Mindless Follower or Critical Thinker?

Thinker or Mindless Follower

If you watched the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympics, you saw the symbolic transition from the agrarian (agricultural) age to the industrial age. A new educational system was created during the industrial age which was designed to prevent critical thinking. Great Britain, the United States and other western governments modeled their educational system after the Prussian system.

London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony video. ‘industrial revolution” Then I will kiss. from Ian Burnett on Vimeo.

The Prussian education system, made enrollment mandatory and was designed to shape children’s minds at a young age. After Prussia (Germany) was defeated by Napoleon in 1806, Prussian officials decided the battle was lost because Prussian soldiers were thinking for themselves instead of following orders. The goal was to create people who would no longer “think for themselves” and mindlessly follow orders without hesitation to become efficient obedient industrial age workers and solders.

The Prussian system instituted compulsory attendance, specific training for teachers, national testing for all students (used to classify children for potential job training), national curriculum set for each grade and mandatory kindergarten. It provided not only the skills needed in an early industrialized world, but also a strict education in ethics, duty, discipline and obedience.

In 1889, the US Commissioner of Education, William Torrey Harris, in a letter to, Collis Huntington, a railroad magnate made the following statement: “Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over education from happening. The average American should be content with their humble role in life, because they’re not tempted to think about any other role.”  I considered myself a critical thinker, but realized my thinking wasn’t critical enough.

Your education trained you to be an employee, not an entrepreneur. Even after graduating with a degree in business administration, I had to admit the limits of my education and retrain myself to think as an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneurs need to have a working knowledge of many areas including: accounting, advertising, banking and finance, contracts and law, insurance, marketing, management, public speaking, sales, social media and be computer literate. When you hire professionals such as accountants and attorneys you’ll benefit from understanding terminology and concepts and reap greater rewards from their services.

Become a Critical Thinker!

Critical thinking involves evaluating information and ideas and deciding what to accept and believe. You implement by reflecting on the validity of what you are told, shown or have read in light of prior knowledge and understanding of the world.

No matter what your situation is currently; employed, under-employed, unemployed or self employed, change is going to occur and you can’t stop it! You can, however, prepare yourself to recognize and prepare for it and hopefully profit from it.

Before 2008, who would have predicted, the adverse effect, bad real estate investments by banks would have on the world economy. Prices of oil and gas affect not only transportation; but the cost of roofing shingles and other petroleum based products.  A lawn service that was extremely profitable for years struggled in 2012 because of nation wide drought conditions. Expect and plan for the worst while hoping and working for the best. For example, a lawn service offered clients a solution to turn brown grass green with a special non toxic grass dye.

Be ready for change

“Within five years, if you’re in the same business you are in now, you’re going to be out of business”                   – Philip Kotler

Just a few years ago, most of us bought film for our cameras, but digital cameras and camera phones have eliminated the demand for film for millions of previous users. Almost overnight, companies such as Kodak and Fuji realized they faced a major problem. Both companies entered the digital camera market. However, Kodak filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Other casualties of technology include video rental stores (replaced by vending machines and on demand Internet delivery), map publishers (replace by GPS and free online map services), pagers, payphones and long distance companies (replaced by cell phones), classified newspaper advertising (replaced by Craigslist and Ebay), phone books, dictionaries and encyclopedias (replaced by Wikipedia and search engines) and the list continues to grow. Smartphones are now replacing other technologies; GPS, digital cameras, video cameras, calculators, voice recorders, music players and other devices have all been replaced.

The point is, who knows what the next casualty will be. How many of your favorite businesses have closed over the years. Businesses often become obsolete, but now it happens more quickly than in the past. It took the car industry decades to fully replace all those horse and buggies. The telegraph died a slow death after the invention of the telephone. What about all those black smiths and Morse code translators? They adapted to new careers and the new technologies like others that held obsolete jobs including: milk men, switchboard operators, ice men, elevator operators, typesetters and others.

In order for your business to remain competitive and viable with staying ability, you need to stay up to date with the latest industry changes and be on the lookout for things outside your industry that could make your service or product obsolete. Decades ago, the U.S. Postal Service, lost the majority of it’s package delivery business to UPS and FedEx. In 2011 the Postal Service had revenues of $65.7 billion, the combined revenue of UPS and FedEx was $88.8 billion. The Internet and email in particular now poses an eminent threat to the second largest civilian employer in the United States. Had the Postal Service reacted quicker, the Internet could have increased it’s business instead of stripping it. Merchants such as Amazon, ToysRus, Office Depot and other shippers of online merchandise would certainly have responded favorably had the Postal Service created viable solutions to their shipping needs sooner. The Postal Service flat rate priority boxes are a step in the right direction.

Some companies, such as General Electric (GE) do an outstanding job of keeping up with the times and technology. GE which started out as a home business, was founded in 1873 by Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb.  GE not only kept up with technology they are among the most innovative companies in the world.  Today, GE still manufactures light bulbs, but also manufactures locomotive and jet engines, appliances, MRIs and other medical devices, owns television stations and other media networks and provides consumer and business financing.

Your new business will only be limited by your imagination and desire for success.

You've always wanted to start a business