Take Your Seat at The Table

When King Arthur sat his knights at...

Aug 28th, 2019

Israel Ellis Headshot

Israel Ellis

Take Your Seat at The Table

4 Min Read

When King Arthur sat his knights at the round table he had changed forever the idea of how power and leadership could be shared.  To gain a seat at this table of inclusivity one would have to be considered a person of excellence, someone who actively seeks to achieve personal greatness through ambition.

It’s pretty safe to assume that most of us would prefer to have that seat at the proverbial table in life.  Pulling up that chair and firmly taking your seat at the table where your personal and professional opportunities forge the path towards becoming the greatest version of yourself.

Picture a classic solid chair, the kind that lasts forever.  Crafted by skilled workmanship to withstand time itself. Though simple-looking, there is great effort that goes into the cutting and fitting of all the connecting parts.  One slight inexact measurement, the chair could be tilted forever. It will lack stability and wobble with uncertainty. Focus your thoughts to the legs of that chair. Each leg represents the strongest, sturdiest, and balanced support.

These legs are metaphors for the ideas foundational to getting your best seat at the table.  Each leg works in concert to optimize the best possible outcomes from your behaviors, attitudes, and actions.   Not being optimal, your seat chances to wobble. In Moving Through Walls I introduce four foundational ideas to achieve the greatest version of yourself.   Openness, faith, future, and forgiveness are the legs of the chair that will fuel your ambition for the best seat at the table.

I have been debated on the idea concerning natural ambition.  I have been told that ambition is a natural occurrence that cannot be nurtured. I disagree and find this a somewhat defeatist stance rationalizing a lack of achievement even before getting out of the starting gate.  Heaven forbid we place that kind of pressure on someone.

I believe that each person can find thier ambition.  My grade 5, older than god, homeroom teacher – would point her shaky finger at me, “where there is a will there’s a way young man”.  She was onto something.   If one is hungry enough ambition will follow. It is not that ambition is a natural given state but rather one that is discovered from within through timing and circumstance.  (MTW Page 166)

When I have the occasion to get into the conversation with someone who seems engaged in the desire for self-betterment I ask a single simple question; “What do you want?”  This will cause pause and there is going to be a divide between those who can answer without delay and those who must ponder the answer with some difficulty, sometimes the conversation abruptly ends.

It’s not my place to lead you there.  Clearly being able to articulate what you want is something only you can come to know.  I do not buy into the excuse of lacking ambition.  Let’s call it what it is – it’s not ambition that is lacking but rather, apathy is dealing the winning hand.

“Knowing” is being able to articulate something with complete clarity that leaves you feeling a sense of relief and confidence at having been able to verbalize this about yourself.  It is an intuitive sense of “Yes”, “That’s it!”. It is your aha moment.

There is a process of discovery and a journey to be traveled.  The answer to the question of what you want becomes a real need.   Once that idea comes into your total consciousness and you accept it, and here is the keyword, and you are willing to act on what you have come to know; this is the moment of truth when you have entered onto that freeway open to the possibilities of getting to where you need to be.  It is now that you are ambitious!

                 “Ambition happens when you define your purpose.”

When you can determine what you “want” this becomes a “need” in your life.  And once a need is articulated you are putting your entire self on notice. This is the purpose stage, this is when passion kicks in and fuels your ambition.

Ambition is a state of determination that exists for everyone.  Once you get this and incorporate openness, faith, future, and forgiveness into your life you will always be able to take your best seat at the table.

In Moving Through Walls I have narrowed the answers to four foundational principles. These ideas are tools to achieve the life you want to live. Embrace them and make them your own.

– Israel Ellis


I wrote Moving Through Walls out of a purpose to share what I have learned.

If you have a deep desire to find that road less travelled to your greatest self. Then you have likely come to the right place.

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YOU are the hero that will change the world!

Accelerators are the fuel for greatness. With every personal and professional project that we commit to and bring to the finish line, we increase the confidence we have in ourselves, the faith that others have in us, and our abilities to achieve larger tasks. But to open those doors, it starts with commitment. It starts with taking the shot. Just do it! as the famous ad campaign goes.

Mrs. Ellison, my grade five teacher, who at the time seemed older than God, would single me out because I did not have my lunch or because my work was not completed. She would hear no excuses. It did not matter to her that at ten years old, I had no one to make me lunch or that I would come to school in pretty bad shape. She would look me straight in the eye, a tremor in her voice, point a shaky finger at me, and say, “Young man, where there is a will, there is a way.”

In retrospect, I have to thank her for her unwavering lack of empathy for me, even if the appropriate action might have been to call a children’s aid society. She drummed that phrase into my head and it stuck. When I find myself in front of what appears to be an impenetrable wall, I recount her words, often saying them out loud in a chant-like fashion.

