How to NOT be “Just a…”

Geek!This is Lamarr Wilson’s submission for the HP Magic Giveaway. Feel free to leave comments for this article as you see fit – your feedback is certainly welcomed! If you’d like to submit your own how-to, what-is, or top-five list, you can send it to me. Views and opinions of this writer are not necessarily my own:

I recently asked a friend of mine where she works. She told me the company that she worked for, and then said, “I’m just a secretary.” A few years ago, when posed with the same question, another friend answered, “I’m just a teacher’s assistant.” In another scenario, I overheard a co-worker while he spoke to a parent say, “I’m just a janitor.” What’s wrong with these statements? You guessed it; they all said I’m “just a…”

Many people do not realize the impact of simple statements. It’s a statement that’s said quickly, but a famous biblical proverb states that “Out of the heart’s abundance, the mouth speaks.” I learned a long time ago that if you keep thinking that you’re “just a…,” then you always will be just that; it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’ll never aspire to do your best in your job; you’ll settle, or even wallow, in your contentment. Why could this happen? Simply put, because you’re “just a…”

Some years ago, when I was a teacher assistant, I was very proud of that job. True, it wasn’t as high profile as being a certified classroom teacher, but I learned just how important that position was by looking at the big picture. Instead of putting myself down (which is what you’re doing when you say “I’m just a…”), I became the BEST teacher assistant I could be. I was no longer “just a…” I was THE teacher assistant. When I worked retail sales, I aspired to be the best stock person, the best cashier, and the best order taker. In my current business as a consultant for elementary schools, how many potential clients would take me seriously if I told them, “Well, I’m just a technology consultant”? No, I am THE technology consultant, the one who can provide the best possible service for your needs. That kind of self-confidence makes people more comfortable to be around you and do business with you.

Going back to the example of the secretary at the outset, after receiving that reply, I firmly told my friend, “I like you, but I dislike when people say that. You’re not “just a” secretary. You are THE secretary. Your job is one of the most important in the company. Without you at the helm, the office would not run smoothly. Start thinking positively of your work, and you’ll find that you enjoy it more.”

Whatever you choose to do in life, do your very best, whether you’re a secretary, a teacher assistant, or a janitor. Change your thinking, and you’ll change your life. Become a specialist at your job. Become so valuable that your employer will not be able to afford to lay you off in these tough times. All of this starts with you having a strong degree of self-confidence, and building up your self-esteem. I encourage you to test this out; when people ask you what you do, in a powerful, resolute tone, state it proudly! You’ll find that people will be more comfortable around you, and they may open up and do the same. Change starts with you!