I know what it’s like to have a horrible job that goes nowhere and feel like your potential is being squandered doing it. I know that I’m not the only one out there that had a job like that, and that there are many people out there that are in that kind of position now.
But here’s the thing: If you really want anyone to believe that your potential is going to waste at your lousy, dead-end job, you must do the job that you have now as though you have potential.
While I’ve been thinking about it for a while, I bring it up now because I’ve noticed an increase in the number of disinterested young people who obviously don’t want the jobs that they have, and many of them seem to have the idea that the way to get back at the society that did them wrong by “giving them that job” is to take it out on their customers by being passive-aggressive with them and intentionally performing poorly.
About that “giving them that job” quip: No, society didn’t conspire to decide that your job was the job that you had to have. You chose your job, and decided to apply for it and attend an interview for it. If “the government” or Google or whoever exercised some sort of mind control to get you to seek a job and then follow through with it by making you go to work day-to-day, society would have far worse problems than whether you’re brewing coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts.
You chose your job, and if you didn’t want it, maybe you shouldn’t have applied to it to begin with. If you no longer want it, find a different one, and let someone have your old job who wants it. Life is too short to spend most of your waking hours doing something you can’t stand.
Until you can find that job that you would prefer to do, the best way to convince anyone that your potential is going to waste is to demonstrate that potential by doing excellently at the job that you already have.
About a decade back, I had a job that I hated working, which was at a register in a supermarket. After a while, I got fed up with it, and decided that a better bet for a brighter future would be to get a college education. I did some research, and did some studying. But in the time until I was to start attending classes, I still had a job to do.
So I did a great job at it. The store displayed the stats for how fast cashiers were, and I was consistently on top. My prize for doing so well? Pretty much just to say I did. Not even a pat on the back.
I worked in nearly every other department in the store, and did a great job at those, too. There were days in which I was the only person working in two departments; everyone in the department had off on the same day, including the managers. I carried two departments by myself on the same day.
My way of demonstrating that my potential was going to waste at my terrible job was to get really good at it. I left no doubt that I could do better, and eventually I did.
Now, what is a person supposed to think when someone does a poor job and continually makes mistakes at an easy job where the stakes are low? When you clearly ask for dine-in at a fast food joint and are then handed your meal in a bag, one would get the idea that the cashier isn’t very dependable. When you ask for a hot coffee and get an iced coffee instead, you might feel inclined to think “there’s a D-student”.
Among the reasons why many jobs don’t pay well is because fewer people are counting on the staff, and the repercussions for a mistake are usually much lower. If you work at a fast-food joint and make mistakes with people’s orders, you might just be in the right place. You wouldn’t be convincing very many people that you’d make a great doctor.
People aren’t really perfect at their jobs, but they can at least try to do well at the ones that they have, even if they’d rather be doing something different. That way, when you finally start doing something you’d rather do, at least you’ll be convinced that it wasn’t a mistake that you got there. Doing a great job at stuff really pays out in the long run, but intentionally doing a terrible job just to spite your employer has obvious ways of backfiring very quickly.
If you’re smarter than your job, that’s great! But at least put some effort into proving it, you know?