Why We NEED Gatekeepers.
We almost never think, that bureaucracy can in fact be a good thing, right?
We automatically assume it’s something negative, when we hear the word. Something that has to do with “all those damn bureaucrats sitting in their offices, coming up with yet another set of rules, that is for sure gonna make our life even more painful!
“A bureaucracy is an organization made up of many departments and divisions that are administered by lots of people. If you’ve ever had to deal with health insurance or financial aid, you’re familiar with the dark side of bureaucracy.
Bureaucracy has a bad reputation because it has come to mean an organization or government that is chin-deep in red tape and unnecessary procedures. When dealing with a bureaucracy, expect to fill out lots of forms and wait. Bureaucracies are mocked in the hilarious film “Brazil,” where people have mind-numbing jobs they do while sitting at desks. Bureaucracy is an organization administered by people behind desks, or bureaus. Bureaus, get it?”
As you can see definition does not say or imply, that bureaucracy is necessarily something negative, it is an organization made up of many departments and divisions that are administered by lots of people. It’s just most of us only think or remember about it, when we notice the negative side of it. It’s our nature to notice negative side of anything without appreciating the positive side of it.
We remember about the word bureaucracy, when we have to deal with too many formalities trying to get things done, trying to bring our idea out into the world, to take business off the ground, to start a project or start doing work as an independent consultant, for example, or practice medicine outside the hospital legally as an individual practitioner.
It would be so much better, easier and faster, if we could just do stuff right then and there, whatever it is we want to do, right?
No gate-keepers (sometimes bureaucratic institutions are called that also), no forms to fill in, no procedures to follow, jumping right into it, implementing the idea without having to ask any permissions, or complying any set of rules. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Oh! I had that thought so many times. It is extra hard for very creative people to deal with procedures, rules, bureaucratic institutions. It’s a version of hell for us. Our nightmares. Isn’t it?
I got to think about the word bureaucracy and the reality of it, after the meeting with a friend/fellow IIN health coach here in Rio Brazil.
(It is extra funny, that bureaucracy is mocked in the movie called “Brazil”, and I got to think about it actually being in Brazil. Now the movie is definitely on my to-watch list.)
During the meeting we came up with a few ideas, we want to do in Rio, but she told me, that some things are either not possible or very hard to do in Rio, because of bureaucracy. I understood right away what she meant. Russia, where I’m from, is known for its bureaucracy, no less than Brazil apparently.
It got me thinking about bureaucracy in a slightly different way.
Might bureaucracy be actually a good and necessary thing in our lives?
And if we truly need bureaucracy, how can it be changed to serve us instead of being a spoke in the wheel?
Imagine, that everything was really easy to start.
Let’s say to start a business, or start health consulting, or a food delivery service, or a medical practice, or even to publish a book or distribute a piece of music — all of it was easy. If everything just got magically easier and there would be almost no painful work involved in getting it all out there — our “brilliant” ideas, or inventions — wouldn’t we think LESS about the quality of our work and all the consequences and probable results before attempting to get it out there? Make it public? Make it available to people on a larger scale?
Let’s take food delivery business. Healthy food delivery business. I’m more familiar with that.
Let’s say I came up with an idea for some products to deliver. Let’s say healthy chocolate (Why not? I make it all the time), chocolate that also helps you build muscles and recover faster, because of some additional ingredients and lack of crap like processed sugar. Let’s say it’s a great idea, but I am not exactly sure of the quality of some ingredients (Even though I might totally believe in the product), and, let’s say, I decide to go through with the idea — make the product, start shipping it to people, without any research and being sure of how and IF it works for others, just because I was my only test subject.
If there was no one checking the quality of my product (That what bureaucratic institutions are supposed to do), I might end up making other people’s health worse, or causing some negative health conditions, that I didn’t observe in myself. And it might get too late to do anything about it, when I find out. The harm might be irreversible. You just never know.
And I, personally, feel much more secure, knowing that there is a bureaucratic institution, trying to make sure, that what I put in my mouth at least not gonna kill me right away, doesn’t have some poisonous ingredients (Not saying our food-quality-checking institutions do their best job, but they do something right for sure).
Or, when I go to a doctor, even though I might not agree with everything medical industry does, I like the idea that the person working with me had to go through years of education and practice, and he is capable of applying the best knowledge known to him, using practices that were tried on many people before me. Sometimes I don’t want to be a guinea pig of some new experimental treatment. Sometimes I just want a regular blood test or good quality pain killer, that I’m sure not gonna kill ME.
I’m grateful for medical schools and institutions, that make sure doctors don’t harm their patients all the time because of lack of knowledge and experience.
And let’s be honest, sometimes we all have shitty business ideas. That’s why so many businesses fail. We might think the idea is brilliant but it might not be. It might not work as we thought it would. Or no one needs it. Or it can do some damage applied incorrectly. Who knows? It’s life. Shit happens.
And having to go through the pain of registering business, coming up with business plans for investors, having to make a presentation of the idea to someone besides you — it all might be more than beneficial to you AND your idea. You might come up with much better refined version of your idea during the process of talking to people about it, or writing business plans, AND you might understand, that idea is not worth pursuing at all. With all the work involved, you are not even that enthusiastic about the idea, as you thought you were.
Are you ready to eat the “shit sandwich”, as Liz Gilbert call it in “Big Magic”, that comes with your idea? Are you ready to enjoy all the pain of giving birth to your idea? Going through all the bureaucratic formalities?
Are you ready to work for your idea to make your idea work?
Bureaucracy makes you think about that.
I’m getting brilliant ideas in my head every day. Non stop.
But am I ready to do the actual work to bring them to life? All of them? Go through all the bureaucracy?
I’m only ready to do that for something I truly believe in and truly love. Something, that I know is going to work for sure.
Same goes for books, and music, and any kind of art.
Most art is not mature. Is not worth our time. It got to be perfected. It got to get good. Like good wine, we are ready to pay a fortune for.
And it’s good, that only exceptional stuff gets to be all over the place, and get distributed through major channels of publishing houses and recording companies. Otherwise, imagine, how much shit you would have to filter through to get any good stuff you’d really love.
There MUST be critics and censors to separate good work from crap. We all come up with crap sometimes, that we personally think is brilliant.
Of course, I wish sometimes, that censors would have more open mind and would not only care about profits and best-sellers, but would also allow more variety in, and would make it easier for beginners, young authors to get initial recognition, even though they might not have an agent at first.
Or sometimes I wish, it would be easier for young people with true passion for health and helping people get better to become doctors, that it wouldn’t cost so much, as long as one is ready to work hard for their passion, to get really good.
I believe we need bureaucracy. I believe we need gate keepers.
I just think we might need to redesign them, redefine their purpose, make sure that those people are the right kind of people, with the right values and motives.
Bureaucratic institutions can be curators of good content in life.
How to make them be that?
That might be challenging but not impossible.
Are YOU ready to work for that and eat the “shit sandwich” that comes with the job?
On the separate note, we might need to become better bureaucrats, when it comes to our personal lives, not allowing all the crap to pass the censor of our well-being and happiness: people, ideas, food, news, music, words, art