Doing What You're Told

A good student does what they are told.

They complete the assignment. They memorize the vocab words. And if they do everything they are told, exactly as they are told, they get an ‘A’.

That’s so backwards.

In Seth Godin’s book Linchpin, he talks about how an employee becomes indispensable, and here’s a hint, it’s not by following instructions perfectly. It’s by exercising creativity, looking ahead of the mark, putting your heart into what you do, and delivering value. Those things don’t happen if you’re waiting for somebody to tell you to do something before you do it. You have to anticipate the needs of your situation and fill them. You can see things that nobody else can see. You’ve gotta use that capacity.

One summer I applied for a job at a manufacturing facility. While I waited for my interview, I could hear another interview happening in the next room over. When the man was asked about his skills, he said: “You just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.”

“Really?” I thought. What kind of answer is that?

Oddly enough, he was hired.

That won’t fly in the future. Computers and robots are great at doing exactly what they are told, and they’ll do it faster than you, around the clock, without needing food, sleep, or a health insurance policy. 

Teaching our kids to compete with robots is a recipe for obsolescence.