I’d often heard phrases like “I had to fight my way through,” and I did some fighting in my career too. That led me to an ongoing discussion with myself, where I keep asking the question, how do I recognize the border between “fighting” as working and creating and “fighting” as demolishing.

I can understand if one has to work hard to get a result, but I will never understand fighting for the result. If you have to fight, then something is wrong with it.

“Working” means that you gradually build something. You have your ups and downs, and you may often feel like coming to your limit, but it still has to feel right. You may overcome something but not destroy.

Especially, you should not destroy too much of yourself. You may want to work on your weaknesses a bit, paying more attention to your strengths, but I do believe that it is wrong to hide all your weaknesses or try to ignore them. In this case, you depart from your old identity and may never arrive at a new one.

“Building” means that you get something new without leaving behind what you already have. It happened to me a couple of times that I started a new job to make the next step towards my career goal. I was given a time and opportunity to learn a new technology, which was in great demand at the moment, but the job did not give me a chance to develop the skills I’d already had.

For instance, in my old job, I wrote for the corporate blog, providing our customers with insights into our routines and sharing our know-how. In a new job, I learned a new data science tool, but we had no blog, and I started to forget my writing skills. I found it especially a pity to neglect my ability to sketch things in a comprehensive way.

Another side of this “wrong” fighting is that you sometimes feel trapped. You eliminate a problem, but in a couple of weeks, you encounter the same trouble. For example, you are dependent on some other department, and they are overbooked. You may go and fight to bring your case to priority status and get it cleared quickly. But how many times can this work? Too much work for too few employees is a systematic error that only management can solve. I believe this is the case when your fighting is only destructive since you invest your time in something you objectively cannot make working better.

I sometimes heard things like, “I had to fight with my laziness.” I believe if you are in the right profession, you never feel lazy. You may feel tired. This is different. You may feel exhausted and overexcited — this means you had lots to do, and your energy comes to an end. Feeling lazy means you never had energy.

It can be a wrong job, a wrong profession, a wrong company. Or your wrong mindset. According to my experience, a wrong company, where you still can be in the right profession, does better than a “right” company — offering benefits and so on — where you have tasks that have little to do with your vocation.

I often see job announcements where one of the requirements says that a candidate has to be a kind of … pushy. Being able to make his agendas prioritized.

I am not convinced. In a company, we are working on a result together. If people have to fight, then the company’s structure is wrong. Some jobs may well be competitive, but an office job should not turn into a battle or sports competition. You may want to fight some occasional or external circumstances, but fighting inside your own company cannot be efficient.

Working is not fighting

If fighting for your career makes you only better in fighting for your career, then you may want to think it well over. What kind of “working” makes you feel good? When do you feel that you create, and not demolish, eliminate, push through? When do you feel your skills in creating something that adds a new value to you, your project, or your team, become better?

As I mentioned, I used to mistake a better title for a good career opportunity. It is important that not only your job description sounds better and better, and that you grow vertically, but that your skills enhance and that you grow horizontally. You may stay in the same job, but become a good specialist, for instance, a unique specialist or a very broad one. Both kinds are always in great demand in the job market.

Adding value to your abilities is “working.” You may have to invest some time into finding a place where you can really work, not only fight.

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