We are not defined by our job descriptions. Whether you’re a CEO or an intern on your first day of the job, society’s boundaries are negotiable.
In baseball, we have a saying. “You don’t have enough dirt in your spikes.” This statement is absurd. It’s used to suggest, because you’re a rookie, you’re incapable of contributing beyond your experience level. This mindset is truly damaging to organizations and businesses and encourages a culture that looks to limit, rather than inspire.
When we’re in a supervisory capacity, we can seek to change this culture. Baseball, perhaps uniquely, teaches us that stars can come from the most unlikely of places. We don’t tell the 16 year old who has never picked up a glove that he can’t run the 60 yard dash at a tryout. We scout players for not only their skills, but their tools as well. A good thing, otherwise the Royals’ playoffs may have gone much differently without Lorenzo Cain.
Likewise, we should not limit our interns, entry level employees or the newcomer with stars in their eyes solely based on their job description. We have an obligation to mentor and develop all of our employees. People cannot grow and develop without opportunities. Finding the diamond in the rough from the bottom rungs of the ladder is much more effective than luring the aging superstar with piles of money and benefits, whether in baseball or the corporate world.
But perhaps you find yourself on the other side of this equation. You are the fresh faced new kid, desperate to make your mark. Someone at your place of business is desperately trying to put you into a box. Like most situations in life, it is important to remember that it probably has nothing to do with you in specific. Smile and say thank you. Check them off in your mind as someone you will prove wrong. Use their negativity as fuel to rise above.
As an employee, the worst label you can have is “invisible.” If your aim is to do the same work for the rest of your life, then by all means, never ruffle feathers and hide in the corner. Most folks clamor to be recognized for their work and have a voice. Don’t let that voice be strangled by bureaucracy.
The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible
― Vladimir Nabokov
Don’t be afraid to seek out the opportunities because you fear the label of “unqualified.” But if you come with a hunger for self-improvement and 80-grade work ethic, someone will take notice, and you will get your chance to shine. Steven Spielberg got his start as a 17 year old intern who snuck in after hours to make his own film, networked with directors and producers and eventually got his work into the right hands.
Every person in an organization brings something to the table. By mining for that value without regard for titles, job descriptions or seniority, we improve our businesses and our cultures.