“We” Are Better Than “Me” – Wisdom From Twyla Tharp’s The Collaborative Habit

Collaboration is the buzzword of this new millennium.  For some of us, it’s a superior way of working; for almost all of us, it’s inevitable.

I’ve just finished reading The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp.  (I’m presenting a synopsis of this book at Take Your Brain to Lunch, this week in Dallas).  It is a good book.  Not as good as her earlier book, The Creative Habit – one of my all-time favorite books.  But still, a good book.  And it is an absolutely wonderful collection of stories.

Tharp & Baryshnikov

She tells, throughout the book, of her collaborations with dancers, company directors, and artists from Frank Sinatra to Billy Joel to Mikhail Baryshnikov…  But there are plenty of non-dance stories sprinkled through the book.  Her premise is simple, and concurs with the overall wisdom from books such as The Wisdom of Crowds and Wikinomics.  Here it is:

We are greater than me.

And, as fads and approaches and changes come and go, and get refined, and are jettisoned, there is a deep need to focus on the wisdom and the efforts of us over the wisdom and effort of me.  In other words, collaboration is not a fad – it is a lasting necessity.

Here are a couple of quotes:

We are a culture that consumes and discards in almost one motion.  Just think of the bright ideas for more efficient and humane ways of working that have come and gone in the last few decades…

and…

Reality’s tutorials can be harsh.  You can run your life “my way,” struggling alone, or “our way,” struggling to make a group effort work.

Here’s a simple question, asked in different ways:

Do you play well with others?
Are you a good, effective, team player?
Do you collaborate well?

If the answer is no, it’s time to learn!  Collaboration is the name of the new game in town, and those who don’t learn to do this well will get left behind.

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