If You Desire Meaning in Your Life Look Beyond The Corporate Ladder

Craig Stanland
3 min readNov 17, 2022

It’s time to embrace a new symbol other than the corporate ladder.

We all know the symbol, and we buy into it whether or not we’re on it.

We accept it for the symbol it is, and there’s a pride associated with it that drives us to climb it.

But why?

Because it’s what we’ve been conditioned to do from an early age by family, friends, and society.

Get good grades, attend a good university, begin your career, and then climb the corporate ladder.

It’s what we should do.

As we climb the ladder, our compensation rises, and as a result, we experience more power — both through our title and increased purchasing power.

Our jobs may not provide purpose, meaning, or fulfillment, so we leverage our buying power to purchase what we’ve been conditioned to purchase so that we can feel pleasure.

Whatever it may be, the right car, clothes, watches, country club membership, wine.

Those things make us feel good at the moment, but quick highs fade quickly and don’t fill the hole we feel in our lives.

We assume more is the answer.

So this means we must reach the next rung on the ladder, then the next, then the next…

All the while, the success-sized hole in our lives grows.

Here’s why the corporate ladder is a terrible symbol.

It’s a one-dimensional motion.

We can either go up or down on a fixed plane, and nobody wants to go down — so now we have only one direction we can go — up.

Our lives are now dictated by one-dimensional motion in only one direction.

We’re stuck.

One of man’s deepest desires is freedom.

One of the reasons we crave freedom is so we can cultivate meaning in our lives.

We want our life to mean something, and we want the freedom to cultivate that meaning.

Living a life solely rooted in the perpetual climb up the corporate ladder is the antithesis of freedom.

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Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.