I’ve been at this self-employment thing for seven years now, and four of those years have been full-time (three were alongside teaching and graduate school). And it works for me: the solitude, freedom, and focus align perfectly with my personality.
In fact, when I was teaching high school, I was known for locking my door and shutting off the light in my classroom so I could work undisturbed. I sought solitude in a work environment that allowed for little time and space outside the hard effort of grooming young minds. I wasn’t known as the most social teacher in the school, but I was one of the most productive.
In the past couple of years, though, I’ve been craving collaboration. While I’ve never been described as a “team player,” I value relationships and the creativity that comes from working together. I’ve been a fortunate contributor to wonderful client teams, and I love being an integral part of supporting others’ success. But I’ve also wanted to engage in something that was entirely mine—or at least a project in which I was an equal stakeholder.
And so, I sought collaborators.
Over the last couple of months, I’ve partnered with four incredible individuals on a project we’ll be revealing later this month. Working with them has been beyond expectations. Here’s what I’ve found through collaboration:
1. True collaboration brings a renewed sense of individual purpose
I’ve always felt purpose in the work I’ve done toward other people’s visions, and there are a few particular clients who I feel a true partnership with. Still, putting hours and love into this project has lit something new inside of me. It’s rare to be a part of a team like this in which we’re truly collaborating, and it’s incredibly rewarding.
2. A collective vision is like creative calories
Boy, have I worked hard on this. So has my project partner and the other two contributors. We’ve spent hours each week outside of normal client work because we all see the big vision. We’ve also brought in freelancers who are investing their time. Though they are getting the immediate reward of a paid invoice, their individual efforts show me they get the bigger vision, too.
Our collective vision has provided the fuel we need to keep on keeping on. I know our hard work, endless conversations, and scrupulous attention to detail is leading toward something that can change lives. The process itself has been powerful, let alone the idea we’re developing together.
3. It’s just nice to work together
As I sat across from my partner the other day working on the project website, I couldn’t help but smile to myself at how nice it was to work with someone who gets it. She does the work. She follows through. She goes above and beyond and continually impresses me with her ability to over-deliver. And let me tell you: that’s nice.
It’s nice to share the load. It’s nice to not feel like I’m in it alone. When I’ve feeling overloaded, it’s nice to be able to say, “Can you take this piece for me?”
While my big vision was launching this project, the four of us are now working on our vision. It’s a collective effort. While I still get solitude and freedom throughout most of my workday, I could get used to this collaboration thing.
How about you? If you’re self-employed, is it time to join forces on something exciting? If you’re employed, is it time to stop working as a group and start authentically collaborating? I’d love to hear your experience. Drop me a note or comment below.
P.S. We’ll be sharing our project later this month with people in our networks. If you’d like to be a part of our first announcement, simply subscribe here. (If you’re already on my list, you’re in!)