I’ve been thinking a lot about cogs in a wheel. I always used to feel like I was a cog in someone else’s wheel. Just Rolling with It renewed these thoughts.
Seth Godin’s book Linchpin
renewed them the first time. Seth talks about how our entire society is set-up to train human cogs in the industrialist’s wheel. The whole idea of “productivity” comes from this training.
Believe it or not, much of it is an extension of Henry Ford’s assembly line. He pioneered the study of extracting the most “productivity” from each human assembly line cog as possible.
Today’s society is very similar. The assembly line may look different in a knowledge based economy. The idea is the same.
My assembly lines took different forms. Management consulting is the most obvious to me. The work I did with attorneys is a clear example too. I was an hours-billing cog in a large firms’ wheels’. The firms’ partners turned the wheels.
Seth’s book describes how even the most elite colleges and universities train human cogs. He explains how even the brightest software engineers fit this mold too.
These thoughts came to the forefront for me today. I was in a health food store. My wife and son went to the bathroom, leaving me with a chance to speak with the cashier.
Conversation turned to his education. He was heading back to school in a few weeks. He told me he was pursuing a degree he wasn’t passionate about.
He felt trapped because he’d already sunk money into the degree. He described how he tried a few other paths before it that “didn’t work out”.
What struck me was how each path was a different cog in a different wheel. Now he felt trapped in an educational system training him to be a cog in a wheel he didn’t like or feel passionate about. I felt sadder and sadder hearing him describe this.
I couldn’t help but wonder if not being a cog was something he’d ever considered. It didn’t sound like he had. Given he hadn’t succeeded in other attempts at becoming a cog, it seemed likely to me that he may be destined for something else.
One reason I share my experience is because Just Rolling with It’s freed me from being a cog in someone else’s wheel. Just Rolling with It’s about rolling on my own set of wheels, down my own path.
My hope is that sharing these experiences may help inspire you do to the same, if you aren’t already.
So how about it? Do you feel like a cog in someone else’s wheel or are you rolling down your own path?
Let me know by replying directly to this email.
Catch you next week,