This is one of those posts that has been rattling around in my head for some time. It’s also one that has a tad more spice to it than my previous five.
So here we go…
In the many seats I sit in and hats I wear (some from privilege, some from hand-making) something that comes up almost weekly is this:
Hands-on doers are generally labeled as not strategic enough.
Not ‘strategic enough’ according to whom? The Chosen.
Not ‘strategic enough’ for what? To lead key initiatives.
And to be clear:
These doers do not lack strategic abilities.
Rather, what doers tend to lack is some combination of: (1) time and brain space to step back to strategize, (2) time to further develop, test, and sell the strategy, and / or (3) permission to redefinewhat “being strategic” looks like. And if the doer operates in a capital-intensive industry, they might also lack: (4) ownership of the means of production and (5) capital.
Doers are also typically grinding in a ‘back of house’ capacity and not given the time, invitation, training, platform, air cover, support, and / or permission to come front of house the same way thought leaders are (see also my 2016 piece: Do Leadership is the new Thought Leadership).
Doers might also not have the same bona fidesas The Chosen, therefore, are looked at differently. Doers tend to be the ones who go back to get an advanced degree mid-career just so The Chosen will give them their rightful platform.
A close relative to False Prophets and oftentimes the ones keeping The Score are The Chosen. That’s today’s topic for reflection.
Quick Review: False Prophets
Before we get into The Chosen, as a quick review from last week for anyone new or catching up:
False Prophets can speak damaging words into our lives that, if we believe them, can be detrimental to our too-per-powers.
We must use discernment to listen for the ‘why’ behind the feedback: is it meant to genuinely help or hurt? how do you know? does the feedback guide you into an acceptable box? do you want to be in that box? are you okay if you’re not in the box?
Today’s Focus: The Chosen
A few things I’ve come to observe about The Chosen in my 39.98 years on planet earth:
The Chosen are often born on third base.
The Chosen are Kingmakers.
The Chosen are Insiders.
The Chosen chase exits, status symbols, exponential growth, and 10x’ing things.
The Chosen keep The Score.
The Chosen make The Rules. They are also known to bend and break The Rules, while simultaneously enforcing The Rules.
The Chosen credential. They seek credentials. They question credentials they don’t deem worthy.
The Chosen hold and revoke memberships to Exclusive Clubs.
Sometimes there is a single Chosen One, a character in a narrative work, who is predestined to save the world or do some other grand and heroic accomplishment. (spoiler alert: you are The Chosen One of your own narrative work, Turtle)
The Chosen are as powerful or as meaningless as we let them be.
What should a Turtle know about The Chosen?
First and foremost: As Turtles we must know the Rules. And which ones make sense for us to obey, given the goals we have. We must also know the consequences of not following.
A few more things a Turtle might want to know about The Chosen:
The Chosen are confident about what you, Turtle, should be doing. Sometimes warranted. Sometimes dogmatic. Sometimes a bit of both.
Some Chosens are consciously nefarious. A prime example of this would be: those who built wealth and status through dishonest, exploitative means.
Not all Chosens intend to be nefarious. Some Chosens are not conscious of the fact they cause harm.
Sometimes the call from The Chosen is coming from inside a Turtle’s own head. A pre-programmed voice that plays on repeat, long after it was planted; long after it served you (if it ever did).
A Turtle knows they are capable of something, but The Chosen hasn’t or won’t “knight” them as such. They are a gatekeeper to a Turtle continuing a journey that matters to them.
The Chosen takes credit for discovering something that was clearly invented / discovered by someone with less money, power, pedigree than The Chosen (see also: Columbusing and Culture Vulturing).
Prompts for Thought
What are they choosing?
What are they missing?
If you were Chosen, what would you choose? what would you miss?
Discernments for Thought
Just because The Chosen are in a position of authority or power doesn’t mean they are impervious to fault. And just because they are Chosen, doesn’t mean all they do or say should be discarded, either.
Listen for when The Chosen gets something wrong about you. Chances are, they are missing more than just your gifts. When you can, look out for their blindspots despite their treatment of you. The Chosen needs our help. Give when you can, where you can.
Check in with yourself: have you accepted what The Chosen has said / not said about you? Are you inadvertently The Chosen in someone’s universe? Your words have power. Use them kindly.
If you are Chosen: spend some serious time with the concepts of Columbusing and Culture Vulturing. Know better, do better, be better.
Like False Prophets, there’s always something to learn and discern behind a Chosen’s words. Also like False Prophets: The Chosen are only prophetic or chosen if you let them be.
This week and every week: Go forth and choose what chooses you.
ps: I am experimenting with TRTL every other week after experimenting with weekly editions for the past five weeks. Let me know your preference and I’ll keep making adjustments.
Evidence: ask a doer questions and they’ll absolutely provide fire insights from the front lines. Insights are at the core of any good strategy. Therefore, doers are well on their way to be seen as strategic and either need a bit of guidance, a bit of time, a bit of permission, a bit of a platform, or all of the above.
Strategy isn’t always grand-sweeping business strategy… it can also be how you restructure an approach, optimize or eliminate wasted meetings, etc.
Def’n: documentary evidence showing a person's legitimacy; credentials. Origin: Latin, literally ‘good faith’. (This one kills me on every level, down to the Latin. The ‘good faith’ of bona fides aren’t always such)
Too-per-powers is a portmanteau I made up in last week’s newsletter. It combines “too” and “superpowers”. In linguistics, a portmanteau is a single morph that is analyzed as representing two (or more) underlying morphemes. Infinite gratitude to Erin for teaching me in 2019 that there’s a delicious word for something I love doing.
Disclosure: If you’ve ever been hired by a big company to find new ways to grow like I have, chances are you may have found yourself being asked to Columbus and / or Culture Vulture. Let’s acknowledge: it’s inevitable to be at this precipice when you are looking for new things… studying people who are hacking systems not built with or for them is a great way to learn things you take for granted or don’t experience yourself. Let’s do better: In order to avoid acting as an unconscious Chosen, be conscious of what you are doing. Look to partner and share in the upside, don’t just pay an Amazon gift card and bounce.
I see you are creating a new language (chosen, turtles, false prophets) to diagram power and to enable anyone to rediagram (reorder) power by changing signifiers