Tuesday, November 12, 2013
When we do our work, we are undoubtedly confronted by gatekeepers who insist that we prove to them that we have done what it takes to be able to do the work that we do. So who the fuck is a gatekeeper? What the fuck difference does a gatekeeper make? And why the FUCK do we listen to them?
To understand the answer to these questions, we must understand motives. Here are 4 examples of some very common gatekeepers. See if you can identify their motives.
1. The Fragile: she is terrified of following her own path. Whenever she makes a comment or develops a notion that someone doesn't agree with, she changes her story in order to be perceived as intelligent (or at least, not foolish). By the time she's done explaining her goal, it sounds like some cliche shit from a made for TV movie. As a result of never having the back bone to achieve her original goal, she aims to instill fear in all those who display the potential to be powerful. She wants to water down the dreams of everyone around her in the same way she has been watered down. She is known to say things like "I wouldn't do that if I were you," "yeah, but all the work would never justify the outcome," and the famed, "sounds nice, but it's not in the budget."
What is The Fragile motive?
2. The Competitor: she prides herself in being at the top of her field. She is frightened by the truth that with the right mentors and cultivation, you will undoubtedly be doper than she is. She will poise herself to appear stronger and more powerful than she is in order to keep you intimidated enough to believe what she says. The Competitor probably went through the "system" to achieve all the honors, signatures, and tags that would keep The Fragile from having anything to say around her. In fact, The Competitor often surrounds herself with The Fragile in order to appear awesome by comparison. If challenged head on, The Competitor will fight or flee. If she fights, she'll sound ridiculous to a smart person. If she discovers her ridiculousness, she'll try to save face by discrediting her opponent. She devalues all things that lie outside of her institution, and is often overheard saying things like "you may be passionate, but from where did you graduate?"
What is The Competitor motive?
3. The Collector: she is much less interested in the actual work and much more interested in how much she can do before she dies. She can tell you all the schools she's been to, the people she's worked with, the degrees she's completed, the number of stamps on her passport and the papers she's published. The Collector is full of great stories and experiences. The Fragile and The Competitor look up to The Collector because she's living the life they always dreamed. She enjoys being perceived as amazing by those who value letters and accolades, but she's really just having aimless fun. If you ask The Collector what her passion is, the honest answer will have nothing to do with work. It may, instead, be something like "I love to travel and meet new people!" She may seem harmless, but her aimlessness and lack of focus can be a threat to someone who is relying on her for the work she claims to do.
What is The Collector motive?
4. The Hater: she hates anything that looks productive. If she didn't think of it first, it's wrong. If somebody listens to what she thinks and champions it, the hater will rethink her position. There is always a reason why "it just won't work" no matter what it is. She fails at what she tries because she gives up, not because she gives it a go and sees it through to the end. At best, she will reluctantly settle in the same camp as The Fragile. At worst, she will stay sick and look way older than she really is. Then she'll die at 55 from some rare illness. Avoid her.
What is The Hater motive?
Now that we know who the gatekeepers are, let's explore who they aren't. See if you can identify their motives.
1. The Champion: though she may be more decorated than The Collector and more influential than The Competitor, her goal is to find and highlight the awesomeness in others. A compliment from her feels genuine, as you know she's coming from a place of expertise. She has no need to pull others down because she is secure in herself. When finding a new student, The Champion won't withhold information in order to maintain an upper hand. In fact, she does just the opposite: she answers every question completely and honestly and encourages others to live their dreams, research their passion, hone their craft, and contact her if they ever need assistance. The Collector and The Competitor are always curious as to why the largest group of people at a networking event are surrounding The Champion, vying for attention. The Champion could care less because her work and the people she serves are way more important to her than who's who at the networking event. In fact, the only reason she's at the networking event is to find people to introduce to The Philanthropist.
What is The Champion motive?
2. The Philanthropist: she is looking for opportunities to connect people with resources. She keeps a bird's eye view of all the goings on in order to identify where links are missing and how she can be of assistance. If asked what she does, she'll respond, "I'm looking to give resources away." A curious thing occurs when The Gatekeepers interact with The Philanthropist: they either run away because they're full of shit, or they try to make others think that they discovered The Philanthropist...you know, doing that typical gatekeeper dance: "If you wanna get to her, you gotta come through me! Mwahahahah!" The Philanthropist will gladly give you her cell number if you ask for it, and only about 3 of every 10 contacts will follow up, so she's not as busy as one may think. The Philanthropist and The Champion are old friends who work together all the time, comfortably relying on each other to identify and provide resources for emerging leaders.
What is The Philanthropist motive?
3. The Renegade: she doesn't give a shit about any institution and looks very strange to The Gatekeepers. She doesn't dress like others. She doesn't talk like others, and she doesn't spend a lot of time with people who are not directly involved in her work. She has strong connections to the people she serves and she's only interested in whether or not an initiative works for those people. Despite her somewhat odd appearance and mannerism, she knows exactly what she's doing and what she came for. The Champion refers to the Renegade saying things like, "Welp, that's our Renegade!" and is always available to lend a helping hand.
What is The Renegade motive?
4. The Entrepreneur: the entrepreneur is the most auspicious of the non-Gatekeepers and was probably an ambitious teenager. She is a job creator, is usually very wealthy, and has absolutely zero time for bullshit. We rarely see the entrepreneur because she's in an office in a far off land scheming to discover a more efficient method for facilitating production and distribution. When she discovers her new methods, she pops her head out of the water. The unveiling is a big fucking deal, costs hella to get in, and The Collector has a ticket. The Entrepreneur is in the paper a lot and she can be followed on twitter.
What is The Entrepreneur motive?
Now that we know what gatekeepers are and what they aren't, we can gain the perspective we need to cultivate the relationships and motives that will help us get where we want to go. Gatekeepers make no difference when our mind, spirit, and resources are pointed in the right direction: the direction of service. So we don't listen to them. We listen to our hearts. We focus on the population we aim to SERVE because that population is going hungry waiting for us to mind our own business. Explore your passion. Then, see if you can identify your motives....
What is Your motive?