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Dear Bernadette,

Update: it’s still winter. 

If you’re a snow-sport enthusiast or just love the cold weather and long nights, then February is probably your jam. Me? Not so much. (I am #solarpowered). Like it or not, though, winter plays an important role in the unfolding of nature and in the human psyche - it’s an annual invitation to go inside and reflect. I suppose it deserves a little respect.


There’s a point in time, though, (right about now for me) when the 'cozy' has fully worn off, cabin fever has set in, and the rigid confines of late sunrise and early sunset have become oppressive and stale.


In the deep, dark days of winter we are all apt to toggle between that which is restorative and restful and that which is far less beneficial. Is it solitude...or separation? Introspection or isolation? Hibernation or stagnation? 

We are walking fine lines.


This, then, is an ideal time to shift focus toward collaboration and begin to consider how working closely with others can expand our work/lives. It is the topic of John Maxwell’s recent Minute with Maxwell and it is apropos of everything as we move toward Spring. (Just ask Phil, it’s coming!) When every day starts to feel like Day 366, looking outward for connections can offer a welcome boost. 


Collaboration is an attitude and it requires a certain disposition - you’ve got to want to do it - because collaborating takes time, it takes cooperation, it takes tolerance, and it takes vulnerability. But, the rewards can be huge. Professionally, collaborating helps build networks, clout, and expertise. Associating with the right people (or with unexpected people - like in this example about milkshakes and tennis shoes from The Smithee Group) can improve your credibility and expose you to new and novel opportunities. It’s good for business, too - keeping things creative and adding depth to our work is what will excite and interest clients - if you become known for serving up business with a twist or providing a new perspective on standard ideas, they will pay more attention...waiting to see what you'll come up with next.


On the personal tip, finding creative ways to work more closely and more strategically with others feeds the soul. Collabs give us a sense of connection, bonding, mutual respect, fun, and energy. It doesn’t always come naturally, though. So, if you are the self-sufficient/fiercely-independent/don’t-have-time-for-this type, try repeating the following phrase to yourself - it's my personal reminder to stay open and to think beyond my own margins: 

You don’t have to do everything on your own - magic happens when you let people in. 


However, if you’re not quite ready to crawl out from under that blanket, below is my 60’s-style emo gift to you. 

Keep Up the Good Work,


Coming April 1st: [BETA] Release of the Empowered Nonprofit Leader Program