Knights around the not-so-round table

So recently I was working in a community where I had an opportunity to work alongside some professionals whose work has really garnered my respect over the years. I mean these guys are the best at what they do, and they really set the bar for the field in a lot of ways.

But over several interactions I started getting the feeling that for one or two of the guys in particular, the input of certain contributors was more valuable than others. Some people were worth hearing out and listening to for them- but others weren't. There were people who were legitimate experts, who had the right to speak, and there were others who were just participants- perhaps just groupies, there to hang out with the band.

This is unfortunate- not just for the community, but for the individuals holding a perspective that some people were worth the time, and others weren't.  While fellow experts were worth hearing out, even if it took a few minutes, other people would get the "TL; DNR" response.

Now, few things aggravate me more than feeling like I'm not taken seriously. From what I know about human nature more generally, few things strike a deeper vein of frustration than feeling dismissed, or that someone sees you as inferior, your opinion unimportant. It stings, and you feel like you have to prove yourself all the more. It doesn't even matter if you are at a lower level of skill than the dismissive party- it's chafing when you're gathered around a table of peers, but you don't feel like you are one.

I've learned over the years to harness the frustration that feeling causes, because I've been dismissed a lot. I have turned it into focus for productivity- because I learned you can't change the opinions of such people through pointing their judgmental attitude and hubris out to them directly.

When you aren't a star player, what are you going to say or offer that will earn the respect of those top-of-the-line in the field? How do you earn the right to speak, the right to be worth their time, when those at the table don't want to offer it to you, because they see you as a novice, a junior player in the way of their ball game? Unfortunately, even though respect should not have to be earned, and listening should be a skill we all practice, there are those to whom we would have to prove ourselves- so it's not wise to bank your identity on their approval.

No my fellow creative friends, when the "pros" show up and say "thanks National Guard, this is an Army job" you just have to take it on the chin, and remember where your worth comes from, as a person and as a professional. 

As a professional, you have to remember that the dismissal of others is not the definition of your talents, your capacity, your intelligence, your contribution, your value. When others brush you off or dismiss your current work, you've got to remember why you're doing what it is that you do- why you're working in the field you're in. If you're in it for the affirmation of other professionals or an audience, then you've lost sight of your love for the work. Take back your focus for the craft, the art, the business, whatever it is that you do, and seek the counsel of those professionals who will hear you out and provide the reflection you need to grow.

Lastly friends, remember how it felt when you were dismissed, and when you come into your own, if you attain the limelight, be kind to those who look up to you.