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Invitation to a Party

Many of my colleagues recently attended the Web2.0Expo in San Francisco. From over 2K miles away I followed those twittering the fine details, longing for a way to easily get to the West Coast. This expo captivated my attention because the world live web, by its very nature, invites each of us to learn.

Many of my colleagues recently attended the Web2.0Expo in San Francisco. From over 2K miles away I followed those twittering the fine details, longing for a way to easily get to the West Coast. This expo captivated my attention because the world live web, by its very nature, invites each of us to learn.

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Watching party2.0 unfold from afar reminded me of work on invitation leadership from William Purkey, Betty Siegel and John Novak who identify four ways people attend to life.

No Party People

Some people go through life telling anyone who listens, “There is no party.” At work they say things like, “I know how this will play out. Why bother?” At home they nod in agreement to the awfulizing spewed on around-the-clock newsTV. They brighten a room when they leave it. Their words and actions intentionally disinvite others, implying people are irresponsible and incapable, while demeaning, diminishing, and devalueing the human spirit. In a live web world, they are static pages without even a contact_us link.

Parties Not For Me

A second group of people mope, “There is a party, but I can tell I’m not invited.” While often hard on themselves, they are frequently harder on others: obsessed with policies and unaware of people’s feelings, disorganized, boring, and busy. At work they spend more time on us than them. At home the neighborhood Jones’ are eternally out of reach. In tech-terms, they’re frenetic mailinglists you didn’t sign on to receive.

Not Going to the Party

A third group announces, “There’s a party, I’m invited, and I’m not going.” They think, “I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not interesting enough to go the party.” Although it may seem counterintuitive, I know several charismatic leaders (and parents) who can only unintentionally invite others. Underneath their confident demeanors, they’re uncertain and afraid because when whatever accounts for their success fails them, they don’t know how to proceed. If they were software they’d be promising fantastical upgrade flops.

Party Time

The fourth group of people know, “There’s a party and I’m invited, and I’m going. I may not be good enough but I might, I may not be with-it enough but I might, I may not be smart enough, but I might.” People who intentionally invite themselves and others risk going to life’s party. They are the ones who show up time and again; persistent, imaginative, resourceful, and courageous even when the going get tough. They are firm, flexible, and friendly, deliberately choosing fairness over equality and mindfully working toward the big picture rather than swatting at this moment’s gnats. At home they are raising adults, not children. At work they appreciate relationships and value divergent perspective. Think social networks at their best.

Leading and learning in this evolving world requires us to personally invite ourselves, personality invite others, professionally invite ourselves, and professionally invite others. We do that through optimism, respect, trust, care, and intentionality.

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From this will emerge a fifth group: those who see, “There’s a party I can’t attend physically, yet people will participate with me as if I were these.” Let the cognitive surplus party commence.

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Marcia Conner >> www.marciaconner.com

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About the author

Marcia Conner works with ordinary people doing ingenious work and mediocre organizations realizing their employees can work in inspiring ways. She features stories of both in her upcoming book on ingenuity.

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