Intelligence vs. Obedience

When you’re getting ready to turn in that résumé for the big job you’ve been all excited about, and you start thinking of the applicable traits you carry, what comes to mind? Intelligence? Your ability to get along well with others? Maybe the fact that you can follow instructions very well, or that you’re always on time and never violate the dress code? Are you just really skilled at what you do and you feel like you’d be a valuable asset to the company?

This is what most employers are looking for, isn’t it? Somebody who can fit the criteria they’re calling for and work within the boundaries they’ve setup for their company. An individual who can be counted on to come in when specified and follow their rules and guidelines for what needs to be done. If somebody can’t follow these procedures then what good are they for the company?

It’s very easy to fall into the mindset that these actions lead us down the road to being intelligent beings. Chances are you’ve been there before, and I’m not afraid to admit that I certainly have. The thought that these actions are based around intelligence and our foundations of knowledge rather than our ability to be obedient, and that because of this same intelligence we’ve been able to land such a job.

Jim must be really smart if he’s been able to hold down that job for so long!

Intelligence is a threat. If you can find an individual who can think critically, act on their own accord, and is immune to social conditioning, then you’ve found one of the most dangerous people out there. Someone who can’t be categorized, controlled, or manipulated is someone who your actions hold very little influence over. Somebody who calls their own shots and makes their own decisions, influenced only by themselves and what they choose to allow into their thoughts, is somebody that represents the pinnacle of intelligence. This is something I strive towards each day, and if you’re reading this, something you too probably strive towards.

The Pitfall of Social Conditioning

Instead of worrying about what’s cool or what other people are going to think, to be truly intelligent means thinking on a level that is both critical and true to yourself, not what you think will gather the most attention from your peers or what is most socially acceptable. All too often, people within a workplace consider themselves intelligent because of some specific skill they possess. While this may make them KNOWLEDGEABLE on a certain area or subject, that by no means suggests they possess above average intelligence. Even outside of the workplace, being intelligent means you’re able to look at your surroundings and environment and make a decision based on your own internal judgments and thoughts, not on what others have told you or how you think you’re supposed to act.

Unfortunately, for every individual who acts intelligently, there are probably 10, 20, or 30 individuals who base their actions around obedience, if not more.

Of course, I’m not referring to obedience as in paying your taxes each year or driving without speeding. To be obedient refers to those individuals who have fallen so far into the cracks of social conditioning that they’ve lost all sight of what makes them unique or what creative traits they possess. They’ve gotten so used to others telling them what to do that they completely lack all insight when it comes to making a decision on their own. Whether it’s a spouse, a boss, a political figure, or simply another individual, these types of people require the approval and thoughts of someone else before they can proceed with their actions. Instead of blazing through on their own trail, they instead follow in the path of others, never really breaking out of the social norm.

Please don’t confuse uniqueness with dressing a certain way or dying your hair some crazy color, I’m certainly not advocating that. Rather instead of just going through the day-to-day motions, find something you can genuinely pour yourself into and watch as it evolves.

What am I talking about? For example, when I worked at the worked at the pharmacy, I could easily spend 8-10 hours a day assisting patients with their problems. Maybe for that particular day I’d be working in the production area, counting, labeling, and bagging prescriptions as they got entered into the system. Was I actually accomplishing anything? I mean sure, I was spending a good chunk of my time filling prescriptions, and you could say I was accomplishing my work, therefore allowing me to get paid at the end of the week, but was I actually getting anywhere?

Follow Your Goals, Not the Goals of Others

The problem was, I knew I wasn’t really accomplishing anything. Sure, I was getting paid, I had a steady income, and I was able to help the company by providing prescriptions to the patients as they came into the pharmacy. However, I wasn’t really accomplishing anything that was true to myself, and I certainly couldn’t look back and feel good about the work I was doing. Not that I was doing anything bad, but I couldn’t look back and feel like I had really left a mark on someone, had really changed or inspired the lives of other people, or had even made a subtle difference in the world. I was an obedient worker, doing exactly as the company asked, and getting paid at the end of the week. For a lot of people this is satisfactory, and as long as they have a paycheck, then everything is good. As important as having a steady income is, most of these individuals have not reached a higher consciousness, and thus are unable to think of a higher achievement in life than getting a paycheck at the end of the week. As long as they have a roof over their heads, a steady income, and food on the table, they see no reason to adjust or better their surroundings or environment. Of course, all of these are extremely important, and I’m by no means ungrateful to have them in my life, however realize that in transitioning from the “obedience” stage to the “intelligence” stage, that you can truly do something meaningful and inspiring with your life.

One of the reasons I like writing for this site is the challenge is presents me. I know that majority of the audience reading these articles are of above average intelligence, so when I sit down to write an article such as this one, I have to find ways that not only intellectually stimulate the reader, but also find ways to leave a lasting impression on them. How useful would this site be if you read something and then completely forgot about it an hour later? Nobody else owns this work but me, and so when I express myself I don’t have to follow anyone else’s protocol but my own. I don’t have to worry about what’s acceptable and what’s not, I’m instead able to genuinely pen out my thoughts and ideas and see how others both react and adjust to them.

