PartnerHacker Weekend 10/29: The Ontology Trap

A quick recap of the PhD from this week:

Recently published:


Beware the ontology trap

Partner is not an ontological status.

Bear with me if the word "ontology" almost put you to sleep. ;-) It's a philosophical term about the nature of being. Ontological status is what something is.

The danger with treating partner as something you are is that you can let yourself off the hook in terms of what you do.

A real partner is someone who partners. Someone who actively looks for ways to create value and support the other party. Someone who does this without worrying about every detail of what they'll get in return.

Partnering is something you do and must keep doing, not just something you are.

It's not a title or a status or a check-box. You can be a Partner Manager and not actually partner. You can have a big partnerships department and not actually partner. You can have neither and be excellent at partnering.

If you're not actively partnering, you're not a partner.

Below is a post I wrote recently about the Ontology Trap that gets a little deeper into the danger of letting labels do the lifting – in partnerships, or anything else.

Enjoy your weekend!

-- Isaac

I am a writer.

That’s a dangerous phrase if your goal is to be one.

Being does not demand action. If you are something, you get the credit and the feeling associated with that thing, whether or not it’s warranted.

People treat statements of being as if they are the result of doing. They can be, but ontological labels aren’t the same as proof of progress.

Aspirational language can be useful, but it can lull you to sleep. I am a writer may at first challenge you to level up to the label, but once you’re comfortable using it, it quickly dulls you to the necessary task at hand – writing and publishing what you write.

Ontological status is a shield. Telling people you are a writer gives you a free pass. You and they get to assume you’re spending your time in a writing cave, working through plots or revising. Lack of visible product is excused. Labels that let you get away with no progress are a trap.

When you replace being statements with doing statements, it’s harder to cheat yourself.

You are not a writer. You wrote some stories yesterday.

You are not a writer. You are writing two pages today.

You are not a writer. You have a goal to publish something tomorrow.

If you don’t get to say I am, you are forced to say, I did, am doing, will do. Those demand proof. Those demand accountability.

Those will make you a writer.

Writer isn’t a state of being.

Writer should be a description others give you, earned by what they read that you produced.

Same goes for any other label.

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