I like being number two

In Picture Perfect, Jennifer Aniston plays an ad executive who creates the tag line,”Gulden’s mustard. Number two, and that ain’t bad.” It’s funny, twenty-two years later and that line still sticks with me.

Why are Americans so obsessed with being number one?

I’ve started thinking about this because I was recently asked by two different twenty-somethings what the next step in my career is. I have been the second most senior person on my team for about five years, so maybe to an outsider it looks like it should be time for me to move up or move on, but here’s the thing: I’m happy. I love what I do (higher education fundraising), I love where I do it (TCU) and I love who I report to (the AVC of our team).

Because I have worked for my boss for nine years now (four years in a previous role), we work well together and she trusts me to assist her with high-level planning and execution. She knows what I am good at and what I enjoy doing and she lets me take the lead on those areas as much as she can. I am a trusted adviser and confidant; I’m like the Robin to her Batman. And I have had a mentor and role model that I have been able to learn at the right-hand of for the past nine years. How many others can say that?

So what’s my next step? I don’t know. If my boss decides to take on another role some day, maybe I’ll step into hers. Maybe something else will come along down the road that is a good fit for me. But in the meantime, you’ll find me right here. I’ve reached a point in my career where what I am doing, where I am doing it and who I am doing it for is far more important than climbing the ladder. I’m number two, and that ain’t bad!

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