Mind the ledge. It is real and you can fall over if you are not careful. Pay attention to it. Do not get so caught up in the day-to-day drama that you ignore the warning signs and trudge on over mindlessly. Put the iPhone or iPad down for a minute. Pay attention. Open your eyes. Ignoring the end of the road ahead has consequences.
Be mindful of the warning signs. They will not always be as apparent as a yellow sign, a metal rail, or a concrete barrier. But, the warning signs are there if you open your eyes long enough to look around for them.
In the workplace, there is not just one ledge to fall over. There are actually a series of them. Organizational politics create pitfalls in unsuspecting places. Generational differences create quagmires of misunderstanding for the unsuspecting. Interpersonal power dynamics create pits of quicksand that go unseen to the oblivious. Many even ignore warning signs at their own peril by moving forward to fast. My point is this … keep your head up and stay alert or the ledge awaits you.
The ledge has gotten each of us at one point in our career. We cannot avoid all of the many pitfalls. But for us as Gen Xers leaders we need to be even more alert. There is a set of expectations that comes with our age. And as we decided whether or not to live up to them, we sadly remain stuck in the middle.
There is an expectation from Boomers that we as Gen Xers need to step up our game and lead in the manner that they have defined as leadership. There is an expectation from Millennials that we as Gen Xers will help them mind the ledge, build them up, and help them succeed. But there should be an expectation of ourselves watch for the ledges set in front of us, and continue to find our own way to bridge over or go around them.
It is time for us as Gen Xers to push change, move organizations, and move closer to the ledge with a solution in hand to get our colleagues over. If we want to stay relevant as employees, be seen as contributing members of the organization, and ultimately take over as the leaders we are … we need to take calculated personal career risks and push forward. But as we do, we need to be mindful of the ledge, the pitfalls, and the quagmires of apathy that await us, the undaunted.
None of us at this stage in our career can afford to unwittingly go over the ledge and doom ourselves to free falling for the next 20 years of our careers through an abyss of mediocrity known as being stuck in the middle.
Mind the ledge Gen X … we have been warned.