“We are moving from sharing to cooperation to collective action,” wrote Clay Shirky. “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up,” Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. noted long ago.
Yet to fully benefit from these insights one must be perceived as valuable. The more valuable you are perceived to be, the more frequently you’ll be invited to participate.
How do we demonstrate value in this increasingly connected and complex world? By being widely-known and respected for having a:
1. Vital talent, in fact being one of the best at that skill.
2. Reputation for being a strong team player or leader
One trait enormously leverages the value of another. Some have a much-needed skill yet provoke conflict by their participation. Others are nimble team players yet some are better at the sought-after skill and can also be good team players.
That’s why it behooves us to cultivate four behaviors:
2. Cultivate others who:
• Are also passionate about continuously strengthening their main talent
• Have talents that are different than yours
• Share at least one sweet spot of mutual interest on which you could work together
3. Practice ways to productively collaborate with others. As Charles Darwin observed, “In the long history of humankind…those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
Adept collaborators tend to be upbeat and open rather than pessimistic, have a flexible rather than a fixed mindset and be adept listeners. Without those traits, as Stanislaw Jerzy Lec once wrote, “Thoughts, like fleas, can jump from man to man, but they don’t bite everybody.”
4. Be generous in proactively sharing information and introductions with those who are your “weak links” and potentially complementary project partners as well, as with close friends. As you have noticed, some people mostly want to give, and others are inclined to take.
Both perpetuate out-of-balance relationships in which resentment inevitable builds. Still others have mastered the healthy art of receiving and giving that builds ever stronger, enduring relationships where both individuals can be fully present, candid, caring.
That’s when the magic happens.
We bring out the best side in each other.
We are more likely to use our best talents in support of each other and together.
This approach is key to turning the next chapter of your life into the adventure story you can relish with others, the one you were meant to live.
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