Saturday, May 28, 2016

Door keepers and cat flaps

Are you miaowing by the door?
One of our cats seems to have forgotten how to use a cat flap. Actually this isn’t quite true. She’s perfectly able to use a cat flap. She just doesn’t want to use our new one. Let me tell you the story to explain how this came about.
"One of our cats seems to have forgotten how to use a cat flap."
Once upon a time we moved house. This house had no catflaps, but it needed a new back door anyway so we made sure a cat flap was installed in the new door. And it was good. And our cats used the catflap to go outside. Actually there was a slight problem in that other neighbourhood cats occasionally also used the cat flap to invade our house - marking their new territory (our kitchen) as they went along. This was not so good, but I digress.

One day we decided to have an extension built, meaning that the back door cat flap would no longer lead outside but instead into a conservatory. The conservatory had a new, special cat flap. A cat flap just like the old cat flap, except it would only unlock for cats whose microchip number was programmed in. This was to stop unwelcome cats coming in. And it was good. And it opened and closed for our cats, and one of our cats took to it fine and was happy going in and out.
"She'd rather meow by the new back door waiting to be let out."
But Flo, our older cat, won't/can't use it. We've pushed her through it from both directions, so she knows she can use it. But no. She'd rather meow by the new back door waiting to be let out. Frankly this is a little tiresome, but it's her loss - she doesn't get to go outside to chase birds or sit in the sun as much as she wants to.

You may be wondering why I'm sharing such a mundane story. You may not even like cats. But the reason is this - we, too, can have a 'doorkeeper' mentality when it comes to our lives, especially when it comes to out gifts, talents and dreams. We can be waiting for someone to 'make' us - to open the door to stardom, fame, a record deal, a publishing deal - whatever it is. A doorkeeper mentality places the responsibility of opening the door to success on someone else.
"We can have a 'doorkeeper' mentality when it comes to our lives."
That's a big door... look for a smaller one
Chris Anderson talks into this in his book The Long Tail. He talks about hits and misses. We all want to be a hit right? But hits are rare, and certainly in the 20th century the music industry (as an example) did largely operate on this doorkeeper approach to success.

Record executives were the gatekeepers, due to the cost and difficulty of recording, publicising and distributing music at the time. The handle was too high for 'normal' people to open the door themselves. Ditto publishing and many other industries.

But times have changed, meaning that this model is less relevant. Thanks to technology and the internet, the tools for producing and distributing your own music, writing, art, brand, message - whatever it is - are within reach. At the click of a button you have access to an audience across the world.

What does this mean for you and me? Well in the first instance, we need to take responsibility. If we want to enter the brave new world, explore new territory in our life, it's no use sitting miaowing at the door waiting for someone else to make it happen. We'll be waiting a long time. Instead, we need to look for the cat flap - a door we can open ourselves to get out and enjoy the fresh air of our dreams. The size of the door isn't important, what's important is the space it enables you to get to.
"Stop miaowing at big doors and look for the little doors instead"
Are there doors you’re waiting by that you can’t open by yourself? There is another way. Pick a smaller opening and use that – perhaps that's about going niche, finding a place in what Chris Anderson calls the Long Tail. Success isn't all about being a hit. So let's take a lesson from our cats. Stop miaowing at big doors and look for the little doors instead - you are more in control of where you go than you may realise!


Thanks for taking the time to read Door Keepers and Cat Flaps. If you've enjoyed it please share it with your friends on social media! Why not subscribe to The Potting Shed Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher for expanded musings and much more (direct RSS feed is here). 

Don't forget my new book Sight Lines: Clearer Vision, Closer Dreams is now available to download from Amazon, along with my previous book Life Space: Give Your Dreams Room To Grow.

I'd love to hear from you, so feel free to comment below or email me at, and please sign up to my mailing list.

Cuddle Fairy


3 Little Buttons said...

How interestingly put and so true. I love the connection you have made. Our cats refused to use their new cat flap, which will only open for them. They don't like the sound it makes. They tend to meaow outside as well. But meaowing when no one is there to listen isn't going to help. Just like breaking through into a new career or getting ahead in something that you love. You have to find a different angle if something isn't working for you. #BloggerClubUk

Luke Strickland said...

I'm glad it's not just us who have cats that don't use the cat flap! Thanks for your thoughts!

Cuddle Fairy said...

I loved the cat flap story! The micro chip to stop other cats coming in & marking your house is very good indeed! Too bad Flo won't use the door, it's funny how animals can be sometimes. I like how you used that story as an analogy for life - very motivating & well written. Thanks so much for linking up with us at #BloggerClubUK

Luke Strickland said...

Pleasure :)