The Corporate Ladder: A strive for power and prestige
Once upon a time, the man who brought back the biggest spoil from a hunt got the most power, prestige, attention, among others in his village. Physical prowess and ability to obtained food determined capability, which led to him achieving status in society.
Things have changed significantly since the hunting ages. Food, survival and physical prowess aren't the only important indicators of capability (though that's still prevalent in certain sections of the society). However, we still hunt in different ways. We hunt for a place in the society. We hunt for recognition, power, attention. We hunt to be seen.
Corporate ladder is a well known metaphor, but it's applicable in all forms of careers. Another form of growth. More accomplished you are, more you are respected, more money you earn, more things you can afford. Therefore, a corporate ladder has become an adapted version of something primal in all of us. A system to be seen, standout and acknowledged.
However, in all of this, I have left out two significant pieces in this career puzzle: Satisfaction and Belonging. I will leave you with the following anti-climatic vignette.
"I once met a very interesting man. While speaking to him during a Psycho-spiritual conference, he spoke about his old job. He spoke about his job where he was responsible for coding the arm on the International Space Station. He left his job well paying job at the age of 40 something, to go back to college, start from scratch to become a psychologist."
I leave you to wonder: 'Why? Why would he do that?'