Last night, I took singing bowls over to Dar’s (a dear colleague of mine) house. I had ordered them for us to use in our trainings, as attention getters. Before we had dinner with our poor husbands (who have to sit through shop-talk, whether they like it or not), Dar and I tried to figure out how to make these bowls sing. We watched a youtube video of the proper posture, the proper hand technique, etc. and we ended up laughing and saying, “Maybe we will just use the mallet as a gong and ring the bowls that way.” I was thinking about this on Dave’s and my drive home last night, and I said, “That is the best scenario for collaboration, isn’t it? Good rapport between partners, an ability to laugh at ourselves and each other without egos getting in the way, learning something (or, in our case, trying our best to learn it) new together, and perhaps coming up with a new way of doing things, together).
Dar and I had experience working together several times and knew our personalities were nicely matched for collaboration. In addition, we have now taken long road trips (5 hours one-way) to go work together in Northeast Arizona. At the return of one such trip, Dave asked me, “Did you guys listen to the radio?” I laughed and said, “In the 10 hours of driving, we never once turned on the radio. We talked the entire time.”
Recently, Dar had a project she wanted to work on together. While she did most of the footwork ahead of time, due to our schedule conflicts, she came over one day last week and we spent about five or six hours putting together a one-day training. Several times throughout the day, we commented on how much we were getting done (yes, patting ourselves on the back) and I attribute that work production to the fact that I didn’t feed her lunch. I only allowed her to eat one banana throughout the day. As we finished our work for the day and actually assigned each other homework, we talked about what made the day so productive. Here are the top three things we decided:
This is precisely what happened with Dar and me. We each had some ideas, but I was the peas to her carrots and she was the bacon to my eggs (just go with it, and don’t ask questions---you know what I mean). When she would say, “We should get them into groups of four, don’t you think?” I would say, “Yes, how about we do it like this..”. When I would say, “I’m not sure what this will look like…”, she would say, “What do you think about…?” The danger is in believing we have all the answers, or perhaps that we have to have all the answers or someone won’t believe we are Captain Wonderful. In fact, people begin to trust us to work in groups with them even more when we show our vulnerability and group-work ability.
I’m grateful for Dar and for all the other dear colleagues with whom I have been given the gift of collaboration.