“I won’t believe everything they say about home if you won’t believe everything they say about school.”

One of my daughter’s previous teachers said this, and I thought it was quite wise. That was a bargain I was willing to sign on to. Education is a partnership. We’re in this together because of the preciousness of what we hold in our hands together. The girls spend a lot of time at school, and the school nurtures this preciousness alongside Andrea and me as parents. We all want the best for them.

Some people regard partnership with an idea of doing a deal, getting one advantage or another, getting the best financial outcome. I don’t think partnerships in public service are about the “art of the deal” but the “art of the real.” Organizations working together often have limited resources with which to face challenging circumstances, when precious children or vulnerable adults. Any idea of doing a deal seems shallow.

A more useful understanding of partnership is recognizing that no organization can help everybody through its own resources. Too many needs present, and they are too varied for one organization. While we can’t do everything alone, through collaboration we can all bring our strengths to the table to serve the community together. Partnerships work best with trust, transparency, and commitment to work beyond an individual organization’s benefit for the greater good.

When we’re prepared to give something for that greater purpose, we experience the “art of the real” together and discover results that change lives for the better.

Collaboration is the way forward. Human beings are precious, and our responsibility to steward the flourishing of life is precious.

Let’s allow that to drive us, and not the deal.