Mark LeBusque

Disciples, Doubters and Detractors

“Life begins when we get tired of our own bullshit. We must all get bloody tired of our own bullshit, in order for our lives to begin.” ― C. JoyBell C.

Let’s face it human beings like to be liked…… we love to be liked. We also like to be right and spend enormous amounts of time in the pursuit of convincing another human being or groups of human beings of how right we are. 

It serves to fulfil that sense of connection and belonging and keeps us feeling safe from the dangers of isolation and even some form of condemnation. It can also result in becoming popular amongst our own tribe or with tribes outside our inner circle. Fuels our egos and may even create labels for us such as “thought leader” or “expert”. Helps in many ways for us to believe our own bullshit.

However, in our quest to minimise the amount of discomfort that being liked provides, we must consider how we miss opportunities to broaden our perspectives and ultimately reduce our capacity to learn and be comfortable that some of what we espouse may in fact be bullshit. 

Let me introduce you the concept of Disciples, Doubters and Detractors and why it is important to embrace all three of these in order to grow as a Human Being. 

Disciples by definition are known to embrace and assist in spreading the teachings of another.

A small dose of the disciples acts to give us the confidence that our messaging is on point, loved by others and feted universally. It can become like a drug of dependence and may show up in the form of a “like” or a “share” coupled with a glowing comment about the virtues of one’s expertise. However, we can be seduced in believing our own bullshit if we spend too much time with our disciples. It narrows one’s capacity for real learning and effectively shuts out the important skill of embracing perspectives that may challenge one’s belief systems. Disciples will blow smoke up the “proverbial passageways” and numb the sense of what is real versus what may be seen through the rose coloured glasses that you attain when you begin bathing comfortably in your own bullshit. 

Doubters by definition are known to be uncertain about something; be undecided in opinion or belief, a feeling of uncertainty about the truth, reality, or nature of something.

The doubters are a combination of the “fence sitters” uncertain and possibly curious souls who are in search of the missing information that may either send them to the camp of disciples or detractors. They may swing in the breeze and are valuable in that their curiosity challenges you to create a clearer message in the fog that has enveloped the doubters landscape. They will be the instigators of the process of looking into the mirror and questioning a belief system that has anchored you to your expertise. It is a slight jolt for the expert in both challenging knowledge in the form of “rightness” and what it might feel like to not be liked all the time. You see the doubters crave more information in order to make sense of the world they live in, or in this case the message you have offered up. A self-proclaimed “thought leader” or “expert” would do well here to invest some time in accepting the doubters need for sense making and reluctance to be seduced by their bullshit. 

Detractors by definition are known to be a person who disparages someone or something or finds fault in everything another party says.

This is where severe “expert discomfort” can raise its ugly head and tensions about “rightness” will cloud the landscape. Perspectives are at odds and tension is high because the belief systems are poles apart. Storm clouds form and the chance of unexpected lightning strikes and rolling thunderclap are high. The detractors will unleash a torrential rainstorm that may unexpectedly drenches the expert. The expert will be looking for a dry alcove, somewhere they can towel themselves off and head back to a sense of comfort. Folded arms, hands clenched tightly and the absence of active listening will all feature when the expert comes face to face with the detractor. There is much to lose for both parties in this situation although it is not apparent to the expert on the form that the loss will take for them. The expert who dismisses the detractors will do so at the expense of broadening their own perspective and reducing their predictability. 

We are all within our own minds “experts” or “thought leaders” in something. Much of this self-appointed title comes from having us believe our own bullshit and making a conscious decision to associate with disciples and disassociate with doubters and detractors. 

Think of how you allocate time today across the three areas. 

Why have you made this choice? 

Is it conscious or unconscious? 

Are you serving yourself or serving others? 

How important is it for you to be right or even better liked?