Job progression is often hierarchical in nature. In science, a common path in academics is from being an undergraduate student to a graduate student to a post-doc to an associate professor…
If you work hard and produce good results then you can move up to next level. Using the academic example, this progress can be very slow, taking more than a decade to complete (undergraduate to professor). By staying within your field progress can be difficult. A PhD almost by definition puts you within a certain category and moving forward often takes a lot of grinding.
Alternatively, you may want to consider jumping laterally. Take a look at a new field with new people and new ideas. Not only can you learn a lot, but you will bring a unique skill set to a new field.
People generally like to work with people that they see at their level. If you can bring an entirely new technique and prospective to a problem, it is easy to be seen as a peer at the highest levels since the relationship is mutually dependent.
Want to play along at home? Try going to a conference that discusses protein structures (microbiology, computation) and no one is there that solves them. You can end up feeling like Yoda after two days.