Here’s some great news. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is enormously blessed with unique gifts, talents, skills, circumstances, and abilities. It is a profound joy in life to express, exploit, expand upon, and share those gifts. Not only is it a joy, it is also the key to achieving success.
But wait, there is even better news. Everyone, even you and I, are also blessed with flaws, blemishes, shortcomings, weaknesses, inadequacies, and holes in the brain.
How is that good news?
It is good news because it means none of us can “go it alone.” We are forced (blessedly so) to collaborate with others in order to become successful. We must find someone who zigs when we zag, someone who is strong where we are limp, someone whose unique strengths complement and add power to our distinctive strengths.
In my entire business career, the most fun I have ever had was being a part of a team that was creating something great together. And where I suffered most was when the team soured and members turned on each other.
I have learned some important principles that must be adhered to at every step so that the collaboration remains on that most powerful, most enjoyable, most progressive level. (This may not be a complete list. It is just all that I can think of at this moment.)
1. For maximum success, everyone must have the utmost respect, love, tolerance, patience, and trust for everyone else. And everyone must feel those things coming to him or her from everyone else.
2. Whenever “cracks” in the group coherence begin to show, they must be fixed immediately until Principle #1 reigns supreme. The fine feeling level must be protected above all else.
3. Talking behind another’s back is prohibited unless of course one is expressing love, joy, appreciation, admiration, and awe for that person.
4. There is no such thing as a bad idea. Frivolity, coming out of left field, and/or talking off point should never be discouraged or put down in a way that makes the frivolous left-fielder feel bad. The more comfortable everyone is, the greater the creativity that will occur. Each person should feel absolutely comfortable before, during, and after making a boneheaded suggestion. There is a chance that so-called boneheaded suggestion contains the seeds for a huge success.
5. The group should not move forward until everyone is comfortable with the choice. If someone is not, then that person should never be made to feel bad that he is holding things up or being stubborn. Sometimes, a lone holdout can convince an entire group to come to his point of view. Frequently, however, a solution emerges that synthesizes all sides and is infinitely better than any of the original sides.
One of the best experiences I ever had was collaborating
with an artist friend on the illustrations for my book. When I mentioned to
Anyway, I vividly remember our first session together. It started
out very stiff and polite. When
Eventually, someone’s idea would spark the other who would suggest an improvement. That improvement would then inspire the originator to embellish it even more. And back and forth it would go, creativity flowing wildly. Inevitably an idea would escalate until we were both shrieking with laughter. But it never ended there. Hours later, one would call the other for an even better improvement and the laughter would continue. My wife, who had been observing us, remarked that if writing a book was this much fun, that she was going to write one too. A few days later she started her cookbook.
The illustration phase stretched over five months. Each day got more and more creative, outrageous and hilarious. The process gave birth to new characters and funnier situations. There is one particular cartoon that made us laugh uncontrollably off and on for two whole weeks. In fact, we don’t even care if anyone else thinks it is funny. We still chuckle over it.
Once the drawings were complete, we added Evgeny to the mix.
Evgeny is a computer genius who did the book’s layout.
The biggest lesson for me was the incalculable value of collaboration and what it can achieve if the collaborators are at ease and inspiring each other.
Interestingly, I think it is starting to happen to me again on another book with another friend. I’m beside myself with excitement. Nothing can stoke your passion and creativity more than collaborating with another person whose passion and creativity are being stoked by your passion. The whole thing is the opposite of a vicious cycle. It is a delicious cycle.
Collaboration – God’s gift to us flawed folk.