Accessibility is a gift, not a right

Over the past few weeks, I have had the awesome opportunity to speak with and/or meet some great people. Most of these people have significant influence in their fields and as such access to them or their time is limited.

Last week was the tipping point regarding my thoughts on accessibility and this is why.

One contact reached out to me and advised they needed to speak with me and gave me their availability. I wasn’t available when they said they were and I told them when I could speak the next day. They didn’t call at the time I was available, they then emailed me the day after and told me they would try and call me at time when I was not available. I did think a lot about this and I thought, would they do this to another person or is because they don’t respect my time/access boundaries. Or is it because they presumed accessibility to me was to be expected.

Another new contact who reached out to connect with me here on LinkedIn, wanted to access my time. Over the course of a series of messages, they said they wanted to have a call at some point which on the face of it seemed fine. They made the assumption based on them sharing some similar interests and locational background alone that that would give them a green light to me prioritising them to access to my time over my other existing commitments. Long story short, they wanted to sell me a place on their workshop next year (they did share the month) but no further details. When I pointed out were no details, they advised that’s why they needed to have a call with me and range of other things. I was little taken aback as they reached out to connect with me, but also that there was such hostility from them to the fact that I wouldn’t prioritise having a call with them. Again it made me think, is there a uncommunicated expectation of accessibility just because we’re connected. I don’t think so.

The last situation, which inspired this piece was a family member called me in the morning and I was just getting ready to leave home. I didn’t take the call, as I knew it wouldn’t be quick and what they wanted to speak about. So I sent them a text and told them can we schedule a time to have the call and that I thought that

accessibility is a gift, not a right.

They responded that I was being very formal. I reminded them that the call wasn’t something that couldn’t be scheduled in and it would really help us both to manage our time. They agreed with my point and agreed we would do the call at the time I suggested.

Earlier in the week due to recommendation by a trusted mutual contact, I had a scheduled called with a leader in their field on Friday afternoon. They called me on time and it was a great call. It wasn’t the outcome I hoped for, but I was so honoured that they would take time of their day to speak with me.

Proximity is one thing, but accessibility to anyone is a gift which can be given or taken away and I don’t take it likely.

A couple of weeks ago, after a couple written explanations as why I wanted to speak with someone, they gave the go ahead for me to come and meet with them face to face. The amazing part was they agreed to meet with me at Ferrari. In our meeting this person, called another leader who they thought I should be connected to.

The person on the other end of the phone advised the leader in the room that they could pass on their number to me. I was very grateful to the person I met for the endorsement and their generosity and that they would introduce me to this leader. and that said person would say to release their number to me.

On the complete off-chance I called the person last Friday and they answered the phone and I advised I was calling to make an appointment to speak with them. They said it was ok, we could have a chat then and they would get their PA to contact me to arrange a meeting following our phone call. The call could have gone to voicemail, they could have said they were busy and passed me on to their PA straight away but they gave me their time. I know this person’s status in their field and access to them is very limited.

This past week has enabled me to step up my thinking concerning accessibility to someone’s time and I have solidified my position that accessibility is a gift not a right.

As consultant/speaker my time, attention, skills, specialist knowledge, experience are exchanged for renumeration. Outside of this, I systematise access to my time and attention, because sometimes people who I am connected to or yet to be connected to can assume accessibility is their right and not a gift.

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