Instructor Post: What we can learn from Geoffrey Owens

The recent story about Geoffrey Owens, former Cosby Show cast member struck a nerve with me. In short, he was shamed for being a celebrity that now works as a cashier/bagger at Trader Joes. I cringed at the thought of shaming someone for earning an honest living. The irony of looking down on people for not working while criticizing the type of work baffled me. It made me reflect on a few things: 

Never get too comfortable 

Back in 2012 I was working a job that I really loved. Making a decent wage but the work was nonprofit. One day, there was a meeting scheduled where everyone was called into a conference room and handed an envelope. The letter inside read something like “effective 9/30/12, your employment will be terminated with the organization”. As you can expect, we were all stunned. Two weeks later, we found ourselves in a similar situation in which the employer explained that they could not afford to keep people through the end of the month and employment would be terminated that day. What I’m saying is, you can love your job, your business, your whatever and things can STILL take a turn. Ask yourself, what am I doing today in my current position that will help me secure the next role (with or without your current employer)? 

Don’t be afraid to start over 

I’m sure if Geoffrey had a choice between Trader Joes and a reoccurring role on a hit TV show, he would have taken the latter. However, that was not the hand he was dealt. He explains how he worked at Trader Joes because it gave him the flexibility to still do the things he loves. You may have to start over at a job that is not paying as much, doesn’t have the fanciest title or comes with the major perks. However, if it positions you (allows you to go to school, study for certifications, go on acting auditions) to work on what will land you the next role, guess what… you are still winning. We’ve heard nothing about Geoffrey saying that because he couldn’t get an acting role that he would not work at all. He took the lemons and built the lemonade stand.  


This is your lane 

Don’t let anyone shame you into believing that because you’ve had to start over or earn less that you are any less valuable. This is your lane and since it is, no one can tell you how to drive in it. Trust that the work you are doing today are the building blocks for the future you want tomorrow. Geoffrey worked at Trader Joes for 15 months before this story went viral. Imagine if Geoffrey had never worked at Trader’s because he was concerned with what people would think? How different would this story have been if he allowed others to drive their cars (opinions, criticisms and more) down his lane? He knew what he needed to do and he did it. Imagine who's calling Geoffrey now. 

No matter how many times you get knocked down, you have to start over, you earn less or you feel like you're failing, remember this- YOU ARE STILL VALUABLE.

And don't ever forget it.