5.3 Collaboration: Check Your Ego at the Door

Collaboration-300x200 by Janet Grace Riehl

  with Stephanie Farrow

Our second heart skill focuses on the emotional and
relational part of collaboration. The important question here is, once trust is
built and sustained, what does it look like in action?

Trust infuses work with support, ease, and humanity. With
trust you can resolve conflict by telling the truth. With trust you can check
your ego at the door.

When looking good gives way to a desire to support your
partner and your jointly held work, then a new dimension emerges.

 Humility: It no
longer matters who gets credit for an idea. In fact, Stephanie and I often
laugh at our tendency to ascribe the origin of a good idea to the other. We can
tell when a collaboration has been truly successful because the end product
seems to be a seamless whole. The warp and weft of our individual ideas are
woven together smoothly.

 Spaciousness and Generosity.
We give each other room to create. And, we give each other room to mess up
without making a big deal of it. It’s safe to make a mistake. No blame, just
joint acknowledgement and resolution. Cutting each other slack over mistakes
(or temporary “stupidity”) keeps our work flowing and fun. Rather than chipping
away at each other’s confidence, we bolster it.

Kindness is such a simple courtesy, but often not used enough. In good
collaboration we honor each other’s needs. We stay sensitive to nuances. We
nurture each other with our good will.

 Gratitude: When
our working relationships include these qualities, we build a virtuous cycle
rather than a vicious one.  When we are
treated with care and respect, we feel grateful and even more generous. Of a
mentor and colleague I once said, “Hal gave me the world, and in a tick I would
give the world back to him.”

 For myself, work is more than product. How I’m
allowed to create is as important as the end result. A collaboration that
allows me to check my ego at the door fosters the trust I need to do my best.
And for that, yes, I’m more than willing to check my ego at the door. I might
not even ask for the ticket to have it returned to me when it’s over.

 Is collaboration all soft-focus and watercolors in a gentle
spring rain? Not in this lifetime! It’s like a marriage. You make a commitment,
then keep plugging away, using your best heart skills to make it work.


Pose questions about practical
creativity. Give ideas for future cycle themes. Join in the dialog in the
comment section below. Peruse the Creative Catalyst archive at:
http://is.gd/9xolA.  Create
connections through the arts and across cultures at



2 responses to “5.3 Collaboration: Check Your Ego at the Door

  1. Janet and Stephanie,
    I let out a sigh reading each quality necessary for a true creative collaboration. This is the true essence of creation, the path that leads all of us onward by joining together.
    Wonderful post, thanks.

  2. Susan,
    Good to hear your voice here. Coming from an artist and writer who works both on her own and collaboratively, I especially appreciate your affirmation of the truth we’ve felt and presented.
    Keep on sculpting a life, Susan…and making your marvelous masks.
    Janet Riehl

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