It’s been just over 11 years since I lost my mother. She taught me many valuable lessons, and one of them was from her favorite activity: crafts and especially quilting.
While my mother was good with crafts, I’m not a ‘crafty’ person. When it came to quilting, there were too many intricacies, I thought, as I watched her thread pieces of fabric together during my childhood. I like to keep things simple…crafts were not for me.
As I grew older, my desire for simplicity showed up in the way I learned. Group projects seemed too complicated…I’d rather go it alone. I’d do it better, faster, and with less frustration with the various “pieces” (people) to handle. I then brought this into my early professional work, not always keeping others apprised of my progress as I masterminded—often in solitude—what I believed to be creatively-stunning outputs.
There was a cost, I realized, over time. I missed the chance to learn from others to enrich my own growth. I lost the opportunity for others to weigh in with their brilliance so the resulting output could be even better than I had imagined.
As this big, bright lightbulb exploded in my head during my early 30s, I began to change my ways. It wasn’t easy at first. Things took longer; they didn’t go the way I’d envisioned; and—most importantly—it was sometimes difficult for me to express my vision to others in words. Despite that, I came to adopt the slogan, “Two brains are better than one, three brains are better than two, and so on…” as a default way of operating.
Today, I am still learning what “co-leadership” means in action, and I have irrefutable evidence that leading together is not only more enjoyable but also my best chance at creating positive change in my world. Community has become central to my way of leading and living. I love working with others now in my professional community. I love interacting with the awesome people in my neighborhood community. The “quilts” of my life now burst with color and depth because I am investing time and energy in co-leadership and my communities.
This Week’s Challenge: Think about where you feel isolated in your life, where you carry a responsibility alone. Know you aren’t the only one who feels that way. Now do a quick scan—write a list, if it helps—of people in your life and choose someone who can help you brainstorm possibilities for how to make that responsibility seem less isolating.
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