I was recently reminded about the story of the 6 blind men and the elephant. We were discussing communication and how we can all see the world differently. In the story, the 6 men were positioned at different parts of the elephant: the tail, tusk, side etc. Through their sense of touch, they experienced what was in front of them from their perspective – a rope, a spear, a wall etc and that was their reality. It’s a great poem (as it was originally) to demonstrate the value of listening to other perspectives. On reflection, though I realise that it offers another layer of advice.
The 6 men each had a part of the picture but it would only be when they came together and shared their thoughts that they would understand the magic of what was in front of them. What they needed was a collaborative mindset. They needed to realise that 6 heads were much better than 1. By pooling all their thoughts and ideas they would probably have come up with the most accurate understanding of an elephant ever created.
What do we mean by collaboration?
A collaborative mindset is more than just thinking ‘we’ not ‘I’ (although it is a good start!). It’s about taking time, even when under pressure, to not only share your knowledge and capabilities with others but to also value the input of everyone involved. When you explore all opinions and perspectives that’s when the real magic happens. 1+1 really can equal 3 or even more (as Kilmann called it, the integrative dimension of working).
At I Have Got This our third thinking habit is I am open and generous to others for that specific reason. We use the word ‘generous’ as an I Have Got This mindset cultivates collaboration and abundant thinking. Abundance steers us away from the scarcity mentality, helping us see that there is enough for everyone if we come together.
Benefits of a Collaborative Mindset
So let’s consider the positive impact that a collaborative mindset can have on you, your team and your organisation.
- Relationship building – having an open mindset encourages people to come together, creating strong and trusting relationships that last.
- Teamworking – when everyone feels their input is valued, engagement increases.
- Conflict Management – an abundant mentality reduces conflict as we see there is enough for everyone if we put our heads together.
- Diversity of thinking – coming together, listening to different perspectives encourages creativity and new ways of looking at things.
- Building on and exploring ideas – some of the best ideas have come from those ‘water cooler moments’, little thoughts that become big ideas through collaborative conversations.
- Reducing stress – coming together and connecting with others is a natural stress reducer. When there is collaboration there can still be healthy competition but an I Have Got This mindset challenges and stretches you without breaking.
Collaboration in Changing Times
In change and uncertainty, our brains will try and protect us by thinking small and safe. As the second half of 2021 unfolds we are presented with a range of challenges that can be lessened by having a collaborative mindset. Hybrid working, in particular, can lead to a reduction in engagement, communication and productivity if we don’t work hard to develop a mindset that says ‘we are all one team’.
This is the time to be bold and courageous (our Habit 6) exploring all aspects of the elephant (or the world), the people in it and the endless possibilities if we just come together. That’s a collaborative mindset!
I Have Got This! offers a range of mindset growth programmes to help individuals and teams navigate change and uncertainty. Through our boot camps and workshops using our 6 cognitive habits, we will help you change your mindset and develop the self-confidence, agility and resilience to embrace change and thrive. Click here to find out more.