4 Ways to Advance Your Career When Your Manager is Against You

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How can someone develop their career in a company, if they don’t have the support of their line manager? originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Nicole Gravagna, Author of MindSET Your Manners, co author Venture Capital for Dummies, on Quora:

How can you develop your career when you don’t have support? It’s easy to identify people in your life who don’t support your growth. Maybe it’s your spouse, or your boss, or your parent, who is obviously against you developing in your career. Let’s call a person like that a “Gatekeeper.” It doesn’t matter who it is, you can learn to develop your career in spite of a lack of support by those who try to stand in the way.

Developing your career in spite of a lack of support isn’t about being spiteful. It’s about realizing that no one can stand in your way unless you give them the job of standing in your way.

Imagine a random person on the street approaches you and said, “I’m sorry, you aren’t going to be able to develop your career, because I’m not going to let you.”

What would you do?

You’d get very far away from that person and go about your business. Right?

Now, your manager, spouse, or parent isn’t a stranger on the street, so the situation is different. How is it different? The person who is standing in your way is also a person you have decided that you need in your life to fulfill something for you. You believe this person has to be on your side or else you will lose the benefit that they currently provide for you. That quid pro quo situation very well might be true.

Step 1: Identify the person standing in your way.

Step 2: Identify the benefit they provide for you. This might be about keeping your job, staying in good standing in your family or community, or something else.

Step 3: Ask yourself if your belief is really true. Is this gatekeeper actually able take away these benefits? Would they take away your benefits? Sometimes, you’ll realize that the gatekeeper is less powerful (or malicious) than you made them out to be. When you examine the relationship, you can see that the gatekeeper is actually a paper tiger – incapable of hurting you.

Step 4: If you find that your gatekeeper is a real tiger with true abilities to remove the benefits that they currently provide you, then you have to make some decisions. You have to ask yourself if stagnation in your career is worth the current benefits that you get from the gatekeeper.

Comparing your future career against your current life is tricky. You know what your life looks and feels like now, but the future is mostly made of guesses and uncertainty. How can you compare the present to the future? It’s not even apples and oranges. It’s apples and mystery fruit.

Understand that uncertainty is spooky and dangerous-feeling even when there’s no danger. That’s just how uncertainty feels. Some people hang on to their current role for way too long because they are scared of uncertainty. They’ll wait until their current life has gotten so bad that mystery fruit of any kind or quantity seems like a better choice. Don’t wait that long. Mystery fruit is always better than what you currently have. If you make changes when your current situation is good, then what you’ll get is better.

People fret that they will make a change and land themselves in a situation that is worse than the one they are currently in. If the new choice was a worse choice, then you wouldn’t make the change. You’d stay where you are. Do you see how that works? It’s pretty simple.

In some situations, gatekeepers are real and formidable. They can do you real harm. When your life is on hold because of someone who can hurt you, then maybe it’s time to craft an exit from that situation. Why prolong interaction with someone who wishes you harm?

In other situations, gatekeepers are paper tigers that you’ve made up in your mind. It’s not that you are crazy. It’s that uncertainty genuinely feels dangerous and you put that danger feeling into the hands of your gatekeeper, assuming that they must be dangerous to you. Do your best to see that gatekeeper as an unwitting (and probably unwilling) participant in your own story about how scary career development can be.

This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

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