This mantra has kept me pushing and persevering over the years. There is always a way to move through walls. I have moved through many in my journey, and I will move through more. The commitment to moving through walls reminds me that by keeping stock in my faith and asking the universe to deliver, I will find that crack in the dam and a trickle of opportunity will make its way through to lead me to the next great place on my journey.

Challenging ourselves and pushing the boundaries of what we think we’re capable of is a powerful accelerator. Accelerators related to physical endeavors can be particularly powerful. By persevering through physical discomfort, we learn to access new sources of confidence and motivation. Not to mention, it keeps you looking and feeling great, which is an accelerator all on its own!

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Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to tell a story in six words. He came up with the famous six-word story: “For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” Inspired by this story, Larry Smith of SMITH Magazine challenged others to try to write their lives in six words.

I thought this idea was quite the challenge. How could you encapsulate a life in six words? I was struck by both the brilliant simplicity and the enormity of the challenge: sum up the total sense of who I am and what I believe and package it in a six- word micro-memoir.

I was stumped. For several days, I considered what impact these six words would have on how I value myself. Six words does not allow for any excess; it requires the writer to focus in on what is most important. The exercise took on a new challenge for me. I realized it was asking me to distill my life down to my core essential truth.

When I eventually committed my six words to paper, I felt a great wave of relief come over me. I was calmed by its truth: Living my Life on my Terms. In six words, I captured the feeling of the gratefulness I felt and how far I’d come to understand what a gift life is. Every time I see these words they continue to strengthen and inspire me.

Try it yourself. What are your six words?

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A point of caution here: Stories of grievance have a shelf life. There is a point of repetition where you risk becoming a broken record. No one has the patience to listen to the same grievance over and over again. Grievances can also eventually manifest themselves to include things that did not happen. People who have chosen to dedicate their lives to bearing crosses often become so obsessed that they lose the connection to what really happened.

Don’t become trapped in this cycle. You get a limited number of passes before your story of grievance needs to evolve into one of “heroism”—and this is the story you can tell over and over again. No one gets tired of hearing about heroism. It is motivating and positive. A story of overcoming hardship gives strength to others, and every hero deserves to share their story.

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“If you are meant to be on the path that you are on, the universe will find a way, even when you can’t. When you realize this fact, you will have stumbled upon one of the secret ingredients for success; if you focus on “what” you need to happen—you articulate your goal—the universe will supply the “how.” That is the power of faith. ”

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“If you put your best foot forward and do everything within your power, you will come to a place that is your destiny. “Believe” that you are loved. “Believe” that you have value. And “believe” that you are an important part of this vast universe, one that is a far better place because you have chosen to pursue your greatness, and in doing so, have affected the world in ways that you may never become aware of.”

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"People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of."
-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

It’s a beautiful summer morning on the ocean, and the perfect wave is coming in. You’ve spotted the wave, paddled hard to be in the right position to catch it, and now you are on the top—on the crest. You lean in, commit yourself, and tip the board forward. You invite the surging force of the breaking water to take over, and the result is a massive jolt of acceleration. Looking back, it seems as if everything that happened was pre-destined, there is such perfect harmony between yourself, your purpose, and nature. In that moment, riding atop the surge, is acceleration. 

"I have trust in my intuition, powered by the confidence that comes from past achievements. I have done it before; I can do it again.”

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“Foundation 4: Forgiveness

The final foundation is forgiveness. When an injustice has been perpetrated against you, it can be incredibly difficult to heal and move forward. That said, when we hang on to the anger that resides deep within us, it tarnishes the soul and blurs our ability to envision and realize the future we desire. To move forward, we must prevail and overcome. But how? How do you move on?
The chapter on forgiveness was the hardest and most personal for me to write. For a long time I struggled to forgive people who had hurt me, but in my journey I realized that only through forgiveness can we unlock a future in which we become the best versions of ourselves. That future is worth the discomfort of being vulnerable. ”

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“What I call the four foundations—openness, faith, future, and forgiveness—are principles that we can use to change the way we interact with the world. These foundations will be the topics of Part One of this book. Our perception—how we see the world around us—is shaped by our life experiences. In our earliest years, we form many of the biases we carry throughout our lives; these biases often predict how we react to the world around us and prevent us from making the changes necessary to living our greatest lives. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We all have the potential to become mindful of our biases and loosen their grip upon us. With conscious effort, we can achieve a state of being that aligns with who we want to be, not where we came from.People often say that change starts with altering actions and behaviors, but I believe this statement is a case of mistaking means for ends. We start the change process by having a vision of who we want to be or what we want to accomplish. Only then will our actions and behaviors change to accommodate that vision.”

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