The Problem with Leveling Up

The Peter Principle sure can be observed frequently and predictably, not only in hierarchies, but in new endeavors.

Just because something worked at a lower level of pursuit does not mean it will work in the next level up. Common sense? Yes. But it is a principle that repeatedly gets reinforced by the comfort zones that those leveling up tend to carry with them into new opportunities or roles.

The problem with leveling up is that blind spot of underestimating the new game. We want the money, reward or prestige, thus, it is why we push towards something bigger, perhaps in a larger operation, new market or product development. Thus, we see the problem of rising to the highest level of incompetence.

At some point, what worked in one situation or level does not work in the next level. It’s a new game.

New games require new skills, mindsets and approaches. Just because you can work at small scale does not mean you are operationally sound to work at large scale. Or if your familiarity with one vertical market has gleaned amazing success, it doesn’t mean you can all of a sudden have the same conversation style in a completely different market segment.

Leveling up is a natural pull that is attractive. More equals better right? The enticement can be seductive to step into a new level. Since you have already had some kind of success, then moving up becomes the next step. But, before you push and drive, how about taking stock of your own abilities and limitations. Assume you do have limits. Will those be your achilles heel in your new challenge?

Ask the simple question, “What do rock stars in that next level do different than I do?” It may be hard to be honest. But it will save you an immense amount of heartache and disappointment.

Otherwise, the better strategy might be to stay where you are and make it more efficient if you are not willing to pay the price of thinking hard about what’s required in the next level.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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