If you want to earn more money, you’ll need to get a promotion.

This is a 10-part series of “Nuggets” to help lay out a path to a better, higher-paid, job that is better fitted to your competencies. But you’ll notice, you’ll have to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.


You should develop a feel, an instinct, for the pace with which a business, team, or system is comfortable. Accelerating that pace a wee bit often results in success. Pushing or pulling to change the pace too much, can be disastrous for your outcomes. Done too often, it can derail your career. Done right, it can accelerate your career. The skill is in knowing how hard to push or pull.

Each company, division and team has its own “pace”. Trying to double that pace will almost certainly result in failure for a number of reasons, not the least of which will be resistance to change from the people affected. If it is not the people who resist the acceleration of the pace, then it will likely be inherent limitations of systems and procedures that first must be updated or expanded. Same goes for risk.

Your company will be comfortable with certain kinds of risks, and certain types of people taking those risks, but not with others. If you are the wrong person to take that particular risk, or if you do something that is perceived as too risky, you will be likely to fail. On the other hand, take on too little risk and you may be labeled as being too conservative. You have to know how hard to push or pull.

You can’t “succeed”, though, if you avoid risk altogether. Note that I am saying risk as opposed to gambling. Know the difference.  You will make yourself spotted as a rising star if you take on some element of trying to influence the momentum, the PACE, of your team or the systems within which you work. That’s what I mean by “risk”.  However, this does not mean becoming a more boisterous cheerleader. This means making meaningful changes to help the pace quicken or to remove obstacles. Here’s two examples, one from my own career:

  • In a cooking show home cooks were paired, tag-team like, to prepare a gourmet plate. One of the contestants was shouting and screaming and because of that distracting and frustrating the partner whose turn it was to prepare the plate. That cheerleader slowed rather than accelerated the pace. Cheerleading was not helpful.
  • I was able to affect the pace of a cumbersome statistical process by revising the software used and wrapping a methodology around it to train thousands of employees. This helped to shorten the time to completion and increased the volume and the theoretical value of the projects completed. This was helpful. This dramatically changed the pace to the delight of everyone who was trained to use it.

From a career vantage point, just pushing harder doesn’t always work. Nor does taking bigger risks than the system or culture will allow.

I can think of no better wisdom than that from the Bhagavid Gita in which it teaches us to change that which we can, and to have the wisdom to know the difference.  For purposes of this Nugget: change the pace if you can, but have the wisdom to know when you can’t.