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Oh Happy Day 031910: Collaboration

It’s Friday, and I’ve decided to resurrect my long-overdue Oh Happy Day! Gratitude Project. It was waaay back on (look at that!) November 13th that I last posted my own version of EyeJunkie “thank God it’s Friday” fare. This little project was fueled many moons ago by something I read that encouraged me to right my attitude daily by writing down five things for which I am grateful. I have SERIOUSLY fallen short of that admonition lately (read ignored), but I notice more and more every day just how important a thankful heart and attitude are in the daily consumption of a joyful life. You can read the whole story on the humble beginnings of the Oh Happy Day! project, or you can just trust me and pick up the trail here…

It’s been a crazy week of ups and downs (like most weeks), and the downs often present a challenge to my joy quotient–and sometimes my energy quotient. It’s helpful to skew that process back in the right direction by paying attention to the things or people or circumstances for which I’m thankful. It’s funny how an attitude of gratitude can sometimes mysteriously turn the downs back to the upside. Recognizing the blessings in my life, especially those in unexpected or hard-revealed places, helps me gain new perspective.

THIS WEEK I’ve been very grateful for the lost art of collaboration. If you read much around the internet on the subject of innovation or creativity or business development or even urban development (as I, in my nerd-like qualities do), you’ve probably seen the term “silos” as it relates to storing up ideas rather than grain. Despite the preschool tenets of sharing and taking turns that are burned into our brains and sensibilities, we sometimes grow up determined to build silos or isolated pockets of information, influence or resources. We often see a fear in sharing which makes us hold our thoughts and gifts with a closed fist. Collaboration becomes threatening somehow. But, it’s a happy day! This week I’ve seen collaboration in action in a couple of (three) ways. And, I’m so grateful for its impact on my life, work and parenting. Here’s what I’ve noticed.

Collaboration encites courage.
Through a few specific conversations and phone calls recently, I’ve noticed that two are so much better than one when it comes to handling frustrating, challenging or simply new situations. Sharing our own thoughts and feelings is often the type of collaboration we are most resistant to. However, articulating my thinking with a trusted confidante actually makes those thoughts and concerns so much more manageable. I can more easily take ownership of what’s frustrating me with the encouragement of someone who’s listened. It gives me courage to tackle the difficult circumstances with my eyes open, spunk in my step and perhaps a little bit more perspective or wisdom in my pocket. And, THAT courage makes me want to be available to someone else who needs that same collaboration.

Collaboration enables creativity.
I mentioned this week’s collaboration with my friend, Jennifer Wyatt, owner of Her Executive Coach. Our experiment with Facebook has been a joyful experience that reminded me of how much more creative and innovative I can be when I’m in conversation or collaboration. Creativity feeds off itself. Creative people spur me on to be more creative. Collaboration enables that synergy that makes new ideas more apparent. It makes the new ideas seem more possible. Creativity can be diminished in a vacuum. So, whether it’s in writing adventures, child-rearing, marketing my day job or just figuring out what’s for dinner, my creative endeavors can benefit from interactions, from exposure to new ideas and methods, and from the types of collaborations Jennifer was willing to give.

Collaboration encourages harmony.
Little Drummer Boy and Bug offered some much-sought-after examples of this principle this week. They are at the ages when we are swinging between the my-brother-is-my-best-friend and the my-brother-is-my-mortal-enemy camps on a whim. I just never know from one moment to the next where I’m going to land. We try our best to encourage, beg, scold and bribe the boys into doing and saying kind things to one another. Several times this week, I found myself wide-eyed at spontaneous collaboration going on between my sweet gifts. LDB offered advice on using the “big potty.” He gave instructions on how to write letters in the alphabet–instructions Bug was eager to follow. Bug requested input on various car chases and dinosaur stories. They determined the rules of their own hallway (read Montgomery speedway) games. It was amazing. I’m actually inclined to say miraculous, a description I’m sure other preschool Mommies out there will be happy to validate. I’m starting to catch on to something here. Maybe working TOGETHER on something is a lot more fun that arguing. Lovely food for parenting thought.

Thank you, collaboration.
Oh Happy Day!

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