From Aliens to Gorillas
In the late 80’s, between fighting aliens and being a working girl, Sigourney Weaver starred in a movie called Gorillas in the Mist. In this “based on a true story” movie, she played that part of Dian Fossey who studied the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. At first she observed them from a distance learning as much as possible through pure observation.
As the movie progresses, she begins to make contact with the gorillas and eventually becomes part of their community. No longer just animals to her, she identifies as one of them to the point that she fights in their defense for a majority of the film.
Stepping in to the online world is quite similar…minus the humidity and village burning (hopefully).
When I first came in contact with the online entrepreneur community over a year and a half ago, I was very similar to Weaver’s character in the beginning of the film. I quietly observed from the sidelines and remained hidden.
I noted behavior. I watched as people interacted and identified who knew who and what the nature of their public relationship appeared to be. (Make no mistake, the online world has groups just like any subculture in the offline world does.) I documented what people wrote about and reoccurring themes across the blogosphere.
In this early stage, I was merely consuming the knowledge gained through observation. I was not, however, one of the gorillas. (Hell, they didn’t even know I existed!)
2. Testing the waters
As time went on, I moved away from a purely observational model. I began testing my theories and attempted to participate in my target niche. Commenting on posts, addressing people on Twitter, sending emails, and “Liking” Facebook fanpages were all things that I used to try and get the gorillas to notice me.
Slowly, people started to notice my presence. A few of the gorillas began to talk to me, but it was obvious that I was not one of them. I had no homebase (i.e. blog) to show people. No Facebook fanpages in my image. I had created no hallowed ebook or manifesto or even one information product.
But then again, I was barely past the observational stage. There was no reason to think I would blend in; I didn’t understand the nature of the community yet.
3. Gorilla-fying myself
Finally the time had come. Time to stop hiding out in the trees. Time to stop observing and hoping to be noticed.
I put on my gorilla costume (Ok, I started my blog…but work with me on this).
Like most people, the early archives reflect a lot of regurgitation of my observed knowledge. Despite the fact that I had years of professional experience and knowledge in Business Intelligence, I was still in a mimic phase online. What I wrote about was recited knowledge as I struggled to better understand the inner workings of the band (what you call a group of gorillas, btw).
As I survey the landscape now, I see that my entry into the band was no different than the majority of other gorillas and gorilla wanna-bes.
4. Becoming an actual Gorilla
At some point over the past half year, I began to write posts that were not straight regurgitation. I’ve been writing more from an experiential position than a recited one. Certainly I don’t claim to know everything but I’ve come to realize something important…
Underneath this gorilla suit I’m starting to actually become a gorilla.
As the transformation has taken place, I realize that not only have I begun to understand those things that were purely observational before but now I am combining observational knowledge with my areas of expertise and creating new ideas that I have not seen before. And being the personality type that I am, I am seeking to share them.
Monday I announced that I will be starting a new blog that is more focused on Business Intelligence for the online entrepreneur and business starter. I decided to do this once I noticed my gorilla-like reflection in my computer screen. While not the alpha male of the niche, I believe that I am becoming a recognized member of the community.
I can’t tell you how happy that makes me!
I see lurkers in the trees
I know there are people in each of the aforementioned stages reading this right now.
- Observation – Perhaps you only show up as a reoccurring IP address hitting my blog. You’re still in that observational stage seeking to figure out what all of us primates are doing over here in the jungle.
- Testing – Or you have decided to start making contact. You’ve started a Twitter account or have taken the plunge to actually comment on some sites. You’re not ready to rush headstrong into a group of savages, but you ARE willing to see if anyone with a kind disposition is willing to notice you.
- Gorilla-fying – Or maybe you’re in the next stage, struggling with putting on your gorilla suit in hopes that you will look like what you have observed. You’re constructing a blog or some other platform for communication and contributing what you can. You have ideas forming about some things you’d like to say and are trying to figure out just how to get them out. But you don’t feel completely transformed just yet. You are still wearing a suit.
- Gorilla – Then there are some other gorillas out there reading this. You don’t have to wear the costume anymore. You’re utilizing experiential knowledge to guide you instead of regurgitated recitations. Sure, you don’t know everything and stand to learn more continually, but you’ve reached a place where you know more than just the “What”, you understand the “Why”.
What stage are you?
The quickest way to shoot through the ranks is to reach out to someone further ahead than you are. Unlike the movie, many of the online gorillas love reaching out and making connections.
This will be one of the primary functions of Heroic Destiny going forward, to connect with people and become a resource for identifying with the larger community.
I want to help you become a gorilla. I understand the frustration of hiding in the trees and hoping that someone notices you. I am intimately familiar with the frustration that caused you to look to the jungle in the first place.
I can’t help you if you stay hidden
If you’ve only remained a reoccurring IP address up to this point, make today the day you move to the next level. If you are testing things out or attempting to put on your gorilla suit, speak up.
The time is now for you to leave the safety of the trees and become one of us. We need you and the art that you will create by becoming a gorilla.
You are the only gorilla like you.
Before you comment, think about what phase you are in. Then tell me what it is and what you need to progress to the next level.
(And no, I’m not going to change the name of the site to Heroic Gorillas…or Heroic Unicorns for that matter.)