This 6 min. read saves you up to 122 hours
For your knowledge advantage, we put together the most actionable insights from 27 getAbstract summaries (23 books with a total of 6092 pages, 2 articles and 2 videos) on this topic. If you did this work yourself, you would be busy for at least 7305 minutes (about 122 hours). Learn more.

How to Climb the Career Ladder Faster

Without being a ****.

How to Climb the Career Ladder Faster

Personal progress is a matter of moving forward, sure, and upward, at best. But where forward and up are, you should define before you start running! A few simple questions that everyone should answer for themselves can help: Where do you want to go? What is your goal? What motivates you? What possibilities do you have? And what holds you back and makes you think?

Image of: The Best Things in Life
Book Summary

The Best Things in Life

What comprises “good” in your life, beyond sex and chocolate?

Thomas Hurka Oxford UP
Read Summary

Once you have answered these questions, perhaps at the beginning of your professional life, or if you want to reorient or reinvent yourself, you can get started: From here on, the same laws of success always apply, in ever-varying shades, of course.

Rule One: Keep Goals, Motivation, Opportunities and Constraints in Mind

No matter what came to your mind when answering the simple questions above: Write your thoughts down, and weigh them.

  • For the goal, summarize it as simply and succinctly as possible. Where do you see yourself in five years? Why? Often, single words are enough: “family,” “CEO,” “no-longer-intern.”
  • To illustrate motivation and possibilities, pros-and-cons lists for each goal are useful.
  • For the problems you’ve identified (personal limitations, lack of qualifications, idiotic supervisors, etc.), you should create another list. Then, go through them one by one using the getAbstract library search to figure out which ones can be solved (and how) and which ones are inevitable.
Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: The Bullet Journal Method
Book Summary

The Bullet Journal Method

The best productivity app is still pen and paper.

Ryder Carroll Portfolio Read Summary
Image of: It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work
Book Summary

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work

Avoid a crazy workplace by establishing corporate policies that nurture a calm culture.

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson HarperBusiness Read Summary
Image of: Goals!
Book Summary


To dream the possible dream, start by defining it, writing it down and taking one step toward it every day.

Brian Tracy Berrett-Koehler Publishers Read Summary
Image of: Execution Plain and Simple
Book Summary

Execution Plain and Simple

Create concrete goals, design practical strategies and heighten company performance with a basic 12-step execution plan.

Robert A. Neiman McGraw-Hill Education Read Summary
Image of: Peak
Book Summary


“Deliberate practice” is the smarter way to gain expertise.

Robert Pool and Anders Ericsson Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Read Summary

Rule Two: You Have No Idea

Sounds simple, but it’s not. The point here is: Sure, you can define goals and create smart lists, and they will certainly help you navigate your climb. However, things always turn out differently than you think. You don’t know what the future will look like. But you’ll have an idea of what it should look like.

Be flexible, keep evaluating possibilities, motivations and obstacles. And if you notice that the statement of your goal changes, then re-evaluate everything or add a new goal with all new related points. If you don’t, you’ll meet the fate of a lemming – sooner rather than later.

Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Destructive Goal Pursuit
Book Summary

Destructive Goal Pursuit

When to pursue a goal, and when to let it go, based on the saga of people who didn’t know when to quit climbing Everest.

D. Christopher Kayes Palgrave Macmillan Read Summary
Image of: Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.
Article Summary

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.

Working toward a goal can set you up for failure. Work toward daily habits instead.

James Clear James Clear Read Summary
Image of: Better Than Before
Book Summary

Better Than Before

Best-selling author Gretchen Rubin offers strategies for changing your habits and improving your life.

Gretchen Rubin Crown Publishing Group Read Summary
Image of: Simple Habits for Complex Times
Book Summary

Simple Habits for Complex Times

A challenging but convincing prescription for survival in a disruptive, volatile and uncertain world.

Keith Johnston and Jennifer Garvey Berger Stanford UP Read Summary

Rule Three: Try to Limit the Effects of Rule Two

To be a little less clueless and thus better prepared, three things help.

First: A “don’t-know” mind-set. To make it your attitude, all you need is a sign on your nightstand or desk, and twice-daily glances at it: “I know that I know nothing” is a saying derived from Plato’s account of the Greek philosopher Socrates. (Thank us later!) The so-called Socratic paradox teaches you humility and confidence, and it’s also an excellent conversation opener when you take someone home with you.

Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Not Knowing
Book Summary

Not Knowing

Open yourself to the unknown, and embrace it.

Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner LID Business Media Read Summary
Image of: Know What You Don't Know
Book Summary

Know What You Don’t Know

The problems you don’t know about will sink your organization. Find them before they find you.

Michael A. Roberto Wharton School Publishing Read Summary
Image of: Mind Hacking
Book Summary

Mind Hacking

Hack and reprogram your bug-ridden “mental loops” to unlock your full potential.

John Hargrave Gallery Books Read Summary

This brings us to, second, your network. Make it up of people who are far superior to you in at least one thing at a time. It doesn’t matter what that is. If you ask yourself about your network, you’ll find that the best people in it are superior to you in more things. That’s good because you’ll always have someone to ask for advice in situations where you’re reaching your limits. It’s been proven that if you have better colleagues, you’ll get ahead faster in life. So, if you don’t know, keep on asking!

Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Questions Are the Answer
Book Summary

Questions Are the Answer

Bold questions can lead to great innovations and are essential to human progress.

