The Inner World of Collaboration

All the woes of today remind me of the sixties, when issues of racism, sexism, war, degradation of the environment exploded into main stream consciousness. What is common to these woes is the use of power as power over others, creating a society based on domination. Like a spiral dance where you return to the same place in a new way, we return to the same issues today in a more polarized environment. But along with the uncertainty and lack of unity, an opportunity presents itself to move in a new, more evolved direction, away from a domination approach.

Iron Butterflies have chosen another path and redefine the meaning of power as power with and for others, evoking the world of working together. Largely off the radar screen, Iron Butterflies are midwifing a new era of cooperation and collaboration.

Rod Lehman of the Fetzer Institute described true collaboration in this way: “The inner life of collaboration is about states of mind and spirit that are open: open to self-examination, open to growth, open to trust, and open to mutual action. The relationships that arise from such radical openness become vehicles for co-creation.”

This profound openness necessarily means people confront vulnerabilities, their own and others, such as fear, uncertainty, confusion. In a domination-based culture, this openness, this vulnerability is regarded as only a weakness, as an opportunity to exploit or diminish another in an effort to elevate oneself. But there is another side to vulnerability, as an opportunity for a depth of connection with yourself and others that is not otherwise possible, an opportunity to co-create.

Being able to allow, accept and address vulnerabilities in the work place actually help promote a more collaborative work environment. First, they level the playing field and break down hierarchy because they establish mutuality. We are all vulnerable: we all die, we all want to be loved, we all want to contribute. Second, people connected to their vulnerability are more likely to collaborate because they recognize their interdependence and interconnection. If you are not connected to yourself as a vulnerable human being (which means you are in great denial!) then you don’t need to collaborate because you are caught up in an illusion of independence and think you don’t need anyone. You just bark orders and try to control people.

Collaboration is a much more complex way of working together than command and control. It requires lots of relational intelligence, a clear sense of self, a sensitivity to other, a vision for a shared interest. And you have to be strong enough to be vulnerable. Are you participating in the movement of transforming our society from one based on domination to collaboration? What difficulties/benefits do you experience in collaborating?


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17 Responses to “The Inner World of Collaboration”

  1. Rubble says:

    Why are humans so vulnerable to religious ideas?
    Scientists have identified the region of our brains that is responsible for religious belief. It normally gives us the ability to comprehend that other people, apart from ourselves, can have an influence on our lives. We share this region with other primates, but clearly they are only using it in a social way.

    Religious parents continuously reinforce the concept of an invisible intelligent entity (having control over every aspect of life), into their children’s developing brains. This region works overtime and links are grown to every other concept in the child’s mind.

    They are left with the idea that, ‘Everything’ has to be the result of ‘someone else’s’ actions, with this ‘someone’ being god.

    This is why a person that has been ‘programmed’ in this way will defend their god concept no matter what, even if it means denying basic fact.

    It is literally impossible for them to comprehend any possibility, other than an invisible human-like intelligence outside of their own.

    What are your thoughts?

    • Anonymous says:

      Very thoughtful. I think religion perpetuates a parent/child relationship with God, but I think this is part of the transformation: to no longer see ourselves as children but as co-creators.

  2. Samson says:

    I’m like… 4 and 6… I’m like totally insecure about myself or talking to certain people. I’ll like try then give up.

  3. Angel Hair says:

    Assuming power over others makes mockery of freedom…

  4. Beard says:

    Very elegantly written Birute – great topic 🙂

  5. Steven Saltsman says:

    Our body is very vulnerable to disease.
    One screw gets loose in a plane may cause a chain reaction that cause it to crash and kill everybody inside.
    A casual walk on the street may cost your live when you are in the line of fire of gang bangers or when a drunk driver runs you over.

    • Anonymous says:

      Being connected to my vulnerability makes more grateful for every day. How about you?

  6. Jello Bear says:

    This full commitment to human liberty is really quite an unusual and often difficult stance. Yet it is at the heart of the difference between what a free and what an authoritarian or totalitarian society is about.

  7. Brant Bell says:

    I wield power over others by giving them free samples of Nutella, is that wrong?

    • Anonymous says:

      Is that wielding power? You’re making an offering; they have a free will to accept, but oh, Nutella, so hard to resist!

  8. Lance MUTHAFIN' Armstrong says:

    A truly free country leaves it to its citizens to plan their lives, for better or for worse, and refuses to permit the imposition of plans on them even by the most wise and smart among us. If one has plans for others, regardless how worthy they may be, these must be promoted without coercion, by voluntary means. That is indeed the mark of civilization — human relations must at all levels adhere to the principle of free association and avoid treating people as if they may be included in the plans of others without their willing participation. However cumbersome this may appear, it is still the basic imperative of a free society.

  9. Anonymous says:

    your comment makes me think of the role of government. In a capitalistic society where everyone is out for themselves, shouldn’t there be someone watching out for the greater good? Someone said you can tell how great a nation is by how well the take care of the children, the aging, the less fortunate. Wouldn’t that come under being “civilized?”

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