There are some things we know we do well. These things don’t feel like work, even when they require considerable effort. These things are fun and usually have inspiring effect on ourselves and those around us. These things spark curiosity, creativity and resolve. Business psychologist, Miriam Meima, describes these things as an individual’s unique genius. I have discovered that my unique genius is connecting individuals around some cooperative effort. For me, there’s nothing quite so rewarding as helping to facilitate collaboration.
My OCD brain loves to compartmentalize. It loves to identify, de-code and match like-things together. It loves to problem-solve, and find the clearest path to success. So, when I hear of someone looking for a place to live, my brain leaps into action trying to remember that friend looking to rent their home. When I learn of someone seeking employment, my brain categorizes relevant job opportunities for a worthy match. Project initiatives are the most gratifying. When there is some collective good in pooling resources, uniting creative vision, and facilitating meaningful connections among passionate individuals — my heart sings. The genesis of creation is a powerful, awe-inspiring process where I absolutely flourish.
Bringing others together for mutual gain is in our DNA. Despite subtle nuance and personal preference, as social organisms, we tend to thrive amidst shared priority, similar ideals and complimentary assets. If two heads are better than one, it is because depth of focus requires multifaceted perspective. When we intentionally look to broaden the view through the collective lens, we inject new life, vibrant creativity, and commitment to success.
Intentionally seeking out opportunities for collaboration has the potential to support individuals on a personal, professional and civic level. Friendships are introduced, relationships become strengthened, and communities achieve renewed vitality. When it often seems easier to turn away and press on alone, cooperation infinitely bears an exceptional kind of fruit. Collaboration is a catalyst for something magically productive. The process is more than the sum of its parts. As each participant acknowledges that their combined effort has more meaning, greater impact and stronger significance, success becomes a matter of course.
This year, I have been honored with an anonymous scholarship to participate in Roaring Fork Leadership, a life-enriching local organization that exemplifies the good that comes from intentional collaboration. Since 1988, RFL’s mission, developing leaders for the community, has translated into over 650 graduates representing a broad range of public, private, nonprofit, health, education and business sectors — reflecting harmonious geographic, political, cultural, age, and gender diversity.
Through their broadly acclaimed annual program, classes of 40 community members at a time immerse themselves in three primary elements of participation: 1) personal growth and development, 2) skill building, and 3) practical application through a civic project. With over 100 hours of training and dialogue focusing on personal, professional, and community problem solving, the program culminates with small teams working collaboratively within a coordinated project of practical learning. Community issues are identified; individuals share insights for potential answers, and the team rallies to implement practical solutions. After twenty-five years, it is a paragon of community development with exponential impact.
As I look forward to my year with Roaring Fork Leadership, I join hundreds before me who celebrate personal ownership and collective accountability. Authentic collaboration is a reflection of humility, respect, integrity, and stewardship. It demonstrates a reverence for what others bring to the table, a readiness to compromise in methodology, and a sincerity of purpose on behalf of the greater good. Looking at the RFL website, I am inspired by the faces of past alumni representing twenty-five years of community leadership. I know their faces and I have seen the far-reaching impact of their experience and diligence. I am honored to join them. To those who supported my participation, I thank you.
To learn more about Roaring Fork Leadership, visit www.RFLeadership.org or call 970.922.6035.
— Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant of www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com, delivering hands-on organizational solutions for households, businesses, nonprofits, students, and life transitions. To comment or suggest column topics, visit the Facebook page “Intentional Solutions.” For more information about simplifying your stuff and organizing your life, call 366.2532 or email evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com.