Where are your ‘others’? And if you aren’t working with them, why not?

On collaboration: Find the others

One of the wisest pieces of advice I’ve been given in the last year is to find collaborators. The trouble is that collaboration is one thing I’ve struggled most with.

I have a stubborn mindset and I often feel like I must be able to find the solution myself. When working, when writing, too often I’ve found myself at a blockade and tried everything to break through — except asking for help.

But you don’t always need to ask for help. Sometimes it’s enough just to start a conversation, or ask a question. Invariably, people like to be asked their opinions. As a result of starting conversations this year I have expanded my ways of thinking and found unexpected inspiration from others.

Collaboration comes in different forms

For me, collaboration has come in the form of sharing ideas and finding people open to asking (and answering) awkward questions.

This came from a longing to get below the surface and talk honestly about what really drives us to do the work we do. Sometimes these have been casual chats with people I already know well, but often they’ve come from my wider network.

By being open to new connections I’ve come across people I might never otherwise have met.

Over the last year I’ve spoken with an entrepreneur, a yogi, an adventurer, a philosopher and many ordinary folk in search of more meaningful work. I’ve found these people by being curious — starting conversations, sending a few bold emails, and sharing ideas and articles online.

Be open to new connections

Last week I spoke to Matthew Burgess, a coach and TV producer who saw an article of mine on LinkedIn.

We live in different countries and would never have crossed paths if it weren’t for a shared curiosity in the search for meaningful work — and a few common connections.

With zero expectations we arranged a call with the vague intention to ‘talk about purpose’, and what followed was over an hour of deep discussion about the creative process and the challenges of doing your own thing.

Somewhere in the conversation Matthew mentioned Timothy Leary’s quote:

“Find the others”

And that is the thought I’d like to leave with you:

“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”
- Timothy Leary, American Psychologist

Where are your ‘others’?

And if you aren’t working with them, why not?

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Originally published at questionsonpurpose.org on December 21, 2018

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