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spike bullet September 2000 - Climbing the Ladder of Success

How to Climb the Ladder and Keep Your Soul
Tips for Success
Internet Resources (books, articles, fun, links)

color bullet How to Climb the Ladder AND Keep Your Soul

by Staci Backauskas

Somewhere around the age of 26, I became firmly entrenched in my belief that if I were to be successful, I would occasionally have to swallow my pride and kiss up to someone who could help me move ahead in my career. I didn't want to be left in the dust and this seemed to be the acceptable way for ambitious people to act. I figured if this was going to be a requirement, that I might as well find a job that paid me well to do it. Sales was the perfect answer - tons of puckering, but mucho diniero.

The detrimental aspect about pursing your lips together to plant one on someone's posterior is how you feel afterwards. Performed in the conventional manner, it means doing something to get what you want with no regard for how you will feel for behaving in such a self-deprecating fashion. One of the other negatives is the fact that you need to deny how you feel in order to continue doing it.

My friend Gretchen is extremely adept at swallowing her true feelings in business situations. I've watched her numerous times stroke clients, allowing them to make callous or inappropriate remarks, while maintaining a gritted-tooth grin. She will smile and nod in agreement, her eyes vacant, with whatever garbage the client espouses. I know it eats her up inside.

Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum. My friend Charlie would not "lie" if someone offered him a million dollars and threatened a trip to the guillotine if he didn't. Because of his lack of understanding about how to integrate spirit and work, he works at a job of which he is not very fond.

"What do I do then?" you cry. "How can I do something I enjoy, make lots of cash while doing it and not betray myself?" It's all in your perspective. It took me almost ten years, but I managed to alter my beliefs about what types of behavior are necessary for success. Here are some simple guidelines that will allow you to flourish in a world where lying seems necessary while retaining possession of your soul.


A client you cannot stand has requested your presence at a cocktail reception. You know it would be political suicide to not go, but you would rather have bamboo shoots thrust under your fingernails.


First be honest. What is it about this person that you find so difficult to deal with? Now be really honest. What is it about him/her that 1) you already are 2) are afraid you will become or 3) reminds you of someone that you have unresolved issues with. Once you discover the truth, it disarms the anxiety. 

Discuss it honestly with a friend or a therapist and watch the anger and resentment melt away. It will at least soften those feelings enough to allow you to get dressed up and have fun at the party. If you absolutely cannot get past your negative feelings, compromise. "Mr. Jones, I want to acknowledge the fact that you've included me but I need to let you know that I'll need to leave by 7pm." If pressed for an explanation, explain that you have a previous commitment that you do not feel comfortable canceling - even if it is an appointment with yourself to take a bath.

color bullet Tips for Success

  1. Always try to see your boss, clients and co-workers as human beings, subject to the same insecurities, self-doubt and insanities that you are. I don't believe it is human nature to stroke people in the name of getting ahead; it's ego nature. Adding humanity to the equation makes it seem unnatural.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. And I don't mean discuss the weather. If you have an opinion that goes crossgrain to your client or boss, try something like "I understand your position on X. I feel Y and I was hoping we could discuss it."
    It may not work all the time. At least you won't go home at night kicking yourself in the rear for not standing up for what you believed.
  3. Remember that you are entitled to your opinion, and so is your client or boss. They may have reasons for making a decision that you are not privy to. Instead of giving in and telling them how great their idea is when you don't understand why something is the way it is, ask. The worst they will do is not answer you. Again, you haven't acquiesced without politely making your voice heard.
  4. Think before you open your mouth. Why are you getting ready to say that particular thing? Are you afraid your client/boss will not like you if you don't? Or do you think they will like you more if you do? Are you saying it so you appear to be smarter, better, or more proficient at "compliments" than anyone else involved in the discussion? Motivation is key. If you have something to say that will make a significant contribution to the conversation, go for it. If not, maybe it is best left unsaid.
  5. Realize that most people don't really have a stellar opinion of someone who strokes them. They may like having their posterior kissed, but how much do they respect the person doing it? Speak your truth in a kind, thoughtful, informative manner and you will earn a lot more respect than you will for leaving a perfect lip print on your client's buttocks.
  6. Let it go. Sometimes the ego holds onto things when it is banged up. And for some reason, a bruised ego causes an insatiable desire to engage in more contrived dialogue. I know I am going out on a limb here, but be honest with the people you work with. If your boss or client has done something to upset you, wait for the emotional tornado to subside and then discuss it. I know it is a novel concept, truth in the workplace. However, it is the only way I know not to be sucked into the vortex of resentment and anger that will eventually lead to either a prolific string of sucking up or a felony. Neither of which will make you feel good about you.
  7. Quit gossiping. Wow - two limbs. I believe part of the reason we gossip is to alleviate the internal pressure that builds up from not honoring yourself by lying. My theory is that if you stop gossiping, you will eventually start telling the truth. Either that or blow up.
  8. Allow for the possibility that you may actually develop a fondness for your client or boss or anyone else to whom you are providing lip service. If you like them, it is simply conversation, no lying necessary.
  9. Tap dance. If you do not want to do something, you don't have to tell your boss that you would not be caught dead or alive following through on her suggestion. You can say that you have several pressing matters that require your attention if you are to make that deadline she gave you last week and politely decline. This saves you from the dreaded conversation with the mirror in the ladies room after you have checked to make sure all the stalls are empty.
  10. There are other ways to get what you want. Be informed, educated and prepared to present your thoughts so you are able to persuade your boss or client to see things from your point of view. Spouting untruths is a copout. It takes work to debate your position authoritatively. The resulting self-respect is worth it.

� Copyright 2000 Staci Backauskas.  
web:  e-mail: fifthgoddess [at] (article used with author's permission).

Staci Backauskas is a speaker, teacher and the author of The Fifth Goddess. She also runs the virtual spiritual community at  Subscribe to her free e-zine and learn how to identify and communicate with the internal voices that guide your life. Send an e-mail with subscribe in the subject to JaiCreations [at] 

Thanks, Staci!

 book graphic Books    -  Disclosure: We get a small commission for purchases made via links to Amazon.

  • Games Mother Never Taught You: Corporate Gamesmanship for Women. Betty Lehan Harragan. Warner Books. 1977 (a classic book for anyone who wants to understand corporate politics) ASIN: 0446344001
  • Power! How to Get It, How to Use It. Michael Korda. Warner Books; Reprint edition (September 1991)ASIN: 0446360163
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey. Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (September 1990) ISBN: 0671708635
  • Success: How Every Man and Woman Can Achieve It, Michael Korda,  (out of print - may be available in libraries, bookstores or used book sites) Ballantine Books; (April 1985) ASIN: 0345277414
  • The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene, Penguin USA (September 5, 2000) ISBN: 0140280197

Check or Barnes and Noble for more information on books, especially their out-of-print sections for the older titles.

World Wide Web graphic Internet Resources 

world wide web - articles Articles

smiley graphic The Lighter Side 

Institute for Management Excellence, Copyright � 2001 All rights reserved
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