Going the distance

When is a promotion a bad move?

By Edward T. Creagan, M.D. November 11, 2010

Need more help?

If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

One of my patients, a gentleman in his late 40s, returned for a routine cancer checkup. Fortunately, all was well from that perspective. However, he was clearly suffering from work-related stress. His blood pressure was sky high, so there was a very real risk of stroke or heart attack. His blood sugar was off the charts, and I was concerned about diabetes and its complications.

I started to probe what could be causing such stress. This gentleman had been a counselor for high-risk teenagers and had helped many teens straighten out their lives and become productive members of the community. In recognition of his success, he was appointed to a post overseeing dozens of agencies with hundreds of employees and a seven-figure budget.

With evident regret, this gentleman shared with me that accepting the promotion had been a major mistake. He didn't have the skill set or training to succeed in the position. Nor were his exceptional one-on-one skills valued in his new role.

There are lots of lessons here, but this is the one that struck me: Be careful what you wish for because you may get it. Better to play to your strengths and refine your gifts, and let the rest take care of itself.

Can anyone else relate to having your dream job turn into a nightmare?


Edward T. Creagan, M.D.

Follow on Twitter: @EdwardCreagan

Join the discussion at #Stress.

Nov. 11, 2010