Sunday, November 27, 2011

Courage Up and Make a Difference

In the social media realm, everyone has clout. However, some more than others. In many circumstances, we are influenced by those who have voices that resonate with our own beliefs. My focused PLN consists of about 300 outstanding educators who at some point, has influenced me in some way, although, not in the same way.

About 15% of my PLN influence through trust and commitment.

These influencers are the voices within your PLN that you trust and listen to most. You not only subscribe to their blog, but you crave their next post. Their tweets are of purpose and frequently cause you to think critically. Within only 140 characters, they can compel you to put a new idea into action. They’re usually the same people whose content you’re constantly watching get retweeted and whose blogs get more comments and visits in a day than yours get in a month. It's these people who are always being referenced in other people’s tweets and posts. You can tweet out a question, and it's these influencers who provide a valid response within only minutes. These are the people you intentionally consider before sending out your own tweet or blog post hoping that you’ll be handsomely rewarded when it’s your content they’re blasting out to their thousands of followers.
About 2% of my PLN influence through straightforwardness and courage.

These influencers are extremely rare. They are the people who not only cause you to think daily but many times differently. They courageously and willingly engage in connected, uncomfortable, conversations. These are those people who are not afraid to disagree and share their differing viewpoint. They take the time to politely acknowledge one's perspective and boldly provide a reasonable counterclaim through rational comments, tweets, or direct messages. They say what they mean and mean what they say. They have a way of causing discomfort which inspires others to rethink expectations and perceptions in which many times lead to a change in belief. They focus on influencing the influencers.  In short, they work hard on growing your knowledge.

To strengthen your PLN, work to increase the percentage of trustworthy and courageous influencers. In my experience, I've yet to learn something new when someone agrees with me. However, when someone disagrees, one of us will more than likely learn a new way of thinking. I challenge you to “Courage Up” and look for opportunities for robust debate within your PLN!


  1. Great post. I agree that debate challenges our thinking and perspective helping us to grow. The more diverse our PLN, the broader the discussion. Thanks.

  2. Thanks Maureen. I really try to put people around me that are smarter than I am.... very easy to do. I want people who are experts in areas in which I am not.... as you stated, a diverse PLN. When someone disagrees with me, at first I may get a lump in my throat... or an uneasy feeling.... but then I realize that I am about to learn! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Hey Pal,

    First, thanks for your kind words about my content. I'm jazzed to know that my thoughts are pushing you. That's the beauty of social spaces, after all. We can push each other without ever having met.

    Second, this is a GREAT post.

    I love the notion that people need to systematically ensure that their networks include people that cause intellectual discomfort.

    Sometimes I think that PLNs become digital choir lofts for people, with a whole bunch of "Amens" being shouted around but without a whole lot of critical thinking going on.

    While those "Amens" are important -- we all need to feel affirmed, especially when we're leading in difficult directions -- "Amens" ONLY aren't enough to drive real change.

    Really liked this.

  4. Thank you Bill so much for your comment. Your analogy is fantastic and very true. As you suggest, digital, uncomfortable, conversations are necessary to cause intellectual discomfort which can drive real change. As you know, you are apart of the 2% of my PLN that is straightforward, courageous, and willing to stand up for their beliefs. I'm talking about 6 strong influencers within my PLN.

    Thanks again for commenting. Although, I was hoping to get a y'all in there somewhere. Maybe next time!!! Shawn

  5. Thanks for putting me in the 2%. I like your post. We need to surround ourselves with people with differing and challenging viewpoints so we don't find ourselves always taking the most well-worn path.