Her text read: I am so happy to co-labor with you, Jordan.
Reading Bonnie’s text drew me into reflecting on our early days of collaboration. We met at a coach training I gave. Chatting after class, we realized not only did we have coaching in common, but our faith in Christ made a strong connection.
We also had plenty of things not in common. Bonnie is Korean American, I’m African American, and we’re from different generations. We process differently. Bonnie takes about 3.5 seconds to go from idea to execution, while I’m a contemplative processor who plans each step before launching.
We knew almost from the beginning that we wanted to work together. What we didn’t know was that our differences would nearly derail our partnership.
Bonnie took a shotgun approach to our work, scattering her aim over a wide area rather than a specific target. I didn’t understand her speed and apparent lack of planning. In return, she didn’t understand that my steady pace required details and clarity. She saw me as slow and disengaged. While we felt a Kingdom alignment, we didn’t know how to read each other, and this led to inaccurate assumptions. We soon went our separate ways.
Months later, Bonnie reached out. We talked.
She told me that when we began working together, she’d been under tremendous stress from another big project. She’d been on autopilot, driving hard to keep all the plates spinning. Coming from an entrepreneurial family, she was used to a fast pace, but this was too much. I told her I’d also been under pressure at that time. My family believed the best results came from taking one step at a time, but I’d been traveling and writing programs as well as coaching. Each had its own stress.
We realized we had never taken time to get to know one another culturally. We didn’t know how the other viewed work or success or what we meant when we spoke of “desired outcomes.” We didn’t know how to blend our strategic gifts to benefit the work, and we certainly didn’t understand each other’s actions. The sad part is that we never asked.
The best part? As we reconnected, we gradually grew to understand each other better and recommitted to working together. Through heart-centered curiosity about the other person and a mindset shift, we co-created a good way forward. We asked questions, and we honored one another. Now we both feel a palpable synergy when we’re collaborating. We’ve found that not only are our gifts compatible, but they make a powerful combination.
Co-creating connection works!
Here are a few ways to co-create connection with someone who is different from you.
*Realize you come from different cultures with different experiences.
*Co-create language and meaning.
*Honor the unique DNA of the other, explore rather than judge it.
* Embrace the gift of relationship.
* Trust God and God’s love.
Because of our differences, we almost lost a beautiful gift of partnership and collaboration. But God, in His wisdom, held it until we could put down assumptions, learn to co-create with one another, and also learn to co-create with Him.
My text back to Bonnie: I love you, I’m so proud of you.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:7)