When I was in the pharmacy this was never an option. I did the same repetitive tasks day in and day out, as my actions were not dictated by my level of intelligence, but rather my level of obedience to my employer. It doesn’t matter how proficient you are with a certain skill or ability, or what new creative spin you can bring to the workplace; if it’s out of touch with what the employer has in mind then it’s never going to have a chance to surface. Now think about that for a moment… If you’re never able to utilize your creative talents in the workplace, how are you supposed to ever fully bring them out? If your job consists of the same dull tasks on a regular basis, before long that’s how your mind is going to operate too. This is one of the biggest reasons people go through a mid-life crisis; the realization that they’ve gone their entire life without ever fully accomplishing anything. They’ve just been going through the motions day in and day out, staying afloat and nothing more.

From Obedience to Intelligence

Because this is so commonplace around us, naturally we assume this type of behavior is normal. That is, getting a job and going through the motions day in and day out so that we can etch out a living for ourselves. Keep in mind that there are no issues with that, and I’m not advocating you don’t get a job in any way shape or form. What I AM advocating is that you switch from the obedience phase to the intelligence phase. Whether these effects become most noticeable in the workplace or in your personal life, doing so is what will really bring out the positive changes within yourself.

An easy way to think of it is like this:

When you’re in the obedient phase, you lack a sense of mission. Of course everybody has hobbies and things they enjoy, but they don’t REALLY know where they want to be or where things are going to take them. Each day runs pretty similar to the one before it, and no real sense of accomplishment is ever presented. Sure, maybe you got the car paid off or finished that home project you had started, but you’re never left with a lasting sense of satisfaction. On the contrary, once you’ve switched gears into the intelligence phase and are actually making decisions based on what you want and what you see as your environment, not what you’ve been conditioned to see, then you can really start planning your life around the things you want to accomplish.

There’s no magical process to transition out of being an obedient individual to an intelligent individual, and sadly most people don’t even realize it’s a phase they’re currently stuck in. They’re not consciously aware that their employer or those around them have no desire or care for their actual talents and abilities, and instead want only to control and manipulate their actions. Look at how much control your current employer has over you now; they tell you how to dress, what days to show up, when you’re allowed to have time off, how much an hour of your time is worth, and then they tell you that if you fail to follow through with their instructions, that they’ll fire you and find someone who is even MORE obedient than you were. You’ll find that as you transition more and more out of the obedient phase and into the intelligence phase that your actions become more and more individualistic and unique. I don’t meant you’ll become selfish, but rather quite the opposite. Instead of blindly going through the routine you’ll begin to question what’s going on around you and start making decisions for yourself. I could think of very few things that irritated me more when working at the pharmacy than having one of my superiors who sat in an office all day long show up and start dictating to me how I was supposed to be acting. What became even more frustrating was that oftentimes I felt like these people knew far less about the actual job than I did, and so the fact that THEY were going to tell ME how to do something made little sense in my mind. This of course creates an internal struggle within yourself, with intelligence on one end and obedience on the other. The obedient side simply follows through with what they have to say, not concerning itself with the content of the instructions, but rather making sure they’re carried out. The intelligence side realizes how irrational this is and begins to question these actions. Of course, employers don’t like this. Intelligence is a threat, and an employee who questions the actions of their superiors signifies somebody who can’t be easily controlled or manipulated. For most people, including myself, this was the first step in transitioning from obedience to intelligence.

Be True to Yourself

The purpose of switching out of obedience and into intelligence is a lot more profound than just involving what you do at the workplace: it governs your entire life. When you’ve finished just going through the motions and instead have found some form of motivational factor for yourself, it gives you a constant goal to strive towards. You stop worrying about what’s cool or trendy, about how you can impress others or about adjusting your behavior so that others will perceive you a certain way. Once you’ve learned to act on your own intelligence instead of on the needs of others, the entire world opens up to you, almost like a blank canvas sitting in front of an artist. You’ve broken the shackles around your mind and now you can truly make the decisions in your life based around what YOU want and think is best. Not only that, but it instills you with a sense of independence and a feeling of being burden-free. You’re not a slave to the thoughts of someone else, nor are you influenced by anyone else’s attempt to control or manipulate you.

If you’re still stuck in a cycle of obedience instead of being true to yourself, then at least now it’s something you’re consciously aware of. That’s the first step to breaking out of those bonds and achieving the successes that YOU desire. As questions, decisions, and actions are brought forth into your life, start focusing on how many of those you actually control. Are you actually calling the shots or is somebody else? Another person only carries as much influence over your life as you allow them to, and if you slowly start to reel that influence away from them, then you’re slowly taking away the power they have over you and putting it back into your life.

Finally, don’t be afraid to step out of the shadow of obedience and into the light of intelligence. It can be a bit strange at times when you realize just how much control you’re able to exert over your own life, but don’t let that stop you from doing so. When given the opportunity to make obedience a thing of the past and allow free thought into your present self, don’t let fear hold you back, whether it’s a fear of where things will take you or a fear of leaving your comfort zone. In the end, you’ll be glad you made the transition.