About collaborating, some musings and some thanks

June 26th, 2008

Warning: The following is a bit of a ramble through my mind, a jumble of thoughts. So beware of a lack of coherence. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! It’s also inspired by that business marker, the end of the financial year, when next Tuesday everything goes back to zero.

I’ve been having some interesting thoughts about collaborating and how to do business. I do this as I sit at my desk covered in receipts and bills waiting attention. The radio is on in the background, examples of potential new letterhead and business cards waiting for a decision sit ignored, scribblings about flights from Melbourne to Lusaka are lost amongst telephone messages and the new tax rates for 08/09. My bags from the New Zealand trip lay on the floor, still to be unpacked, two half drunk cups of coffee are next to my mouse pad and the heater is on keeping the winter chill out. It rained earlier and was windy. Now it’s sunny and the ocean, which I can see out of the window on my left, is a deep, deep blue. I can also see lots of little birds, black and yellow New Holland Honeyeaters, olive White-naped Honeyeaters, Superb Blue Wrens and Silver Eyes, coming into the bird bath which is also bathed sunshine. Dozens of them sit of the edge of the bird bath and chatter incessantly as they compete for time to splash about in the water.

I quite like working alone. No, that’s not quite true. I quite like only being responsible for me. I like working with others. Not everyone. And I’m very sure that not everyone would want to work with me! When the synergy is there though it’s magic. And it’s that magic that keeps me coming back for more: with Anne, we seem to be able to read each other’s minds when working together, and it’s always full of laughs and learning; with Stephen, complementary skills and knowing each other’s strengths – and the good-humoured way he adapts to my last minute changes and whacky ideas; Geoff – who brings a freshness and aliveness and quick mind that sparks my own, sometimes sluggish mind into action; Brian – who is so opposite to me in so many ways but has such a depth of insight that I’m in awe; Antony – with whom I’m always just a little bit afraid (usually of what I might discover about myself) and who is so, so skillful with the action methods that he uses; Andrea – such a gorgeous person, so clever, so talented.

These are the people I actively collaborate with. Then there’s all my ‘silent’ partners – the people who inspire me, some of whom I’ve met, some not yet. Many of them are here on the web – speakers at TED, bloggers (see them over there on the left), the voices I listen to on podcasts who become familiar in some ways, yet remain strangers in others, and people that I’ve met through conferences, or through working with them, or travelling in remote places.

And then there’s the people who just make life easier – accountants and book-keepers, house cleaners and helpful shop-keepers who find what I need or give me advice, 14 year-olds who can fix my computer problems probably while playing the latest electronic game on the side, the postie who sorts the mail and puts it into my very own box. 

And then there’s the people who really make life worth living – friends and lovers and family. And pets – Comet, now alone since Radar died.

This all amounts to a way of working and being that suits me just fine – something that I never dreamt would be. Could never have imagined. Which brings me to imagining our futures. Call it what you will – any sort of long-term planning, strategic or otherwise, visioning, futuring – it’s all nonsense to me. I can’t imagine a future vastly different to the one I’m now living in – maybe it’s a limit of my imagination. What I can do is put hopes out into the universe and be present to the realisation of those hopes. Open to opportunities. Many years ago I decided that I wanted to work overseas – just for short stints – and eventually that happened. I had my first break working in Laos. It wasn’t planned. Someone else wasn’t available. I was. I never had a business plan. I’m not ambitious enough to ‘grow the business’ – I get enough work, I enjoy what I do (mostly) and I get to take time out when I want to. I have met, and continue to meet amazing people. I used to say that I did no marketing. I now see that’s not true. I did no traditional marketing. What I’ve always done is shown up. In person, and these days, electronically as well. Showing up and being present are under-rated, I reckon. Thanks to my improv buddies I’ve learnt a lot about that too.

I was just going to write ‘I wish I could draw’. What I really mean is, ‘I wish I had the patience and willpower to unearth, unlock, release my drawing muscles’. In the meantime I need to use words to express what I’m feeling.

So what hopes are currently out there in the universe waiting for the planets to align (sorry ;-)? That would be cheating, wouldn’t it? I’ll let you know when they are realised – because, on past experience, I know they will be. Thanks for playing YOUR part, knowingly or unknowingly. And one hope I will reveal – that I can repay YOU.

Happy End-of-the-Financial-Year

2 Comments so far

  1. Kimbra White on June 27, 2008 4:59 pm

    Hi Viv
    It was good to read your musings. I was sitting at my home office desk (not so many birds here in my suburban Melbourne garden – many trees are bare and the oxalis is thriving)also musing on my current work. As I have been discussing collaborations with a couple of other solos, I have felt the need to define a ‘greater’ purpose for my work. So your thoughts are redefining mine – so should I attempt to imagine a future or do I seek to define my hopes. I like the lens of hopes. Though it doesn’t quite meet my need for a ‘real’ purpose. (on the definition of real – have you read the children’s book the Velteen Rabbit?). In previous jobs (regional local goverrnment lobby groups) purpose for me related to a better deal for a place such as advocating for a university for western sydney. Now that I work in advising on and facilitating community engagement – I am playing with “this will be a better place, if people are talking and their voices are heard in decisioin making processes.”

    Any thoughts on purpose???
    Thanks for letting me use your blog to reflect – and in the hope of other contributions.

    Best wishes, Kimbra

  2. Viv McWaters on June 30, 2008 4:04 pm

    Hi Kim – Thanks for your thoughts. For me ‘do no harm’ is important, and recognising small contributions. I gave up years ago trying to fathom how I could change the world etc – decided just to do what I’m good at (hopefully :-), leave others to do what they are good at, and be generous and work from an abundancy paradigm ie there’s enough for us all out there. I think the world needs more conversation, so if I can contribute to that cf more ppt presentations then I’m happy.

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