How do you view your job description? Do you see it as a well-defined set of expectations to stay within? Or do you see it as a starting point?
Let me tell you a story…
There is an old trick that is done by many magicians, especially those who perform for kids, called, “The Magic Coloring Book”.
In this trick, the magician shows a children’s coloring book. The magician flips through the book, showing all pages are blank, with only the outline of the image yet to be colored in on each page. After some hand and wand waving, they then flip through the book showing that all of the pages have been magically colored in.
An acquaintance of mine, who is a talented and highly regarded magician, released a new version of this trick. As with all good magic trick marketing, he posted a video demonstration of how this looks to the audience.
In his presentation, he brings a couple kids on stage with him to help with the trick. He has them wave large prop crayons at the book. After this initial waving, he flips through the book showing that the pages have been colored in wild scribbles.
Horrors! They’ve made a mess of the coloring book! How dare they scribble! Let’s all laugh about that.
He then has them wave the crayons again, and POOF!, the pages are now colored neatly, with all markings contained within the lines of the pictures.
Isn’t that wonderful?
My reaction to this presentation was visceral. I was appalled that a fellow entertainer, especially one I hold in such high esteem, would criticize kids for coloring outside the lines. How can an artist criticize others for thinking beyond the confines of what society has dictated?
OK, so maybe I was overreacting just a bit.
Or, maybe not.
We are constantly being told to stay within the lines when we color, while at the same time being encouraged to, “think outside the box”.
And that brings us back to the job description.
How do you go about your job? Do you stay within the lines? Do you view the duties and expectations as outer limits?
What if we looked at our job description as a guideline, a starting point? What if we were willing to step outside the basic requirements that are listed on that HR document and do more?
Stop living a paint-by-numbers life.
Start making art.