Behind the scenes, invisible to me, some kind of decision-matrix and discernment process is being applied to determine if I am successful on getting into a tour later in the year. The invisibility of the process is such a good reminder of how we are all often subject to processes completely out of our sight and control. We may well turn up offering the best version of ourselves, or perhaps trying on a little of the chameleon so we might blend in better and be chosen, and still not make someone else’s cut. This usually has absolutely nothing to do with us – maybe there are just too many people like me and the one thing that might help me stand out from the crowd is shared by a dozen others? The judgement may not make sense to us, but we are not in the judging role. I have also put myself into a pool for consideration for a co-writing learning project and that team is looking for an international crew to reflect who is on the planet – so I guess I will be in the mix with other Australians, white middle class tertiary educated women, and expect they might only need one of those – so me missing out will be a population variable, and not personal. They don’t know me and are not making a decision based on whether they like me, trust me, care about me.
There are invisible processes like this all around us, and they are contrasted with the transparent ones, like applying for a job where all the features are listed and often the decision-making frameworks are clearly visible which has its own selection process built in. We can sometimes rail against a decision as if we have the right to influence the outcome, I suspect though, even when the process is visible, there are still some invisible ingredients lurking there. I was listening to a friend talk about a process for a role she recently applied for and despite all the experience, relevance and talent lining up she didn’t get an interview. I doubt if this had anything to do with her or her capability, there must have been other factors, invisible to her at play. This is not an uncommon experience and while incredibly annoying at times, it is worth remembering, these judgements often have absolutely nothing to do with us.
Extrapolating this out, becoming visible so the right people see you at the right time is often magical and completely unexpected because their criteria has been invisible to you all along. I was asked to speak at an event last year and it was a complete mystery to me why I had been asked, I felt I didn’t meet any criteria they might apply to such a choice. If it had been an open process of putting in an expression of interest I wouldn’t have considered applying, as to me, the criteria I was holding in my mind wouldn’t have chosen me for such an event. When I got the invitation, I was humbled and grateful and took it as a gift, and wanted to make the most of the opportunity and believe I did. It also gave me latitude to expand into the space I was given to go beyond my own boundaries. The whole experience has been very instructive to keep showing up and being myself, and when the moment comes, to be ready, to say yes to the invitation in the most fulsome way I can. The mystery and generosity of the invitation started in deep invisibility. So many opportunities have a long gestation and their invisibility is part of the perplexing nature of both missing out on opportunities that seem obvious, as well as the ones that come packaged as surprises.
The new overnight sensation is usually someone who has been toiling away artistically for decades. We don’t all have decades to wait for that moment to arrive, and it is can heartbreaking at worst, and annoying at best, but waiting is a feature of invisibility. You can sometimes be invisible in the waiting, blending into the scenery, hiding yourself in plain view or just fading in to the landscape.
It takes effort to be invisible and perhaps even more effort than what it takes to be visible. Finding the moments to make the most of your visibility may go a long way to serve your aspirations and be noticed and invited. You never know who is watching and the invisible job interview (or other opportunity) you might be seeking may well be just around the corner, or have already happened and invisible to you. So whether I get the chance to be selected or not for the tour or the writing gig, I know it may not have much to do with me, and that something else may already have started calling me and will be emerging from the dark.
The invitation to a new day, the world’s best example of a new opportunity, goes something like this:
Put on the mind of morning
To feel the rush of light
Spread slowly inside
The color and stillness
Of a found word.
– John O’Donohue – extract from For Light, in Bless the Space between Us.