All getting a bit much at times? Working and living collaboratively can have a huge impact on our mental fitness. This is a short piece originally written for the wonderful people over at the International Stress Management Association.
Working collaboratively has been at the absolute core of all that I do. Any success I’ve had in business has typically been built around them, even if not all my partnerships have been successful. And so I spend my time talking about the business benefits of an opportunistic mindset, and the practical skills required to lay the foundations of partnerships that fulfil their potential.
But something I overlooked until very recently is just how much of my personal development has also been anchored around collaboration and community. Sometimes the most powerful thing about working collaboratively can be the emotional boost or support it gives us.
This is especially true of the current climate in which we find ourselves; a climate in which social contact is vastly reduced and is much more ‘hands-off’ than previously. This situation will only be exacerbated by the rise of remote working and an increase in the number of people, either by choice or necessity, finding themselves working independently as furlough schemes come to an end, with the redundancies that will inevitably follow.
Now, I’m in no way an expert on mental health, but I do know the impact that isolation and loneliness can have, and I know from personal experience about how lonely it can be running your own business and the stress that can arise from that. These effects must also apply if you find yourself in a role where you feel isolated from those surrounding you - be it your team, fellow managers, or other stakeholders.
You may have a great circle of friends and a loving family, but do they really know what you’re going through? Often the answer is no, and so we either keep our feelings to ourselves, the pressure forever building, or we look for an outlet – and this is where collaboration comes into its own. There are many, many reasons I could touch on to illustrate this, but in the interests of keeping you on board, I’m going to stick to the five that I believe have the biggest impact.
Support from peers
Being part of a community, whether this is a professional association, community group, networking organisation, or informal group of like-minded individuals, is vital for all of us. Having that group of people where you feel safe to share with no threat of judgement, and in the confidence they’ll both support and challenge you when needed, can help us to see things so much more clearly.
I didn’t realise how vital a role being part of a community has played in my own life, and I wouldn’t be writing this now if I hadn’t sought that community out again when I was stuck in my own rut.
Go and find your tribe.
‘A worry shared is a worry halved.’ It’s oft said and it’s true.
Working in partnership with other individuals or organisations means that the burdens and stresses of expectation are shared amongst all those participating. Your struggles are their struggles.
Just as I said in my first point, knowing you have someone who can relate to your own experiences can play such an important part in your life. Even if nothing ever arises where you need others, the sense of security you get from knowing that you can call on someone - if it does - is reassurance in itself.
On the flip side of this is having someone you can share the wins with. Being able to shout about your success to those who really get the hard work that went into it is vital in boosting our self-esteem and pushing us to greater heights.
I’d love to think we’ve all got people close to us who want to see us do well, and so celebrate our wins because of that. But when you’re working in partnership on a more formal level, everyone involved understands exactly what went into that result, so it can mean just that little bit more.
And if you don’t have those people in your personal life currently, then it’s even more essential for you to go and seek them out, wherever they may be. They are out there. I promise you.
Working in partnership can give our self-worth a huge boost. When we feel good, we do great things. When you can look back on a project, in work or in life, and you’re amazed at all you have achieved, it’s a wondrous feeling that can’t help but lift you up.
Working collaboratively allows us all to create things of value that are far greater than we could ever possibly hope to achieve on our own, and this brings with it a unique sense of fulfilment which cannot be overstated.
Because of their unique characteristics, partnerships also engender a level of abundance not found in other more traditional channels of contact. In a business context, I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t be used, in part, to deliver both increased value to the recipients and generate greater profits to those behind the proposition; but imagine the impact if just part of that value went to causes greater than solely individual or operational gain. This has the potential to inspire all those that come into contact with the partnership, fuelling it's growth and, in turn, fuelling our own sense of achievement.
But, most importantly, working with others - belonging, communicating, truly connecting, and helping others achieve their goals while they support us in achieving ours - is the most rewarding way to be.
Which brings me to my final point. Fun. For me, the most important thing in life. I believe we should enjoy what we do both at home and at work - or else what’s the point?
Working and living collaboratively is the most fun way to be. For all the reasons listed above and many more. It doesn’t have to be a formal thing, it’s much more about having a mindset that’s focused on mutual gain.
It’s how I’ve chosen to live my life and I feel all the better for it. I’d encourage you to do the same, if you’re not doing so already!
Take care.Power to the Partnership