how to use the label baby
Tim: Elaine, you are something else. No one can ever put a label on you, huh?
Elaine: We'll see.
from Seinfeld. "The Label Maker"
I was thinking of one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes yesterday during an entertaining coaching conversation. My coaching client is in the process of hiring a marketing person he'd like to be able to promote in the next few months. He was conducting a first round interview and the candidate had some surprising answers.
First off, while the candidate wasn't new to the workforce - he'd been working for over five years- he shared "I've never tried to get promoted." That was interesting. Even more intriguing given that he was interviewing for a role at a youth development organization, was that he said "I'm not really a youth development person." To cap it off, he shared that he also wasn't a marketing person.
If you're wondering why a self admitted non-youth development, non-marketing person was interviewing for a marketing job at a youth development nonprofit, turns out he was desperate to leave the job he was currently in. I have a hunch he wasn't much of (fill in the blanks) there either. The reason my coaching client invited him to the interview was that he looked great on paper. While it turned out he lacked all these other qualifications, he happened to have a rather unique and technical skills set that was needed.
My point here besides sharing this somewhat ironic story of an interview is how limiting labels are! I have no idea what this person's motivations are but I imagine it will be pretty challenging to reach them if he's committing himself to being this or not being that. And these labels are pretty specific to skills and interests. Think of how limiting it is when we decide "I'm not a math person" or "I'm not a creative person". And finally, if we're parents or work with the younger generation, it's even more critical to stay away from these labels. How many would-be athletes, authors etc.. are stopped in their tracks when told at an early age "well, you're not really an athlete, writer...." and on it goes.
So, to wrap in my love of Seinfeld, use your Label Baby Junior to label the boxes, clothing and other inanimate objects - not humans!
And don't forget to vote!
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Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com