No Robots, Thank You
July 14, 2009
“You’ll either take responsibility, or you’ll take orders.” The Wayne Morgan quote showed up in my tweetstream Sunday morning (thanks, Susan Young), and I promptly retweeted it, because it underscores a very important truth.
As a child, you are subject to rules, order, and authority, as you learn self-control and the boundaries of civilized behavior.
As a new employee, you take orders and follow the rules, until you learn how the business world works.
As a soldier, you take orders, and you continue to respect the chain of command as you grow in judgment and wisdom.
But all along the way, you learn to take responsibility. You aspire to be more than a robot. You internalize the lessons imparted by structure, but more than that – you embrace the fact that you are accountable to create, to lead, to exert self-control, to manage the one who is your biggest lifelong challenge.
Factories and fast-food joints will always need to hire robots. People who can do nothing better than take orders, who cannot manage themselves responsibly and thus need to be managed.
But smart businesses will bypass order-takers. No robots, thank you. We’re after those who take responsibility, and through word-of-mouth and the ties of social networks, we can find them. No wise person should aspire to have others perpetually responsible for them. As quickly as you can, take responsibility, and soon the need to take orders will lessen.
Every parent and teacher knows that it’s a huge challenge bringing up the next generation. Let’s enrich the world we’ll leave behind with creators and initiators – heaven knows there are enough order-takers!
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