Hal Gregersen HarperBusiness Read Summary
Image of: A More Beautiful Question
Book Summary

A More Beautiful Question

Use questions to ignite creativity, find new perspectives and shake things up.

Warren Berger Bloomsbury USA Read Summary
Image of: Ask More
Book Summary

Ask More

Knowing how to ask the right kinds of questions leads to greater clarity and understanding.

Frank Sesno AMACOM Read Summary

And third, make sure you’re superior to your network in more than one way. Learn. Always. Everywhere. Specialize specifically, but it doesn’t matter what in. The main thing is that you never stop gathering knowledge and skills. This also applies to your job: The next time your boss asks who can take over this or that task, take it over, no matter if it is your specialty or not. If you do this again and again, then sooner or later you will have increased your knowledge in the area that is currently relevant to you to such an extent that your boss will spare you the jerk tasks.

Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: How to Learn Anything...Fast
Video Summary

How to Learn Anything…Fast

Business adviser Josh Kaufman dispels the myth that learning a new skill is a daunting task.

Josh Kaufmann RSA Read Summary
Image of: Sometimes You Win – Sometimes You Learn
Book Summary

Sometimes You Win – Sometimes You Learn

How to capitalize on failure: It doesn’t matter how often you lose; it matters how much you learn from it.

John C. Maxwell Center Street Read Summary
Image of: These Are the Skills You Should Learn That Will Pay Off Forever
Article Summary

These Are the Skills You Should Learn That Will Pay Off Forever

Learn how to cultivate the mindset of a lifelong learner.

Travis Bradberry World Economic Forum Read Summary

Rule Four: Show Yourself!

No, you don’t have to chum up or behave artificially in order to climb up the job ladder. In fact, you should avoid companies or industries in which this is necessary – apart from in Hollywood, where you can’t avoid it. But if you never raise your hand, never contradict, always do your job, you’ll stay invisible. And those who can’t be seen are statistically less likely to be promoted.

Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Working Out Loud
Book Summary

Working Out Loud

Working Out Loud is networking, with a human twist.

John Stepper Page Two Publishers Read Summary
Image of: Inviting Yourself to the Table
Video Summary

Inviting Yourself to the Table

To cultivate a fruitful career, don’t sow wallflowers or shrinking violets.

Kristy Tillman 99U Read Summary
Image of: The Courage Habit
Book Summary

The Courage Habit

Stop the self-doubt and criticism, and live the life you want.

Kate Swoboda New Harbinger Publications Read Summary
Image of: The Lost Art of the Great Speech
Book Summary

The Lost Art of the Great Speech

Often, people fear public speaking more than they fear dire illness or bugs. To beat stage fright, prepare and practice.

Richard Dowis AMACOM Read Summary
Image of: How to Become CEO
Book Summary

How to Become CEO

If you are headed for the executive suite, watch your temper, watch your behavior, watch your career strategy and, as Mom might have told you, mind your manners.

Jeffrey J. Fox Hyperion Read Summary

Use your skills and talents even where no one expects them. Do you have a passion for the barbecue? Although that’s rarely mentioned as a core CEO skill, at the next company party offer to stand next to the fire! That way, you’ll get to know everyone, and if you don’t mess up the expensive fillet, everyone will remember you, too.

Rule Five: Expect Setbacks

We wouldn’t need to say anything here if your chosen path was a no-brainer after the first few steps. No, you will have to digest setbacks. You will be lazy from time to time, lose the thread, or even lose sight of the goal. You will be disappointed by the decisions and people in your environment. You will fall on your face. You will be furious, want to tear down the sign on your nightstand or desk or throw a TV out the window. All of that is perfectly OK. The only important thing is to then get back on your feet, and put the pictures back up. And, well, see if anyone walks by under your window first!

Related Summaries in getAbstract’s Library
Image of: Resilience
Book Summary


Why do some systems crash in a crisis and why do others bounce back?

Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy Free Press Read Summary
Image of: Micro-Resilience
Book Summary


Increase your energy, initiative and focus by making small changes in your daily life.

Bonnie St. John and Allen P. Haines Center Street Read Summary
Image of: That’s Outside My Boat
Book Summary

That’s Outside My Boat

Worrying about what’s outside your boat leads to failure. Taking care of what’s inside it leads to success.

Charlie Jones and Kim Doren Andrews McMeel Publishing Read Summary

The magic word is “resilience.” People who have this superpower not only live healthier, better, and happier lives – they also have a positive influence on their entire environment. And everyone around will notice (check off Rule Four!). 

Rule Six: Pat Yourself on the Back When You Reach Milestones

The road is usually longer than you first thought. But, like the ladder, it’s made up of many steps, and each one you reach that brings you closer to your goals should be celebrated.

What sounds simple is often not at all, as many careerists lose sight of what they have achieved very quickly and therefore aren’t happy along the way. Beware of perfectionism: You should draw the necessary happiness from small successes and use it to motivate the next. You may not have reached the summit yet, but the view gets better with every step.

How the Journal Saves You Time
Reading Time
6 min.
Reading time for this article is about 6 minutes.
Saved Time
122 h
This article saves you up to 122 hours of research and reading time.
Researched Abstracts
27 We have curated the most actionable insights from 27 summaries for this feature.
2 2 Videos
2 2 Articles
23 We read and summarized 23 books with 6092 pages for this article.
Share this Story