You know the adage that the shoemaker’s kids are the ones with holes in their soles? It also applies to the electrician who jury rigs extension cords rather than re-wiring a room or to the doctor who never gets a physical examination. I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that the shoemaker’s syndrome also applies to me when it comes to collaboration.
Just the other day, my sweetheart Ames and I were unpacking more boxes from our move into our new townhouse. This is a big deal to us as this will be the first home we share together. We were focusing on organizing the kitchen. This new kitchen has a wealth of cabinets so we had many choices to make about the best place to store glasses, dishes and the like.
For 40 years, I have always been the one in the family who cooks. Truth be told, I have had a number of families, but what has remained constant is that I have been the cook. Now things are different. Ames is a competent cook. He has been cooking for himself for years. He has had his own home with his own ideas about the best placement for the coffee mugs, the wine glasses or the tall bottles of olive oil.
As we began placing items on the new shiny shelving, I found myself wanting to direct the show. In my mind, I “knew” the best place to put the coffee mugs – – right above the coffee maker, right? As more and more decisions were being made, growing in me was a sense of being unseated in my role as “the cook”. I couldn’t believe that I was arguing with Ames about the need to raise a shelf so we could put the tall cereal boxes right by the shelf with the bowls. I’m sure Ames was thinking but not saying, “…and she’s writing a book about collaboration?”. All that I know about the Rule of Six and diverse ideas being the source for great problem solving seemed to be lost in my brain as I became emotional about being right and in charge.
One of my mentors has always said that “we teach what we need to learn.” I think this is a part of why I am so drawn to thinking about collaboration. My will is strong to be independent and determined. I am a trusted teacher of collaboration and yet I know I am challenged by my own drive to do things myself.
I wonder if you find yourself believing so strongly in something yet not following the belief consistently in your actions? Tell us about how the shoemaker’s syndrome is active in your life.