I've just begun reading Shawn Achor's new book, Big Potential, and it's really making me think. In his book, he posits that no matter how talented or exceptional you are, alone, you only reach "small potential;" however, "big potential" is achieved when working in concert with others. He explains: "Success is not just about how creative or smart or driven you are, but how well you are able to connect with, contribute to and benefit from the ecosystem of the people around you." Basically, even though we're taught that in order to stand out we had to be different and separate from everyone else, his research says that actually the opposite is true: we make more progress the more we're connected to each other.
This concept is honestly really hard for me. It's not that I live to compete -- I actually am not that driven by competition -- but I have a really hard time delegating or sharing responsibility with people. I'm far more likely to think, "I'll just handle it," rather than asking for help or searching for collaborative opportunities. I'm not proud of this, and I'm not sure why this is ... I'm afraid work won't get done properly? I'm afraid to be disappointed? In any event, it means that I often get buried in work that I really don't need to be doing, and would be better handled by someone else.
In short, I need to learn to be better at sharing, it seems.
Very early in the book, Achor illustrates his point by telling a tale of thousands of fireflies that light the mangroves of Southeast Asia. It's a great story with a little bit of magic involved, so I won't spoil it by retelling it here. But there's one paragraph about the phenomenon that I love, that I can't help but share:
Biologists who have explored these jungles now know that the glow emanating from those mangroves can be seen for miles. This means that it is even easier for other fireflies to find their way to the light. So the brighter it shines, the more newcomers join and add their light. This is true just as much for humans as it is for fireflies: The more you help people find their light, the brighter you both will shine.
Man, you know, I love that.
Shine on, friends.
Soundtrack: Shine by Collective Soul