Today, I ask students to tell me what they will devote themselves to in their future careers. In two sentences, they tell me 1) what they want to contribute to their field and 2) a few professional goals.
As we read aloud our statements, I'm suddenly aware of how self-focused and self-promoting such an assignment might become. We listen to independent dreams and glorious self-actualization. We build private kingdoms with our names on the highest building.
But one woman announces that her primary professional goal is collaboration.
Collaborate means to work together towards a common goal. It's a great verb to think about for a career and a life. While many of us forge ahead with solitary tasks and private ambitions, we forget the power and importance of collaboration. My student recognizes her dependence on other people and other organizations to reach mutually beneficial goals.
I start to wonder with whom I might collaborate in my life. Is my personal goal really a communal one? Is my self-focused personal dream really a much larger project involving a system so much bigger than myself? How much more efficient might we become if we collaborate?
That verb challenges me to think about myself as a collaborator and not a solitary agent pushing my own agenda. I know I'd often rather work alone, but surely there is strength, vision, and synergy when I collaborate.
Journal: Sometimes I think I'm too busy trying to make a name for myself to consider the value of collaboration towards shared goals. What people or groups might I collaborate with in my parenting, teaching, writing, and ministry goals?