No One is “Just a…”

Listen closely, and you’ll hear the “I’m just a…” phrase applied in many circumstances. You may even use it yourself. I’ve inflicted it on myself a time or two (or three).

“I don’t know the answer, I’m just a temp.”

“I can’t authorize that refund, I’m just a cashier.”

“Clearly, nobody here cares what I think.  I’m just a worker bee.”

“I could probably help those wounded veterans, but I’m just a private citizen.  I’m sure there’s a government agency for that.”

“There’s no way I could ever do that job.  I’m just a high school graduate.”

Listen closely, and you’ll hear the “I’m just a…” phrase applied in many circumstances.  You may even use it yourself.  I’ve inflicted it on myself a time or two (or three).

Ownership is risky.  It requires personal responsibility, a willingness to step up, make hard choices, and be held accountable for your actions.  “I’m just a…” is a ticket to minimizing the expectations we place on ourselves.

The Dark Side

“Just a…” has an even darker side.  It can be used to limit the expectations we place on those around us:

  • “John’s a decent manager, but he’s really just a guy keeping the trains coming in on time.  I doubt he could step into anything new.”
  • “She’s just a summer intern, so I don’t expect her to light the world on fire for us.”
  • “He’s just a beginner, so we need to cut him some slack.”
  • “She’s just a kid.”
  • “He’s just a drug addict, so he will never amount to much.”

When expectations are minimized, minimized outcomes usually follow.

Applying the “just a…” phrase to anyone, including ourselves, ignores potential.  It ignores our ability to grow, change, improve, and amaze.

Author: Bob Dailey

Born and raised in Southern California. Graduated from (and met my future wife at) Cal Poly Pomona, in 1988. Married to Janet for almost 35 years. Father of two: Julianne and Jennifer. Grandfather of 7. Held many positions in small, medium, and large companies. Trail runner, competitive stair climber, backpacker, camper, off-roader, world traveler, sometimes writer.

3 thoughts on “No One is “Just a…””

  1. Bobby,
    Yet another thought provoking post.
    Just a …Lead’s into my least favorite phrase “I  can’t”
    During my 33 years at Honda I heard this phrase in many renditions .
    My response was alway’s ,TRY IT ! You may not be good at it , you my fail ,but you won’t know until you try.

    The two phrases “I’m just a” and “I can’t” have defeat and failure built into them. Both actually translate to “I don’t want to…”
    As a example and not boasting my wife and I. Asked your selfs what could we do to make a small difference in the world , after all we are JUST A COUPLE !

    What we settled on was doing a small food ministry feeding a small group of homeless people. From there we were also involved with other food ministries and were able to help even more people.
    We are still involved even today, and over the years have been able to help Many that are not able to help themselves.

    My thought on this is it does not make any difference who or what you are you can do what you set your mind to. You may not be good at it the first time ,but,with practice you will improve.

    The  two exceptions to this rule are ,Skydiving, Bomb Defusing .

    RIDE ON !

    1. Well said! It is amazing what happens when people take ownership and encourage the best in others. Your ministry is a great example for others to follow.

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