kgitch on authenticity

When I joined this #etmooc, I asked the question “How, in the big picture of 1600 people, does one connect inside this MOOC?” @AlisonSeaman left a comment on my blog encouraging me to remember what it takes to get to know someone in real life and to allow myself the time to become acquainted. She was right. It takes time to develop friendships, connections, and trust.  It certainly wasn’t going to change in one hour session! I should have just posted a sign that says “Like me, I need a network!”

Suddenly I felt vulnerable, which I always think of as a bad thing, when it is not! My thought was that it was going to be a virtual miracle to find another like voice in the mix, to see a smile in the distance or find a person with common ground to relate on. So, I continued to just listen in, read all the thoughts, share the links and pondered my role in this course.

As I shared in my “Also kgitch“, I like to follow (both on blogs & twitter) people that share more than just one thing.  As in everything I do, I want to develop a network of people that I enjoy following for all of their thoughts – not just their stance on education. I like to see people talking, links and posts that are fun, thoughtful or spoken.

Yet this week as I pumped out my links & retweeting all the great #etmooc tweets, I caught myself being nothing but that person. The one that I don’t like to follow.

Chagrined… I realized that I need to be more transparent. I need to be more of an authentic person.

As I’ve been thinking about this, I’ve been challenging myself to let go of my vulnerabilities. You know, the little voice in my head that says I shouldn’t comment on that thought, or the one that worries “if I put a “smiley” face on something I won’t be taken seriously”, or being nervous to join a conversation in case they won’t like my point of view.

In a random twist, as I pondering this, I came across this fabulous video of @jonathanfields interviewing @brenebrown on the Power of Vulnerability. The points that fit here are these: “Get over the illusion of separateness.” and how she said “I trusted my professional self more than my personal self.”  “That there are stories to be told, songs to be played, and if everyone is afraid to share them, then the world mourns that loss.” There it was for me: 1) that I needed to stop thinking of myself as separate from all the other participants; 2) that I needed to trust my personal self as much as my professional self; and 3) that there is a story or thought I have that is worth sharing. (This is an amazing interview – speaks to academics, entrepreneurs and to each person who risks sharing themselves.)

This leads me back to this Connected Learning #etmooc and how to develop a personal network that I can both learn from and be authentic with.

Tonight, as I was typing this post, @AlisonSeaman shared a link to this article: The best approach to building relationships by @johnstepper, which identified five points in building purposeful relationships:

Generosity: thinking first of what you have to offer instead of what you need

Empathy: thinking of how the other person will think and react to what you say or do

Authenticity: being your true self

Intimacy: getting beyond small talk to things that matter

Vulnerability: offering up your own imperfections and need for help

I am reminded to be thoughtful and ask myself what I can share in this network that shows those traits. I want to ensure that I am giving as much as asking. And while I am looking for commonalities, shared likes, thoughts and methods. I am a human, not a robot. There are beautiful songs to share, videos that make you laugh or cry and photos to share. Post stories, thoughts, ideas. Have a bad day every once in a while, for pete’s sake, it happens.

Who I am offline is also an aspect of who I am online. I am Karin with my family; I am Karin with my friends; I am Karin with my coworkers. Who has time or the energy to be completely different in all those different roles?

Be authentic, be real.

And continue to share.

BTW: If you haven’t read anything on it, this is an excellent post by Erin Stark “On digital dualism (or why, in 2013, are people still fear mongering the Internet?) ).