Warning! I am going to start this post by talking about my kids and their friends.
I know that there is nothing more boring that having someone prattle on about their kids. So I'll be brief.
It’s because kids can teach us about collaboration, the collaboration we all once knew (even you, without the kids).
It struck me that kids (yours, mine and that other guy's) seem to be pretty good at making it happen.
I've been listening to them talk… it’s one idea after another. They can’t wait to get together.
I’ve watched them build something out of spare bits that they find lying around. Or they create some new video with their technology, which is never too far away.
They all seem to know what to do and when. Sometimes, it doesn’t even look like they're collaborating, it’s so seamless.
Sometimes it looks like an argument. There’s one voice trying to get on top of another to share the best idea.
Sometimes one leads, then another. There is a lot of trust - a lot of inclusion.
But no ever walks away upset. Somehow, it all works out. As a matter of fact, this can go on for hours, even days. It depends what it is, I guess. I wasn’t invited to the meeting.
It got me thinking about what it takes (in our grown-up world) to be a great collaborator. And here's what I’ve come up with.
One day, I was taking a train. I got on at one of those little milk run stops between two cities. It was one of those little stops where you bought your ticket at the station before you boarded.
Once on the train, after a few minutes, I could hear a man coming up the aisle, calling out “Tickets please, tickets.”
He was an older gentleman with white hair and a pleasant demeanour. He, of course, looked very official in his deep blue and red suit and conductor’s cap.
By the look of him, you could imagine that he had done that walk up the train aisles hundreds, if not thousands, of times.
When he got to me, he asked me how I was. “Fine, thank you,” I said, a rather standard response that doesn’t really tell anyone how you are.
I said, “How are YOU doing today? He answered”, Oh, I have my moments.”
I’m not sure why this rather unusual response has stuck with me all these years. But I remember thinking at the time, “What a great response”.
It seemed to say that there were some occasional highlights in his day and that was good enough for him.
He seemed happy and content.
Have you ever done any of the following?
· Said to someone “Let’s do lunch” and never set it up?
· Promised to have something done by a certain time but didn’t meet the deadline?
· Said you’d take a look at something for a colleague but never got around to it?
I know I have and I know I am not alone.
Since the New Year is upon us I have been thinking about things I would like to be better at, and this intrigues me.
It intrigues me because not fulfilling promises like these chips away at trust.
Not fulfilling promises chips away at our personal brand.
About 2% of the population is considered “gifted”. We don’t hear this term as much when referring to adults. Instead we hear odd, eccentric, weird.
And while their numbers are small, I am sure you have come across someone who could be described this way.
If you happen to be their boss, you know they test you like no one else.
If you happen to be their colleague, you know that they can amaze, bewilder and, possibly, annoy you.
At your first meeting, you knew there was something different about them. It could be that they dressed without concern for convention. It could be that when they talked, it seemed they had ingested the whole Internet. Perhaps they didn’t like to talk and they always seemed sullen and removed until it was “ShowTime”.
And then, when you saw their work, you were amazed and all was pretty much forgiven because they were just so darn good at what they do.
While their competence may help your company’s bottom line results, it doesn’t necessarily help your day-to-day because you still have to figure out how to work with eccentric superstar employees.