Fire Up Your Collaborative Spirit In All The Work You Do
WHAT DO WE MEAN TO EACH OTHER?
The art of collaboration has its origins built in to being human, woven with an awareness of how important we are to each other; the natural interdependence that exists between people and all the systems we create and are created by. You stand to gain by exercising your collaborative muscles, strengthening your collaborative spirit, approaching life and work with a knowledge of who you are and an understanding that we all matter to each other in everything we do. Vitalize your ability to join forces, team up, listen and act upon the ideas of others. Share effort. Step back and let someone else lead and then trade places. True collaboration benefits all involved and ripples outward. Identity. Collaboration. Everyone matters.
WE AFFECT EACH OTHER IN SO MANY WAYS WE CAN’T MEASURE
We even affect each other in ways that may forever remain unseen to us. But they still figure in. In the same fashion that others’ actions and words reverberate in us, ours do in others. We may never get to fully know how our actions and words challenge or inspire, influence or agitate someone into exploring something further, testing themselves to try something new or unfamiliar, daring to because of what we or someone else did or said. Maybe from a brief glance or touch that seems insignificant to us. Yet it’s pretty much something we can count on. Our impact is real.
We model for each other, we set examples, we lead and we follow, we teach. We take and we receive influence. Click To Tweet
“I am, because of you.”
That’s is the meaning and the heart of Ubuntu, from the Nguni Bantu languages of Southern Africa. Here’s how Boyd Varty describes it in his TED Talk in 2013, “What I learned from Nelson Mandela”
Apply ubuntu to your daily interactions, your work efforts, your business culture and environment and suddenly the light changes in the room. It becomes brighter. Possibility expands as does mood. We are in this together. Click To Tweet
YOUR PERSONAL INVENTORY – WHAT MAKES YOU WHO YOU ARE?
Have you ever tried to sort through your personal inventory of attributes, feelings and actions in an effort to see yourself as somehow magically separate from those you’ve interacted with throughout your day, months, years?
Or made an attempt to step to the side of the mysterious equation of daily life with other people even just for a moment? Tried to get to the bottom of who you really are on your own with no input or history of others in your life? Imagine yourself untied to any influence or need of other humans. It’s not an easy exercise and undoubtedly, it’s one that will ultimately fail beyond a few details here and there.
We are relational, connected to each other. Click To Tweet
It’s almost impossible to counter that in any significant or lasting way.
When we embrace the realization that we rely on each other, buoy each other, benefit from each other and can foster our collaborative spirit and collaboration in the small places and in the big places throughout our day, we will almost always improve whatever it is we’re doing. And ourselves along the way.
THE POWER OF YOUR IDENTITY AS AN INDIVIDUAL
I’m not suggesting that we lay by the wayside or diminish the power of our individuality. Whatever unique qualities, history, accumulation of skills and perceptions or quirks we possess, those are precious. It’s always a good idea to know yourself; what’s in your heart and mind and how you operate. It’s useful and necessary for countless smart reasons that I doubt I need to list for you.
Those things will be there with you, making true your contribution when you join forces with others. Otherwise what value would you bring? What new thing would you learn? And how would you receive what others bring to you pushing forward the benefit of being there together making something better than you could have on your own?
BUSINESS IDENTITY – WHO ARE YOU & WHY? HOW DO YOU FIND OUT?
There may not be anything much more revealing to you about your business identity than working through the process of designing (or redesigning) your business website. Why is that? Your website is a declaration of who you are, what you do and why you do it.
Yet It offers the first dip into relationship with the people who visit looking for something from you. It’s an open line to your customers. In that way, it’s for them. That means you’ll need to know a lot about your business and your customers and chances are you’ll be learning a lot you haven’t quite considered yet as you move through the process. That’s a good thing. Daunting but healthy.
HERE’S WHAT I’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT LATELY WHILE WE RE-DESIGN OUR OWN FAT EYES SITE.
Just like the cobbler’s children who don’t get new shoes very often, we have the same dilemma. We’re always knee-deep in developing sites for our clients and rarely have time to work on our own. Can barely even see our feet for all the material that comes up to our knees. It’s like stolen kisses. We find the time when we can, when no one’s looking, after hours and on weekends. For the past few months we’ve ramped it up and we’re finally making huge strides after a long slow start.
