How to destroy ambition and progress

Hal - Bountiful, Utah
Entered on April 30, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

Ambition drives progress. Less than a week after returning from a 2 year missionary tour in the Caribbean, I started working for an engineering firm as an on-site quality control technician. I quickly began studying in order to certify in different areas—to become more valuable to the company and earn more. Only a few months after starting, I was sent north 75 miles to work for one of our largest clients. I then returned a couple months later to hopefully gain experience in other areas than the single, basic job I’d been working on. I finally received an important certification for which my company had high demand. The most difficult part of getting to this point was not the studying and difficult testing, but the seemingly constant heckling I’d receive from my manager. It seemed that every report I’d submit was given special attention to pick out any feasible error and I’d receive a special phone call to be informed that “that’s not how ‘we’ do things” or “you should know better” or “you’re smarter than that.” In the beginning, these comments were difficult because everything a technician does—he must learn himself. Being somewhat of a perfectionist, constant reminders of what I do “wrong,” were, to say the least, stressful. No training is involved in his department, and the expectations are unclear. After some experience is got, the rules change—followed by even cloudier expectations. I soon found myself lost of the drive I had started with. Just wanting to do the job without being patronized was my purpose. I no longer wanted to excel and move up in the company. After revealing this desire (though it was virtually lost at this point) to my manager, he said, “We don’t move up here. Everybody’s the same.” I could only reply “right… I just want to make myself more valuable or less dispensable to the company.” He then says “Of course, we need you to gain experience.” We’re all the same… nobody moves up. This ridiculous mantra made clear my struggle with excellence being stifled by my own manager.

After discussion with a coworker who had been treated much in the same way as I when he started working, I realized that my manager’s heckling was a symptom of his fear of competition. He saw each of us as “the same,” with one or twenty years of experience, making his position as manager untouchable. Unfortunately, the politics have caused me to rule out a career with the company. It is not solely the fault of my manager, but the entire engineering group runs in the same unhelpful, arrogant, patronizing fashion. I’d rather not be stifled and stepped on by such narrow-minded, weak individuals. Curiously enough, my manger revealed to me that he considered me arrogant when I first joined the company—back when I had some measure of energy, drive, and ambition that hadn’t been squelched by his personal agenda.

I hope this illustrates my strong belief in the vital role ambition plays in the progression of society.