By Holly Pilcavage, @hkp17

I was at work. It was a typical day and things were going pretty smoothly. I saw the manager approach one of my colleagues and overheard a bit of their conversation. The manager was asking my colleague to put together some files for her so she could create a presentation for some committee members. I was terrified at what I heard next. It felt like time slowed and everything immediately felt uncomfortable. After listening to our manager’s request, my colleague looked at her and said, “But that’s not my job.”

That’s not my job.

Wait, what? Have you ever heard someone say this? A co­worker? A classmate in a group project? Someone in a committee you were assigned to? There is hidden opportunity all throughout our work. For those of us who are hired under a specific title with specific responsibilities, it is pretty easy to fall into the routine of what is expected of us.

In the past, I have found that taking initiative is the only way to truly succeed, especially when starting a new position. Why do we wait to see what opportunities might unfold in front of us to begin taking action? Why does there need to be an open position for anyone to feel motivated to do a little extra or to complete a side job just to be noticed?

Building your own unique experience, honing in on your own skills, and focusing on what “could” be are all key in making a difference in your workplace, organization, or even in the classroom setting. It is easy to treat positions such as a worker, team member, or student as something we have to be doing to get somewhere. What if we made a little more effort to allow ourselves to define what those titles mean rather than allowing them to define us?

As a worker, you are supposed to show up on time and complete your assigned work. As a team member, you are to contribute at meetings and attend the events. As a student, you are supposed to sit in your assigned seat, learn, test, and achieve good grades. The thing is, we do not need to stay within these guidelines. We do not need to live so monotonously until we are bored out of our minds and hate every second of what we spend most of days doing.

A Handful of Simple, Yet Powerful Reasons to Say Yes to those “That’s Not My Job” Moments:

1. It is usually a huge help
2. Things are getting done, sometimes even faster
3. You could discover a hidden passion
4. It can be added to your figurative skills tool belt
5. It helps create motivation for others to start doing the same

I challenge you to take a step outside of the norm next time you show up as a student, member, or employee. Raise your hand and suggest a new way of thinking about something. Offer to help out behind the scenes, even if you don’t know exactly what to do. Think bigger than your written responsibilities.


How can you make your company a better place to work? How can you make things more efficient? How can you make the appropriate changes in your own daily life to be excited about showing up for another day?


Next time you begin thinking that something is outside of your “assigned responsibilities” or that it is “not your job,” why not do it? Although you might not see the total value behind doing odd end jobs or tasks outside of your comfort zone right now, that is not a valid reason to say no to those opportunities.

I challenge you to take it one step further and do not wait to be asked to do something outside, of your typical expectations. Take a look around you. Think about the success you have seen branch from other organizations, teams, websites, etc. and see if you can implement their tactics. Write up an email or put together a short report full of your ideas with supporting evidence and research.

If you feel like you are working for something you are not passionate about I need you to start thinking about your experience a bit differently going forward. You may not have your dream job right now. It might be extremely easy to say the words “that’s not my job” and not care at all about the repercussions. So why is this important? Although your “now” ­ your current situation ­is not ideal, that does not give you a valid reason to waste it. Someone else could be eternally grateful for the job you despise. We need to make the most of what we are given. Life is about give and take after all. Figure out what gets your blood pumping. Figure out what you want to get out of bed for. Do not say “no” just because you can’t find the good in it right away. Also, do not be afraid to step back if you truly realize you do not enjoy something. Life is about changes. It is about living, learning, and letting go. It is about experiences, challenges, and triumphs. It is about failing so many times that you truly know what success is.