Episode 51 - The 4 Levels of Careerist Part 1: The Drifter
Hey Rebels! Welcome back to season 6 of the podcast. I’m excited about this season because I’m going to be talking about women in their careers, in leadership, and organizations. I don’t want to talk about from the typical leadership prospectives you’ve probably heard over and over again.
I want to go deeper and I want to dismantle the oppressive and patriarchal nature of leadership that have keep women from owning their power and significance. I want to talk about how societal conditioning has kept women from expressing feminine leadership that’s embedded in a supportive, coaching or consultative type of leadership.
The type of leadership that so many organizations right now are desperately trying to emulate…that so many organizations need if they want to enhance innovation, growth and profitability within their companies.
I want to equip you, whether you’re a high-potential, emerging, or executive leader, with the deep level of self-awareness you need to successfully thrive in the places and spaces you’re in and not merely survive. I want to disrupt the status quo, challenge the industry bullsh*t, and empower you to do the same.
Now, if you’re listening thinking, “uh oh” or if you’re feeling a little uncomfortable, GOOD! Just stick with me!
So today we’re starting a 4-part series called the 4 Levels of Careerists. I want to talk about what they are, what the thinking and beliefs are at these levels, what impacts women at these levels, and what it means to your career and even your leadership.
Let me first start by explaining why I use the word careerist because if you’ve heard of that word before, it’s considered to have a derogatory meaning. By definition, a Careerist is defined as someone who thinks that their personal success in their job is more important than the principles and aims of the work that they do. Or that advancing their career is more important than their values and integrity. So a careerist will do whatever it takes to advance and achieve career success.
I don't see this as a derogatory, I see this as a condition. A condition created by how our society has structured work and career success through a patriarchal lens of “winner takes all.” Or as Ricky Bobby says, “if you ain’t first you’re last.”
So careerists are simply those who are plugged into that societal Matrix that teaches us to sacrifice all for career success. And the reason I say it’s a patriarchal system is because it was never designed for women or with women in mind. That’s why it’s taken years to get maternity leave or FMLA, and frankly it’s still a shit show. It’s why women have left the workplace in droves because they need greater flexibility and support to do work AND maintain a household. Now, while it shouldn’t be just the women’s responsibility to maintain the household, let’s face it…we do! We do it to our detriment, but we do it none the less and most “career ladders” or progression paths don’t account for that. Ergo, that’s we’re in the midst of the “great breakup” and 1 out of 4 women are leaving their jobs saying fuck this bullshit.
I mean even the Prime Minister of New Zealand resigned her position because she said she “no longer had enough in the tank to do the job.” I mean let’s face it…we’re in a crisis and have been since the pandemic.
That’s why I wanted to explore these ways in which we’re plugged into this shit and how to wake up and go after what’s important and what matters. And hey listen, if you’re happy where you are, God bless you and be grateful that you found that sense of joy and contentment.
If, on the other hand, you’re running on autopilot and feel trapped by a system you didn’t create and feel you’re without any support to challenge the status quo and get what you wait, then as Whoppi Goldberg said in Sister Act 2, “you better wake up and pay attention.”
So when I say Careerist, just think the Matrix and the systems of control we’re in and unconsciously follow. And then think of me as Neo or Morpheus, or better yet Trinity (because she’s such a badass), working to free as many minds as possible.
So let me start by telling you the four levels of careerists. There’s Drifter, Hustler, Established and Rebel and today we’re going to talk about the Drifter and all of what the means for you, if you see yourself at this level.
As you listen to me I want you to know very clearly there’s always the option to change. You get to change your future. There’s always possibility in the future! Which is fucking amazing and exciting when I think about it.
As Maya Angelou said, “if you don’t like something, change it. And if you can’t change it, change your attitude!” The path to change, self-development, and improvement is always self-awareness, so this is designed to give you a sense of awareness to help YOU take control and make the decisions you want and need to make for yourself and career. Because as Maya Angelou also said, when you know better, you can do better.
So let’s go!
Now, I’ve talked about these four levels before on social media and in webinars and masterclasses so if you’ve been following me for a minute, this ain’t new shit. But I’m talking about them probably in ways you’ve never heard me talk about them and this space gives me a little room to break this stuff down so you can really understand each of these levels.
Now, throughout my almost 30 year career coaching, training, leading, researching, and supporting women on their career pathways in a variety of roles, industries, and occupations, I’ve been able to create these categorizations. These are not categories you’ll read in books or see anywhere else because they’re proprietary and unique to me and my vast knowledge and experience. And the first level we’re talking about today, is what I call the Drifter.
While this is not a level where most high-achieving women sit, there are still too many women stuck at this level because they’ve been fully indoctrinated into the patriarchal and oppressive work system. They’ve watched their parents work within in this system, their family, peers, and friends, and have just accepted, this is about as good as it get. And even if they haven’t accepted it, they definitely believe there’s nothing they can do about it. So listen, at this level most women feel victimized by the system and you know what, they’re right and it’s not their fault. So as a result, most women at this level feel stuck here and haven’t been able to or even try to realize their full potential, value or worth; and in fact they’re most likely questioning it every day.
