At the beginning of this month, I put a theory into the world: Collaboration Invites Ease. I never would’ve guessed that, much less believed it enough to share it with all of you, if my collaborative journey hadn’t started long before this summer.
A little over a year ago, I entered into a collaborative relationship that changed my life: I co-founded an online magazine for women. At the time, I thought I was “collaborating” with my sister, the pioneering force in our early days of publishing. Now, I realize that the deeper collaboration was the one that outlasted that partnership. My co-conspirator—the one I look to before anyone else—my judge, jury, and eye witness is the magazine itself. The Perpetual You.
I go to sleep at night wondering if I’ve done the magazine justice. Did I produce enough content today? Is the content worthy of our unique audience? Is the content different from all other content? Is the content positive, uplifting, timely, and fresh? The answers don’t all have to be yes; rather, it’s a scale that, if I’ve been productive or especially lucky, tips to the affirmative.
In contrast to these exhausted bedtime ruminations, I wake up the next day with fresh ideas and, often, a new perspective. The workload isn’t so bad/too much/overwhelming/insane. The magazine’s audience is just right. The social media numbers are no more important than I make them out to be. The mission is, in fact, worthy. More than that, it’s realizable.
Along the way and throughout my day, I vacillate. At any given moment, I could be writing the best blog post of my life (like this one!); or reading an email from a #ladyboss who I admired for months before having the courage to reach out; or proofing another stunning issue of our magazine; or taking some time off to play in the sprinkler with the kiddos before answering another onslaught of emails.
Or…I could be hiding under the covers binge-watching “Bones,” trying not to think about the fact that I have no idea where my children are, much less what they’re doing/ruining; and—oh yeah—I’m a total failure at my job, too.
What I have come to learn is that the ups & downs aren’t the nature of my job or even the nature of life itself; nothing so cliché as that! These feelings—ambivalence, loyalty, and everything in between—are the nature of the collaborative relationship, the essence of any Collaboration.
Because I want to live up to the ideal magazine that exists in my head, I will often fall short of that fantasy. Because I will not give up until that ideal brand becomes a reality, I will push forward. Regardless of whether the day is “good” or “bad,” or whether I feel exhausted or exhilarated when I fall asleep at night, this collaboration has been and will continue to be a baffling and fulfilling part of my life.
Being the managing editor and creative director and social media coordinator and online content manager and public relations coordinator all at one time does not an easy life make. There are days when I cling to the knowledge that I only need get through one more day as magazine editor (and then I can do something totally different tomorrow, if I want to!).
And then there are the really collaborative days—days like today—when I get to share my passion with the world, launch a new marketplace, write the last bit of content for another gorgeous issue, spend time with my boys, go have a glass of wine with friends, and come home to a supportive partner who will likely massage my feet if I ask him to.
These are the days when it feels as though all the ease in the world lay at my fingertips, when I fall asleep knowing this collaboration is worth sticking with.