WORKING TOGETHER WITH EVERYONE’S BEST INTEREST AT HEART
Collaboration is at the heart of everything. Click To Tweet
This is something that’s been highlighted for me, that I’m discovering in a fresh way all over again. There are two of us in the picture here. Two equal partners, each with a strong visual vocabulary and a powerful drive to be creative, to dive into process. We each have ultimate veto power and we are each also pretty particular and opinionated. And we have each contributed to not only the mechanics but the soul of our business over time. We are each embedded in its identity.
COLLABORATIVE SPIRIT, BECOMING JOINED – SHARED PURPOSE
Humans collaborate all the time without even knowing it every moment they are in proximity. So do business partners. And so do businesses with their customers.
This current experience has created a heightened sense of what that can actually mean. It’s been a few years since the last time we did this and we don’t remember it ever being so revealing in its very nature of the process before.
So imagine that if you will. Two former artists having their say. Two business owners with a message and a job to accomplish. One business that stands for our clients. Two separate entities that come together to form another: the business. So now we’re actually three partners in this game collaborating to make one living, breathing object that can be used by others online. We are meeting objectives for a complex pairing of business entity and customer. And bringing ourselves into the mix because after all, it’s us our clients will be working with and we want them to know what that will be like and who we are.
Way beyond our small project of one company creating one website. We are making art. Even though its role is commercial, marketing, conversions, all that ordinary stuff. Those things arrive and exist though the art of it even though it doesn’t fit into any typical definition of art. It’s the art of the thinking behind what you will see and interact with.
Not only the finished product but the means by which we have gotten there.
OUR CLIENTS MATTER TO WHO WE ARE AS A COMPANY
There’s something else equally compelling. And that’s the deeper glimpse I’ve had during this process into how we collaborate with our clients and how much they make us who we are. That’s nothing new, I’ve talked about it for years. But it’s in this particular website re-design that I’ve seen a new view into our shared purpose.
The hints of it began while preparing the portfolio of our work for the site and I found myself without even giving it much forethought, writing about each of the clients and the story of each of their businesses or organizations we’re spotlighting. I wanted to invoke what I’d learned from each of them. It was thrilling to describe them and gratifying to chronicle our relationships. Their faces and voices sat with me, their missions and work as well. It drove home just how important they each are to not only the bottom line at Fat Eyes, but to the soul of our business. They are as much a part of us as we are.
UBUNTU IN BUSINESS
Ubuntu can be applied to a vast majority of our business experiences.
“The only way I can be human is when you reflect my humanity back at me.” Chris Abani in his TED Talk, “On Humanity”.
Ubuntu is a singular word that I see really as a belief and a tradition meant to adopt by all of us whatever our circumstances. It is a guiding light we can use to get a better understanding of all our relations, our interconnectivity and the dire need to see each other not as opponent or on opposite sides of an imaginary business line but as potential friend and partner. Ultimately, we are collaborating. We are co-creating. We are joining forces to make something that didn’t exist before and to make it better than we could have alone.
Our purpose becomes joined. Ours with our clients for the relatively brief period we work together. But how we affect each other and our business entities can and hopefully will be lasting.
According to Michael Onyebuchi Eze, the core of ubuntu can best be summarized as follows:
“ ‘A person is a person through other people’ strikes an affirmation of one’s humanity through recognition of an ‘other’ in his or her uniqueness and difference. It is a demand for a creative intersubjective formation in which the ‘other’ becomes a mirror (but only a mirror) for my subjectivity. This idealism suggests to us that humanity is not embedded in my person solely as an individual; my humanity is co-substantively bestowed upon the other and me. Humanity is a quality we owe to each other. We create each other and need to sustain this otherness creation. And if we belong to each other, we participate in our creations: we are because you are, and since you are, definitely I am. The ‘I am’ is not a rigid subject, but a dynamic self-constitution dependent on this otherness creation of relation and distance”. (philosophy)
UBUNTU — Music and Arts of South Africa
Chris Abani in his TED Talk, “On Humanity”.
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Pre-remixed photo copyright: Geoff Kuchera