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Career Myth: Cinderella and Teddy Bears

3 December 2018

In a final article in this series about some of the many myths that subconsciously impact decisions people make in the context of their careers we look at two largely unrecognised myths.

The first is the Myth of Cinderella.  I am sure you know the story.  Cinderella worked tirelessly for her step sisters and step mother.  Because she was so good and kind when opportunity knocked in the form of a chance to go to the ball her fairy godmother appeared and paved the way.

The myth is that if you work hard, keep out of trouble, and just do your best you will be recognised and rewarded.

Hard work and reliability is needed - they just aren't enough.

A successful career gets built by working on, not just in your career.  It gets built by you taking small courageous actions.  By letting people know the value you are adding.  By speaking up with ideas.  By at least sitting at the table, let alone leaning in.  By asking for help on tricky things.  By working at your learning edge.  By saying no to doing favours others are better skilled to do.

The second myth is the Myth of the Teddy Bear, and it dovetails with the Myth of Cinderella.  This is the myth that career should be easy.  It is the myth that if things are hard and you hit career setback where you have to struggle and persevere, or step out of your comfort zone then you must be doing something wrong.

Successful careers emerge through getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.

The eminent researcher in the area of achievement Professor Angela Duckworth has studied the lives of people who have higher than average levels of grit and determination and shown these are strong determinants of success.  She has a formula for achievement that shows that effort counts twice:

Talent x Effort = Skill

Skill x Effort = Achievment 

Get comfortable doing the small uncomfortable, effortful, things that will get you noticed and build career success.

How much do you think the Myth of Cinderella or the Myth of the Teddy Bear is impacting your career thinking?

As always wishing you a flourishing career.


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