I remember sitting with an incredibly talented and innovative colleague for lunch when he shared with me how an initiative he had been looking to launch was “stolen” by someone he trusted… name, concept and all. My friend wasn’t emotionally hi-jacked by the situation, but simply determined to learn from it, and move on with an even BETTER idea and strategic plan. But, it brings up something I see so often –not only in the small business arena, but also in corporate America: This “competitive” spirit and fear of collaboration.
I remember growing up on the “Ballahack Road Farmettes” in rural Virginia with my ONE female friend in the area. She and I didn’t so much “choose” our friendship. We were the only girls for miles and stuck together largely because of that. (An incredible friendship did develop, of course, and I am deeply grateful for her.) Growing up, we didn’t have a lot of “structured time” and had to make up our own “stuff”. We made believe that we were orphaned and had to take care of ourselves in the wilderness. We battled rattlesnakes and won. (My apologies to www.jbsrattles.com. This is before you educated me.) We discovered and searched abandoned houses and saved many deer by successfully thwarting the “baiting” attempts of local hunters. (Much to my Dad’s dismay.)
We created all sorts of games, challenges, modeling videos, stories, and even ran a few VERY successful “private investigator” stings as we got older. **wink** But one of our favorite things was our “P.A.”, or our private apartment. Granted, the “private apartment” was little more than a clearing we made with our machettis in the middle of a bunch of bamboo shoots and overgrown weeds. But, it was ours, it was secret, and we were particularly proud of our creation. Yet, with all of our exploits, creations, songs we wrote, or games we made up, I can’t for the life of me ever remember us ever competing for ownership… figuring out who came up with what. It was assumed that we both contributed to our stuff… It was assumed (although certainly never spoken) that we were better “creators” together than we were apart. And so we were.
Today, I have a friend whom I create professionally with… We share contacts, opportunities, and rewards. There are times when she is in the limelight, and times when it the light is on me. There are times when I encourage her, push her, challenge her, and call her to the carpet, and times when she does the same for me. Sometimes these conversations are friendly, funny and enjoyable. Other times, not so much. Either way, whether anyone knows it at the beginning or not, we are a team… FAR more valuable together than we are apart.
While we all have the opportunity to create, enjoy and build success through these intimate collaborations. FAR too many of us allow FEAR to prohibit these collaborations from growing to their full capacity. People who fear losing opportunity, “credit” or profit through collaboration with others operate in a “Lone Ranger” mentality and will lose out in the end. It is a simple and profound and guaranteed truth. There is NO ROOM for “lone rangers” at the top of any industry, company or community.