Avoid the Peter Principle

The Peter Principle is a famous idea that, simply, people get promoted until they're in a position they're simply not good at.  Too many people are promoted to their level of incompetence.

This is often used in many jokes, but it's actually something I take seriously.  I take it seriously as I've seen it in action.

I also take it seriously because it scares me, as it is even more important to career geeks and profans like us.  We, yes we, the cool and creative and hip and obsessive people are in even MORE danger of the Peter Principle affecting us.  We are, in short, in more danger of being promoted far beyond our level of competence.

The danger is that we often like what we do and can miss when we're bad at it.

If you like what you do, great.  The thing is that you may be glad to accept more assignments – you like what you do.  You'll take that promotion to manage more video game production – you like video games.  You've gone from writing columns to writing more columns on multiple subjects.  You like what you do.

The advantage is that you'll be driven to be good just as you like what you do.

The danger is you may miss when you can be or simply are promoted to a job you can't handle.  You'll miss it as you're enjoying yourself.  If you're a progeek, a fan-to-pro success case, you're probably having a ball, stress aside, and you can simply miss when you're doing bad.

If you wonder what inspired this, in part it came as I examined my career options and realized that some standard career options for someone in my position sounded cool – and I realized I'd either hate them or stink at them.

The other part came from seeing the Peter Principle in action.  Enough said.

So keep an eye out when planning your career – make sure you don't embody the Peter Principle.  You like what you do – don't start screwing it up by accident.  Besides, you don't want to make others miserable.

(And I'm not even touching the Dilbert Principle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dilbert_Principle) here).

– Steven Savage