Overqualified? Two Decisions that Define a Precarious Purpose Pursuit

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Overqualified? Two Decisions that Define a Precarious Purpose Pursuit


know people, friends and acquaintances who are standing at a very precarious point in their lives right now. For one, they are gifted mightily, talented and professionally skilled and yet they do not have something going on for their livelihoods. I know of numerous who have dreams and visions and passionate purpose pursuit; they are more than capable of helping a corporation head in the right direction. But they are out there in the cold. One reason is that they are deemed “overqualified”

The Irony of it All

I remember a close one some years back. She was called to go steady the ship of an organization that was faltering after mass exits either through protest resignations or massive layoffs. She rushed to that organization and easily “consulted” with the manager that was left behind. At the end of the day, she went back home still jobless. There was no qualm about her capability, there was no doubt about her passion and professionalism. And yet, she was not the one in charge…someone else who was incompetent headed that position.

Friends, that is how life is at times. What do you do when you are overqualified? This is what I mean:

  • The only position that you have right now is way below your capacity
  • The only position that you are presented with now does not compensate you for even a quarter of what you are worth. In other words, you are overqualified.

The Two Options

So what do you do when you are overqualified? From the look of things, you probably have just two options. On one hand, you have the option of forfeiting the chance before you in order to stay on course with your purpose. I can understand this. This option though comes with its own ramifications. I have seen visionaries that are much better ideas and ability so much in dire straits that pursuing their dreams does not make sense. The only logical thing to do would be to get off the pursuit and try to make some money in order to survive.  This is notwithstanding them being overqualified.

The second option of course is to humble yourself and take the “Lowly” job or opportunity. I assure you that not very many people fancy the “lowly” job. By the way, a very small percentage of people start their lives with the position of their dreams. We all grow through the ranks as we shall see later. However, a great number of people normally come to the crossroads of their lives. They could have built some momentum and then down the line, something happens that throws them off balance. It’s crisis time. What to do when you are overqualified?

I read somewhere of how the former Heavy Weight Champion George Foreman nearly went bankrupt. At one point in time he was a street preacher (nothing wrong with that). He went back to the ring and won his championship back, then went on to become an influential and inspirational businessman. Looking at his street preaching days in relation to who he is now, he was overqualified at that moment in time.

The Decision

What do you do when you are passionate about something but are stuck and overqualified for what is available right now?

The fundamental thing to know is this: The tiger never changes it’s spots and the Ethiopian cannot change his skin. In other words, you must never forget what your purpose in life is. You must never forget what you are passionate about and what you feel you have been called to do to make this world a better place.

As of now, it seems as if the best you could do is to do what you do not want to do for the following reasons:

1. Staying in The Game

In my very first ever blog article, I wrote saying that action is the greatest antidote of fear. That is why at times I advocate for any kind of action in life, just for the same of staying sane, relevant and in the game. The CEO of Dream University Marcia Weirder introduced me to a term that I never knew existed in Biology. That term is called Apoptosis. It means that when the body feels like it has lived it’s usefulness, the brain sends signals to the rest of the body that it is no longer needed. At that time, people, organizations and entities start disintegrating and ultimately die. That is what you risk going through if you do nothing “waiting on your vision and purpose”.  Could be that taking that “lowly” job, though overqualified, would be a much better bet than staying at home doing nothing.

2. There Is More To It Than Money

 Elsewhere, I have shared that social capital can be much more beneficial than financial capital. When you take a “lowly” job as a by the way to where you are headed, the only benefit you will get is not the small monies that will help you survive. Chances are that you will forge friendships and relationships that will impact you in your pursuit of purpose. Chances are that you would never have met those relationships if you did not take this detour. So if you feel overqualified, chances are that you might be overlooking a position because you want to be compensated directly according to your worth. Believe me, that will come in life later on as you pursue your purpose and vision. In the meantime, stay with this option and forge friendships that will be useful to you later.

3. Ease Of Mind

This “lowly” job can be a reprieve to your mind in more than one way. Probably, that is what you need at the moment. They say that change is as good as rest. When you are stuck and things do not seem to be working, it can be one of the most traumatizing moments of your life. Chances are that all that your thoughts are focusing on right now is a way to make ends meet. Believe me, such moments have an incredible way of eating away at the essence, self concept and self image of a visionary. If you can take this seemingly lowly position though overqualified, chances are that it brings a benefit of immediately meeting a physical or financial need that is eating you up. Believe me, it is better to earn a lowly pay check than to ask for alms or to borrow. It is much better. The ease of mind that it might bring you is incredibly important.

4. Opportunity for Growth

Interestingly, there is some growing we do by force. Growth is not just about a career or financial income. Growth is all encompassing. There are several aspects of growth that you can gain by taking a “lowly” job. This includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Leadership Growth: Chances are that the “overqualified” easily get to display their leadership, experience and expertise. You easily become the go to person. You might not even need a leadership title or position to do this. It comes automatically. You might love the new position as a “Default mentor” to a group of people of whom you are a superior. Probably it is an opportunity to showcase and grow your leadership potential
  • Attitude Growth: Nothing is as humbling as being “seemingly stuck” in a position and being helpless about it. If that is the case, believe me, it is an opportunity to adjust our attitudes, behavior and inner man. It is an opportunity to build our resilience index, be more compassionate and caring. It is time to grow internally. Never should you take this as a waste of time because it is not.
  • Skills And Expertise: Chances are that taking a “lowly” job or position because you are overqualified means that you either will be doing something you haven’t done before. You could find yourself doing a “typing job” and consider it useless. I was in that situation some years back where all I could do is teach people how to click a mouse and type. As a result, I greatly increased my typing skills to such a degree that I can fly a thought on paper. Such skill is absolutely crucial to me since I can spend no more than an hour to type out my thoughts and articles (excluding formatting and proofing). So learn as much as you can while in that state.

All in all, you have a decision to make. Personally, I would rather take a lowly job with the full knowledge of where I am going. Then, I would not just treat it as a by the way, I will remain faithful and expend all my energies and excellence in it. I have come to find out that the next level rides on the wings of excellence at this level. Over to you.