On Reconsideration: Identity, Place, and Time

Guest authored by Hunter Corn, Director, Wildacres Leadership Initiative

This piece is the fourth in a series of stories connected to the exploration of a regional leadership exchange, with the NC Rural Center, Wildacres Leadership Initiative, Leadership North Carolina, and NC State’s Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI). Here you can find parts one, two, and three.

“Well, it’s like, I think, everything else in life. It’s what kind of person do you want to be known to be?” Former UNC system President Bill Friday spoke these words in one of his final interviews.

Reconsideration can happen at any time you – or we – choose. During the recent pandemic, reconsiderations on the individual and communal levels seem to have surfaced in a more public fashion.  

I have reconsidered what connection might mean as I have come to know more about Brian, Bronwyn, John, and Sarah since we have collectively chosen times and places to be in each others’ presence. These colleagues at other North Carolina-based organizations and I have met approximately once a month for the past several months exploring ways to enhance connections at the regional level in North Carolina. Every time we learn a little more about the individuals and what we each – and all – value, prioritize, or want to accomplish. We also learn about each other’s life and experience. Consensus tasks as mundane as setting a future group meeting often beg the questions:

  • How will we be in relationship with our and each others’ time?  
  • What is our ability and willingness to be in a place?  
  • How will we be with one another when we arrive?

These and similar questions of presence and connection, or relationship, have long been a part of the Wiliam C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations – the flagship program of Wildacres Leadership Initiative where I currently serve on staff. Lead Faculty Meredith Doster has been sharing the current Friday Fellowship curriculum on our website. Diving deeply into reconsiderations of questions beginning with “Who am I?” in Seminar One; “Why am I here?” in Seminar Two; and “What is my gift?” in Seminar Three. WLI transparently offers all to see and join the journey of the current class, both in this moment of expanded virtual learning and in the spirit of trust-based philanthropy. 

As my (tentatively-titled) NC Regional Exchange colleagues and I have met month by month, we find ourselves modeling things we want to carry forward and hitting some stumbling blocks future regional groups would likely meet. This learning is good. There are both things to remember and reconsider.

Clear invitations are one topic that surfaced in our last meeting and prior. Clarity of purpose, offering, or invitation is not a new matter. Many folks have already wrestled with refining invitations during the pandemic as well. Even more so today, this is a central matter for any group of core stakeholders – and other communicators – to fully flesh out and articulate.  

Time together has aided our efforts to circle-back and reconsider how we may not be hearing voices not in the room and to alter plans accordingly.  

Reconsideration might also be called adaptation but the latter label could miss the significance of time. Be sure there is breath. Sometimes a stated motion to reconsider succeeds; sometimes it fails. But if there was no time to hear it, the work of silence will prevail.

To close, I share another quote of Bill Friday’s as he spoke about his interview series which ran for over 40 years on UNC-TV:“Listen. Listen. Be quiet, and listen. They’ll tell you a great story. And I have yet to meet a human being after 2,000 interviews that doesn’t have a story. You’ve got one. I have one. And that’s the humanity with the whole world we’re in.