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Monday, April 11, 2016

Embracing Different Perspectives

As I read about living systems vs. mechanistic systems tonight, I couldn't help but focus on the fact that we learn so much when we are willing to respectfully listen to those who see things differently than we do. And that good process leads us in this direction.

Mandela's quote has always challenged me in this respect. He said, "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner." In most cases, those who have differing opinions or perspectives from us aren't our enemies, but Mandela's words still hold. When we work together with common mission, we do become partners and we all grow in ways that matter.

The first step in this work is making time to listen, talk, communicate, share, and discuss. Open, transparent, regular communication is a first step to building strong communities.

As we communicate, it's essential to find common ground. What brings us together? What do we share in common? What are our common pursuits, passions, goals, or vision? Explicit share of information and goals supports this conversation.

The best leaders reach out to create strong, vibrant, and open communities--communities that share common vision and goals. These leaders look for ways to connect people in common purpose. They find avenues for communication, debate, and share so that everyone gains from each others' perspective, skill, knowledge, and effort.

As I think about this, I'll think about ways that I can use this approach with my students to build a strong classroom community. I'll find ways to build this connectivity with colleagues as we work together in common purpose to teach children well. I'll heed the wise words of Margaret Wheatley who notes that when we create the work, we are invested in it, and that no one can truly tell another person what to do with regard to change, but instead real change comes from our desire for meaning.

There's more to understand in this regard, but I can sense a forward movement and a greater commitment to the potential embracing different perspectives holds for good, meaningful, positive endeavor. This is a welcome turn in the road.