Recently I learned a lesson. Perhaps I relearned it because I had forgotten it. Either way, it was powerful.
At work there was a project that everyone had to do. The project was long, boring, and full of problems. No one, including those who were in charge of the project, were completely clear on all the elements necessary to do the work correctly. Inconsistent and even contradictory information was given by different supervisors. This was not intentional, but it created stress nonetheless. In addition, the project had a deadline and all other work, no matter how important, was to cease until each person completed his or her part of the project.
As I worked on my part of the project, I got into some trouble. It began taking longer than I thought it would. It was also harder than I thought it would be. I thought I would be in for a long and lonely night, trying to finish. I was reminded of another night when I was trying to finish a paper for a history class and it was taking far longer than I thought it would. It began feeling overwhelming and traumatic. And instead of bringing me comfort or rest, my easily distracted nature created more stress. I got on Facebook for a while and had a very unpleasant encounter with a complete stranger. I went for a walk, but I felt scared and tired walking late at night. Nothing was comforting except doing the work, the work that seemed to take so long. Of the year and a half of my history Master’s program, that was my worst night.
Working on this project felt similar. I started feeling stressed and panicked and wondered if I would be exhausted and miserable in a couple of hours. Then something happened: a co-worker offered to help me with my work. At first I said no because I thought I was the only one who could do my part. My co-worker pointed out that this was incorrect. Then I almost said no again because I was embarrassed. But I said yes.
In thirty minutes, we were done.
It was amazing. In thirty minutes, we were done.
And here’s what I learned.
· It’s better to work with others than it is to work alone, but only if you work with the right people.
· It’s better to be with others than it is to be alone, but only if you are with the right people.
· Work gets done faster not just because two or more people are doing it, but because the enthusiasm generated creates even more speed and enthusiasm.
I actually learned this lesson once before. Under the direct influence of someone I love very deeply, I got more work done in one week than I had gotten done in the previous month. I wanted to be like that person, to have her work ethic, and so I found the work invigorating in a way I couldn’t find on my own.
It’s okay to be alone. I have no problem with or fear of it. But sometimes, often, we need each other. We are not meant to go through life alone. I Get Started and Keep Going when my Muse or anyone who works well with me, pushes me to be better with someone than I can be alone.