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Cog in the Machine

Our society is very individualistic. It’s always about “me”. I need to be an individual. I need to be special. I need to be at the top of the mountain.


But how is that possible? There are 7 billion people in this world all trying to make it in life. Trying to be somebody. Try to be special and stand out amongst the crowd.


It’s an unsustainable and quite tiresome mindset. It sets you up for failure (and not in a good way). You begin to feel that you are insufficient. And not as good as you thought you would be.


At least that’s how it turned out for me. I realized that I was just a cog in the greater machine called life. I can do my part to help improve the world. To help succeed and beat the competition.


I can try my best to achieve big things and be seen as a success amongst the world. But, it’s easier said than done.


For the people that have this mentality of individuality. Of needing to succeed and to be unique and special, I don’t condemn them or anything like that.


It’s the way our education system was set up. And quite frankly, it’s what makes our country the way it is today.


But, sometimes, it’s okay to acknowledge that you’re just a cog in the machine. Maybe you are destined for great things. Maybe you are not. And that’s okay.


In business, I dreamed of becoming a millionaire some day with my family business. Being that it’s not your typical 9 to 5 job, I felt that working in the family business would be the closest thing to accomplish that goal.


And for me, it is an ambitious goal, one that I have not yet reached thru the business. But, for a while, I’ve decided to change my mentality.


From one of trying to earn as much profit, to one of trying to move the business or the deal forward in the most productive fashion. And sometimes, this involved that we tighten up the belt and cut a little bit of our profit.


For the greater good. To sustain relationships. To tie things up between the supplier and the customer. So that multiple stakeholders can have a slice of this pie that we are all eating from.


And to realize that my business is just a cog in the greater machine. An important cog to move the deals forward. But, just a cog nonetheless.


I can’t run my business without the help of the suppliers. The customers. The forwarders. The customs brokers. There are so many people that I am dependent on to make my business a supposed “success”.


That’s why it’s almost impossible to make it in life on your own. Maybe you will get all the credit. But at the end of the day, that accomplishment wouldn’t be possible without the help of a multitude of factors and other people.


So, it’s inevitable that we are all cogs in the machine. And I say that with a sense of relief (not horror or disappointment).


In fact, it’s quite therapeutic to realize that you are working for something greater than yourself. That you played a role in making a larger business deal happen for the benefit of all stakeholders.


It’s not sexy. It’s not an epiphany or anything. It’s just serving your function to the best of your abilities and having the mind of benefiting the greater good (rather than simply yourself).


We are all cogs in the machine. Not just in business, but in life in general. I would not have gotten my girlfriend if it were not for my ability to speak, to hear, to taste, to touch.


The beauty of the dating app that drew us two together. The coffee shop in K-Town that we went to for our first date for being open. The server for providing me with a nice rose latte to chat with.


The New York dating scene to allow us to come together played a major role in helping us come together. I was just a cog in the machine called dating. But I played my role and she played her role, and we are both where we are right now because of it.


I accomplished an MBA 9 years ago. And even though it was a personal achievement, it still would not have been possible without the administrations of HEC Paris and Tsinghua University.


It would not have been possible without my classmates contributing together to presentations and projects. It would not have been possible without my parents, who provided much needed financial support.


This MBA that I hold now is more than just something accomplished individually. It’s not a unique award that I can hoard all to myself. It’s a product of various stakeholders that helped me reach the peak of earning a Masters. And the stakeholders that participated are endless.


So, we are all cogs in this greater machine called life. Playing our roles. Doing our jobs. Trying our best to get by. Doesn’t matter if we’re a round cog or a square cog (if there is such a thing).


It doesn’t matter if we’re a big cog or a small one. A young one or an old one. We all depend on each other for too many factors to count. The world is interconnected for better or worse.


And as cogs in society, we should play our roles to the best of our abilities and for the sake of the greater good of whatever we are serving.

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