The gift of a chance

Both my career and personal development (are these actually separate things?) have been immeasurably enriched by opportunities that came as a result of people taking a chance on me.

From the time when I was a clueless intern at an Convergys in 2005, to when I was a miserable consultant at Accenture in 2007, to when I was a wide-eyed student of the publishing industry at The Domino Project in 2011, the only way I got the chance to grow and learn and fail was by someone making a conscious decision to take a chance on me.

Advice for those who need opportunities: make the decision easy for others by mitigating their risk. Do the hard work of taking on challenges and responsibility and risk and certain death while you toil away in obscurity so that when the right opportunity comes knocking, you’ll be poised for primetime. That is, you’ll have failed enough when it didn’t matter to the point where you’re ready to fail (gracefully and catastrophically) on a much larger stage when actual budgets and reputations are on the line.

Advice for those in a position to grant an opportunity: don’t forget when the last paragraph applied to you.

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To Mary, Charelle, Michael, Lynn, William, Fran, Morris, Sabrina, AJ, Tommie, Craig, Alexis, Naajia, Pam, Ishita, Seth, Fred, hundreds of clients, and everyone who advocates on my behalf without my knowledge, thanks for giving me a chance.

I fall short often, but I’m trying (very hard) not to let you down.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.