“Collaborating in the very private way of love or the highest kind of friendship . . .” (Elizabeth Hardwick).
ONE OF THE MOST DELIGHTFUL THINGS ABOUT INTIMACY IS THE COLLABORATION IT MAKES POSSIBLE. When individuals draw close to one another, they not only enjoy being together, but they enjoy working together. Good work is pleasurable enough on its own, but it’s even more pleasurable when it’s the result of collaboration. Laboring with congenial coworkers is one of life’s real treats.
Not everyone, however, is equally good at collaboration. There are lots of people who can operate, but they can’t seem to co-operate! Collaboration is, in fact, a higher skill. It takes a stronger, wiser person to participate productively in joint undertakings and collective efforts.
Yet when a group is made up of those who know how to collaborate, the “synergy” that results multiplies the effect of the work exponentially. Working in the spirit of true collaboration, two people can produce far more than twice what either of them could do alone. And not only that, there’s a good chance their combined work will be more valuable than it would have been as the solo project of either one.
Some types of work are more suitable for collaboration than others, of course. The Mona Lisa, for example, could not have been produced by a committee. Yet even in the realm of artistic endeavor, teams of workers are often helpful, and even essential. When was the last time you heard the director of a great movie win an Oscar and not have a list of people to thank? The fact is, very few works of any kind are able to be completed in the real world without collaboration.
I believe that most of us want to collaborate. Some of us may work a bit better on our own than we do with other people, and some of our projects may require less help than other projects do. But deep down, we’re social creatures who thrive on togetherness. We experience a fundamental satisfaction when we collaborate. And I believe we enjoy the “together” aspect of work because we realize we’re connected to a reality that’s bigger than any of our individual works.
“A democratic society presupposes confidence and candor in the relations of men with one another and eager collaboration for the larger ends of life instead of the pursuit of petty, selfish, or vainglorious aims” (Felix Frankfurter).