where I am.
Am I not ambitious? I’m only in my late thirties and there’s a lot of room to climb. The company has identified me as a middle management material at least, and it’ll be a wasted opportunity if I don’t take it up and it goes to someone else. Unless I don’t see a future with the company. He asked.
I opened up to him honestly. What’s ambitious? Is it ambitious for ambitious sake, or ambitious so that we can earn more for our family, for a better living? If so, what’s a better living? Bigger house, better car, more fanciful holidays?
He was stunned for a long while, unable to answer me.
I continued. I’m at the perfect sweet spot now. I love my job, what I’m doing day in day out. My salary is comfortable for my family. We are not rich by any sense, but we manage our finances properly and are comfortable with my salary. And most importantly, I get to leave office on time most days, have dinner with my family, read to my kids, play with them, and tuck them to bed. And the reason I quit my ex company was because of the travelling. Instead of tucking my kids to bed with a kiss on the cheek or a hug, I was tucking them through Skype or WA calls.
Accepting the promotion now will mean leaving office later, missing dinners, and travelling once covid ends. More zeros in the bank acct, a bigger house, a better car, and more expensive toys, will not replace the daddy, the husband, at the dining table, on the bed beside them. It will not replace the laughter, the jokes, the f2f.
Yes, I’m not ambitious. Because I have realized what my end goal is, what are the things that matter most. And I, with my family, have already achieved it. We are living our simple dream.
And we are not going to break our family apart just to follow how society defines “success”, “ambitious”.
I walked out of his room with no promotion, but a boss with a look of respect on his face.