Posted by Caren Crane Feb 5 2012, 12:11 am in author teams, Caren Crane, collaboration, group project, lone wolf, teamwork, writing
Growing up, I considered myself something of a Lone Wolf: independent, needing no one, going it alone. I laugh at my young self now, because I grew up in a large family, where time alone was invariably at a premium? I was more pack animal than lone wolf, but I suppose it was the Lone Wolf attitude I adopted more than its actuality. My husband was much the same when I met him: fiercely independent, determined to do everything by and for himself. After we married, learning to depend on each other was quite a challenge, but having three children forces even the most stalwart loner to become quite interdependent.
I also recall that at work in the 1990s, “teamwork” was the buzzword in my office and companies everywhere. Learning to do group brainstorming, listening to others and incorporating the best ideas, regardless of their origin, was suddenly the fashion. I worked in engineering and the many lone wolves in the profession had trouble adjusting to this new corporate culture. For better or worse, those whose home lives hadn’t forced it on them had to learn to collaborate at last. Even in the writing industry, teamwork has taken off. Writing teams and collaborative story collections have gained popularity and seem to be here to stay.
I certainly have learned to love working, at home and in volunteer positions, alongside my husband. It made me realize that, rather than losing my independence, working with others has been a huge gain to me in any number of ways. I, and many others, have realized that we can accomplish more, do more good and work more efficiently when we work together. We are, hands down, better together. This was brought home to me recently when I realized that my husband and I had, once again, overcommitted ourselves. This particular day, we had a Board meeting at 2:00, dinner for 60 to start cooking at 3:00, a reunion meeting of this volunteer group at 5:00, dinner at 6:00, dinner clean-up while part of the group did sponsorship training at 7:00, a communion service at 8:00 and a candlelight service at 9:30. Which put us home right before 11:00. I was exhausted just thinking about it!
But then a wonderful, unexpected thing happened. After the Board meeting, all the Board members streamed outside to help us unload food and equipment. Then, they hung around and helped in the kitchen. Anything we needed done was done quickly and happily. We finished food prep in record time and had plenty of time to visit, catch up with old friends, meet new ones and enjoy the rest of the evening. It was still long and rather tiring, but altogether an amazing experience. I should have known we wouldn’t have to do all those things alone, especially with this group, but I was forcefully reminded how much better we are as a team. Better together. The words that once made me shake my head in disdain – as if people who needed others were somehow wanting – are now words I live by. Happily!
How about you? Are you naturally a Lone Wolf type or a born collaborator? Have you had any great experiences of being Better Together? Or were they all like that 8th grade “group project” you ended up doing by yourself? I can’t wait to hear your stories!