Collaboration. It’s a theme I’ve been hearing about a lot lately; in podcasts, blogs and other articles. It’s something I’ve grown to value more and more in my own life. It’s also something a lot of creatives suck at.

So why do a lot of creative people find it hard to create with others? Because most creatives know exactly what they want to see; when they have a clear vision it’s hard to talk them out of it. Collaboration, on the other hard, requires that you surrender your vision to the greater vision. It means that someone might actually hate your genius idea. It means compromise. It sometimes means being led by someone else or fitting into a structure. All things many creatives rebel against. I know; I was there.

But despite all the constraints that can come with working with others, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. First of all, having someone question your ideas lets you know whether what you’re mulling in your brain is viable or well thought out. Here at SHIFTER Magazine, Dan and I are both visual and can have strong opinions (Joe and Koliah are more easygoing). Some of our best ideas have come when an original idea was questioned and then someone else came with another perspective that made the original idea even stronger. This is new for me because I’ve always created alone. Although it means that parts of your vision may die, in the end the final product is always better after we’ve collaborated.

More advantages to collaboration are that there are people around to help you stay motivated and there are people for you to celebrate milestones and accomplishments with. I’ve seen many great projects and ventures fail because a lone ranger creative or entrepreneur eventually lost steam and fizzled out. It happened to me when I operated my blog Reinventing Ottawa. That’s why I find it hard to invest time mentoring someone who’s working on a significant project or venture alone, or who doesn’t have the capacity or desire to build a team. Even if I love them, they’re great people and they’re talented, if they don’t know how to collaborate with others they won’t succeed.

Lastly, collaboration allows you to tap into networks and resources you could never access on your own. There’s a reason why recording artists feature on each others’ songs. When we went about creating the SHIFTER email list we immediately started with a fairly large list because as business partners we were able to combine our contacts. We would’ve never been able to do that on our own.

If you’re a lone ranger, it’s time to find your Tonto (sorry, that was awful but I had to do it). It’s rare for someone to create at a high level alone. Every Steve Jobs needs a Steve Wozniak. Every Paul McCartney needs a John Lennon. Every Dan needs a Kevin. There’s rarely any significant creation without collaboration.

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