Just listen to Einstein
American culture says individuality, self-reliance, and self-awareness are the keys to success. Elsa sums it up well in Disney’s Frozen II: “Show yourself. Step into your power. Grow yourself into something new. You are the one you’ve been waiting for.” While it is important never to underestimate our creative potential, dismissing the power of outside influence may lead to missed opportunities.
Collaborative work can get us further than we can go alone. Spending time tossing around ideas with others, combining intel, and problem-solving all help us survive and thrive in our endeavors. Here are just a few of the many benefits of working with others:
- Introducing fresh perspectives: Brainstorming with those outside your area of expertise can help you broaden your original idea, giving it more depth and nuance.
- Overcoming roadblocks: Sharing struggles with colleagues and friends offers them the opportunity to provide valuable advice and keep you going.
- Ensuring high-quality deliverables: Collaborators can help you avoid common writing pitfalls, like going down rabbit holes and gaps in logic. An outside perspective on your work will highlight simple things you may have missed while focusing on your work—mistakes that would have detracted readers from your central message.
Albert Einstein is a household name—his visage bedecks motivational posters, memes, lecture halls, textbooks, and even PBS Kids shows. Although his genius is undeniable, his collaborative efforts are less celebrated. He didn’t develop his famous Theory of Relativity alone but collaborated heavily with other scientists, specifically his friend Marcel Grossmann. Grossmann was a mathematician who brought his expertise to constructive discussions with Einstein.[i],[ii] Einstein has some powerful words about the value of his collaboration with Grossmann:
“Not such a vagabond and off-beat character as I, he was anchored in the Swiss milieu without thereby losing any of his inner independence. In addition, he possessed in full measure just those gifts that I lacked: the ability to grasp things quickly and a sense of order in everything.”-Einstein, 1955
Not only did Grossmann bring the outside expertise Einstein needed to develop his theory, but he also had a complementary personality. If either were available for an interview, they might have another valuable point to make about collaboration: that it can be fun.
How can we form the relationships we need to start collaborating? Here are a few ways to deepen your content by workshopping with committed collaborators:
- Recruit: Bring in a consultant for a new perspective.
- Sign up: Join a group of like-minded professionals for casual conversations, such as a freelance writing conference or discussion forum for communication managers.
- Connect: Contact professionals outside of your area of expertise via social media like LinkedIn or referrals from friends and family.
- Be curious: Start conversations with people you meet to get them talking about their passions. Who knows, you may make a lifelong friend!
Collaboration can have enormous benefits. Consider how to team up and learn something new.
[i] Sriram R. Six powerful real-life examples of collaboration. Kolabtree Blog. https://www.kolabtree.com/blog/six-powerful-examples-of-collaboration/. Published January 9, 2017. Accessed December 1, 2021.
[ii]Grossman, Marcel. Encyclopedia.com. https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/science-and-technology/mathematics-biographies/marcel-grossmann. Updated May 23, 2018. Accessed December 1, 2021.