One of my favourite childhood stories is about a collaborative tradition in communities, “mndong”. The correct spelling is likely very different from this, but believe me, if you manage to pronounce it, no one would know that it’s misspelled.
Never mind, the story is more interesting than the spelling and the trouble you will go through trying to pronounce this word. So, this is how it worked. A community would organize themselves into groups during the farming season and schedule a day for every member. Each working day, everyone would go to a member’s farm and work all day. It was great because you could get your whole farm tilled in one day. But this was not the most interesting part.
Group members were organized according to their talents and gifts. While a fraction did the tilling, there were dedicated people who sang, danced and drummed throughout that period. Can you imagine the beautiful sight of a group farming away to the rhythm of African sounds and drums echoing between the hills? It was lovely to say the least, but my cousin tells me that the tradition was challenged when some members got lazy or envious of others. So today, we practice variations between common initiative groups and friends. But it’s not as glamourous.
I wonder what version of this practice will look like in the context of our knowledge work. Acknowledging external help is not always easy. Stepping out to engage people may not come naturally all the time, or maybe not to everyone. But learning to do this taught me something new last year. I am still finding the words and will use this preliminary frame. If life was like school, then the credit score allocated to the contribution of others in our lives will be very high.
There are many great things that we cannot do on our own. But with the inputs and collaboration of others, we do not only go far, but we go through while enjoying the harmonious melody of a balanced life. Just like members of the “Mndong” groups. We could be more open to help. We could experience more gratitude for the inputs of others. We might find that we are more connected than we feel sometimes.
Where might I need help? Where could I lend a hand to someone else? How can the team be supported to fully use members’ potential. How might we make it more productive and fulfilling? What collaborations might bring more meaning to growing initiatives and ideas?
Because it takes a village to realise some of the most beautiful goals in our lives, business or society.
If you enjoyed this part, then you might like It takes a village – Part 1