Manager, corn products division

I was reading a Linkedin profile this morning, and discovered yet another amazing person. I wondered as I read it if there exists in this land an ordinary human.

I worked jobs. I filled slots, became proficient at the things I did. When I left those slots, other people stepped in, and they too became proficient.

During the time I worked, I had bosses who were also ordinary people. Often times the boss would fear a subordinate who showed talent greater than his own. There is a lot of politics and intrigue in business environments because ordinary people have a need to stand head and shoulders above other ordinary people.

The world is full of ordinary people doing ordinary work and imagining they are amazing and fearing that other ordinary people are going to displace them. Insecurity is the great driver in our society. It makes us write long essays about our accomplishments on Linkedin.

I remember once sitting in a classroom in college as the teacher talked about the need to make even modest jobs sound impressive. She said that even if you sold popcorn in a movie theater, on your resume you should make it sound important. I raised my hand and suggested that person should be “Manager, corn products division.” It got quite a laugh. If only it were not true to life.

I went on to become a CPA, and over the years I’ve done a lot of CPA-type work. It’s a niche, a little grinding, requiring some obsessive characteristics. Filling numbers in little boxes is by its nature obsessive. Understanding just a small part of the tax code is dull and dry and has little bearing on real life and living. It pays well.

I have not set the world on fire. I just worked, got paid, and did other things too. I really enjoyed playing softball, and did that a lot.

I knew a wonderful man who deeply influenced the lives of others, and yet who made less money than any of the horn-tooters on Linkedin. There sits now a monument with his picture on it, erected after his death. As it should be. He left a mark.

The world of jobs and business advancement is one of hard core self-selling, so undignified and yet so essential to success. Might I suggest we all celebrate our ordinariness, and chill?

There are extraordinary people out there. They are usually the quiet ones.

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