Do you ever feel jealous of your friends or compare yourself to others? Do you ever feel like its just easier to do things on your own? I learned a lot about collaboration and working with people from a story I heard last week outside the Vatican.
Michelangelo and Raphael were great Master artists during the Renaissance. Michelangelo was a loner. He was known for being a recluse and hard to work with. Raphael loved being surrounded by people. He didn’t mind people watching him work while Michelangelo had strict instructions no one was to go in the Sistine Chapel until he finished. Raphael died young at the age of 37 while Michelangelo died at the age of 88. They created around the same amount of work. How is it that someone who died 50 years earlier was so prolific? Did he work faster? Start younger? Nope.
Michelangelo worked alone.
Raphael worked with students and apprentices.
Raphael could birth more because he chose to work WITH others.
When we work WITH others, we make room for more. We can open to possibilities. We can let our message or work grow beyond us. We can touch and reach more people than we can on our own.
If Michelangelo died at age 37, he wouldn’t have finished painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the Last Judgement fresco or designed St. Peter’s Basilica. I wonder how many masterpieces died in the mind of Michelangelo, never making it to form.
Can you imagine the impact if he let go and worked with others?
I was Michelangelo. I felt it was better to do things on my own than with others. I could do it faster, better. I could count on myself.
At the same time, I felt lonely. I wanted close friends and collaborative partners. What I realized was I had been keeping myself from those connections. I had been analyzing and judging relationships to make sure they were mutually beneficial. I had been making sure if I was going to collaborate, I was the “stronger” partner. I was judging myself out of what I wanted.
My journey with collaboration brought up all my shit.
Why would they work with me when they could work with her?
What if she takes my people?
What if what I share isn’t original?
Is she telling me the truth?
Is this fair?
We talk about collaboration, sharing, giving and receiving, but many times its just talk. We’re okay with giving but not receiving. We’re okay with collaborating but only if it feels safe, if it feels like we’re getting our due. It has to feel 50-50.
Collaboration is like marriage. After 19 years with my husband I can say it isn’t 50-50. Sometimes its 80-20 or 40-60. We support one another. My marriage has required me to let go of “fairness” and instead trust my husband has my best interest at heart.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from collaboration is speaking up. When I work with others, I can’t hold back. I can’t assume they will know what I want or need. I have to speak up and trust they will do the same.
And that’s what it really comes down to… trust. In the beginning, I started small… first a workshop partner, then a retreat co-leader, then online interview series and retreats with 20-30 partners and most recently online programs.
The last couple years I have REALLY been pushing my edge to collaborate and create things that feel edgy, that make me want to pull inward, afraid to share. I’ve been asking myself, How can I ask for help? Who can I work with? Who would make this WAY more fun?
What would it be like if we collaborated and let the exponential growth take over? What would we create? Who would we effect? What relationships would we birth?
It really comes down to deep connection. I LOVE being alone but the side effect is loneliness. I crave connection. I want to birth new things. I want to think in new ways. I want to impact as many people as I can while I’m here, whether it is 37 years or 88.
Share below. If you open yourself up to deep connection and collaboration, what would happen? If you ask for help instead of trying to do it on your own, what would change? What is stopping you?