the magnificence of cogs

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Here’s a scene from my past life as an actor…

I go to hear a casting director speak. I’ve actually met her before and she cast me in a project, but the audition was so in-and-out that I wouldn’t have recognized her if I saw her on the street. Or probably even in a casting office. She works in tv.

Someone asks, “What wows you in an audition?”

She says,

“I don’t need wow, I just need it to work.”


“I don’t need to see range. I need to see 4 lines as a coked-out drug dealer. I don’t care if you can do Shakespeare, too.”

I look around the room. Most people get it. A few look like she just stepped on the neck of their teacup lhasa apso. They smile to recover quickly.

They desperately want her to know what they can do. That they’re capable. No, better that than. That they’re magnificent. And can do so much more.

What she needs to know is that they can do this one thing, and do it flawlessly.

She needs a high functioning and reliable cog to fit into an established machine.

And now I’ve gone and kicked the¬†lhasa apso. I’ve said “cog.” But I like this word, and I actually take great comfort in it. Because what it implies is that if I am the selected cog, it’s pretty easy for me to know what my job is, know what need I am filling, and then go serve the project in that way.

You don’t always have to be magnificent in order to serve.¬†Sometimes, you just need to do what works.

4 thoughts on “the magnificence of cogs

  1. I think this is a wonderful post! I am writing a post at the moment about how not every once of what we do needs to be filled with passion – just because our overall business moves us in a deep way, doesn’t mean every client or task needs to as well!

    I think as creative entrepreneurs we some times put too much pressure on ourselves! So this is an important massage to share! Well done!

  2. Great post and it really resonates.

    On the other hand, we all want recognition for how magnificent we can be.

    The key is in finding the venue to let that magnificence shine. So many of us are afraid to explore other arenas in which we could shine other than what we do for the bulk of our time.

    An example: years ago I worked with a woman whose passion was baking. She was our office secretary, but every morning she got up at 4 AM to bake a delicious coffee cake or a batch of organic muffins to bring to the office. Everyone was delighted with this and we loved her food, but when she wasn’t able to do it for a few days others in the office got angry that their morning “goodie” wasn’t there for them. In essence her efforts were taken for granted and eventually her magnificence as a baker was lost in the expectations others had in order to fill their bellies every morning.

    From that example I think her magnificence as a baker would have been better highlighted if she had either found another line of work where she could use her talents or if she had opened a side business and kept her baked goods separate (except for special occasions) from her office job.

    So, I guess the key is finding the place where our magnificence can shine without getting lost in something else.

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