A school’s purpose.

Schools brag about creating leaders, but they really create workers. Sure some may come out leaders, but it’s hard to pin that effect to any cause stemming from school. R. Buckminster Fuller, perhaps put it best in Chapter 2 of his book Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. In that book, he claims that early civilization leaders started making their people specialize for two reasons:

1. To have a smarter and more knowledgable group of advisors, and

2. So that none of those advisers would have a broad enough perspective to be capable of rising to power, or overthrowing the leader due to their lack of being able to comprehend full strategies that deal with multiple topics like people, economics, supplies, geography, etc.

By being the connector of all those fields, the leader maintained his dominance in the broad picture of things and was the only one capable of running a kingdom.

With Fuller’s thoughts in mind, I make the assertion that schools weren’t created to give a free (or cheap) education. They were created to make labor cheaper. People that could read, write, take instructions, and possibly be knowledgable about some specific topics were useful. This is exactly the reason there is so many stories about people who didn’t do well in school that still went on to have great success. After all, the goal of school wasn’t to test leadership, it was to test “cognitive ability.” Notice the “cog” in cognitive. Failing at school, isn’t the inability to lead necessarily.

Synthesize this with a couple things I’ve heard from a number of people like, “School didn’t teach me about finances,” and, “I never learned about sales in college.” It starts to ring true. School didn’t make a leader, it made a good, possibly specialized worker. Industry leaders want people who spend money, so that’s likely the reason strong finance skills are left out, plus with no savings it’s difficult to become a future competitor to any business.

All this to say, if you want to be a leader, it’s up to you to learn to lead. School didn’t and isn’t going to teach that. But you can educate yourself, read, experiment with techniques, write, give talks, and do work that no one else told you to do. Work that matters.

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