Great post. Soft skills and hard work are both necessary but insufficient for advancement. The third leg of the stool is organizational need. How much upward promotion is available in a downsizing organization?
Amazon's website provides more customer satisfaction than most soft skilling government workers, because the tasks are carefully engineered to be accomplished that way.
Jumping into a bar fight and enthusiastically whaling away until you drop is one way to spend your time. Works if nobody cares what that costs or what the result are enough to improve the game.