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Seat at the Table

In a few weeks, I’m scheduled to take part in a weekend retreat for applicants to a Youth Training program. This morning I daydreamed about a conversation I hope to have while there.

‘Ten months from now, none of you will be in this Youth Training program. You will either have graduated, or have taken another path. At this point, you may believe that one option is better than the other.

As someone who has had a few applications accepted, and many more that have gone unrealised, I want to suggest that being invited in the program is not a key to success, but merely one opportunity in a world of opportunities.

By example, last week I had an interview for a high school teaching contract. There are few jobs available, and I was fortunate to get the interview. In meeting the school principal, I learned details of the job that made me think I would have fun while earning good pay. As an underemployed, innovative educator, this seemed like an exciting opportunity. I later learned the school went with someone else. I was disappointed. I was holding a vision for myself that emerged through the particular portal of this job. And it was not to be. I felt outside the realm of success.

Of course, the vision of myself through the particular framing of this job fails to realise the whole picture of my reality. Taking the job would have cut down my writing time, something I very much enjoy, and added responsibilities that I don’t otherwise carry. The vision I had attached myself to was limited my ability to discover a different approach.

Knowing that we only walk one path in this life, I wonder what hopes you have for yourself? If you could speak to that person ten months from now, in a Back to the Future sort of way, what would you say? Having failed to receive the job offer, I reminded myself that there’s difference between my work and my job, and not to lose sight of doing things I care about just because someone else says they don’t have a seat for me. I remembered that there are other seats to sit in, and in time, this particular one may again become available.

I’ve learned that success and failure is less a matter of having the right doors open, and more about persistence with intention. For certain, this Youth Training program is an opportunity to develop a terrific set of tools, but it is by no means the only portal to that experience. Unless you’re engaged in projects that require those tools, you’re just walking around with a shiny new tool belt, looking for someone else to set you to task.

Because, before you know it, whether you’re in the program or not, ten months will pass, and you’ll be another person navigating their way through the open waters of the world. Where are you trying to go? How many ways can you get there?’

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One Response to Seat at the Table

  1. Denise Pinto says:

    Wonderful post. I’m reminded of a conversation I had the other day with Asad Chishti who said “You may not find a seat at the table, but you can build a different table and invite others to sit with you.”

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