The Peter Principle: Understand it.

I know many people who are unhappy in their jobs. There was a time when they were happy, but then they ascended to a position that is both joyless and without satisfaction. 

I also know many people who are ineffective in their jobs. There was a time when they were effective, but they have now risen to a position where their skill set or aptitude no longer matches the demands of their daily work. 

In many of these situations, I believe that the problem relates directly to something called The Peter Principle, and if the employee had only been more cognizant of this principle, he or she would be happier and more effective in the workplace today. 

Three important things to understand about The Peter Principle:

1. The definition:
The Peter Principle states that employees will invariably be promoted to their level of incompetence. This occurs because selection of a candidate for a position is based on the candidate's performance in their current role rather than on abilities relevant to the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively, and therefore they will ultimately find themselves in a position in which they cannot succeed. 

2. The responsibility of your employer:
None. If you are excellent at your job, you will eventually be promoted to the level of incompetence unless you are one of the less than 1% of people who are capable of ascended to the highest rank in an organization and occupying the corner office (and you're not).

3. Your responsibility:
Constantly reflect upon your skill set, current position, and possible future positions. Be honest about your strengths and especially your weaknesses. Don't accept a promotion simply because it's offered. Don't pursue a promotion simply because it's the next step on the ladder. Ruthlessly compare your current level of happiness against future earnings.

It is always better to be earn less money and be happy and effective in your position. You may not believe this today, but your future self will despise you for trading happiness and effectiveness for money. Your future self will rue the day you surrendered respect, appreciation, admiration, and joy for a bump in pay, no matter how large that bump may be.

People who understand The Peter Principle - in name or in theory - are happy, productive employees. They settle into positions in which they excel. As a result, they remain happy, respected, and appreciated throughout their careers. They are the difference makers. The high achievers. The role models for future employees in similar positions.

Find the thing you you do best and embrace it. Hold onto it with all of your might. Know thyself, and you will be a happier, more effective employee with enormous job security and the respect we all deserve.