This dangerous word is a career killer

I was today years old when I learned the opposite of a meritocracy is a kakistocracy.

In the 7th grade, I had a bad bout of bronchitis and missed school for a week.

Mrs. Richardson’s civics class probably covered it then.

It means: government by the least suitable or competent citizens.

The fact that I’ve not heard this word on the news in the last four years confirms it’s ultra-obscurity.


“This place is not a meritocracy. They’ve made that clear and I’m leaving.”

Those were the words of a colleague I accidentally intercepted walking out of his annual review at our staid employer.

What struck me was he wasn’t even a little angry.

Passed over for a promotion that he should have been his, his "feelings" weren't "hurt."

There was an air of certainty about him that made me work to match his pace like a pauper behind a money truck with $100s flying out its accidentally open door.

In his mind, he was already gone.

In a telling split second, I realized my colleague was as emotionally unconnected to our employer as a cruise ship is to a port dock.

At the same time, I realized the vast majority of employees aren't like this.

Like a 777 on autopilot, he effortlessly dialed in a new altitude to adjust for a sudden change of weather.

Anyone watching would've seen baby bluebirds and cartoon hearts floating around my head like Pepé Le Pew.

"How cool are YOU!?" I thought.

On the outside, our employer was “respectable” even “admired.”

On the inside, it was hot mess.

Our group was seething with nepotism, cronyism and incompetence.

A bona fide kakistocracy wielding an attrition rate of 25%.

If you’ve been passed over and don't feel the equal of my Cool Hand Luke corporate storm trooper friend, here's some guidance for ya...

Take a deep breath.

Immediately, commit to leave, resign, bail, walk, depart, sayonara, deep-six it, adios...

Set a deadline!

(You need that deadline because we all know someone who’s been leaving a company for the last 5 years - and if you think you don’t, you know me, and I definitely did that!)

The point is: Decide to leave and (maybe) build a case to stay, not the other way around.

If they tell you, “You’re not ready” or “We need you to step up,” this article is custom-made for you.

Viewed thousands of times, it could be just the bat you need to knock it out of Kakistocracy Park.

Next: give two scores


On a scale of 1-10 how has your employer treated you in the time you’ve been there? This is strictly business. Generous cash card mini-bonuses and better than average swag don't count. Think in strategic terms of career and earning$.

Pick a number. Put that here: _____


On a scale of 1-10 how much value have you delivered?

Hopefully this will nudge you to consider what your company actually does value and if you fall into that bucket.

Pick a number. Put that here: _____

Do the math.

That's your first coordinate.

Good luck!


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