When I was in graduate school, I remember learning that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And as I worked in the beginning of the organizational transformation movement, I learned that organizations are actually organisms. This lens brings a wonderful consciousness to the founding and development of groups and the projects they undertake. If a group is understood to be a living organism, and each member of a group is a unique, crucial and creative part of the whole, great and unexpected outcomes can emerge and grow.
When two people join together on a common goal, there are actually three entities they need to attend to: each individual "I" and the collective "we." The needs and goals of each individual "I" are important to define and attend to. Recognizing that an oversoul, the "we" also exists, which might have needs and goals that are related to or different from the individuals' needs allows for the care of the relationship as well as the individuals who comprise it.
If I am founding a new group, I try to identify some common elements that create common ground for potential members. For example, in the new Women In Music Gathering that I am co-founding with Colette O'Connor and Cindy D'Adamo, all our members are women musicians, deeply called to and committed to the personal and creative process of making music. Musicians do so much in isolation that building a community of fellow musicians offers nourishment,support and inspiration. By sharing stories of our personal journeys, we find empathetic listeners and common ground. We do not feel as alone. And special projects can emerge for us to co-create together.
At our first meeting, as we introduced ourselves to the group, articulated what inspired us as musicians, described our journey, and looked at our current projects and vision, we found common ground, found listeners who really understood what we were saying, and recognized that our hearts were touched and great energy was generated as each and every member of our group spoke and shared. This kind of soulful communication invites an organic bonding. And the organic bonding invites collaboration and support for the things that matter most to each and all of us. It could lead to new shared projects, as well as nuts and bolts support for current individual projects. We bond over our common ground.
The dynamics are similar even in different groups and different projects. The recent Cabaret Evening for the Newton Festival of the Arts brought together 8 singers and an accompanist to perform in a 21 song, 90 minute revue. Our goals were to have fun, express ourselves, and provide joy and entertainment to our audience. We each prepared our individual songs and a handful of duets. As the producer, I organized the songs into an order for the performance, balancing tempos, styles, genres, male and female singers, solos and duets....And when showtime came, I can feel the power of the team delivering the show. Each and every singer sang at a high level. We passed the microphone baton from one singer to the next, as though we were in a musical relay event. The show evoked many emotional qualities, including laughter and moments that touched the heart. There was a wonderful collaborative energy. It was clear we all had different pieces to complete one another's jigsaw puzzles. And by the end of the show, we felt like a connected team, each celebrating one another's performance, and celebrating together what we co-created.
The creative process that can unfold when a group of people get together with conscious awareness of the power of we is inspiring, and when carefully tended, can lead to endless and fruitful possibilities and successes.