When 2+2=7

This morning, I finished my second read of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey (HIGHLY recommend). This book has been part of my morning grounding process for the past couple of months, and I can’t wait to read through it again and again throughout my life (it’s that good).

One of the concepts Covey discusses is that of 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. Or, in less technical terms, working with someone else in such a way that 1+1=6.

What struck me about this concept was Covey pointed out that having synergy relies on having differences. It’s very hard to make something greater than you and your partner if that partner is just a carbon copy of you.

I am all for this concept in business and outside collaboration, and I can see how it would be beneficial. However, I have come to realize that I am a bit more close-minded when it hits closer to home.

My boyfriend and I are extremely similar in some ways (think oldest siblings, same zodiac sign, same “in charge” mentality) and yet extremely different in others (saver vs. spender, conserve vs. enjoy, avoid vs. confront, etc). Our differences AND our similarities have led to many a fireworks show over the time we have been together.

It is extremely difficult to let go of the idea that my way is the best. Obviously, if I didn’t think it was the best, I wouldn’t do things that way. However, the principle of synergy urges us to embrace our differences in order to create a new and better result than that which comes from just our efforts alone.

Let me tell you, as someone who is used to being “IN CHARGE”, this is an extremely difficult pill to swallow. I don’t want to open up my arms to Difference; I want to lovingly guide Difference to see how it’s been doing things wrong all this time. I don’t want to be open to hearing about other’s ways; I want to other’s ways to be converted to my ways.

And yet.

It is very clear how this principle works. If I want something to be GREAT, I must stop holding on so tightly to what I think is GOOD and allow, nay, welcome, other opinions to enter into the workspace.

So, how can an Oldest Child-Control Freak-Aries-Teacher get to this place of synergy in her home?

  1. Relax. There is more than one right way to do things, and just because I like to use one squirt of soap on my washcloth and he apparently needs to use half the bottle to feel clean does not mean either of us are more right. If you are able to let go of the emotion attached to the action (i.e. HOW CAN YOU BE SO WASTEFUL?!), you can more clearly see that these smaller things are not the end of the world.
  2. Start small. If you can get synergy on smaller issues you need to tackle as a team, you will build trust which will then naturally lead to tackling bigger and bigger issues together. Seeing results is motivating in any space, and knowing that you and your partner can handle things together is paramount to success.
  3. See your partner as just that, a partner. It is easy, for me at least, to put the person we love in an adversarial position when we believe our way is the only way. However, when we realize that we chose this person for a reason and we put our trust in their judgement (because why would you be with someone you don’t trust?), we open ourselves up to dynamic and productive discussions that lead to that synergistic result.

I know that there needs to be a lot of personal growth and reconstruction done on my inner self before I can reach this place of true synergy with others, but it’s always good to have lofty goals. Besides, it truly is our differences that make the world the amazing place that it is, and we need to start embracing them in our smaller circle, not just the planet at large.

When we’ve all opened up to the energy and insight and viewpoints that other people bring, then, my friends, we can start making magic.

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