We often hear the phrase ‘climbing the ladder’ in reference to seeking advancement in work, social status, income or power. And it is often presented as an aspiration that is desirable and commendable.
But on reaching 60 years of age, I have found it to be an illusion. Or even a delusion. We reach middle age to discover we have taken a detour for the real destination in life.
I like this quote by Thomas Merton,
People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.
I am not anti-ambition nor passive in how I live out my life, but I am strong believer that we need to play the movie forward. We need to project the impact and results of today’s decisions twenty or more years down the track.
We need to consider the price we and others are paying for our dreams and aspirations.
And when we do, sometimes we will surely discover that we are climbing the wrong ladder on the wrong wall.