As we embark on the 20th year of the Student Development Administration program there is much to be said about the connections this program has made. Connections to the College of Education, Seattle University, the surrounding Seattle community, our growing alumni network, the profession, and the lives of many students.
This year, the SUSDA Executive Team is working to create opportunities for new connections; all while honoring and strengthening existing ties. This weekend at our All-SUSDA Retreat we have an opportunity for creating more connections.
Ironically, I began to write this blog posting while waiting on my connection in the Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport. I spent last weekend visiting my grandfather in Michigan and celebrating my mother’s birthday. It was an opportunity to deepen connections with my family that I realized I haven’t been doing enough of recently.
Connecting Vs. Communicating
I communicate a lot—on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. I also process around 100-200 emails a day and who knows how many text messages.
While I might be communicating with hundreds of people every day, outside of encounters with my immediate family and HRL team, I am not really connecting or fostering very many real relationships at all. I’m what’s called a mile wide and an inch deep, and that’s not how you strike oil I am told. I’ve been mistaking communication for connection.
Since having this epiphany, I’ve noticed how many other people suffer from this same affliction, mistaking the time they spend transmitting and receiving information with time spent making meaningful connections. Don’t get me wrong—both communication and connection are essential today, but one simply does not equate to the other.
With the pace of higher education and life today, it’s so easy to fall victim to this way of thinking; we must move quickly and convey as much information as quickly as possible to stay competitive, or so we think. With all the opportunities technology provides—enabling us to work from just about anywhere and to expand our reach, quite literally, around the globe—it also has become a crutch in some ways.
I think true connection happens face to face, heart to heart, live and in person. Sharing the same physical space. Sharing an experience together. Even in a student affairs context, I’m sure you’ve experienced the difference between having a meeting in person versus a conference call or the great limitations of communicating over email—not to mention the shallow experience of simply reading a Facebook update or a tweet.
A wise person once said: there are only a dozen or two relationships that will take you to any level of success you desire.
Think about that. Not 10,000, 1,000 or even 100.
But you can’t just communicate with people in those two dozen relationships; you have to connect with them. These connections can only result from your continued efforts to nurture deep and meaningful relationships.
Meantime, think about all the information you transmit and receive every day, all day. Are you just communicating or really connecting?
What do you do to really connect with people? Please share your ideas with the community in the comments below. How do you plan to utilize the All-SUSDA retreat for connections? For those unable to attend, what commitment will you make to find connection?