In Should Gatekeepers Be Bypassed Or Embraced?, Cal Newport challenges the sentiment that gatekeepers, such as book editors, admissions officers, venture capitalists, and prestigious academic journals, are “obstructing your quest to do interesting and valuable things”:
I understand this sentiment: this is a heady time when lots of innovation is happening in lots of fields.
In my career to date in both academia and publishing, I’ve found that traditional gatekeepers play a crucial — and hard to replicate — role that anyone interested in creative work should not be quick to ignore.
Gatekeepers, it turns out, are really good at two things: (1) assessing value in their field; and (2) providing ruthlessly honest feedback on this value (usually in terms of a swift rejection if something falls short).
Students of deliberate practice should immediately recognize the congruence between this function and that of a good coach. I’m arguing, in other words, that gatekeepers can be used to help push your creative skills to new levels.