The Power of Accepting an Invitation

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Every chance meeting is an appointment.

Pablo Neruda

When I was a sophomore in college, I had the opportunity to interview iconic feminist writer Anais Nin.  

She was warm and gracious and afterwards invited me to a party she was hosting at her home in Greenwich Village.  

I was ecstatic as I imagined myself being swept-up in a bohemian circle of literary sophisticates – okay, so even now, I still get caught-up in the memory! 

When I got home, my mother glared and said, “You’re not going. You don’t know what sorts of people will be at that thing.” I was crushed.  

All these years later, I still wonder – what sorts of people were at that party and what would they have done with me?!

Poet and business writer David Whyte maintains –

how we respond to an invitation can mark or maim us for the rest of our days

He believes that as we go about our day, invitations are continually hurled our way.  

The question is – do we recognize when we’re being invited and do we respond with any sort of regularity to these invitations?

Here’s the thing – invitations can come in all sorts of guises.  

For instance, in a NYTimes profile, Academy Award-nominated Michael Fassbender shared that when he was nineteen, he auditioned for the Drama Centre in London. Having already been rejected by two schools, he was nervous as he waited to do his Iago monologue.  

Right before the audition, he went to the men’s room and while standing at the urinal, he noticed “Hi, Cookie!” scrawled on the wall. As it turned out, he recently played the Cook in a production of “Mother Courage” and he used a Scottish accent.  

Hmm. . .Cook / Cookie.  

Opting to take it as a “sign” he did the Iago monologue in a Scottish accent, even though he hadn’t prepared it that way. He wowed them and the rest is history.  

In its roots, “invite” means to attract, entice, challenge or encourage. It would seem that even graffiti in a bathroom can be an invitation! 

Or consider – what’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?  

Every compliment is an invitation to become more of the good thing that people are noticing about you. 

Business guru Peter Bregman had a client who once told him, 

there is grace in being molded by your own gifts

I love that image and maybe that’s the greatest invite of all – the invitation to become more fully you.

Sometimes, invitations can be a pain-in-the-butt precisely because they challenge us to get off our butt and go outside our comfort zone.  

The unknown is scary and so it’s easy to rationalize why we can’t accept an invitation.  

But what would your life be like if you never received an invitation?  Now that would be scary.

So, the next time you receive an invitation, don’t rush to say “NO!”

A generous “YES!” may hold all sorts of good surprises.

now THAT is the business of confidence. . .


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