I’ve always been pretty independent. My dad has told the story numerous times about how I was never a cuddly baby and started walking at seven months old. (I had to keep up with my big sister, after all.) That independence has served me well most of my life. But there have been many times I had to work with others.
Group projects are interesting. They usually include rule followers and rule breakers and, more often than not, the rule followers end up doing the majority of the work. Being a rule follower myself, I tend to take a project seriously and pick up any slack left by other group members to ensure we deliver what was requested.
It can be easy for me as an independent to fall into a rut of believing my way is the right way — and the only way. Sure, I know there are other approaches that could be taken, but I typically am in go mode and don’t consider them — for long, anyway — largely in the interest of time.
As I’ve grown and matured, however, I’ve learned more about the art of collaboration and its benefits, and how to capitalize on the differences of those in a group. We each have something to contribute.
Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses. Where I’m lacking, others excel. And when we come together, we provide completely unique perspectives on the same project. For example, I’m a word person, so I come at a project from a different angle than someone who works with numbers in analytics would. Considering those varied perspectives broadens my view and shows me a bigger picture.
By humbling myself and allowing others to participate in projects I could just as easily do myself, I learn things I wouldn’t otherwise. I get an idea into what makes my fellow group members tick and what they’re passionate about. They help me see the world in a new way. I grow in the process, and I develop a greater appreciation for the other participants.
The final project turns out better than it would have had I done it all myself, and those who participated feel a sense of ownership in it. And that’s a good thing.
Christian, wife, mother of 5, breast cancer survivor, marathon finisher, writer and editor, author of "Help! I'm a Science Project"