The workplace can be a cruel place.
Many of us devote a big chunk of our lives to our jobs. We wear our hearts on our sleeves. We take every email and meeting seriously. Then there are those without families or hobbies. They lean into their jobs even harder.
With all of this dedication, time, and focus we should excel in our jobs — yet we often don’t.
A quick story of untapped potential
For years I spent time understanding social media.
I built an empire online. Finally, I decided to quit my job in banking and work for a social media agency.
The process of getting the job was bloody hard. Recruiters and hiring managers rejected me. “You’re from banking … we can’t take a risk.”
Eventually, I got over the hurdle and got referred by a former banking colleague to work for the largest (at the time) social media agency in Australia. On day one there was no boss. They were still hiring one.
About a month in the new boss started.
I was nervous because you never know what you’re gonna get. Thankfully my employer hired someone I already knew.
The man had tanned skin, off-white eyes, a happy-go-lucky smile, a country-style wardrobe, R.M. Williams boots, white and grey hair, and always wore a suit jacket with jeans that made him look out of shape.
We got on fine.
The business was in a rough spot.
We had to rebuild and change direction. Many of the customers wanted social media strategies similar to ones I’d implemented in my personal life. So I put forward idea after idea to my boss.
He ignored me.
Much of the business was built on the skill of sales. He knew from my banking days, I had an excellent track record and helped train salespeople. Still, he treated me like a dummy.
He didn’t want me anywhere near the sales process.
He gave me useless spreadsheets to fill in and the crappy job of dealing with customer complaints. Most of the customers had got ripped off by my employer through incompetence and a lack of delivery.
So I often had to go to my boss and request refunds to give these customers because there was no way if they took us to court we’d win.
I obviously had potential. I’d owned a startup that employed over 100 staff and reached half a billion people online.
Nothing could force him to support my career or let me execute a few of my ideas.
The lunch that revealed the bitter truth
I like to think I have high self-awareness.
I knew my boss didn’t think much of me. But I had to get the truth. To pray on his incompetence and love of shooting his mouth off, I got a mutual friend to have lunch with him. Here’s what he said about me…
“The guy is lazy and only works 4 days a week. And that social media stuff he does is so stupid.”
I knew right then and there I had to quit. I started doing job interviews and we parted ways a few months later.
It came out afterward that my former boss secretly desired to publish content on social media and start his own online business.
My success made him feel threatened.
He was full of envy. The reality is, instead, he should have taken advantage of me and gotten my help him with his social media and business dream.
But he let jealousy ruin everything. Today he’s still a bitter, twisted old man that has done nothing with his life.
I’m not mad though.
A former boss who doesn’t see your potential is one of the greatest opportunities you can ever have.
The advantages of a boss who ignores you
Every disadvantage is secretly an advantage.
1. You’ll meet a boss who does see your potential
After this bad experience I was lucky to work with several leaders who did notice my potential.
See, when you’ve been taken advantage of, ignored, kicked to the curb, and treated like a piece of garbage — you start to consciously notice the right type of leaders.
Instead of choosing a job based on a logo, job title or salary … you choose based on the leader.
2. It lights a fire under your ass
The frustration of being overlooked for so many years acts as free motivation. After I ditched the bad boss and got my act together, I became more driven than ever.
The negativity became energy.
And energy is how we get out of our own way and break through the resistance. I walked around with the mindset “I dare you to get in my way … I freaking dare you!”
Sometimes all you need is a redirection to unblock your career pathway.
3. It can cause you to start a business
Most jobs underutilize your capabilities.
Many high performers get sick and tired of working at half their capacity. So we start businesses because when we do, we get to create the rules of the game. That’s what happened to me and it’s such a common outcome.
Maybe your overlooked potential is entrepreneurship in disguise.
Don’t let an ignorant boss who ignores you ruin your career. Do something about it. Take your potential where it can be unlocked.
You know what you’re capable of more than anyone. If someone doesn’t understand you, there’s no time to spend years of your life wasting away trying to prove it to them.
Go where you’re appreciated. Or quit and create your own damn job.