I’ve always chased them, well earlier in my career, but the siren song of the golden ring . These are the carrots that are promised but are rarely delivered. These carrots lead to the inevitability of the golden handcuffs. More on those in a future post.
Brass Rings are a prize that were popular on Carousels. The way it would work is there was a dispenser and you would try and pull a ring from the dispenser as you go round and round. Almost every ring that came out was a plain old iron ring, but every now and again a brass ring would pop out. If you reached and were fortunate enough to grab it, then guess what you won a prize.. Usually that prize was another trip on the carousel.
This is where my thoughts on Golden Rings come in.. you work and stretch, and do your best to grab it, and even with all your hard work success is pretty much random. So you get to go around and around, up and down up and down, going in circles.. and you’re promised a great prize. That prize is generally financial related.. The big bonus, the big raise, the big promotion.
How we react to that promise of the golden ring is one of the traps that can snag an individual contributor and the reality of that golden ring is that it’s a random system that for the most part eventually pays out if you try hard enough and long enough. The problem isn’t the system. Many folks would say.. hey this system is broken, the problem is the expectations of the system and the way it’s presented to employees who contribute on an individual level.
The Coming to Terms posts will are explanations the language we use and what the underlying meaning they offer.