The launching of any new endeavor can be a thrilling experience. While some people are able to come up with brilliant ideas, for most, determining what’s needed, and when, is a process of consultation. You study both yourself (what am I passionate about?) and the environment (What does the market want? What’s the social need?). You act as if the idea is already a reality and bit by bit, pieces begin to come together. Yes, you may have had the initial idea, but the contributions of others are what give it life and being. You reflect continually on where the project is going. Each new each step is fraught with learning and it’s important to ensure that your actions along the way are in accordance with your guiding principles. And finally, the endeavor gains strength with consultation, in which others give their perspectives. You create a micro-social reality when you ask: “What do you think about this?” and then listen to the answer.
As I write this, I am in the process of launching Collaborator Magazine. The whole periodical is about providing insights and examples of what’s possible when we work together. As the publisher and editor, I myself continually need to connect with others and solicit their perspectives – for content, for layout ideas, for color schemes. It’s important to know where my talents lay, and also where they don’t. I ask for help and work with others, with the result being a new creation. I can’t think of anything in this world that was created by a solitary human being acting alone. Perhaps there was someone who came before who taught a skill, or another who provided a tool. More often though, there will be many providing support in a variety of ways.
The reality is that we collaborate. We’re meant to collaborate. It is by working together that we can solve problems and advance the social weal. When we tap the collective – its talent, its perspectives and insight – we benefit both individually and as a group. Learning to collaborate starts with acceptance that it’s good for us. It often requires that we personally give up something – control, for instance – but what we receive is better than what we might have attained, had we tried to walk alone. The sooner and more diligently we recognize that we are collaborators in every undertaking, and then strive to strengthen our collaborative skills and relationships, the more we will advance.
Collaboration is not an outcome, but a means to an end. It is a force that can be channeled for the accomplishment of great, or humble, undertakings. Chronicling our development as collaborators helps us understand what we’re doing and where we can go. It contributes a unifying voice to the social discourse, at a time when competition, rancor and slander are seemingly all the rage.