career progression - climbing ladder

Rethinking Career Progression: Climbing a Cargo Net Instead of a Ladder


Traditional career imagery often conjures the idea of a ladder—a linear, predictable path to a clearly defined summit. Yet, as we move deeper into an era dominated by artificial intelligence (AI) and rapid technological changes, this metaphor no longer holds true. Instead, envisioning career progression as climbing a cargo net provides a more accurate and dynamic picture, reflecting the vast array of paths available in our multifaceted professional landscape. This perspective shift is not only about the ability to change but also challenges us to consider if we are adapting swiftly enough to keep pace with continual transformations. We explore how embracing the fluidity and responsiveness of water—SwiftWater—can guide us through the intricate and dynamic landscape of modern career paths.

The Illusion of Linearity

Traditional View: Career paths have historically been seen as a straight ascent up the corporate ladder, symbolizing stability and clear progression.

Reality Check: In contrast, today’s careers are characterized by changes in roles, industries, and professions, much like the diverse and interconnected routes offered by a cargo net.

Flexibility and Adaptation

Cargo Net vs. Ladder: A cargo net, unlike a ladder, allows for movement in multiple directions, mirroring the adaptability needed in today’s careers.

Embracing Opportunities: This model suggests that career advancement can occur sideways, diagonally, and even downward, reflecting the complex reality of professional growth.

Coping with Change in the AI Era

The Challenge of AI: The advent of AI introduces significant upheavals, challenging our innate desire for stability (homeostasis) and necessitating continuous adaptation (allostasis).

Adapting to New Realities: In the face of AI, we must stay agile, continuously learning new skills and be ready to shift directions at a moment’s notice, like navigating a cargo net.

Homeostasis vs. Allostasis in Career Growth: While homeostasis represents comfort in the familiar, allostasis demands embracing the dynamic nature of today’s tech-driven world, ensuring continuous personal and professional development.

Overcoming Resistance to Change: Natural resistance to change reflects a preference for stability. Yet, in the AI era, such resistance can stifle growth. Promoting an allostatic approach fosters resilience and flexibility, viewing change as an opportunity rather than a threat.

Skill Diversification

Beyond Upward Movement: Mastery of a cargo net requires agility, strength, balance, and strategy, paralleling the diverse skills needed in modern careers that extend beyond mere upward mobility.

Continuous Learning: This metaphor underscores the need for ongoing skill development across various aspects of our professional lives.

Interconnectedness and Support

Networking and Collaboration: The interconnected ropes of a cargo net symbolize the vital networks within our careers, where success often hinges on collaboration and support.

The Power of Community: Unlike the solitary climb of a ladder, navigating a career cargo net often involves engaging with others who provide support, advice, and opportunities, emphasizing the communal nature of modern career paths.


Viewing career progression as climbing a cargo net rather than a traditional ladder offers a more realistic, flexible, and interconnected perspective on professional growth. It encourages adaptability, a diverse skill set, and the value of professional networks, reminding us to cherish the journey’s many paths and the importance of the collective climb. The metaphor of climbing a career cargo net in the AI era aptly captures the essence of modern career trajectories—non-linear, interconnected, and dynamic, requiring rapid and ongoing adaptation. As professionals, we must ask ourselves not just if we are capable of change, but if we are changing quickly enough to keep pace with the technological advancements that redefine our roles and industries. Embracing this fast-paced change is no longer optional; it is essential for career survival and success.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for educational and information purposes only. Neither Swiftwater & Co. or the author provide legal advice. External links are responsibility and reflect the thinking of their respective authors – those are provided for informational purposes only.

Hassan El Asraoui
Hassan El Asraoui

Imagine someone who's built and led not one, not two, but three legal businesses to remarkable heights. That's Hassan, the visionary CEO of Swiftwater. He's a builder, a strategist, and a tech enthusiast who believes in empowering both his people and his clients to be the best versions of themselves. With over three decades of global expertise, he's navigated the ever-changing business landscape with grace and grit, leaving a trail of success in his wake.