How to Become a Hero c.j. hayden
   How to Become a Hero
   You Are the Champion the World Is Waiting For

   C.J. Hayden, MCC

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Do you need a gatekeeper? 

Recently, I've been tempted by a number of interesting opportunities that I've had to turn down. They were all possibilities that had merit, and some of them were options that I myself had initiated by setting wheels in motion at an earlier time. But it often seems to me that there are too many desserts on the buffet table of life. One or even two can be delicious and satisfying. Putting four or five on my plate at once, however, does not produce a beneficial result.

It's always a challenge when I'm faced with several different new opportunities, all of which are appealing. I want to say yes to them all and figure out later how I will fit them in, even though I know from long experience that this is a recipe for disaster. The trickiest part is when they arrive not in a bunch, so I can choose between them, but one by one, so I don't know what's coming next.

On Monday, I'm asked to deliver a keynote in Orlando. On Tuesday, I receive a request to write an article for a trade journal. Wednesday, I'm invited to serve on an industry committee. Thursday, I'm offered several days of training in Europe. And Friday, an exciting new client urgently wants to work with me. If I were comparing all five of those choices side by side, knowing that I can't pursue them all, the one I might pick first is the exciting client from Friday who needs to get started right away. But if I had already said yes to two or three of the earlier invitations, I might no longer have the time and energy to even return that client's call.

This is where my gatekeeper comes in. Executives, celebrities, and other important folks have people on staff to screen the requests they receive and decide which ones are worth responding to. They give their staff criteria to use in screening calls and mail in order to decide who gets through the gate. Now maybe, like me, you don't have a full-time staff, but you are still an important person. Why not design criteria like these that you can use to screen your own opportunies?

I hit upon this strategy some time ago in a moment of complete overwhelm, and (when I remember to use it) my gatekeeper has served me well ever since. When faced with a tough choice about whether or not to engage in an attractive project, I let my gatekeeper decide. What is this gatekeeper? It's a list of criteria I designed in a visioning session with myself, and I use it to evaluate the project in question to see how well it fits.

To give you an idea of how this works, here are the main criteria on my gatekeeper's list:
o Will this project make the world a better place?
o Does this project honor my personal values?
o If I am being compensated, will I earn at least $X per hour for the entire project, including time required to write a proposal, prepare for the work, and travel there and back?
o If I am not being compensated, is the population being served in alignment with my mission?
o If I am speaking or writing for promotional purposes, is the topic and audience one that serves my current strategic plan?
o If travel is involved, is there at least a one week buffer zone before and after any other travel dates or major deadlines?
o Are there currently ten or fewer projects I am committed to that will require my attention during the same week as this one?

Your gatekeeper's list may be quite different from mine, but if you haven't considered using a system like this before, you may find it both valuable and enlightening. The first time I tried out my fairly simple screening criteria, I was shocked to discover how many projects I was already working on didn't measure up!

A critical moment on the hero's journey is when he or she faces several doors and must choose which one to open. It could come in handy to have a gatekeeper standing by to advise you which door leads to the treasure and which one conceals the dragon.


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