How to Grab a Seat at Your Industry’s Table (Even If You Were Never Invited)
While the guest list is rigged, you still belong
So you want to be in the room where it happens. Maybe that room is your firm’s conference suite, where you envision yourself sitting at the head of the table as the lead on a major project. Or perhaps it’s an Olympic soccer field, a stage at Lincoln Center, or that retreat in the woods that only the top movers and shakers in your organization are invited to. Maybe you want to be part of an industry that hasn’t yet accepted you into its fold: You’re an actor hoping to catch your big break, a writer looking for a book deal, a teacher eager to break into the collegiate ranks.
My theory is that the biggest thing holding most people back isn’t a lack of talent or skills. It’s the fact that you don’t really believe you deserve, or will get, a seat at the table. Let’s fix that, shall we?
Let go of your scarcity mentality
The first thing you’ll need to do is get rid of your scarcity mentality. This amounts to a massive mind shift away from Western culture’s dog-eat-dog doctrine.
In her book The Soul of Money, philanthropist Lynne Twist speaks of scarcity mindsets as a “reverie of lack” in which, regardless of one’s relative wealth or poverty, privilege or lack thereof, there is a global all-pervasive sense that there is not enough to go around. She writes that the mindset “shapes our deepest sense of ourselves, and becomes the lens through which we experience life.” Through this lens, “our expectations, our behavior, and their consequences become a self-fulfilling prophecy of inadequacy, lack, and dissatisfaction.”
But this idea that there isn’t enough simply isn’t true. Twist points out that, for the most part, resources and opportunities are controlled by humans. Some have chosen to horde those things, which is why it appears as though there is not enough.
It is painfully clear that not everyone has the same access to the table. Systemic racism, sexism, and other -isms are real, and, in many cases, they don’t just make getting a seat nearly impossible—they make getting inside the room where the table is nearly impossible as well. The guest list is…