Photo by hamad M
“This is NPR. National Public Radio.” Ugh. 5AM. Why do I do this to myself?
Most people think I’m crazy waking up so early. My wife finds it equally odd that I jump out of bed. No snooze button for me. As soon as that alarm goes off, Bam! Out of bed and ready to create and take on the world.
Early mornings are my most creative and productive. It’s when I can think and ponder about my next project, how to organize an event or a particularly challenging work problem.
These early morning creative times allow me to build up to my day. They get the mind moving and allow me to free form all those whacky ideas that swirl in my noggin as well as setup for the rest of the day.
I bring up my routine not to brag about how I figured it out but to give you just one example of what works for one person. Your routine will be different. You may need to tweak your day to get into the groove. I know I had to change a bit. In order to wake up a 5:00am, I usually go to bed at 9:00pm. Yup, I’m rock’n fun at parties!
Discipline Builds Onto Itself
Even if I just outline a piece, answer emails or do research, the discipline of working builds onto itself. Pretty soon, I’ll have a outline done, a completed piece, scheduled my next neighborhood meeting or just more ideas. This allows me to build up a body of work incrementally and not have to rush through projects to make a deadline. Sure, I give myself deadlines because that’s the only way I’ll get stuff done.
Getting stuff done is also a great boost to your self-esteem and demonstrates to others that you can be relied on. That’s an important trait to have. More on that later on.
Now, some of you may be wondering what it takes to build up the momentum to create or lead day after day, week after week and even year after year. It’s really not as hard as you think.
Building Momentum Daily
Whatever your creative or leadership pursuits, it’s important to constantly work on them. Without constant practice, you will lose your skills.
Now, we will build on your base of doing to take on more challenging projects and expand your impact. The major change is you will no longer fly solo. In order to expand your impact, you need to now work with others.
Expanding Your Impact
By now, I’ll assume you have been creating or doing something solo for a couple of months maybe even a year. That’s great. You should be proud that you stuck with it.
Now, we need to expand your impact by getting others involved with your ideas and projects. This is really the only way to bring your leadership and creativity to the next level.
By taping into others, you expand your influence as well as your ability to get stuff done. It’s really a simple concept — the more people working on a project, the better and quicker it will get finished.
Who’s A Skeptic?
I know some of you are skeptical about working with others because you want total control of your project, creation or idea. In some cases, that’s required but eventually, you have to get other people involved.
The reason is simple — you need them. You need them for feedback. You need them to spread the word. You need them to own a piece of it. You need them to encourage you on.
Without the help of others, we don’t grow. Every great leader, CEO, artist or writer had help.
Writers have editors. Bill Gates had Paul Allen. Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniacki. Bert had Ernie.
Collaborating With Others
It’s actually pretty scary inviting other people into our worlds. It feels a little vulnerable to open yourself up and work with others.
There are no hard fast rules when it comes to collaborating with others. The general guidelines below will offer a basic framework to get started:
Socialize: Before working with someone, it’s best to get to know them a little beforehand. Just jumping into the work can hide some potential personality conflicts .
Start Small: It’s best to take on a small project to test the waters of your new collaborator. That way, both of you have little to loose if things don’t work out.
Be Honest: The best way to start off any relationship is to be honest with the other person. Don’t embellish your capabilities only to later have to renege on commitments.
Set A Deadline: The best way to get a project done is to set a deadline. Make it a little aggressive so that you are focused on getting the tasks done.
Strike An Equitable Deal: The best collaborations are when the parties are equal. Anything other than equality and things get a murky and complicated.
Hold Each Other Accountable: Commit and deliver is the name of the game. Expect the same from your collaborators and your project will go smoothly.
Respect Each Others Time: Time is our most valuable resource. Respect the fact that your collaborator has other projects and commitments.
Once you have successfully collaborated on a project, you will feel great. Not only do you start to see other opportunities but you grow as a person. Even a simple project like cleaning up a community garden will inspire you to seek out more like minded people.
This momentum will build and pretty soon, you and your colleagues can take on more and more.
What Happens If Things Go Wrong
It’s natural to think of the downside of a collaboration gone wrong. It does happen and that’s one of the risks of putting yourself out there.
The key attitude to have when collaborations go wrong is to treat each other with respect and find an equitable way to get of of the deal. No hard feelings. Nobodies fault — it just didn’t work out.
If you take that tact, then you can preserve the relationship and maybe work on something else in the future.
Take The Leap
Enough talk about the downsides. The upsides far outweigh the downsides. It’s a wonderful feeling to have collaborated with people to create something bigger than yourself. Don’t be afraid. Embrace the challenge. Get out there and create.