You’ve probably heard the old story about the four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. It goes like this…
There was an important job to be done. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Somebody would do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.
Unfortunately, while it’s clever play on words, this situation is too true for many organizations. When nobody takes responsibility, nothing gets done.
This story is often used to make a leadership point: Leaders need to clarify expectations and hold people accountable for meeting them. It also has a simple message related to your career success. If you want to be Somebody in your company, be the Somebody that is willing to take on the tough but important jobs, as well as the small jobs that are so important for your brand and your company’s success. Be the Somebody that takes responsibility.
You never know when opportunity will come knocking. I once got a promotion because I was the Somebody who stepped up to run my company’s United Way campaign. Nobody wanted to do it. Anybody and Everybody could have done it. But I was the Somebody who did it—and got rewarded for so doing.
In his Executive Leadership Blog, Greg Bustin makes an interesting point. “In the real world, Everybody means Nobody.” That means when you are the Somebody who steps up and gets things done, you’ll be distinguishing yourself from all of the Everybodies in your company.
Be the Somebody who takes responsibility for your success and your company’s success. In my keynotes I always make the point that “knowing is not enough.” You have to act. Just knowing what needs to be done, but not acting on it, doing it, won’t get you anywhere.
On the other hand, I know that taking action can be scary. When you act, you run the risk of failing, and failure can be tough on your confidence. Tweet 48 in my book Success Tweets, says “Procrastination is the physical manifestation of fear, and a confidence killer. Act—especially when you’re afraid.”
Everybody, Somebody and Anybody could have acted and got the job done. Nobody did. Don’t be a Nobody. Be the Somebody who steps up, takes the risk of doing something, and becomes an important Somebody in your company.