Building Community Through Better Relationships

The World Does Not Stop Spinning Because You Stopped Running

A hamster running in its wheel is the classic metaphor for futility. The hamster runs faster and the wheel spins faster. Unfortunately, a lot of activity results in very little progress. The hamster has a task to do, but has no clue what is his true purpose. He probably does not even remember how he ended up in the wheel in the first place. The hamster simply runs because it was told to do it and occasionally receives a reward.

Like the hamster, people are often deluded to believing that their activity contributes to progress. The tragedy happens when the person eventually learns “The World Does Not Stop Spinning Because You Stopped Running”. The metaphor can illustrate an individual’s childhood, education, career, or life choices. Some authority gives them a role; maybe even gives them a purpose. But, never effectively explains why. Consequently, the importance that the individual attributes to their activity does not reflect reality. The following three points highlights the negative effect on the general good created by this delusion.

Confusing Activity With Productivity
The hamster has been placed in the wheel and is inclined to run, so it naturally begins to run in the wheel. As the hamster runs faster, the wheel spins faster. The hamster gets the attention of some child who rewards it with food, water, and more opportunities to perform. The hamster is happy to do a good job and in true corporate fashion, has no clue that the unseen parent is ultimately responsible for its subsistence. Literally, the hamster’s physical labor is for entertainment purposes only. To maximize individual contribution, whoever runs and spins the wheel needs to know what benefit they individually want, who they are truly serving, and why they should want to continue serving.

Who Dictates the Highest Priority?
So, while the hamster is busy entertaining, the question remains who dictates the hamster’s highest priority? The hamster runs because he receives a reward. The child is entertained for the moment. The parent receives its return on investment by having the child occupied. We can debate the value of a child demonstrating responsibility for a pet and the value of down time for an over-worked parent. But what tangible value is created by this activity? The hamster wheel aimlessly spins. No one really knows why. Worst of all, there are few real consequences if the hamster stops running, or the wheel stops turning.

No Enduring Value, No Consequences
The hamster is not creating enduring value. Its usefulness exists only as long as it performs better than the next best alternative. For people, it is more important why something is accomplished, as opposed to what is accomplished. Once the why is established, how does one know that it has been done satisfactorily? The hamster continues to work, but its productivity is limited. It doesn’t think, it only obeys. Without understanding why it contributes, the hamster cannot improve or grow in its role. Without growth, then value and consequences are irrelevant.

People, the world does not stop spinning because you stopped running. Your contributions must be valuable in order to have personal and societal progress. Deliberately learn, grow, and produce. Then, contribute to additional individuals and environments. Work beyond what you are told. Identify the reason you do what you do. Know the why, and perform for that reason. Then, identify another reason and fulfill that one, too!

Unlike hamsters, people can exercise choice and identify personal challenges. By conquering those challenges, plus contributing beyond individual wants and immediate surroundings, the world does keep spinning. It’s called progress! The alternative is to mindlessly obey, work hard, have someone feed you, clean you; and when you die, replace you. Then, eventually forget about you.

By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond

Thank you ADW!


October 31, 2014 - Posted by | Better Community, Better Person | , , , , , ,

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