“I did what I was asked to do”

There’s no shame in doing what you were asked to do. You can do a lot worse than being a compliant worker, colleague, teammate, etc. who can always be counted on to follow instructions.

But it’s not a role that’s likely to help you stand out.

If the best you bring is simply doing what you’re told, there’s a long line of people who will do exactly the same, and plenty of others who will do even more.

People who bring something extra—energy, insight, connection, etc.–and improve the experience for those around them.

People who make those around them better.

People who can find a way to solve the challenge other people haven’t solved yet.

People whose contributions and presence would be missed if they were gone.

People who can see what’s possible and rally others to that better future.

You don’t have to be in charge to be one of those people who find a way to bring more to what they’re doing rather than simply getting it done as instructed. For students looking for examples, here are two past posts, one describing five people you want to work with and another about a teenage part-time worker at a frozen yogurt shop who made himself indispensable as an employee.

You can do better than doing what you’re asked.