Are You Stuck in a Cog Job?


It’s Monday morning and the alarm clock rings. Millions of people all over the country are groaning, “Oh man … It’s Monday again. Where did the weekend go?”

They experienced freedom in the past two days and it is back to the hellhole. It’s back to the 1-hour commute … each way. The trading of their life for a barely livable wage. The idiot boss. And the mind-numbing grind.

Most likely, this is your situation. You’re bored, your life sucks, and you’re just spinning in the same place … going nowhere fast.

Welcome to the world of living-dead. You’re stuck in a cog job and you absolutely hate it. With each passing day, you can feel a piece of your soul seeping out of your body.

If you just graduated from school and just got a new job, you may think I’m over-exaggerating. Your life doesn’t seem that terrible. You got some spending money, and now the world is your oyster.

Know what? Maybe you’re right. Maybe your job absolutely rocks, and you’re just that awesome to get it. But you better make sure that you’re grounded in reality. Would you bet your future on it? You really don’t wanna end up like Brian, the 50 year old corporate man, who was unceremonially tossed out after he was no longer useful. I’ll get to Brian’s story in a moment, but first …

This is how you can tell if you’re just another cog in the big business machine. Ask yourself two questions:

1. Can you be replaced by a robot? If yes, you have a cog job.

2. Can you be replaced by cheaper labor? Maybe a new college graduate? Or even someone overseas in India or China? If yes, you have a cog job.

If your job is to assemble sandwiches all day, you have a cog job.

If your job is to push paper from one end of the desk to the other end of the desk, you have a cog job.

If your job is to mindlessly enter data into the computer, you have a cog job.

If your job is to follow a set or rules or protocols, something even a monkey can do, you have a cog job.

Did you just realize that you’re an insignificant little cog? Don’t despair. 90% of the jobs out there are cog jobs. But, I hope you weren’t planning on saying too long and getting to comfortable, because you gotta get out of there fast.

Why You Won’t Have a Future with a Cog Job

You may be comfortable where you’re at now. As long as you don’t rock the boat, and as long as you do as you are told, you’ll have a nice, stable source of income. It seems nice on the surface, but deep down, it really sucks … and you know it. You would rather be doing a million other things. But hey, everyone else is doing it. So what is the harm, right?


As a cog, you’ve pegged yourself as someone who is replaceable. And if you are replaceable, you’re a commodity. The thing about commodities is that they are abundant and they are cheap. Is that what you want to be?

Sure you may have an education. Or even a fancy suit. But there are many people like you. There are a million educated suits in the US. And probably a billion of them in the world. Once supply increases more than demand, guess what happens? Your price (and hence, salary) goes down.

So once you’re washed up, used up, or obsolete, your employer will easily replace you. He won’t shed a tear for you. He won’t care if little Johnny won’t have food to eat or a place to live. He won’t care what happens to you.

Let’s go back to poor ol’ Brian …

Brian is your average, middle-class guy. His background is very normal. He could have been one of your friends. He went to school. Did his homework. Did decently well in class. He was the first person from his blue-collar family to go to college. He did well in college and graduated without a problem. The world was an oyster and the possibilities were endless for him.

After college, he got a job with a big company — a mega retailer. This was the 1980’s, so there was still some company-employee loyalty. He thought he had it made. His parents worked for a steel factory for life. Therefore, he was gonna work in the same company for life. His life was set.

Every day, he went to work. He showed up faithfully and put in his time. He followed his job description to a T. He did not deviate from what he was supposed to do. You can count on him to do his job — no more, no less. He did not take extra responsibilities. He had a groove and he did not want to mess it up. He went home at 5 PM every day. He had weekends off. He got a family, his suburban house with white picket fence, and 2.5 kids.

Life was grand.

But little did he know that his company was struggling. His company’s competitors crept up from behind. Walmart became unstoppable. Amazon grew like unwanted weeds. His employer floundered.

In the beginning 2005, his boss brought in told a fresh college graduate. She was going to be Brian’s assistant. Brian’s job was to show her the ropes. He did the job well. So well that the new hire could do his job.

And after half a year, Mr. Bossman called Brian into the office. “Thank you for your work. The company does not need you anymore. You must leave the building now. You cannot go back to pick up your things. We’ll mail them back to you.” With that, Brian lost his job. He was escorted out by security guards. There was no ceremony. There was no farewell. No goodbyes. He was gone. His 20+ years of faithful service came to a screeching halt.

In just 10 years, the person with Brian’s job will get the same treatment.

Brian was a commodity. With the huge amount of unemployed college graduates, easy access to workers all over the world, and technology advancements, you just cannot afford to be a commodity — or just another cog.

When you’re a commodity:

The price you can command will keep on going down. The only way to differentiate between commodities is price. Most workers are commodities. You can replace one person with another person. That is how McDonald’s operate. And that is why McWorkers make minimum wage. If you leave, someone else can take your place and easily pick up where you left off.

The mass-produced replaceable parts are good for the employer, but it is not good for the employee. The college degree that you paid 6-figures for, just to be another cog? It is good for the employer, but it isn’t so good for you.

You will not command any loyalty. Why should the bossman be loyal to you? You’re expendable, replaceable, and insignificant.

If you break …

If you leave …

If you stop working …

He’ll just find another cog to replace you. Cogs are everywhere.

Wanna see for yourself? Post a job on Craigslist, offering minimum wage. Watch how many resumes come flooding into your inbox.

What Should You Do?

If you’ve seen the light, you would know that a cog job is not sustainable. Therefore, you should get the heck out of cog city as soon as possible. This doesn’t mean you gotta quit your job this very instant, but you have to hatch an escape plan.

