Within the last week there has been a lot said about Geoffrey Owens (former Cosby Show star “Elvin” turned Trader Joe’s employee). It all started with a customer posting a picture of him to her social media account and the world exploding from there. Immediately, Mr. Owens found himself in the midst of being job shamed. That shame, though, quickly turned to an outpour of support from fellow actors and people who know all too well that in order to be successful two factors are key: humility and resiliency. The conversation went from “What happened to him?” to “What is wrong with a person working?”
Many times, society finds itself wrapped up in titles. CEO, Director, Supervisor, Owner. We equate these with power, with influence and success. Titles tend to represent if someone is at the top or at the bottom, if someone is a failure or a success. What is so powerful about Mr. Owens, and his unexpected thrust into the spotlight, is that he helped to start a conversation about the lack of value attached to a position as well as one’s place of employment.
(Image courtesy of Google Images- WGN-TV)
I often ask, when job searches come up, are you chasing the experience or are you chasing the title? Working for a fortune 500 company, having great pay and tons of vacation time is great. I would never say those are terrible things. However, even people that work in higher positions, and with well- known companies, would say it is not always perfect. It is not always the best fit because the money and title work. It may seem a bit idealistic for some, but the measure of a person should not be in what they do for a living. Rather it should be the dedication and value a person places on an experience and the ability to manage responsibilities.
Regarding the placement of value in the world of work, I think Mr. Owens said it best in his interview with Good Morning America, “There is no job that’s better than another job. It might pay better, it might have better benefits, it might look better on a resume and on paper. But actually, it’s not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable.”