Last week Madam wrote, accurately enough, that "a single sentence in an EER review statement can doom a good officer to years of undeserved 03-dom. A reader, commenting on Diplopundit, wrote “'03-dom' that is still a career for a large part of the FS. Get real.'
Madam replied, "...that is precisely why I included the adjective
‘undeserved.’ Some FSOs do not deserve and some do not want to move
beyond 03, that wonderful level where the rubber meets the road."
Giving the matter further thought, and reviewing her own experience, Madam concludes that she was right. And that there appear to be three different 'types' of 03 FSOs:
1. The standard-issue 03. This is an officer who is passing through the grades, acquiring precious experience and knowledge and expertise that will do him/her well as he/she moves along.
2. The stuck 03. This officer would love to move to higher levels of responsibility but for personal, professional, whatever reasons is somehow not suitable for promotion and the system, however roughly or gently, recognizes this.
3. The professional 03. This officer is happy, productive, highly experienced, and loves that 'rubber meets the road' work in which, every day, there are actual people needing his/her help or advice, and when the phone rings he never knows what's going to happen, but it's going to be cool. He/she doesn't like or want to sit in meetings and make endless formal calls on local officials and the billion other things that 02s and especially 01s do that do not involve hands-on consular work.
Madam has known several officers who worked entire careers in a part of the world that they loved; enjoyed every day enormously; did excellent, rational, sensible, subtle, logical, absorbing, humane and correct work; left customers and staff the better for having known or worked with them; and retired with the well-earned and well-deserved feeling of success.
Some time ago, Madam ruminated on some very good career advice.That advice still holds. Too many FSOs are led - or lead themselves - to believe that they should want to rise to the highest ranks as swiftly as possible and there's something wrong with them if they don't, never mind the stress and headaches and ulcers and hours and distance from concrete reality. They lead themselves to believe that they are wrong to want to accept with joy another 03 job in a neighboring country, in a region that they understand and love deeply, where their family members are happy, and where they wake up every morning with eager anticipation of yet another amusing knot to unravel.
They are not wrong, and the world on both sides of the window is lucky to have them.