Maybe it means you should work for another company. Maybe it means you should create your own business. But no one can tell you exactly what to do. It is scary, precisely because there is no step-by-step plan. There are no how-to manuals.

Therefore, I can only guide you in your transformation from a cog to the driving force behind any business venture.

1. Be bold.

It is not about how smart you are. Or how tall you are. Or how strong you are. It is about how bold you are. Boldness means daring to become different. To do things that few men are willing to do.

I could tell you reasons and stories about the dangers of being replaceable until I am blue in the face. If you’re not bold, you will merely nod your head, walk away, and go back to your cog life. And once your cog job fails you, you’ll be bitter, jobless, and living in your mom’s basement.

If you are willing to become bold, not just once or twice, but for your lifetime … you’ll become the irreplaceable man.

2. Be curious and creative.

Curiosity and creativity goes hand-in-hand. Your curiosity is what will drive you to learn new things. You’ll have a deep thirst as to why successful people are successful. You’ll keep on learning and keep on expanding your mind. And once you’ve learned about and experienced many things, you creative juices will flow. You’ll be able to link one thing to something else. You’ll create something new.

One good example of creativity is Jones Soda, where it fused hip, trendy, and attitude into carbonated drinks. Take a look at its can of Whoopass. Heck, if I saw it, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it. And I’m not the only one who thinks this. After more than 25 years, Jones Soda is still going on strong.

3. Be persistent.

Since you’re basically carving your own path, you’ll fail. Often. Timid men will never fail, because they never try. Wishy-washy men will fail and give up. But persistent men will keep on pushing forward. If they fall down, they get back up. They will endure anything not to go back being a cog.

Every time a persistent man fails, he knows what doesn’t work. He is one step closer to being irreplaceable. So he picks himself up, and tries again. Most likely he will fall flat on his face again. But he is undeterred.

With each cycle of falling and getting up, he becomes less of a puny cog … and more of a driving force. Without him, the business would come crumbling down.

Persisting is hard. But things that are worth doing are never easy.

4. Be freakin’ valuable.

If there is one thing to remember in life, it is to be freakin’ valuable. Be a person that others cannot live without. And if that is the case, you will never be without. You will never be replaced. You will never be a cog.

You cannot be freak ‘ valuable until you are bold enough to do something different, curious enough to learn new things, creative enough to see things that few people see, and persistent enough to keep on pushing.

Remember …

Don’t become a cheap-ass, insignificant, little cog. Become the force that drives the machine. Become irreplaceable and invaluable.

As a great man once said …

If your purpose in life is to have security, you will be a failure. Security is the lowest form of happiness. (Besides, security simply doesn’t exist.) – Gary Halbert

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  1. Great Post Alex!

    if you look around we have thousands of people like Brian floating around the corporate world. People who do their job no more or no less, paper pushers who never really take it upon themselves to learn other skills that could help them move forward in their careers. Politicians who only know how to kiss ass and do nothing. Never understood why people would much rather stay in one position their whole careers and never rise up the chain. I think sitting there collecting a check is a stupid thing to aspire to! For me i tend to get bored if things are stagnant. Which is why i have jumped around from corporation to corporation. If i felt that i was being held back from advancing my skills then i would leave for another position. People would tell me that what i was doing was wrong but i knew enough that “Being Loyal” is not something that works these days.

    I cannot tell you how many times i have been led out by security guards to the lobby! I never took it personal i just kept it moving and felt bad for them not being able to get out. I learned never burn your bridges as you never know who you will bump into on the way back down!

    For me when i graduated college i quickly hustled and got a job in the IT field! Mind you at that time i only knew very little about computers but i was lucky to work with people who taught me along the way which help my skills get better. With each position i had in different companies i moved up the chain. I involved myself in working on Desktops, printers, laptops, copy machines etc. i did not have to get involved but i knew that i needed to broaden my skill set so i got myself involved and learned. I never liked to believe in specializing in one area because i felt i was limiting myself, for me i took and learn different aspects of the field.

    Sure we had our share of Brians in IT as well and yes they quickly jumped on the bandwagon or they got left behind. You see in IT we there is kind of a competition of who knows more about computers in the dept. Its more for fun than anything else but it does help in building my skills.

    We even were able to run split a cable tv connection and run back to your dept where we have a nice 32 inch flat screen TV!! Things like that is what builds skills set while at the same time make it fun!

    Now after working in the field for several years i have become the Go-To guy here at my present position. I at times have the CIO come to me about certain issues that he could not solve for whatever reason. I’m more than happy to work on them as it is only to better myself and my skills. He at times calls me when I’m home if he cannot solve a computer issue.

    My day is full of people coming to my desk with computer issues, people emailing me with computer issues as well as having even more people call me on the phone with computer issues! I guess this can be made to look as if i have POWER and i feel that i do plus i enjoy helping others when need be.

    I could just imagine what i could do if i was on my own! Something to think about as i progress to one day leaving this rat race!

    Again Alex great post!!

    • Fantastic response, Jose.

      I really like the part where everyone is coming to you for help. That is power, because you’re indispensable.

      Keep on hustling, and you’re make it in whatever you set your mind to do.

      I don’t think I’ve ever been fired, but I quit so many times. Actually, I’ve quit every job I’ve ever had. It’s always about improvement every day. And if I’m not getting it from work, it’s time to move on.

      • I hear ya Brother! Why stay if you are not learning anything there! Life is about learning the more you learn the more you are able to figure out how to get around obstacles.

        Keep rising brother!


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