Ever felt lost in the shadow of someone else’s strengths? Or disappointed when they didn’t follow through and do what you expected? Working together is tough. Trust us. We know. Since the moment we met, we’ve worked together. We worked for other companies, and owned several of our own. Today, we enjoy writing books, speaking from stage, and coaching couples to live God’s specific design for their marriage. And, we love it! But, working together for the last twenty years hasn’t always been easy.
We’ve struggle to define roles in business and then juggled to keep work from bleeding over into our home life. We’ve experienced people pinning us against one another by over indulging in our individual strengths. Comments like “Wow! Julie is a talented writer. I love her books.” Or “Wow! Greg is a powerful leader! He always instinctively knows what to say and what to do.” We learned quickly to not feed thoughts like: Oh really? I thought both of our names appeared on the book cover! Or, do you have any idea of how many private conversations we held to land on that final business decision? Truthfully, working together has its moments. Comparisons and competition still tries to divide our unity. Identifying our roles, staying in our lane of expertise, and leveraging one another’s strengths doesn’t just happen.
So, why spend so much time laboring together when unity takes so much work? Why collaborate instead of doing things independently? Bottom line; because we are stronger together.
Andrew Carnegie once said “It marks a big step in your development when you come to realize that other people can help you do a better job than you can do alone.”[i]
Think about it. All throughout Scripture, God highlights the power of two. In Genesis, it wasn’t good for man to be alone so He creates a suitable helper. He instructs Noah to fill the ark with animals two by two. Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10 highlights “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Or, how about the New Testament? Think about it. How did Jesus send out the twelve disciples and then eventually the seventy? Yep, in pairs.
So, how can we best optimize and collaborate with others? Here are three quick tips:
- Know your desired outcome and reason for collaboration. Successful businesses and relationships understand the importance of building upon core values and moving towards a desired outcome, rather than meandering in all the details of what’s wrong. They focus on what’s right and their unified vision rather than the current issue or problem at hand.
- Optimize effectiveness by leveraging one another’s strengths. Know your part. Define your role. And then, play to your strengths while allowing your teammate, partner, or spouse play to theirs.
- Finally, celebrate don’t just tolerate one another’s differences. The most effective organizations welcome differences as assets, not competition. Govern your actions with a simple check point. Do you want to be right or do you want to unite?
God designed us for relationship and knows that we produce more when we cooperate and collaborate together.
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