Triage

You can’t herd cats.   Cats just aren’t pack animals.  Cats are rugged individualists.

Lots of humans aren’t herd animals either.   The artists, the queers, the stubborn and the diffident just prefer the road less travelled, just hear their own different drummer,  just go their own ornery way.

You can, however, wrangle cats.  You can see from their perspective, address their needs and shape their choices a bit.   Wrangling always means choosing your battles, deciding how much to keep them loose & free and when to intervene a little bit.

I don’t think, though, that cats would ever make good cat wranglers.  Rugged individualists have problems using indirect control to manage other rugged individualists to a common solution.    Instead, there ends up being a clash of egos with cats blaming one another for not doing things the obviously right way, the way that we told them to do it.

Most solitary cats just don’t have the habit of valuing cat wranglers.   They tend to see the world as needing changing, not them.   I suspect that those who complain about the difficulty in wrangling cats are mostly cats themselves.

Never really being one of the gang, I understand the drive of cats.   Out transpeople know that our own stubborn is required; if we could be swayed into being one of the pack we would have been.   Claiming our own rugged individualism was the only choice we had to try and be authentic in the world.

I understand too, though, the power of organization and cooperation.   I am a wrangler, a manager, a mother.  I have been trying to get the creative, the stubborn, the rugged and the brilliant to work together for quite a long time.

One of the first steps in wrangling cats is triage.   You have to be very smart about the fights you take on, first choosing battles that are both winnable and worth winning.  Starting small and gaining credibility, trust and power is one effective strategy, but only one.  Some choose bold and brash leaps designed to draw attention and follower, for example, but in the end, our success is always measured by succeeding.

Effective triage means that sometimes, no matter how desirable or attractive intervention may seem, you have to let them go.  You need to prioritize your efforts, husband your resources and let some things pass.   Loss is sad but inevitable; you can not, can never win them all.

The intersection of creativity and community is always the point of compromise, something that comes very hard to both cats and rugged individualists.  Using context and a clear view of priorities & values, battles must be chosen well, leaving something for partners.   Moving beyond single minded & stubborn to collaborative & considerate gets us to best practices, never perfect, but the best we can manage under the circumstances.

Sharing the work & the responsibility requires being willing to share the control & the credit.    Owners get the work done, so giving others a real share in ownership give them buy-in, a real reason to contribute to shared success.

No one can win them all.  If you really want to win you have to be smart and choose your battles.

If, on the other hand, you just want to complain about the state of the world and all the idiots in it, want to stay a cool cat, then try to do everything and enjoy ranting about the failure.   I’m not going to be able to change your mind about the correctness of your approach, because I know that I can’t herd cats.

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