We live in the golden age of collaboration. North Face is making a shoe with Vans, Channel Islands is shaping a bonzer surfboard with the Campbell Brothers, Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé are recording together…the list goes on and on. Companies and artists are realizing that there is something powerful in joining forces. And the combination of the two is greater than the sum of its parts. Somehow, 1+1=3.
I have always loved collaboration, ever since I first listened to Run DMC and Aerosmith remix Walk This Way. There is nothing quite like the joining together of different and unique streams. The result is always a bit unexpected, and often uniquely brilliant. Different isn’t just interesting…it can be inspiring.
I experienced this first hand at the Think Tank I attended last week. The joining together of diverse minds around a unified vision is empowering. These events usually start with a common problem which is the catalyst to deeper discussion. People engage and pull against. They question and argue. They offer and present varied perspectives. And pretty soon something starts to happen in the room. A sort of consciousness emerges.
The word for this is effect synergy. It is a combined effect greater than the sum of the separate effects. The effect is more soulish than it is cognitive and therefore difficult to describe, let alone refabricate. It has an air of mystique about it. It is the power of humans connecting with other humans. Like the way a flame grows when logs are stacked together but dies when they are separated.
And it is my belief that this is how we’re wired to perform…where our deepest potential is only untapped through collaboration. Because all of us bring strengths and weaknesses to bear, but our weaknesses create a beautiful interdependence that is a catalyst for inspiration. And when this happens, we see God’s intentionality on display. Where two or three are gathered, God is in their midst.
And not just simply in their midst, God is like a designer or curator, arranging the tables where we sit so that all of us are where we need to be to come alive. My preference would be to sit with all like-minded people, a table where I feel most comfortable and affirmed. But the end result of these discussions is usually bland and predictable.
But when I’m placed with those that are different, this is where the magic can happen. It takes some humility to realize that I don’t just come with contributing strengths but contributing weaknesses. Areas of fragility that need others to shine for me. Places where I can be improved upon, and even protected.
I always leave the think tank with pages full of notes and thoughts. But the most beneficial part of it for me is the inspiration to collaborate more. To connect and wrestle and dream with those God has put in my life and to realize that each of them has strengths and weaknesses that I need. They draw more out of me. They maximize my gifts and strengths, allowing me to focus on those areas I am most passionate about. And they remind me, where I’m fragile, how much I need and can depend on those around me.