Undervaluing People in the Age of the Sawzall

Undervaluing People in the Age of the Sawzall

One thing that irks me is undervaluing a persons abilities in an organization.

Here’s how it works:

  • A rising star gets hired for a starter role.
  • They dominate it. They do a great job and even make their job look easy.
  • A few years of domination go by.
  • A role opens up in leadership of that organization.
  • That person gets their hopes up that their dominance in their role will have drawn the attention of others.
  • They are passed over for that role.
  • They realize that they’ll always be seen as someone filling their current role.
  • They move on to another organization.
  • The original organization suffers twice. Once because they are no longer dominating at that one spot. Twice because they missed out on a rising star who was passionate about their organization but left feeling burned.

“We just don’t think of that person in that way.”

That’s what people say when you ask them about that rock star person in their organization. They got hired at a specific role, not as a “leader.” And so, in the people that matters’ eyes… they’ll always be that role. 


Kristen: “What’s that?”

Me: “What?”

Kristen: “That. What is that for?”

Me: “It’s a Sawzall. Everyone has one.”

Kristen: “Um, we don’t need that. We rent our house.”

Me: “But it’s the 75th Anniversary edition. It’s limited.”

Kristen: “…”

Me: “Think of it like a hope chest. One day we’ll own a house and you’ll want me to take down a wall. This will be the perfect tool.”

Kristen: “…”

Me: “Are you saying you want me to put it back?”

Kristen: “We came here for light bulbs.”

There is No Ceiling

Centuries ago you needed a lot of money to chase your dreams. That’s just not true today. Anyone can start a business with a laptop and about 45 minutes on LegalZoom.com. You can start a legit 501 3c in your spare time over a couple weeks. You don’t need an office, you don’t need a big staff, and you don’t even need a pile of special skills.

My advice for those who wake up to the reality that their organization “doesn’t look at them that way” is simple: Buy a Sawzall.

We used to have to wait for doors of opportunity to open. We used to spend decades positioning ourselves for the right moment.

But today? You don’t have to wait.

When all the doors around you are closed and locked to your dreams go buy a Sawzall and make your own door.

p.s. If someone wants to buy me a Sawzall for me for Christmas. I’d appreciate it. 






One response to “Undervaluing People in the Age of the Sawzall”

  1. Joel Mayward Avatar

    Once again, you manage to write a timely and encouraging post which speaks to me right where I’m at, and is just what I needed to hear. Thanks for this, my friend.

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