I’ve always had a fear of working with people. The most terrifying words a teacher could utter to me were not “pop quiz” – puh-leaze, I’ve got that in the bag – they were “group work.”

Oh how I despised having to compromise my vision for a group of people with little more shared purpose than “let’s not fail.”

Now, as an entrepreneur, I’ve carried this over into my own business. Better to be small & successful than take a chance on working with people to do something bigger, right?

This is changing rapidly. As I’ve honed in on my strengths and my mission, I’ve discovered that the vision I have is much larger than one person can handle. And I’m okay with that. Funny how that’s something that needs to be “discovered,” huh? In order to truly create the art I want to put in into the world, I need to collaborate.

So I’m learning…

Which is why I found this video, Inside the Goat Rodeo Sessions, so intriguing. It’s a brief interview with 4 amazing musicians about an awe-inspiring collaborative project. Watch it below or read on to discover my takeaways.

View the video here.

1. Collaboration is about expanding boundaries.

As individuals, we each have boundaries, self-imposed limitations. The very self-aware among us understand what these boundaries are and do their best to challenge themselves to move beyond the lines. Most of us, however, maintain a bubble that keeps us rehashing the same problems over & over again, finding stumbling blocks at the same places, and generally living without the benefit of what’s on the other side of the fence.

In The Goat Rodeo Sessions video, Stuart Duncan & Yo-Yo Ma discuss how they approach the music differently. And even how the convention of “genre” could have kept them apart as musicians. But:

It works because its just music.

Your business – your creative goal – your life pursuit may not be the same as your collaborator’s. All the better. People who connect intimately over the passion of purpose need not be defined by genre, industry, or methodology. Collaboration forces you outside of these arbitrary boundaries and into your mutual brilliance.

2. Collaboration is about the mystery.

This is about a happy blend of personalities. There was nothing to ensure this was going to work out.
— Yo-Yo Ma

When you’re working by yourself, it can seem like – through sheer act of will – you can make even the worst ideas work. And sometimes you have to. You get tied down to busting through projects that have no business being completed. You tend to learn very little about what went wrong because you’re so fixated on making them go right.

When you’re working in collaboration, you are thrown into mystery. Your partners may or may not do their own work. Their style may or may not mesh with yours – regardless of how well you know them.

But that mystery is where great beauty comes from as you explore each others process & perspective.

An artist is never truly working alone – so why pretend? Embrace the mystery of collaboration.

3.) Collaboration is about people not projects.

We chose this group of people based more on who the individuals were and their voices – and less on what would make the best instrumentation.
— Edgar Meyer

If you don’t have insane chemistry, deep mutual respect, and hearts that are in awe of the people you’re working with, it’s not collaboration. It’s division of labor.

Your collaborators are going to find you at the heights of your strengths and the depths of your weaknesses. They’ll witness your failure alongside your success. They will participate in the birth of new ideas. You want to concentrate on finding the right people to collaborate with, not the right project for collaboration.

As I look towards my personal vision & business goals for 2012, I see much collaboration on the horizon. I see dreams that couldn’t have been dreamt even 6 months ago coming true. And best of all I see the soul-filling beauty of co-creation.

How are you – or could you – embrace the mystery of collaboration in the New Year?

Please leave your response below!


Want to see inside one of my own personal collaborative projects? Find out how Adam King and I are reclaiming wealth.