Career Crisis #3 – Doomed BEFORE Capstone

First of all, you should know what a “Capstone” position is.

The first “Capstone” position is that position you reach when, for the first time, you have major responsibilities over a significant part of the business or a major function within the business.  Such a position might include, VP-Marketing, VP-Finance, VP-Human Resources, etc.  In a service firm such as management consulting, law, or accounting, the first “Capstone” position would be the first level partner.  For more information on “Capstone” positions, visit my blog “”

“Doomed BEFORE Capstone” means that you are in a position before you reach one of the first “Capstone” positions and you reach the top of the “Doom Loop.”  In a sense, you are “Doomed” in that position and it’s time to at least think about doing something – or take some action.  You are moving from Quadrant 2 (Q2) to Quadrant 3 (Q3).

It is a very dangerous career crisis from the perspective that such a crisis can lead you to make unwise career decisions.

For example, you are very susceptible to listening to a headhunter who calls you and chats with you about another job.  Often the job will be similar to the one you have but, obviously, in a different organization and perhaps in a different location.


“Doomed BEFORE Capstone” is NOT solved by making a lateral move to a different organization at a higher compensation level.  Certainly if you were to make such a move you would be motivated, excited, turned on, and all that, but that feeling would soon wear off (takes about 3-4 months).  That’s what is known as the “anesthetic value of compensation.”

It is interesting that such UNWISE moves are made by those who are brighter – smarter – faster learners.  Those folks move up the “Doom Loop” faster.  It’s why later on in a career you might find others who are not so smart having more responsible positions in an organization – they simply stayed around their company longer and eventually were promoted.  It’s a fact!  So BEWARE.

There are two solutions to the “Doomed BEFORE Capstone” career crisis.

The first one is to look within your own organization for something that might be more challenging; try to see if you can add responsibilities and new tasks to your current job.  That will tend to shift you at least back into Q2 and possibly even into Q1 – which is GOOD!

IF the first possible solution fails, then perhaps it is a time to make a move to another organization.  However, if you contemplate doing so, make SURE you carefully examine the nature of the tasks and responsibilities that you will have in order that you can firmly establish yourself in quadrants 1 and/or 2 (Q1 & Q2).


This is what you should do when making a job change – make sure the cluster of preferences/performance on the new job is somewhere in Q1 and Q2.

Think that way whenever your job changes – either inside your current organization or when leaving for a new job.