The importance of not doing everything by yourself

Group of friends chatting and laughing in a cafe. Image via Adobe Stock.

As I was trying to decide what topic to write about next, I poured a cup of coffee and mulled out loud to my husband.

“Not sure what to write about next,” I said. “Any suggestions?”

In the many years I’ve been blogging, I’m pretty sure I’ve never once asked him for help coming up with a topic.

Usually it’s because I keep an ongoing list of potential writing topics, and I’ll just pull from one of those. The list is loooooong. When it’s time to write, I choose one and off I go.

So my question to him was less, “I don’t have any topics at all,” and more, “Of many potential topics, I’m struggling to choose which one to focus on today.”

I didn’t mutter my question that coherently, though, so it wasn’t surprising he interpreted it as, “Help me come up with a new topic to write about.”

With a sharp burst of insight, he smiled and said, “How about the importance of not doing everything by yourself?”

Ah-ha. Not only did the topic come fully formed, it came with a lovely built-in headline. It’s meta and self-reflective. By writing about the topic, I’m also demonstrating its purpose and usefulness. A moment of gratitude for the reminder that I don’t have to do everything myself.

Accountability meets autonomy

For many of us who work in creative fields like writing and design, the concept of individual accountability has likely been driven deep into our brains.

Add freelancing or independent consulting to the mix, and you’ve got a single person whose consciousness and identity is often completely formed around their own creative output.

For managers of creative teams, holding individual contributors (ICs) accountable for their work is often an important step for career growth and personal development.

Managers also often hear how autonomy, once earned by demonstrating accountability, is often more important for ICs than individual projects or even titles.

The upside to all of this independence is the chance to really develop your creative self, skills, talents, abilities, and purpose. If you’re only being told what to do and how to do it, your creative powers aren’t given room to flourish.

Autonomy thrives on a foundation of accountability but needs lots of space for roots to extend and explore.

The downside, however, comes when people start believing that they have to only be independently productive, only ever sprouting brand-new ideas from the fertile ground of their imagination.

Varieties of connection for ICs

For ICs, many—if not most or all—creative projects result from group effort.

Collaboration, feedback, openness, flexibility, and group brainstorming are equally as important as individual creative genius.

Creative output will blossom when a team has space to share, think, and develop projects together. If an IC is truly alone and attempting to create in a void, there might be levels of struggle beneath the surface that no one sees.

ICs who don’t have collaborative options in the workplace can take advantage of social media, LinkedIn groups, Slack communities, and meetups for connection and creative support.

Varieties of connection for managers

For managers, a team will never become great or thrive if the manager believes they need to do everything on their own. That means delegating projects on one hand, and on the other hand, it means taking advantage of and putting to use professional help.

Professional help comes in many forms. Coaching is one of my favorites. I’ve had a few coaches over the years, and each has helped me in different ways.

With a coach, I recognize over and over that I’m not required to have all of the right answers spring forth from my imagination, fully formed and ready to be implemented.

There are management coaches, career coaches, business development coaches, lifestyle and wellness coaches. With some digging, it’s not very hard to find the style that might be right for you.

Career groups, forums, Slack communities, and meetups are also excellent go-to resources, where you can connect with people at your same level. Talking through similar workplace questions and concerns can build trust and deep relationships as you collectively share answers, insights, and support.

Reach out today

Connecting with other people brings fresh energy into our concepts and can bring a whole new level of motivation to our lives. What are some ways you can not do everything by yourself today?

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