Friday, July 28, 2006

The Limiting Factor

Everyone reaches a point in his or her professional career when they plateau and no longer grow in skills, responsibilities, and salary. I've been spending quite a bit of time lately thinking about the various possible causes -- something I've started calling a "limiting factor". I've segmented them into three basic categories: Ability, Opportunity, and Desire. The first two should be self-explanatory. The third is the most interesting. How many people decide the rat race just isn't worth it and scale back themselves? I think the number is potentially very high, particularly among the most talented (due to survivorship bias on Ability).

When I was working as an analyst at McKinsey, a big deal was made about the scarcity of female partners in the office and trying to rectify the situation. I don't think McKinsey had a fixable problem. While I certainly believe discrimination exists in some workplaces, I think there is a great number of women who just decide not to deal with the rigorous demands of the corporate world anymore such as being on the road 4+ days a week.

I wonder which one of the factors is going to do me in.

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