I recently finished the book, Hard Choices by Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton). I have long respected Mrs. Clinton’s drive and wanted to learn more about her. As well, I found the title intriguing as we all face hard choices, and I wanted to see if I could learn from a woman who has not only faced difficult personal, life choices but was faced with daily choices as Secretary of State that would have enormous implications for the United States and the world. I’ll be honest, I struggle with the BIG life choices and as many close to me might say, I also struggle with the tiny details that life also offers!
I must admit there were sections of the book that were difficult to get through as they were very in-depth about current political alliances and decisions being made with various alliances. However, her ability to weave in the current political climate with the past helps make these topics easier to understand.
I suspect that most readers wanted to know more details of what happened at Benghazi, but after the investigation into the deaths of the American servicemen, I knew that further details would not be forthcoming, nor would it change the tragedy that occurred.
Of particular interest to me were the last few chapters on her efforts to support girls in their right to an education, in her support of the LGBQT community and her environmental endeavours.
Did I learn how to become a better decision maker when it comes to making the BIGGER life choices out there? Perhaps not, but the one take-away from the book that I found relevant to me, was the theme of relationships that was sewn throughout the chapters. Regardless of who Mrs. Clinton was dealing with and regardless of the topic being discussed she was always very careful to respect and develop the relationship of the individuals she was interacting with. She lead by example, and flew over 956, 000 miles to the farthest corners of the earth to develop relationships across the globe on behalf of the United States. It was this concerted effort to make the face-to-face contact and to lead by example, that I admired most. She was able to develop relationships with unlikely individuals that would later allow her to move issues forward or to enhance the lives of others. Although many who are jaded would believe that this relationship building was merely to advance the interests of the United States, I do believe that she genuinely attempts to develop relationships and believes in the people that she invests her time with.
This January, Ontario education leaders were asked what their #onewordONT was, and I chose ‘Relationships’ as my word. Without strong, connected relationships we cannot move forward and grow. Over the past four years I have been an e-Learning Contact with an absolutely amazing group of fellow #eLCs from across Ontario. If it were not for their support and wisdom I would not be able to do my job as well as I do. In fact none of us would be where we are today, without the relationships forged throughout our lives. For good and for bad, relationships, help define us and keep us moving forward. As I spend more time working and learning with colleagues, either virtually or face-to-face, and with students from across the province, I truly understand the power of relationships and the importance of taking the time to nurture them. Forging strong relationships takes time and effort. Although we are faced with ever increasing demands on our time, it is vital to continue to foster strong relationships so that we can continue to grow as individuals and as educational leaders. This isn’t my strongest point, but it is something I value and I will try to put as much effort into the relationships I am fortunate to have, as people have done for me.
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
― C.G. Jung