What does collaboration mean to you?


Margaret Mead said: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

Collaboration is a word I have been thinking a lot about lately. When I started this blog, I thought a lot about collaborating with other amazing creatives. You will find a big long list of them somewhere on this blog site buried way back in the past. All of them when asked were willing to collaborate until they decided it took too much time, or they could build their own blog and while they never said it, probably thought ‘I don’t need to build traffic for Lisa when I can do it for myself’; even through that was NOT my motivation. My motivation was COLLABORATION; the sharing of ideas, thinking abilities and passions to move shared ideas forward into the world.

According to Websters Dictionary:

Definition of collaborate

col·lab·o·rat·ed, col·lab·o·rat·ing

intransitive verb

1:  to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor

2:  to cooperate with or willingly assist an enemy of one’s country and especially an occupying force

3:  to cooperate with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected

Boy that second definition is sure interesting and a bit of a surprise. Perhaps that’s what they all were doing- they saw me as the ‘enemy’ of the topic; or better an ‘occupying force’ and felt they were better getting closer to me than farther away from me. Now that is not something, until right now, that I have thought about all that clearly but perhaps explains a lot of what’s wrong with collaborations in general.

Many people say collaborating is hard work. Frankly, I am one of them.  Why?  Because most people, while they say they want to collaborate, honestly don’t really want to do it. As a result, it’s not too long before they part ways and peter out and stop giving. I find it fascinating because I think of myself as a total weirdo in this regard. I don’t walk away. I don’t quit. I don’t give up. Others quit. Others walk away from me. Others give up.

It’s a strange place to find yourself to be when you are unrelenting in your desire to collaborate and in search of others who care as much about the stuff you do to equally be unrelenting with you.  While I know collaboration does not have to meet this high bar whatsoever, the definition of the word gives us no understanding of ‘for how long do we?’

What I wish most for collaborations is that they reach an understanding. A willingness to reach a mile marker at least and not simply fade away when they were founded in such great enthusiasm and desire to participate around shared interests and goals. While it’s true we all have different interests, talents and life paths to walk, far too many of us are walking down the same roads regardless of if we are willing to fully recognize that we are. We allow petty differences, grievances and slightly different goals or outcomes to drive our shift in behavior to no longer seek to continue to collaborate; but instead to go it alone.

The funny thing is, NOTHING made to last ever gets built alone. And when everyone you know says they are in it for the long haul, then why is it they don’t understand that the long haul requires an unrelenting willingness to collaborate for it?

So my question to you is, What does collaboration mean to you? What and for whom, besides yourself, are you willing to unrelentingly give to support a cause, a vision or a shared mission? If you want to be part of making history, and building a legacy made to stick, this is indeed what you need to do.

 In this TED talk, Clay Shirky looks at “cognitive surplus” — the shared, online work we do with our spare brain cycles. While we’re busy editing Wikipedia, we’re building a better, more cooperative world. Is this the form of collaboration we need to learn how to sustain and commit to?

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To learn more about me go to LisaCanning.com

Do you know a woman who is making change happen in her community? Like my new facebook page, Women Making Change Happen, and tell me who she is.

What does collaboration mean to you?

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