The world is full of incredible people with really great ideas. I see them and hear them every day. On top of that, the opportunities for people to connect and share stories, experiences, and ideas is unparalleled in human history.

I recently wrote about hearing Stillness Speaks by Eckart Tolle, where he talks about the rising consciousness in our culture that is occurring at the same time that those who cling to the old way continue to get louder and louder.  As Tolle puts it, ‘Paradoxically, things are getting better, and worse, at the same time.’

This wisdom gave me much needed hope for the future.  It can be difficult to navigate the seemingly endless stream of negativity and desperation that has come to characterize our ‘news.’ We need an antidote to the continual diet of gloom, doom, and dysfunction that is served up nearly 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through mainstream media.

CollaborationEnter social media.

Getting to the root of what this means, let’s consider one definition of ‘social’ from the World English Dictionary:

Living or preferring to live in a community rather than alone.

Nice!  Fits perfectly.

We all have our message.  Our vision for the world.  Our ideas for how to make change.

But what if we preferred to work in collaboration with others (i.e. build community) as opposed to pushing our own agenda all the time? What could we accomplish together?

Social media affords us opportunities to build community with others that wouldn’t have been possible a generation ago.  The 4 words I use to describe my approach to social media strategy are Listen, Imagine, Connect, and Inspire.  The first point is so critical because it opens the door to discovering ways of collaborating with others.

So, let’s do a quick listening exercise, shall we?

Think about an issue that you’re working on or want to work on.  Pick something really meaningful to you – could be social, environmental, political, personal, or otherwise. Now, go over to Twitter search and type in a word or two on this topic. Even if you don’t use Twitter, do this anyway.  Just pretend it’s Google.  :)  See what comes up in the search results.  (note: if your topic is broad, you might need to add some qualifiers to the search term so that you can narrow down the results)

Go ahead and do that now. Spend a couple of minutes reading through the results.  I’ll wait.

Ok, what did you discover? Were people talking about your topic?  Did you discover anything that surprised you?  Were you inspired by anything you saw?

Is there an opportunity to reach out to others that have this same interest and collaborate, share stories, etc.? If you’re a Twitter user, maybe you could follow some new people, create a new Twitter list around your topic and add them to it, send a tweet introducing yourself, pass along resources that might be helpful to them, etc.

What if instead of focusing so intently on what we are trying to do as individuals or as organizations, we opened ourselves up to what others are out there doing already?  What if our combined energy and enthusiasm for a topic could be amplified by collaborating?

If you’re an individual that’s working on a cause, this is probably pretty easy to envision.  It gets more complicated when larger organizations get involved, but conceptually there is not much of a difference.

Our combined strength is many times more powerful than the sum of the individual parts.

You can repeat this simple exercise in other channels and using other tools.  I chose Twitter because it gives immediate feedback on what is happening right now.  It’s one of the best listening tools out there, and it’s free.  The only barrier to entry is the desire to learn and an internet connection.

We have the tools at our disposal to make meaningful changes happen in the world. When used to their fullest potential, they can usher in a new era of collaboration and sharing that will bring about these changes at a pace that might be unfathomable today.

What do you think about the potential for collaboration?  Care to share the results of your listening exercise from above?

 

Photo: Armosa Studios from the World Domination Summit