Writing, Promotions and how it ties into Self-Worth

I read a few striking things today in my spare time. They were interesting in their own right and subject, but they all tied back to a philosophy or way of living that I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about lately.


The first article was about writing tips from David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising”. What resonated with me and inspired me to write this post is that: (1) “The better you write, the higher you will go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well” and (2) “Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well”. I write this blog, in part, to learn to write well and think well. According to David, thinking well leads you higher professionally.

Jump through the link to see other sharp snippets like: “Write the way you talk. Naturally” and “Never write more than two pages on any subject”.


I just joined Quora, and, I must say, you should too. There are so many deep questions on Quora.com that you’ve asked yourself before, but on Quora, you’ll find answers from experienced and thoughtful posters vetted by the Quora community.

The post on What are the real reasons some people get promoted and others don’t? caught my eye in the weekly digest that Quora emails. There were the usual commenters who dismissed most promotions as “politics” or favoritism. However, other posters responded with earnest and thoughtful answers that struck a chord.

First of all, you must look at promotions from the perspective of your company and your boss. Your company usually won’t promote you unless they have an opening and you are the best for that opening, even against outside competition. In the eyes of a superior, what makes someone a prime candidate for promotions are communication skills, initiative and, a perquisite, doing your current job well. They want someone who can take things off their plate whether it’s an initiative that you can push forward or some form of communication or influence. You should be able to build support for an initiative and you certainly shouldn’t need to be prodded along. You should be well liked by colleagues and understand them, so that you can communicate to them efficiently and influence them when necessary.

Another poster highlighted five patterns of extraordinary careers that he discovered when he led one of the most comprehensive studies on this topic in 2003:

“1) Understand your value. How does your company REALLY make money. What are they really paying you for. Translate all your options for impact toward those things that create the most value for your employer.

2) Benevolent leadership. Those who get promoted are much more statistically likely to focus on the success of their peers and subordinates, more than their own success. Over time, you create an army of supporters.

3) Overcome the Permission Paradox. How do you get the job without the experience, or the experience without the job? Top performers redefine their permission to gain more and more valuable experience.

4) The 20-80 rule. 80% of what you do is meeting your objectives. And 98% of people meet their objectives. It’s what you do with the 20% you really control that counts. Don’t just exceed expectations. Redefine them.

5) Follow your passion. There is a lot of pushback on this recently. But the statistics showed overwhelmingly that those in jobs that leverage their innate strengths and passions performed better and were promoted at much higher rates.”


Maybe I can’t tie all these things into self-worth, but let me try…

Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to move up in my organization and get promoted. The lack of movement and the sense of doing the same thing over and over is frustrating me. I’ve been blaming my bosses for not paying enough attention, for keeping me down by giving me too many tasks, for playing favorites. When I read the Quora posts about communication, connecting with your peers, initiative, overcoming the Permission Paradox, and going beyond your comfort zone, I realized how I’d been protecting myself by avoiding the point: that I wanted and needed to work on those skills to move higher.

These articles and posts made me think back to books like “Gifts of Imperfection” and “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown, “Love Yourself like your Life Depends on It”, “Growth Mindset” and “The Procrastinator’s Digest” and quotes like “you have to learn to love yourself, before you can love someone else.” To me, the act of communicating, connecting with peers, and initiative are tied intrinsically to self-worth, vulnerability, and motivation.

Self-worth can help you realize that you are enough, that you can be yourself and be a leader. The ability to be vulnerable allows you to show yourself and in turn brings connection and engagement. Motivation and understanding that these are skills, not personality traits, inspires me to work on these essential skills.

Perhaps I will expand further in another post, but getting these on paper is enough for now. I think David Ogilvy was right, “People who write well, think well… People who write well will go higher.” Plus, he’s allowed to stop now since this post has reached two pages. Hopefully these books, my blog, your writing and life in general will help us move higher.

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