I used to believe strongly in the concept of meritocracy.
If you work hard and show promise through your ability, you would be rewarded. If you’re one of the quickest learners on your team at work, logic says you’ll be one of the first ones promoted.
It’s hard to prepare for that moment where meritocracy meets variables out of your control.
It’s hard to prepare for that moment when you pump the gas only to land in second place.
It’s hard to prepare for the realization that your ability and effort can be perceived differently by the person making a decision that can impact your entire life.
When you focus on the top being the destination, you do your own ability and effort a disservice. Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth.
In 2001, Tom Brady was behind Drew Bledsoe on the depth chart competing with Damon Huard and Michael Bishop. He became the backup yet it took an injury to Drew Bledsoe to find Brady the field and launch his career as a superstar.
This isn’t to knock Brady’s hard work — he might have been an unmitigated success anywhere.
It’s to understand that meritocracy is flawed — and it’s not always about you.
Sometimes second place can be all you need to shine.