Saturday, August 8, 2009
Collaboration with Carson
I find it very comforting to know how collaborative human beings are. We enter this world completely alone on an individual journey and we leave completely alone on a similar individual journey. Between those two primal events, we live our lives.
During the course of our lives we are continuously affected by others. We travel along a path with specific people for the predominance of our lives, while others touch us for mere instances. The great part is that everyone creates an effect. My 4-year-old son has taught me to look at these effects differently.
Carson loves apple juice. My two older daughters loved grape juice at his age, but he’s been a fan of apple juice since he was a toddler. We are a frugal family so we buy juice in the frozen concentrate containers and make it ourselves in this really cool pitcher. The pitcher has a handle on the top of the cover that can be pulled up and pushed down in a plunger motion. The insert attached moves up and down inside the juice container creating a swirling affect and mixing the juice. It’s one of those great inventions I wish I had created.
Ever since Carson was big enough to hold the empty container, he’s wanted to make the juice himself. He pulls his stool up to the freezer door, pulls down a frozen juice container and sets it on the kitchen island to thaw. For the next 30 minutes he asks, “Is it ready yet Dad? Is it ready yet? Is it ready yet? How about now? Is it ready now?” He’s learning patience.
Once it’s ready, Carson puts the pitcher on the table and opens up the juice container. He pours the concentrate into the pitcher, and then fills the now empty juice container with water from the faucet. He dumps the water into the pitcher with the concentrate and repeats this until the pitcher is full.
“It’s done Dad; oh wait. It needs just a little more,” he states with excitement, his little eyes wide open and focused on the next bit of water trying to ensure he doesn’t spill any.
When the container is finally filled to his satisfaction, I put the top on that has the little plunger part. “Can I do it Dad?” Carson begs.
“You bet.” He pulls the plunger up and down watching the water and juice mix together with bubbles and splashes of golden light mixing as well.
I think the enjoyment of making the juice is more satisfying to him than actually drinking it. I enjoy the process and the time with him. But as he enjoys the achievement gaining responsibility and having fun, I enjoy the lesson.
As we pour the water from the juice container into the pitcher of juice, I watch the two components interact and mix. I notice that once the water from the container is poured into the pitcher, there is no way to separate the water out again. Surely, you can evaporate the water and see the remains like the old grade school science project of mixing sugar and water then letting it evaporate with a string in the mix. The string becomes caked with sugar once the water has evaporated.
What I mean is that you cannot pour the contents of the pitcher back into the juice container and get out the exact water molecules and only those molecules that you just poured into the pitcher. Once water from a cup is poured into other water, it cannot be separated. Even if you pour colored water into a clear water pitcher, you cannot extract the exact colored water again. You can see the separate colors but you cannot dip the cup back in and pull out only the colored water. It mixes instantaneously and cannot be extracted. That’s what collaboration and networking are about.
Throughout our lives we ‘mix’ with many people. We do this intentionally at times and seemingly by accident at other times. We never really know what that other person has to teach us, but whatever it is, we find that we are never the same again. We cannot be. Just like the water cannot be separated, we cannot pull out the lesson or the memory of that instance. We can avoid it, try to forget it, but our subconscious, powerful minds will store that and keep it with us. We cannot reach in and pull the memory out like we can delete the page from our computers. Learning to leverage the collaboration process is one mark of successful people.
As we mix with others, we can add too much of ourselves and try to dominate them. We can add too little and not provide the benefit they need and we have in abundance. We can mix the wrong way – too violently or too passively – causing the messages to be missed. Then there are the wonderful moments when we mix exquisitely with another and teach both an incredible lesson. I have been fortunate to mix just that way recently with many new teachers.
Every time I make juice or just pour a glass of water, I will think about all the people I will meet today who will become a part of my life. I will think about how I will become a part of their lives. And I’ll think about how I will win the lottery with how we will mix.