Just (adverb): merely, only.
Usage: a way to acknowledge insignificance.
Example: I’m just a small business owner. I’ve just got one employee. It’s just a small town.
We all use it. We use it all the time.
We are in the middle of a conference, listening to the speaker, hearing great wisdom and success. We think, “But I’m just a….”
We are talking at a family reunion and rich uncle Dave from New York asks us if we have any plans for the future. We shuffle our feet and say, “No, I guess I’m just going to …”
We are reading a terrific explanation of marketing our business, and it sounds wonderful. But then we look at our workspace in the back bedroom and think, “I just don’t…”
I hear it. I hear it all the time.
And I want to shake someone.
Next time you are feeling insignificant about where you live or where your business is or how much experience or education you have, try an experiment:
Before you respond to whoever is asking the question, think about the one employee you do have who no one else would take a chance on. Think of the four customers you do have who think that your service is amazing because you remembered their birthdays. Think of the time you looked around and realized how much you love seeing a fawn in the backyard. Think about the time that you were felt so integrated into your community that when that house caught on fire you wept and then ran to help.
Think about all that and then say, “I have the privilege to be…”
If the other person is listening at all, they will stop and think, “I wish I cared that much.”
Jon Swanson is your customer, presenting every day perspectives in a new way. He was a regular contributor to the Great Big Small Business Show podcast, as the Entrepreneurial Chicken. Jon is the author of the best small business post ever.
- When the planes are coming in to land - July 18, 2016
- Are you mortgaging your time? - April 24, 2013
- A customer service story - September 12, 2012
- What to do when a blog post is suddenly popular - May 2, 2012
- Review: The official guide to QuickBooks 2012 - January 23, 2012
- Two discussion questions for you - December 8, 2011
- From scrap metal to skilled crafts - November 23, 2011
- How a small business can be huge - November 16, 2011
- Banding together - October 12, 2011
- Show the love - October 1, 2011
Shari Voigt says
How true. You’re hitting on two points, an attitude of gratitude and the importance of our words.
If we really see ourselves as “just small business owners,” we need an attitude adjustment. The fastest way to do that is through adjusting our words.
Glenda Watson Hyatt says
What a great perspective, Jon! How true. “just” is one of those words I consciously try to ban from my writing.
Robbin K. Tungett says
Love this! Thanks…. I needed it! I have the privilege of owning a small business for 11 wonderful years.
Shari – I like how you have made the connection between language and attitude. We really do talk ourselves into and out of worldviews.
Glenda – it’s a wasted four letters. I like how you talk about choosing to not use that word.
Robbin – and my guess is that you don’t fall back on, “I’m just looking at the Internet” anymore!
and, truth in advertising time: I’m writing here only because Becky doesn’t let me get away with “just a customer” in my understanding of small business. Right, Becky?
Becky McCray says
Just like I can’t let Jon think of himself as “just a customer,” small business people can’t ever label anyone as “just a customer.” People are too important for that.
And honestly, Jon is writing here because I value his perspective and skill so highly.
Todd Jordan says
What a great way to think about things! Good share.
Jon, once again you explain something so fundamentally important, but so easily mistaken by so many people. I really enjoyed this post – it taught me another perspective of things that I otherwise would not have discovered.
Becky, I certainly commend you on having Jon post here! :)
Thanks Todd. I appreciate it.
Rick, why do I have this flashback to a table with you and Becky and I and Joanna…wait. I remember.
It is about building community. Multiple people, complementary skills, common focus. That’s what pushes us past “just.”
Sandra Sims says
Great post! I have been consciously working to eliminate the ‘j word’ from my vocabulary. I had a habit of using it in emails to customers or potential partners i.e. “I’m just following up…” but I realized that could give the impression of lack of confidence or insignificance. That is not the impression I want to make!
Becky McCray says
Sandra, I do that same thing! And this post has prompted me to watch for and eliminate it.
Sometimes people are just reluctant to “do things” because of failure. Though I admit that I’m one of those “people”, reading this post made me realize that aiming high will put us in the most eloquent position. As a result, we are also lifting the spirits of our employees, helping them to have that kind of respect and promotion they deserve.
Positive outlook yields positive outcomes!
jenny – nicely said. aiming high, lifting spirits. I realized in talking with someone about this conversation that if I am putting down my ability to encourage, then anyone who is encouraged by me is also put down. If you call your business “just”, your employees and customers assume that you are putting them down, too.
not a good thing.