I recall applying for an internal management position at my then place of full-time employment almost thirty years ago.
My friendly competition included two candidates, both of whom, I often professionally supervised on an informal collegial basis at their request.
Of the three applicants, I was the only one to have been credentialed with a doctorate and all of the requisite job-related experience by comparison.
“On paper,” I thought I was the “obvious choice” but I soon realized that I was mistaken because the job went to the least qualified person.
I was shocked and requested a meeting with one of the administrative decision-makers for an “off-the-record” accounting as to why the nod went to someone who, in my opinion, was clearly the “worst choice.”
“Management wanted someone who was not a boat-rocker and would maintain the status quo... we all know who you are and what you have accomplished... we have big plans for you down-the-road,” I was told.
My initial suspicions as to organizational selection-motive now confirmed, I paused for a moment, thanked him for his candor and calmly replied “I finally see that the writing is on the wall.”
The administrator countered “you’re reading our decision all wrong” but I quickly responded “the writing on the wall is not your writing... it’s mine!”
Seven months later I was hired elsewhere at more than twice my then salary and seven months after that I hired myself and more than doubled both salary and significant professional opportunities once more.
The decision not to hire me as the most qualified candidate, or even to hire the next most qualified candidate, struck me at the time as an egregious institutional and management error in employee selection.
How could they be so utterly stupid?
And me, for naively believing that significant promotional opportunities really existed for me if I worked as hard as I could in that environment?
From my perspective, I erroneously expected that my old employer should have selected the person who was the “best fit”, all things considered.
In retrospect, I realize they did, thank goodness, because if I had been chosen I would not have learned such an invaluable life-lesson!
When the “writing on the wall” is experienced as your writing, you can never be a “good victim” of fate and circumstance because you are, and must forever remain, your own, self-agent.
Of course, what specifically you write on your wall and how you write it is pretty much up to you.
Just start somewhere and keep it up.
Do it by doing it.
And when you most expect it or least expect it, when you are done...
If you look with courage, although you may be obliged to squint a little...
You will see that the “writing on the wall”...
Was written and is, perhaps, still being written...
So, the next time you see the “writing on the wall,” know it as your own!
Author Note: Dr. Larry B. Gelman is a Clinical Psychologist and a Personal Mentor
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