“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” –Anonymous
I am not a mushy person by nature. Really, I’m not. I know you have read the first quote of this post and might have thought, “Hey, isn’t this blog about leadership and education?” I promise you I haven’t fallen off message—stick with me for a moment.
The more I am in educational leadership, the more I realize the power of positive relationships among colleagues. It is amazing the quality of work that can be accomplished when there is a level of trust between everyone. I wrote in a previous post the value in strong relationships on the productivity of teams. I stand by the fact that there is no substitution for taking the time to break down barriers and establish a level of trust among colleagues.
In planning for professional development for our principals a few weeks ago, my colleague Sean Nash reminded me of this image he had posted on our district’s online professional network over a year ago (feel free to click on the image to see the full size). It is from a blog post by Mike Arauz:
This made me immediately start thinking about my other “friends” and colleagues in the digital world. Since I began my global learning journey via Twitter, I have “met” numerous people. These are folks with some of my same interests who I would not have otherwise had a connection with had we not all been using Twitter to learn. I think some people equate believe Twitter is a social media tool used only to socialize. In actuality, I would counter that for me it is a social LEARNING tool. I have learned an enormous amount of information from folks with whom I interact on Twitter.
Even more, I’ve found friendships with folks online–ones that run exemplify every piece of the above spectrum. I know things about people I’ve never even met and will likely never meet. I know when their kids go to Kindergarten for the first time, when they get frustrated at work, and when they go out for coffee. I know when their family members lose their jobs, when they get a new pet, when their pets die, and the name of the particular philosopher or thinker has influenced them the most. I read their latest blog posts, I converse with them about a picture they post, and I congratulate them on promotions. In a way, these are my co-workers, too, and there is nothing wrong with feeding those relationships either. There are some I haven’t had the guts to speak with yet…but I will. I believe the more I continue to use Twitter and this blog as a social learning tool, the more solid friendships I will form with folks I will likely never meet.
More importantly, though, is the enormous growth I have and will continue to experience, as I get more and more comfortable with sharing and collaborating in a global, digital world. That is something immeasurable, yet so powerful, and this leader wouldn’t trade it for the world.