Women at this level often feel trapped and unhappy with their jobs and have resolved themselves to believe that’s “just the way it is.” After all, that’s why they call it “work,” right? They’ve accepted as a fact that their jobs are nothing more than a means to a paycheck, pay bills, cover tuition costs and a variety of other child care expenses, and to cover rent or a mortgage to keep a roof over their heads and their families heads.
I also call them Drifters because they’re often in positions that are highly susceptible to external circumstances and conditions, like a pandemic, recession, downsizing, rightsizing, layoffs, reorgs, and company shutdowns. They’re also more likely to work in positions where they have little to no agency and are at the mercy, in many ways, to the company climate, culture, or bad management.
When they look for jobs or go after new positions, the focus is primarily on a decent title, good insurance and benefits, and pay. I mean for most people these things are important, but the Drifter will compromise other things so long as these core needs are met. Things like job satisfaction, upward mobility, training programs, education reimbursement, inclusive culture, and equitable treatment are considered, but not important. Why? Well first while these things would be nice, they don’t expect it and two, they subscribe to the idea of “if you just keep your head down and work hard, all will work out.”
Now, the myth at this level is basically “mo money, less problems,” or the higher the pay the more job happiness, so there’s no problem leaving one job for better pay at another.
But listen, we live in a capitalist system where money rules all, so it’s not shocking that Drifters are extrinsically motivated and focus on external rewards, like income. As a society we don’t promote intrinsic values as motivators who what we do in the world, it’s about making that money. Now let me just say, I love money and have nothing against making it, but money were all it took for career happiness, then studies wouldn’t show that 87% of people are unhappy in their jobs, and 1 out of 4 women surely would not have quit their jobs. You see what I’m saying here?
The real issue here, however, is that there's a lot of conditioning and fear and little to no confidence or belief that it's possible to have a career doing meaningful work AND getting paid well to do it. I mean think back to when you may have told your mom or dad that you’re going to be a ballerina or singer when you grew up and they said, “that’s cute honey, but you’re going to get a real job.” Granted some of you were saved from your dreams because you couldn’t dance or sing to save your life, but you get what I’m saying.
So not that you’re grown and trapped in this cycle, your fear of what will happen if you lose what you got and worked hard for, there is little to no interested risking it all for the possibility of something better.
And over time, after years of living within the Matrix mindset they don’t see anyway out. You’ll hear things like it’s too late for me, or I’m too old, don’t have enough skills, or the right education, to go after something new or different; and honestly that’s just fear talking, but at this point they’re held hostage by it because they can’t see a pathway out. At this point it’s just about survival and meeting their basic physiological and safety needs.
So how to move from this level into one of the higher levels?
Admittedly, what keeps someone at the Drifter level is primarily the societal conditioning and patriarchal bullshit that created a narrative and belief in the permanency and unchangeable nature of their position. So, until they can challenge that myth, break free from the status quo, and believe in the possibility for more, it will be really hard to move. The primitive part of the brain will send out all kind of alerts and messages to keep you right where you are.
It’s like what Morpheus told Neo…not every mind can be freed.
Now, as leaders, Drifters will often micro-manage, be authoritative in their approach, and won’t be interested in fostering team growth or development, mostly because they haven’t engaged in it for themselves. Or if they, their ideas of team development won’t be well received by the actual team. So if you’re being lead by a Drifter, don’t look to them to help with any professional development or career advancement opportunities in a way that’s meaningful for you. You’ll have to work around them, but be careful. They may see it as challenging their leadership or usurping their authority. Finding a mentor or sponsor in the organization maybe the right move for you.
Now, if I’m striking some nerves and you’re having an awakening that maybe you’ve been a Drifter all these years, I want you to know it is possible to move out of that level, but know it’s going to hard. But hey, that’s the beauty of all of this…there’s ALWAYS an ability to step into a your most desired level if you’re willing to do the work.
If you’re ready to free your mind and jump off this level, I want to give you some books to read and a few podcast episodes to listen to, to help expand your current way of thinking and belief systems. To be honest with you, at this level you’re not ready for a coach, so don’t go there first. You’ll want them to fix it or solve this for you, which they can’t; and even if they could you’d most likely question them or fight them every step of the way.
So start working on yourself first before you enlist others. Read:
Mindset by Carol Dwick
The Gift of Imperfection by Brene Brown
How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith
Self-Coaching 101 by Brooke Castillo
The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
Also, if you’re new to my podcast listen to episodes #2, #3, #8 and #9 from Season 1 to start with.
Finally, please don’t blame or judge yourself if find that you’re resonating with this level. It’s all just awareness and you get to determine how you want to think and feel about it. So I invite you NOT to choose to beat yourself up or to judge yourself negatively. Consider it a win that you’ve gained the awareness and want to try something new.
So, That’s it for Part 1 of my 4 part series Rebels! Next week we’re going to talk ALL about Level 2, the Hustler Level, which actually a lot more women find themselves on.
And listen, if you know some Drifters out there in your life, share this episode with them to help them see there’s another way. However, don’t be shocked if they say “no thank you!”
Until next week, have an amazingly Rebellious week!! See you soon!