May 23, 2018 Common Good

Invitations that Cost Something

There are certain properties of invitation that can make it more than simply a request. In addition to stating the reason for the gathering, an invitation at its best must contain a hurdle or demand if accepted. This is not to be inhospitable, but to make even the act of invitation an example of the interdependence we want to experience.

So, the invitation is a request not only to show up but to engage. It declares, “We want you to come, but if you do, something will be required from you.” Too many leadership initiatives or programs are begun with a sales and marketing mindset: How do we seduce people to sign up and feel good about doing things they may not want to do? Real change, however, is a self-inflicted wound. People need to self-enroll in order to experience their freedom and commitment. 

Think about the topic of your invitation:

  • Local schools
  • Gardening and sharing food
  • Knowing neighbors enough to ask for help
  • Knowing coworkers enough so that no one is without a holiday invitation to gather with others
  • Artists and those interested in sidewalk traffic

Next, think of the cost to attending (here are examples from Peter Block):

  1. We come together to create a new possibility through having a conversation we have not had before. We do not come together to negotiate interests, share our stories, or problem-solve the past or future.
  2. No one will be asked in any way to yield on their commitments or interests. We are not coming to decide anything. We begin with the belief that the commitments and interests of each of us have to be honored and taken into account by all.
  3. Each agrees to participate in all three two-hour discussions. There are always emergencies, and always pressing priorities, but the loss of even one person, for just one meeting, immensely reduces our chance of success.*

How will you describe the costs to accepting your invitation? How will you communicate that it is okay to decline the invitation and you’ll make it again later.

An invitation that requires a certain cost- time, commitment to something larger than myself, open mindedness about the outcome.

Whatinvitation could you create to fit the list of invites you’ve been forming?



*Block, Peter. Community: The Structure of Belonging (p. 121). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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