Synergy, or not being too full of yourself

I’ve learned lately to see myself the same way I diagnose other people in professional settings: “He thinks that way because…”

Each one of us is different, unique, and brings our own strengths to the table. Each one of us also has our own blind spots.

None of us see the world completely objectively–certainly not in specific situations in which we have vested interest or emotional involvement. We have no problem assenting to that idea. But then when we approach and act on a real world situation, we tend to overlook it.

“He thinks that way because… he doesn’t think about long-term consequences. I need him to understand things like I do.”

This last year I’ve really come to understand and appreciate that just as often, they’re thinking about me, too: “He thinks that way because… he’s unable to see all the alternatives–he’s too linear,” or some other thought pattern.

And it’s not bad. I have had a unique life full of ups and downs and hard work that I am proud of. It has helped make me who I am, and I am confident in what I think and do. But my life has also blinded me from certain truths and ideas. It has biased me against some possibilities and methods.

My co-worker or friend or spouse (etc) has had a different life that might have specially shaped them to have a little different perspective in this area, a little more confidence in that area, and a little more alertness in another area.

Our two minds together own more experience and perspective and capability than my mind or his or hers. On one condition: That we communicate about our different opinions, concerns, perspectives, misgivings, motivations, etc.

If we just keep quiet in hopeless resignation–“they’ll never understand!”–we rob each other of the wisdom we could have shared.

I don’t know it all or have all the answers and I’m not always right. But neither are you. Let’s talk–argue (nicely)–discuss–brainstorm–question–share. If we can genuinely embrace each other’s different perspectives, learn from each other, and allow ourselves to be balanced out by each other–then we’re far better off than if we were just on our own.

If we don’t exercise that attitude, we’d be better off alone. Strength in numbers doesn’t work if there’s not also humility and communication.

Synergy: “The interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

Author: Peter Elbridge

I am a lifelong learner and avid reader, which translates into doing smart work for myself, my team, and my clients. I have a passion for effective leadership and an even bigger passion for helping others do and feel better. I have a lot of experience in communication, public speaking, and writing. Above all, I have a deep and genuine care for every life I touch. That's why I write. (My opinions and endorsements are my own and do not represent my employer.)

2 thoughts on “Synergy, or not being too full of yourself”

  1. I think that this rings true and is amplified by the overwhelming presence of social media in (most) people’s lives. Technology has given us a platform to share our opinions and knowledge which is a wonderful thing, however it also gives us an opportunity to quickly judge others. With the recent controversial election, the number of times I saw “if you voted for this candidate then we can no longer be friends” or “if you support this person then you are a terrible person” was frightening.

    I believe that healthy discord is the best way to understand how somebody else feels and is a great way to test how you actually feel about certain topics (you are right, we never take the time to reflect on why we feel the way we do about things). It is just unfortunate that it seems to be difficult to have healthy discord and have nobody with hurt feelings!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In the Army and life I learned and met many people who would not listen to anything if they ‘outranked’ you, but when I was in the Army I learned that you can learn something from everyone. I learned everyone has a different viewpoint. And two of the same exact type of mechanics, programmers, chefs, etc have all had different situations.
    I remember this clearly from a tank that my and one other mechanic had been troubleshooting for hours, and kept coming up with different faults every time we fixed one another would emerge. After hours another mechanic that both of us outranked pointed out something that he had seen just recently that week. Thanks for discussing this. It is something that I think a lot of people forget especially if they are a ‘leader’ in a field.

    Liked by 1 person

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