“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
Martin Luther King
These wise words highlight the fact that we are all connected and that, furthermore, we can never become ourselves without each other.
This is a somewhat paradoxical truth, in that being who we are depends on other people. We need those around us to reflect back our image, to help us develop our identity.
Annie Kenney and Christabel Pankhurst. 1908. Wikimedia Commons.
“Remember the dignity of your womanhood. Do not appeal, do not beg, do not grovel. Take courage, join hands, stand besides us, fight with us.”
The Suffragette Movement was a prime example of the power of working together with pride, conviction and courage, in order to achieve votes for women.
Such brave acts of collaboration between women did ultimately change the world, although this sadly involved loss of life.
The passionate and tragic self-sacrifice of Emily Davison, as she threw herself in front of the king’s horse at the 1913 Derby, did alter and move forward the fight for women’s suffrage.
Max Weber. Labourers at Work. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
As human beings, we can be extra powerful in groups, tackling jobs that a person might find impossible alone.
Camille Pissarro. Haymaking [c.1901]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
This is not only relevant to physical work, but also to tasks and projects that are on a thinking or academic level.
It is almost as if the group forms a bigger brain, with its components amalgamating to produce a whole that is great than the sum of its parts.
Such a cohesive group becomes a powerful entity in itself, and a potentially strong agent for change.
Thomas Edison, Inventor Of The Electric Light Bulb.
“When you need to innovate, you need collaboration.”
“What is the image that comes to mind when you hear the words “brilliant inventor”? A lonely figure with glasses tinkering away in a dimly lit room? In Edison’s case, you would be way off the mark! His greatest successes came as a result of teams of researchers who worked collaboratively on projects, in a state of the art laboratory in Menlo Park!”
All the great inventors and innovators through time have needed a collaborative team in order to achieve their successes.
Often, these are the unsung heroes of invention and innovation, the behind-the-scenes people who support and facilitate the creativity of the main protagonist.
Marie Curie with Nurses and Physician. Wikimedia Commons.c. 1915.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
Claire Tabouret – The Soccer Team Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Everyone knows that at the age of 11-12, children have a marked impulse to form themselves into groups.”
Groups are, as we have seen, ways of discovering one’s identity, one’s place in the world.
Playing in groups is natural for children, as they learn how to collaborate and work with others, skills that will be crucial for their future lives.
Such social learning is essential to a child’s development.
Joaquin Sorolla – Sewing the Sail Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not lead single issue lives.”
This quotation points to the fact that our life problems are, inevitably, shared. Any struggles and problems that we encounter will impact in some way on others around us.
We are inextricably connected to the rest of the human race, depending on each other for a multitude of aspects of our lives.
These links also extend to animals and plants, in that we also need them in various different ways.
There is a unity between the many different life forms, which can be overlooked in this busy and sometimes fractured world. Sadly, the focus is often on division rather than connection.
“Learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else.”
Leonardo da Vinci.
The Orchestra of the Opera. Edgar Degas. 1870. Wikioo.
“You can’t play a symphony alone, it takes an orchestra to play it.”
Navjot Singh Sidhu
How much do we need each other in our creativity!
In the performing arts, such as theatre, film and dance, groups of diverse, talented people come together to produce a co-ordinated work in which each person plays an integral part.
The orchestra is a prime example of this.
Although it is certainly possible to make beautiful music alone, how much grander and more harmonious, how powerful is the enormous impact of an orchestra at its fullest, both in terms of sound and the number of instrumentalists.
Such musical teamwork also creates community, attracting wide audiences and giving pleasure to countless people.
Meeting. Marianne Von Werefkin. 1908. Wikioo.
“Collaboration doesn’t mean advocating for your point of view. It means exploring everyone’s points of view and using those disparate perspectives to create a new combined point of view.”
This quotation makes a valuable point; it emphasises the fact that collaboration does not have to mean general agreement, or that the individual’s view will be overwhelmed by the majority.
It actually means the opposite.
When working properly, a collaborative, dynamic team will value and hear everyone’s ways of thinking, everyone’s voice, in order to form a well-thought out group opinion.
There will be space to express and resolve conflict and disagreement.
This is true collaboration.
Pure Diversity, Mirta Toledo 1993. Wikimedia Commons.
“People with different tribe, race, religion, and nationality can come together and accomplish something extraordinary. The key is the culture of unity and teamwork.”
Diversity of approach and opinion needs to be valued and celebrated.
In successful teams, people listen to and learn from each other.
If there is no room for individual differences to be recognised and appreciated, then the creativity and growth of the team will suffer and there will be a stultifying and lifeless atmosphere.
Welcoming and valuing diversity can be a powerful model in terms of avoiding stereotyping, homophobia, racism, sexism and narrow-mindedness.
There is no one way of thinking. Real collaborative approaches mean that people understand that there are no absolutes; there are differing views that may, or may not, complement each other.
This can result in discussion, conflict, argument, agreement, awareness, creativity.
Whatever happens, the likely outcome of an inclusive approach will be an increase in empathy towards others. Without this, insensitivity and ignorance will triumph.
“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”
Awareness of and respect for our sameness and our difference will result in collaborative efforts that will be truly creative.
Diversity and unity are certainly not mutually exclusive.
“I celebrate myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.”
Theatre Prep.Simon Black. 2002. Wikioo.
“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”
“It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) that those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”
Two quotes for one here….. and these final quotations say it all.
Creative collaboration means achievement, innovation….. and sometimes survival.
We really are ‘stronger together.’
Strength through Unity. Richard J Croft. Wikioo
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Next week’s post is entitled “What sparks a powerful light inside you?”
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