Those in power remain in power by following three steps:
1. Forming exclusionary groups of like-minded people
2. Creating exclusionary rules to keep non-like-minded people out
3. Executing on those rules consistently
This has been the practice in place since the dawn of humanity. It is practiced by corporations, governments, school children and churches.
The groups aren’t always sinister. Think of your family unit. In order for someone to breach the unit, they must vow that they will share the bulk of their resources for the remainder of their lives. They must vow that they will abstain from certain resource-sharing activities with any other persons. They must hold an expensive ceremony where rings are exchanged in front of everyone they know.
The price for entry into any family is extremely high. One could say it is the highest price you will have to pay for just about anything in your entire life.
The price for entry into any respected field can be equally high. One has to complete four to eight years of college, endure grueling residencies, work twelve hours per day.
Simple groups demand simpler codes of conduct be met. In the jungle of the Junior High school, certain groups will demand you own and operate a skateboard, like rare anime or have blonde hair. In other words, you must be like them to be with them.
At many times in your life, you will aspire to enter into a group that wields a power you need access to–in other words, you will aspire to be one of the cool kids. It will help if you understand a few important features of the cool kids’ dynamics:
1. The cool kids operate off of an ephemeral, yet all-important basis of trust. Can they trust you will deliver? Can they trust you won’t sabotage their efforts? Can they trust in your competence? Figure out what kind of trust someone needs to have in you and work on developing that skill and trust.
2. You can buy your way into some groups. Many gym memberships operate on the pay-us-paradigm. Having to shell out money raises your price of entry and keeps the dilettantes and vagrants out (i.e. poetry contests where you have to pay $15 to enter, typically get only a few hundred applicants as opposed to thousands for free contests). Paying for entry is fine but because the rules are only monetary, the opportunity for reward will be in proportion to the price of entry.
3. That said, in the case of institutional groups, serious power and money can get you in the door when others can’t even get into the building.
4. Work long and hard enough and the group will seek you out. This generally happens when someone leaves the group or there is a new market to tap. This is how the passive generally gain access to any opportunity.
5. Circumvent the risk for experiencing rejection by starting your own group. Convince others to join. Systematically raise the bar to entry as your power and contribution grow. Execute on these rules consistently.
If you follow the trajectory of any successful person’s life, they used one of the above five strategies to gain access to a group.
Which one are you using?
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