There is no failure: you either give-up, or you prevail.

A discrete task can fail, but this is no more relevant to the overall mission than breaking a shoelace is to a shoe, or misplaced keys are to a car. It’s a temporary setback; it’s still a shoe, it’s still a car.

The exception of course is death.

However, this only applies if you go it alone, and underscores one of the most overlooked factors in continuous success: cooperation.

I grew up with a lot of role models I perceived as individualists: Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, Seymour Cray, Steve Jobs, etc. I’ve always been happiest working alone than with others (with rare exceptions). This has put a ceiling on the scope of my work, which I’ve learned to work within, and I’m sure I’m not alone in working this way.

But what I’ve overlooked is that it also makes my work vulnerable.

Without involving others, failure is imminent and unavoidable for any project that isn’t completed before my time is up. This means I have an ever decreasing amount of time to finish all of my work, and it also makes it fairly simple for someone to instantly stop my ideas from coming to fruition.

Hmm… this started out as something less personal but seems to have turned into being about me. I’m going to guess that I’m not the only person working on this problem though.

So I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m going to need to resolve these two things: the perceived efficiency of working alone vs. the durability of working with others. I don’t know how I’m going to resolve this, but I’m going to start by looking for clues in the few enjoyable collaborations I’ve had in my life.

I’ve made several attempts at this, but I’ve never found way to reliably recreate the experience of working together that feels natural. The exception to this has been the projects I work on with Jamie.

…and maybe that’s where the answer lies?

The key may not be in the collaboration itself, but in working with people for whom I have a level of trust, respect and love that allows all fear and ego to be set-aside, and the work to flow naturally without and social or psychological constraints.

  • Trust, in the fact that no one on the team will deliberately harm one another, and that everyone is doing the best work they can.
  • Respect, the knowledge that everyone’s work is valued equally and there will be no contempt for role in the project.
  • Love, for the joy of doing the work, and valuing one-another more than the the result of it.

This may be a good place to start. I don’t always have control over who I work with, but when I do I’ll make an effort to choose collaborators who fit the description above and see what happens.