CAREER DEVELOPMENT / FEB. 07, 2015
version 4, draft 4

The 4 Horsemen of Career Apocalypse

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The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse can be found in the Bible’s Book of Revelations, and refer to four horse riders, each symbolizing four phenomena: “Conquest, War, Famine, and Death”. These horsemen are the “harbingers” of the divine apocalypse: the Last Judgment.

There are “horsemen” that serve as clues to us in our quest for success, showing us that we are on either on the path to success or failure. So, what are the four horsemen of career apocalypse? Read on to find out.

1. Relentless pessimism

You see barriers where others see opportunities; you look for problems whereas others look for solutions. Excuses are a constant presence in your lexicon: great careers are for great people; you don’t have the talent to achieve your ambitions; nothing ever goes right for you. Your attitude to setbacks is that they are permanent, your fault and will undermine everything you do.

2. Impotence

Your perceived powerlessness means you rarely take the initiative at work, and as a result you settle for humdrum, routine work; not learning new things and growing through interesting challenges – but stagnating. Sadly, your impotence results in others treating you accordingly; you are frequently overlooked for promotion or challenging work because of your evident helplessness.

3. Deniability

As is the case with pessimism and impotence, deniability has its roots in presumed powerlessness. Deniability leads to a ‘victim mentality’: those who suffer from it assume the position of victim: “They did this to me. They said I should do this. It’s not my fault. I didn’t want to do it, but they insisted I did.” Individuals with a victim mentality are usually passive; they deny responsibility for their actions, are quick to blame others for their circumstances and typically lack the resilience to bounce back from setbacks. Deniability is a serious flaw that can have dramatic consequences: it amounts to putting others in the ‘driving seat’ of not only your career, but also your life. This is precarious at best, dangerous at worst.

4. Contempt

A form of arrogance, contempt is the disdainful regard for another – and it will get you nowhere, fast. Whether the contempt is for the supposed ignorance or lack of competence of another, it is a corrosive trait that will hamper your success (unless it is a business strategy, as appears to be the case with Ryan Air). One example of the consequences of contempt is the former retail tycoon Gerald Ratner’s description of his company’s wares as “total crap” – he left his company the following year, after a staggering £500m or thereabouts had been wiped off the value of the company. Another example is the house of Roederer’s contempt for America’s Cristal champagne-loving rap community – rappers publicly boycotted Cristal and endorsed competitor brands.

Be on your guard against these four horsemen of career apocalypse. Pessimism, impotence and deniability will keep you stuck in a job that’s going nowhere – if you’re lucky. Contempt for others will simply cause them to return the favour. It doesn’t have to be like this. You have been warned.

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