Tuesday, March 31, 2015
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with friends about the difference between what it means to “be invited” and “to invite”. It was a thoughtful discussion that helped me to clarify the two nuanced yet powerful sides of an invitation.
When we are invited – to a conversation or event… even a relationship – the host is affirming our presence as important and our value as an enhancement to the experience. In addition to being a compliment, it’s an assurance that, if and when we show up, we will be welcomed. Professionally and personally, we often seek invitations to validate ourselves in some way.
Yet while invitations are most often positive and affirming, acceptance is not as easy. What if you don’t know the host? What if you don’t know how you got on the guest list? And one thing you can be sure of…most often, when you are invited…the agenda has already been set.
When we invite others to an experience it means that we are not only extending the positive affirmations listed above, but also that we have something to share. It’s a selective and self-centered perspective, in which we, as the host, determine that a specific presence is needed.
It’s also risky. What if no one accepts? What if the only ones who come are the ones who needed no invitation? What does an unaccepted invitation mean or say about you or your intent?
When it comes to serving our community we've got to be willing to do more of both – issuing invitations and accepting those that come. When we do we acknowledge the need to seek and receive a perspective not our own. As we get better at both inviting and accepting, the circles we inhabit become larger and larger. We see more, learn more, grow more and create more.
And go more places. Together.
Lesley Grady has spent 30 years working to develop and strengthen communities. In those years, her personal, professional and civic activities have allowed her to connect with diverse groups and perspectives to better understand how to create positive change and solutions to community needs.