Don’t Play the Status Game

When I first started door-to-door sales one of my biggest motivators was to gain recognition for my work and become respected as a good salesman.

I had bought into the status game. It’s easy to do, because in the hierarchical nature of humanity, seeking status has benefits – you feel more important, and your self-image increases.

But the problem with the status game is that it is a zero-sum game. To rise in the status rankings you need to overtake someone else. There’s two ways to do that: you being better or other people being worse. In my job, I was always working to overtake the salesperson above me and stay ahead of the salesperson behind me. I was hoping to make more sales than them – if I made no sales, I would secretly hope that they wouldn’t make any either, or I would be further behind in the rankings. If I was doing well, I would distance myself to try to stay in the zone, instead of offering to help the other reps with any insights that I thought would help them.

Another problem of the status game is that it is relative. You could be doing very well by your own standards, but if everyone else is better, you can feel a little inadequate. You are low status in this high-performing team but if you were in a different team you would be the best.

The key: Stop playing the status game. It’s difficult because it’s human nature, but staying humble and not worrying about status, and building others up can create a better environment to live and work in. You start to tune into others’ needs instead of constantly thinking about your own. In an odd sense, you might still end up getting the credit and recognition you were looking for the whole time.