Do you detest authority? I don’t mean the law or government, for we need that. I mean in your workplace – at your job.
Does it leave a bad feeling in the pit of your stomach when someone tells you what to do at work. They are, more often than not, right and you in the wrong. You know this. Yet, somehow it just does not sit well with you.
Does it frustrate you that the scope of work offered by your job is limited? You want to do a lot more, but this limited scope of work – job takes up all of your time and leaves you feeling incomplete?
Do you start of at a job with twinkling eyes and excitement pouring out of your pores and then eventually feel you have had enough – quit, join another job and repeat the whole thing again? That’s not normal right? I mean, our parents sat at the same job all their lives, sometimes in the same organization right? You should read this first:
“There was a time, I suspect when men and women could give a fully human response to any situation. When we could be fully absorbed in the world as human beings. But more often now, people don’t get to see the whole situation, but only some small part of it. There is a division of labour and people carry out small, narrow specialized jobs. And we can’t act without some sort of direction from one higher. I call this The Agentic State; the individual yields to authority and in doing so, becomes alienated from his own actions. The Agentic state is “store policy”, it’s “I’m just doing my job” or “That’s not my job” or “I don’t make the rules”, “We don’t do that here”, “Just following orders”, “It’s the law”. In the Agentic state the individual will define himself as an instrument carrying out the wishes of others. A soldier, a nurse, an administrator, an actor, a corporate employee or even, yes, academics or artisits. A person has a choice, he or she chooses to become an Agentic, but once you assume the role, it’s almost impossible to go back.”
– Stanley Milgram
The reason you feel that feeling in the pit of your stomach, that aversion to authority and that depressing boredom with the limited scope of work your job offers is because you are breaking out from the Agentic State. Please, do not for a second think that you are solely responsible for your breakaway from The Agentic State. It took decades with people like Milgram studying what they did and several counter-cultures spurning since the end of the World War 2, for human civilization to reach a point where it became possible for us to breakaway from The Agentic State.
It was crucial, that the internet of today existed for the completely free flow of knowledge for us to be able to breakaway. Access to the works of every intellectual, counter cultural-ist, Marxist, democrat, communist, liberal, dictator, revolutionary, fascist, capitalist and socialist for us to reach a point where a breakaway from the Agentic state became possible.
We grew up in a world where it’s taken for granted that we are each unique and meant for great individualist achievements that would change the world. Most of us, who are breaking away from The Agentic State believe ourselves to be the next game changer. We don’t even know how we shall do it, but we believe we will.
We live in the perfect moment for it to be possible. We live in a convergence economy where a Polymath is rewarded and specialists discarded. The most exciting things happening in technology are happening where fields converge. The barriers between medical, nanotech, synthetic biology, automotive, agriculture, food and other start-ups are quickly deteriorating. Startups used to clearly fall into one vertical, but increasingly that is not the case. Almost every famous entrepreneur today is a polymath. Today a common Polymath in the working world would be social-media expert, public speaker, writer and data analyst.
We live in a time where the Pareto Principle is an economic possibility and reality. The Pareto Principle, or as it is more commonly known, the 80/20 rule states that in a situation where polymaths are present 80 percent of the outputs are the result of 20 percent of the inputs. Which means that if you learnt a variety of skills at basic levels, you could do a lot more work then someone who spent the same amount of time only specializing one particular skill. You would eventually become a specialist Polymath in the skill set you possess.
Sounds familiar? Aren’t you yearning to do so much more than just the scope of work detailed in your employment contract?
If you are a polymath, the only way you will truly find peace in your work life is if you are allowed to work cross disciplinary. The only way you can do that, is if you find other polymaths to work with. You will still heed an organizational authority, but an authority that does not want you to do the same thing every day for the entire year. An authority that understands your Polymath-ic tendencies for they too are one.
So if you are one of the few that seem to be breaking out of The Agentic State, quit that job with it’s limited scope of work and go find a group of Polymaths to work with. For you owe it, you owe it to Stanley Milgram, every one of those hippies, punks, metal heads and plethora of counter-culture movements that came before you and failed. For they failed, because they did not have the privilege to exists in the time you live in and they failed so you would one day succeed. Do it, for if you do then tomorrow they shall be more Polymaths that shall be able to break away from The Agentic State. Do it for them.