5 Tips For Successful Collaboration

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When collaborating, there are many dynamics at play.  These dynamics can include elements of individual personality characteristics, quantity and quality of egos, experience, and onward. Collaboration is an ever-evolving process and practice, and with time it can yield the sweetest of results creatively, no matter what your medium.  Following are some tips on how I have personally cultivated my creative relationships.

1. Check Your Ego at the Door

Egos, especially with creators, can be a major aspect of successful or failed collaborative processes.  It is imperative to show up with an open mind, detachment to one’s own ideas as “supreme”, and with the idea in mind that your partner(s) may have offerings that you yourself do not possess, or of which you have not yet been made aware.  

2.  Focus On Strengths while still Being Aware Of Weaknesses

Know your role. This is huge.  If one partner has an exceptional ability, embrace it. In my own collaborative relationship with my song writing partner, Josh Kobel, I am the stronger lyricist and composer of arrangements, whereas Josh is the stronger melody writer, and singer.  So we surrender to each other and let our aptitudes mesh and compliment each other. Not even Paul McCartney was a one man show, hence why ALL Beatles songs say Lennon / Mccartney (except for the Harrison and Starr composed songs). One can be strong alone, but with a partner(s), mountains can be moved more easily.

3. Share Responsibility With Enthusiasm

When you are in a partnership, the burdens must be shared, but not with a sense of dread.  Remember that there is a common goal in partnerships to succeed, or at least there should be. This includes financial, creative, and logistical burdens, all the while encouraging and reminding each other that “We want to do this and see it manifest.”  Personally, I enjoy not always needing to do all the work, but instead having help and support from people who are on the journey with me. Now of course, not all collaborations will be set up this way, but the main point is, bring your best to the table with a good attitude.

4. Communicate With Kindness, and Be Direct

Don’t beat around the bush, but also don’t beat the bush. Communication is EVERYTHING. Do not hold things in until they become problems, but also know your nature.  If you are the kind of person that tends to have impulsive, knee jerk reactions, then take a moment or ten to process, then open the conversation. If you feel nervous talking on the fly, then make notecards for yourself to keep your mind focused.  And know your taboos, but don’t fear or avoid them. For many creatives, a huge taboo / mood killer/ awkward turtle / pink elephant in the room is contracts/formal agreements. But this type of stuff MUST be hashed out BEFORE work begins, otherwise terms, boundaries, expectations and hopes can’t possibly be calibrated, understood, or agreed upon.  Have the hard conversations,.. but be nice about it. There’s a great phrase I like: “Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Just don’t be mean when you say it.”

5. KEEP IT FUN, even if it’s challenging at times

At the end of the day remember that collaboration is meant to be the act of Co-Creating, and that is a sacred act.  It doesn’t matter what style of art is being created; it could be a sad, depressing song about a horrific event; but through the act of creating a work reflective of that with others, there should still be a flow; a tangible sense of energy, an excitement. That is the divine sensation of creation, the feeling of Life. And life is meant to be fun, as we really ought not to take our earthly existence too seriously... It’s not like any one gets out alive, so time is best spent in joy, serving creation.  

These tips are just a few of an endless amount of experiential truths that I have come to know in my lifetime as a professional creative. It is my hope that these insights can find a place in your being, dear reader, and that they may serve to help you navigate your journey, as well the journeys of those that walk with you.


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