At one point in Lord of the Rings, Frodo offers the Great Ring to the elf queen Galadriel. Temptation within arm’s reach is difficult to resist, and in the story we see her struggle with her resolve before she finally reasserts her self-control and refuses to accept the ring. The situation may differ in some small details, but I went through the same thing today. More or less…
Today was the annual UBS Compensation Day. This is when you are compensated for all your hard work beyond the monthly paycheck. Specifically, this is when you find out if your salary increases and if you are promoted. Naturally, this is a day of great tension, excitement, restrained euphoria and oozing resentment.
I can’t go into details of my compensation, but I can reveal that I was promoted to Associate Director. The position comes with a sweet little package too. It may not have been a magical ring to rule them all, but it was tempting nonetheless. I could be an Associate Director with a good salary and stable job. That would be nice. I wouldn’t even have to lift a finger to get it. My line manager, Frodo, simply put the ring in my hand. All I would have to do is hold on to it.
I joined UBS five years ago, and I now have my second promotion in the bag. It is a wonderful confirmation of my ability as a software engineer. I am proud of where I have gotten to, no doubt about it. But as I sat there, looking at the paper detailing my new salary and position, I thought about where staying on this path would lead me: another promotion in a few years, perhaps, and further salary increases. How important was that to me? If I stayed, would I have truly pushed my boundaries? Would I feel that I had made the most out of my life?
My thoughts tumbled around in my head all day, and eventually they came to rest. I no longer felt the urge to hold on to the position, no matter how well paid or shiny it is. I thought of this as the natural end of this branch of my career. For now at least, I am done with the 9-6 desk job. I have proven that I can do it. Now I want to prove myself elsewhere.
I have passed the test.
Iwill diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.
— Ever so slightly edited quote from Lord of the Rings.