Why I Am Not A Work Superstar

Recently I had the opportunity to take on a highly visible project at work, one that most people would jump at and one that two others are actively fighting over now to control.  There’s only a slight chance that this project would lead to a promotion or raise but it would definitely lead to valuable new skills.  The fact that I turned this down is the reason I’ve never been the work superstar.  Note: I am taking on another project that would take just as much time and hard work but is simply less exciting and with less in-fighting over responsibilities.

After making this decision, I realized that I have often make “bad” decisions in terms of career because I don’t go for the highly visible projects or positions.  This is not always a bad thing.  I still find ways to challenge myself.  I do lead interesting and valuable projects and I’m not the one saddled with grunt work while everyone else gets the high-profile projects.   However, I don’t invest enough in my career to make that superstar impression and that’s the reason I continue to be the “valued yet despensible” employee rather than the true star with management potential. 

I would be lying if I said that this doesn’t bother me on some level.  It might have been good if I had planned out my career path in my late 20s or early 30s.  At the same time,  I try not to dwell on regrets.  I am a professional with many valuable skills, enjoy my job for the most part, and have always balanced work with life.

If you’re looking for ways to be a superstar at work, you’re at the wrong blog.  I do give advice about enjoying your work and career, but I admit that it has never been my top priority.

What qualities do you think make someone a “star” at work? Are you a work superstar? 


7 responses to “Why I Am Not A Work Superstar

  1. Commitment and sacrifice are big componates to being a super star.

  2. Yes I too have realised that I am not a “super go getter” or a “proffessional climber”. I work hard, I make sure that I have work life balance and my family always comes first. I have friends that earn more than me but to me the sacrifces they have had to make would have been too great for me. I am first and foremost a mum, wife and than a worker. I have changed jobs and increased my salary and have challenged myself by learning many new things….but it is always close to home, fits in with the school day and is never too draining. As with everything in life I try to so what sits “right” with me….and as far as work goes I am okay with my choices. As long as you feel ok about your choices than I say you have made the right decision.

  3. Funny, I’ve just been thinking about this. I’ve been floundering a little and feeling less productive – I think partly because I am not working any overtime as it’s now winter and I won’t stay a minute later at the end of the day because I don’t want to be walking home in the pitch dark. I think I do awesomely given resourcing and how much I do manage to accomplish on a shoestring. But is it enough? Is it ever enough?

  4. Hmm… I dunno. At my job there tends to be people who really *are* super stars and do kick-ass work. Then there are the people that get promotions. Sadly, these are rarely the same groups, or at least some of the major performers are not necessarily being awarded appropriately.

    Deep down do you really want to be a work super star and get promoted and have to deal with the extra work, stress and time away from family that comes with it? I’m not interested in climbing the career ladder too much farther because it just seems like a major pain up there. I’m getting a taste of that now, and while there are some interesting projects that come along with a position a bit higher up, there is way more pain and stress. No thanks!

  5. As I’v realized, a huge component for promotions is being perceived as a superstar. Kick-ass work is important but face-time and staying late and schmoozing are even bigger factors. I am happy with my choices overall and especially with this decision but I understand that there are trade-offs. Some I have control over, but I also do think that there are subtle prejudices, still, against minorities, women and especially mothers.

  6. Interesting. I consider myself an MVP and my bosses have always considered me a “superstar” performer and rewarded me accordingly (or had their arms twisted if I thought it wasn’t going to happen on my timeline) so I don’t have a problem w/being in one category or another but that could be because I am simply exceedingly proactive in the latter.

    As a minority female, I wasn’t about to sit back and wait to be handed anything when and if they so pleased. I’ve generally worked for The (I’ve made a good life for myself) Man so while I don’t have a chip on my should, I don’t have expectations that I will sit back and be lavished with the appropriate rewards when it’s time – I actively work to make them happen by asking what’s needed to make them happen.

    But I don’t do face time or schmoozing. I don’t hang with the “important” people. I spend an hour with the people I need to work with when they visit as may be polite if I have it to spare, but only if I do and that’s in these recent months because the job has changed a bit.

    Normally, I’ve only ever put in hard work and ideas where I want to put them in – direct to my boss and make them happen. That happens to work well for me. I take on any number of projects without regard for the political importance, just for whether it is important to the goals of the department: do we need this? Is it clear why? Can we communicate that? If that stuff is clear, then I take it on and make it happen. It doesn’t much matter to me whether anyone else cares about it, if I care and my boss cares, that’s all I need to know. It needs to be a project of high value because my time and his time are valuable. And that tends to be a good script to follow because it serves the organization well and that will trickle down to me. But it’s not because I’m seeking glory. It’s because I know how to make a good business decision.

    • I’m glad your method works for you, and it does for many people. I think a lot also depends on your boss. A mentor-type boss is usually the best in terms of promotions. I do agree that in most cases, what you do would work, especially if you pro-actively manage your career and ASK for raises. (Many bosses may value an employee but still not give raises unless pushed.) However, some bosses prefer to keep more control and micro-manage, which makes it harder to shine, or simply like schmoozers more. I have seen that happen a lot, unfortunately.

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