Sifting – Chapter 2: Bob’s Rise to the Top

This posting is part of a series on my book Sifting. If you have not read the previous postings, please visit the menu above (click on Sifting) for a chronological listing of any previous chapters. Thanks!  


Sifting – Chapter 2

Bob’s Rise to the Top

An Observer’s View

From a distance, most observers viewed Bob Rushing’s rise in the academic world, the business world, and in life in general, as upwardly fluid, smooth, without any significant glitches, plateaus, or interruptions. Bob somehow made everything look easy.

Only Bob and a few others knew that things were not always as they seemed.

Bob’s basic philosophy in life was to go along with the plan, but it was not usually Bob’s plan. Everyone else, especially authority figures in his life when he was younger, seemed to always know with a great degree of certainty what was best for Bob. But going along with other people’s plans was the easy path in life since, admittedly, Bob didn’t have plans of his own.

With undergraduate and graduate degrees in his rearview mirror, and a great job with a global powerhouse, Bob accelerated in the business world at an accelerating pace. With a wink toward his competitors and what seemed like a blink in time, Bob became the poster boy for high-profile corporate fast trackers.

A wife with beauty-queen looks, two kids who only felt at home in private school accelerated-learning programs, cars that were always parked in the most visible spaces in front of restaurants by valet attendants, a home so large it should have its own ZIP code, a second home in the mountains with a view of prestigious ski slopes that attracted an ongoing crowd of free-spending, fun-seeking tourists – the list of success trappings went on and on and on, as did the chronic low-grade frustration and restlessness.

End Chapter 2


Author’s Notes: 

Main takeaway: Things are not always as they seem with people. Be careful measuring your success by comparing your life to what is going on with other people. You can almost always count on the fact that you are only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is really going on in their lives. This is especially true with people considered by society as extremely high achievers. You will learn some of the main reasons why this is true when we discuss behavior tapes, monkey traps and other issues in subsequent chapters.

  1. Think of people who are considered highly successful in terms of titles, wealth, power, possessions and other typical aspects of life that society deems to be measures of success. Granted, some of these people may be truly successful by any measure you can think of, but do you think in some cases “things might not be as they seem” with these people? Do you personally know some people who fit this “things are not as they seem” description?
  2. What does being truly successful mean to you (just begin thinking about it…you will have plenty of opportunities to ponder this question throughout the book)?
  3. Are any of your major life decisions based more on someone else’s plans (grandparent, parent, teacher, sibling, guidance counselor, friend, etc.) than your plans?
  4. With all that Bob possesses, and has accomplished, why would he possibly be experiencing frustration and restlessness?
  5. What would you do differently if you were in a position to make decisions without regard to financial consequences or social implications?  Yes, from a short-term point of view this is unrealistic for most people (the mortgage, utility bills, tuition, etc. must be paid), but it’s still a question worth exploring if you want to begin moving in the direction of joyfully participating in life.
  6. Are things not always as they seem with some aspects of your life? Do any such differences matter in terms of your potential to joyfully participate in life?


The entire book will eventually be posted on this blog. However, if you want a copy for yourself, or as a gift for a friend, you can find it at this link: Sifting

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