By knowing nothing, we learn everything

Marcus Downling

Marcus Dowling

2 mins read

Perspective is the best teacher. I had this lesson taught to me as a teenager in high school who traveled 90 minutes across the Nation's Capitol via public transportation to attend a private high school. It always impressed me that from the blue collar employees in the Section 8 housing around the corner from my front door to the three-piece suited K Street lobbyists that everyone was unified by duty and work. From one perspective, the person in the three-piece suit has the "important" job. But let's say that the person in the three-piece suit was stranded without gasoline, needed a blood transfusion at a hospital, or needed someone to drive the bus to transport them to work. Then, the tables turn in terms of relative, perspective-driven importance.

  When I was 32, I was re-entering the workforce after being laid off from a corporate position where I was nearing six-figure income.The job market was cold in marketing for me at the time, so I applied for a position to market services and create a social media plan for a waste and garbage disposal company. My competition for the position was a 19-year old college dropout who showed up to the interview not neat and pressed in suit and tie like myself, but instead in low slung faded blue jeans two sizes too big, a white t-shirt four sizes too big, sneakers, and yes, two black shoelaces as a belt.

I thought, "HE'S my competition? No sweat."

Thirty minutes later, the supervisor at the company -- my same age, similarly attired, similar collegiate backgrounds -- approached after speaking to us both. "Marcus, you're great, clearly. But I'm going with Darryl." Darryl, stunned, began to weep tears of joy. The supervisor continued. "Marcus, that's the passion I want for my company. I can teach social media. I can teach marketing. But, aside from his appearance, he's well spoken...hell I can buy him the same suit you're wearing...and he's going to stay with me for life, hopefully. You? I know there's a bigger position for you. You'll be gone from here in six months. I hope you understand my...perspective."

I was stunned. Then, as the days wore on and I began to go on more interviews, I took nothing for granted and presented myself at not just 100%, but at 110%. The rest? I remembered that I should neither know, expect, or anticipate anything. Darryl was no different than me, and I was no different than Darryl. Sure we had different backgrounds, but we were both capable and worthwhile.

Perspectives. It's all about perspectives.