Putting the Power of Synergy to Work

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Synergy

It's easy to imagine people looking at the prolific William Morris and saying, “I wonder how he gets so much done.” During his lifetime, he produced a dazzling body of work that included writing, social activism, publishing and all those intricate textile and wallpapers.

I’ve always suspected that the secret of his enormous output stemmed from the weekends he organized at his home, Red House, where he invited his artistic friends to come and spend the weekend “making things.” Rosetti, Burne-Jones and the others who came to make up the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were participants in these Art Weekends.

…synergy says two plus two equals twelve…

In gathering all these creative souls around himself and nurturing their talents, he was taking advantage of that extraordinary energy known as synergism. This phenomenon was first noticed and named by the pharmaceutical industry where it was observed that combining drugs sometimes produced a result greater than the individual parts.

The same thing can happen when people gather together and the result is greater than the individual contributions. In other words, synergy says two plus two equals twelve.

While synergy can occur spontaneously and in unexpected ways, the smart entrepreneur will consciously create situations to help it along. This is particularly important for those of us who work alone and need to reach out to other self-bossers on a regular basis to take advantage of the rewards of synergism.

Here are some suggestions for doing just that.

Choose carefully. “As I look at my life,” says Stewart Emery, “I notice that all my friends are people who support me in learning the lessons I have to learn. We have consciously chosen each other based on the contribution we can make to each other.”

We all know that there are dreambuilders and dreambashers in the world. When we share our ideas with the latter, the energy is diminished and the likelihood of accomplishing our dreams dims, too.

While we may not be able to avoid them altogether, we do need to learn to protect ourselves from these psychic vampires and spend time with people who get as excited about ideas as we do.

Instigate. Create situations and gatherings for the purpose of brainstorming. Form your own small freelancers’ group. Have regular breakfast meetings with another self-bosser.

If you’re feeling really frisky, invite a few trusted folks to go away on a mini-retreat where you spend time away from normal demands and concentrate on generating ideas for all members of the group. You could even host your own Art Weekends ala William Morris.

Show up. You’re  more likely to be the recipient of synergistic energy at a seminar than you are watching old reruns on television.

Today many people are enthusiastic participants in social. While this may be an efficient way to share information, it’s not the same as being in the presence of other people.

Communication is more than just words and, in fact, nonverbal communication is hugely important. As Mary Pipher so eloquently puts it, “People who live in virtual communities have virtual lives.”

Go for the real thing and get involved in events and activities where ideas are encouraged and flow easily.

Be opportunity-minded. My friend Chris Utterback and I seldom had a conversation without one of us exclaiming, “Oh, there’s a great business idea!” We always were observing the things around us with the attitude of finding better ways of doing things or discovering something that was missing. Often this led us to giving ideas away to others who could carry them out.

More importantly, it conditioned us to see the world as a place filled with abundance and unlimited opportunities. We knew that we’d never run out. What more valuable perspective could an entrepreneur have?

Although Barbara Winter has run a one-person operation for three decades, she regularly puts herself in situations where synergy occurs.