Connection.

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My staff is reading Toy Box Leadership by Ron Hunter Jr. and Michael E. Waddell this semester.  I have been excited to read this book for quite a while and I finally have the opportunity to do so!  After receiving it this afternoon, obviously I went home and did this week’s required reading out of sheer excitement.  I simply couldn’t wait.


The first chapter is all about relationships and the importance of making connections-being a Woo, this chapter spoke to my heart.  One line in particular really stood out to me.

The best connections don’t happen by accident.

I read this line, read it again, and re-read it a third time.  Boom!  *mind explosion*

I couldn’t believe the truth behind this sentence.  I thought about all of my relationships; past, present, and even those in the future.  The best one’s definitely weren’t an accident, but fully intentional.  Every.Last. One.


Take my connection to water,-or nature, rather-and put it into this sentence.  It was no accident that I was born and raised by the Great Lakes.  It was my destiny.  My fate.  My calling.  I was meant to be a lover of the land, a drinker of the sea, and an adventurous and care-free spirit.  It is in my blood, my DNA-actually now that I am writing this I am thinking about the scientific fact that I am something close to 75% water.  I am not a science-ey person, so if I got that fact wrong, I apologize to all of you who understand and comprehend things that are not related to the humanities.  It was no accident that this great connection of mine occurred at such a young age-and has flourished intentionally ever since.

This one may be a bit graphic and I apologize yet again, but going all the way back to my conception…if it weren’t for connection, my first and best relationship wouldn’t be one at all.  My twin brother and I are no accident.  We are so similar and so vastly different all at the same time and we have this unbreakable bond and a relationship and connection that I can’t fathom having with someone else.

My best friend, Monica and I met the very first day of college, over four years ago.  We just happened to be in the same First Year Experience class block-being an undeclared major has it’s perks, ya know?!-and also happened to be the two weird and outgoing kids that actually wanted to be there.  If it weren’t for that very first day of class and the fact that we both had no clue what we wanted to do with our lives, we wouldn’t have the amazing relationship that we do today.

If Alexandra had not been intentional in avoiding me at Resident Adviser selection, and was not nudged by a colleague to come over to the table with the loud kid at it, I would never have been offered an interview for this transformative position that I held for two years of my undergraduate career.  If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be in Student Affairs, grad school, or South Dakota.  I probably would have changed my major a few more times, and would still be lying on my floor crying into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and listening to Ron Pope.  I would have actually attempted the Rickshaw Run and would have made national news for being the dumb American boy killed in India while competing in two week race.  Luckily for me, Alexandra stepped out of her comfort zone and offered that loud kid an interview.  Next thing you know, that loud kid is one of her RAs and both of their lives have changed.  I have an amazing connection with Alexandra, and a relationship that means so so much to me.  It’s no accident that our paths crossed.  Sorry, Al, you’re stuck with me.

Because of the connections that I made through Alexandra, I got more involved in Student Affairs, and finally found a path in which I could see myself taking.  I went out on a limb, applied to grad school, and found myself applying for this random graduate assistant position at the University of South Dakota where I’d be working with Sorority and Fraternity Life-who would have ever guessed?

Well…that connection stuck.  Because here I am.  Making more connections, building relationships, and growing every day.  I am learning to be intentional in the connections that I make here, as well as the ones that I make within the field of higher education.  I am learning that connections lead to opportunities.  And perhaps, the most important thing that I have learned is that it is not an accident that I am here.


I believe everything happens for a reason, and that every moment in every person’s life contains the teaching they need most at that time.

I am learning to be intentional in connection making and in relationship building, but the Woo in me makes it pretty easy to take that first step.

I can’t wait to keep reading this book and drawing connections from it to my daily life.

-Joel

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