Not a Ladder, A Jungle Gym

Posted August 7, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

In May, at Harvard’s “Class Day”, the COO of Facebook and women’s business rockstar Sheryl Sandberg gave the world another of her incredible speeches – and with it came another quote that every woman in business should learn. She says, of your careers:

They’re not a ladder, they’re a jungle gym.

Over a year ago, Career Girl Network brought you a similar analogy in “The Ladder No More” where author Pamela Mitchell called our careers lattices instead of ladders. And while we love the idea of a lattice, the last time we saw someone climb one was in our annual viewing of The Sound of Music.

Why is this jungle gym analogy so great? Here’s why:

  • It always takes a team. One person climbs a ladder, the whole class climbs the jungle gym. On a ladder, you’re isolated. There are no teams, there are no competitors. Climbing a jungle gym means working with your friends to get to the top, and avoiding the class bully knocking you off your station.
  • There’s no one right way to the top. Getting to the top of the jungle gym might mean crawling up, down, back, forth, under, and over to get to the top. There’s no one right way to succeed.
  • You can’t spend your life at the top of the jungle gym. Sure, you want to get to the top. You want to raise your hands and scream “King of the Hill,” but after you do that, it’s over, right? What can you do except sit at the top and look down at all those around you who are still playing and having fun? Being at the top of your game doesn’t mean you get to rest, it means you get to take your power and play….even stronger this time….with the others.

It’s time, my friends, to abandon the idea of climbing “the ladder” and instead see that your path to the top is much more erratic than you might think – and let’s face it, much more fun!

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."