Time and time again, I get confused by reality television’s insistence on pitting human against human. That aggressive competition is the opposite of my experience. This sounds naive. I know. Reality tv has been around for years, and I consume the drama willingly and gleefully.
But what makes a reality tv show great and my actual human experience is so far apart, I think it’s time for some course correction.
I should have been more surprised to see the Girl Scouts release a study about the harmful effects this is having on young girls’ development. But there it is, girls, my girls, our girls are growing up believing that they can’t trust people, that they have to compete to win a guy’s attention and that their value lies in their appearance. Ugh.
Collaboration, a comparison
|Reality Television||My Experience|
|When I say what I want, the group conspires on how to get it so that I can’t.||When I say what I want, everyone in the group starts scheming on how to help me get it.|
|“I’m not here to make friends.”||“I’m only here to make friends.”|
|My looks are the only thing I have to offer.||My looks simply support my messaging.|
|It’s a zero sum game.||We all win when we all learn.|
|I keep secrets to keep my competitive advantage.||I teach what I’ve learned.|
|My achievement depends upon your elimination.||We can all achieve together.|
Every Hale Bopp or so, there’s been that guy in the office who took credit for my ideas – or who openly undermined my efforts, but most of the time, it’s all collaboration. In all the years I’ve held jobs, I’ve worked with 2 of those people. That’s a lot of jobs, with hundreds of people. Perhaps it’s my industry, but there have only been two, two sociopaths for whom those reality tv lessons rang true.
Maybe it’s because I worked hard to join networking groups of people in different circles — tech, wine country, lifestyle — where the whole reason for our collaboration is to help each other out.
These loose associations have turned into a pillowy soft landing place for when things aren’t going so well. These groups serve as a trampoline to launch me back on my feet. The core value of all of these groups is to belong to a community of people helping each other succeed.
Of the three groups I’m thinking of, each meets once a year, each is roughly about 5 – 10 people strong and each is a continuing professional support system for this new internet.
If not, here are a few tips for starting a group like this of your own.
Figure out what you want
You can’t get what you want if you don’t spend the time figuring it out. It seems silly, but you might not actually want that tv show, that book deal, that singing contract.
Ask people you admire. Ask people who have something to offer the world. Surround yourself with people you want to be more like.
Meet in person
One of my groups meets every other month, one meets twice a year and one meets once a year. This in-person meeting is our last resort for trust.
Cap the membership
Keeping it small keeps it focused.
Use great technology
One of my groups lives mostly in an email thread, another in a private Facebook group. Google hangouts can work, Skype too. We have some amazing tools to collaborate big. Let’s do that.
Do you have a group like that?
A sort of professional development group?
A group that surrounds you that cheers you on to aim higher and celebrates hard wins?
How do you keep it going?