You think that the corporate ladder is all there is.
That's why you show up 15 mins earlier at the rat wheel everyday, spinning it diligently, hoping that your little act entertains your boss enough for him to give you a 5% raise or a promotion. If you play your cards well, sure, you'll get that raise and a fancy title after your name.
A few promotions and raises later, your cubicle becomes a room, the title on your name card was 'Associate', it now reads: 'Director of Operations, APAC - BBA, MBA, DBA'.
Then, one day, while you're working late again, you glance at the photo frame on your desk - it's a photo of you and your wife, in your twenties - youthful and all smiles. As your mind drifts off from the stack of documents on your desk, you relax your focus, and you see your reflection in that same photo frame.
Realisation hits you, like a spinning baseball to your face!
You're now 45 years old. You haven't had a meaningful conversation with your wife for years on end - the child that you fathered somewhere along the way is now in his late teens; your relationship with him can be described in less than 30 words.
You know this is insanity, but you can't quit because that Maserati in the car park still has 5 more years of monthly payments. You can't quit because you have another 20 years on your mortgage. You can't quit because you've invested 20 years of your life into the corporate rat cage.
You slam your file on your desk, "Fuck it, I'm an important man!", you justify.
We know how this story ended. The director retired at 65, alongside his wheelchair and his prescription pillbox.
At the end of the day, when your titles are returned and there's little left to your name, what are you?
To those close to you, you were never the Director with the fancy titles after your name. Little did they care about the portfolio of countries that you manage or the time when you revived a loss-making division of the Asia Pacific region.
To them, you were a son, a daughter, a brother, a sister, a companion...a spouse...a father and a friend.
The rest...is inconsequential.