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Stop. Collaborate and Listen.

What does "collaboration" mean to you? It's a word that is tossed around a lot, it seems - mostly from the "corporate-speak monster" that dilutes the meaning of anything it gets its chops on. Companies want employees to collaborate, but what they really want is for the bottom line to increase, no matter how. It isn't necessarily about anyone feeling better about their jobs. We can "say" anything. Making it real...actually collaborating....requires openness, intention, & a generosity of spirit. So I think we kind of have to feel better about our jobs...first.


"Collaboration" has a dictionary meaning, and some synonyms that can help, if we look those up. Like any dictionary meaning, it's short and concise: "the action of working with someone to produce or create something." (Oxford languages) This has a computer-generated feel to it. It tells me what I already know in a very uninspired way. So it's not that helpful, after all.


"Collaboration" is actually much more"meaningful" to me. When creatives come to a collaboration with that openness and receptivity, intention and thoughtfulness,...and that generosity of spirit I mentioned..., the creativity and the result can be extraordinary! In the collaboration I envision, there is a feeling of wanting good outcomes for each other, so we don't take things personally. Comparison and competition don't get a seat at the table. The collaboration is infused with giving and loving energy; it's supportive and up-lifting. The give and take, playing off of each others' ideas, and coming up with brand new ideas can be a kind of creative wildfire. It is this energy that defines "collaboration" for me. Some collaborations I've been part of have produced this result, and also some wonderful friendships. Because, it turns out, friendships require and produce the same energy.


But friendships have also faltered as a result of a collaboration gone sideways. When one person comes to the collaboration with that generosity of spirit and another with the mindset of "what's in it for me?" the project is doomed and the friendship suffers at the least, and ends, at worst. The one thing that I have learned from these experiences is that you can't assume anything. Check your assumptions, and if you find yourself assuming the worst about your collaboration partner, you may not be coming to the collaboration with generosity of spirit. You may be operating too much from ego.

A collaboration (and a friendship, for that matter!) is a place where the mantra "I don't shine if you don't shine," (from "Big Friendship" by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman), can keep you grounded in loving and generous intention, and help you avoid competition, comparison, and ego. The whole point of a collaboration is to create something new together, to join forces and combine efforts, to share ideas and expand on them. Good, open, and honest communication is key; as well as a receptivity to points of view that differ from your own. If it starts to seem one-sided, that's a red flag. When you don't feel heard, that's a red flag. If your collaboration partner seems to be assuming the worst about you, and starts to question your character, that's a sign that the collaboration (and the friendship - if there is one), is failing. When your collaboration partner has you questioning yourself and doubting your goodness, it's time for you to move on; stay in grace, but set your boundaries.


Right now, I'm of a mind to go it alone for a while. Maybe these failures are a sign that I DO need to focus on doing my own thing. I need to realize that I have it within me to make things happen, to create projects, and to share my knowledge and experience from my own voice. I'm finding my own vision and power...and this feels good. I believe there is a place out there for everyone to do this, if they wish.


Thank you for reading today! I really appreciate your support, subscribing to my website/newsletter, and your generosity of spirit!


Fodder School 1 is still available for purchase and Fodder School 2 will start in October. You can sign up for either or both here!


XO,

Sarah

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