Two years ago, in Penn., two friends and I went into a fortune teller for a laugh. She looked at my hand and into my eyes and told me, “I can see you have done it all on your own. You are a self-made woman.” I’m sure she hoped to strike a chord; however, all she struck was my funny bone.
Nobody does it all on their own. Tens, hundreds, if not thousands of people have helped me. If you can read this, chances are someone helped you, too.
An American fella called Triplett wrote in 1898 what is now recognized as the first published study on the social facilitation effect. He contrasted the speeds of cyclists and of children performing tasks both individually and in teams and concluded that both the presence of competitors and of team members improve task speed as opposed to when any of these people were doing the same task alone. That is to say, they…. and we perform better with others. Our individual achievements are greater with others. We get more out of ourselves with others in competition and we get well faster, laugh for longer, and carry burdens more easily in collaboration.
Which brings me to the burning bush. Moses stars, as usual, on his own. If he hadn’t noticed the fire, it would have changed history. That is the power of one. And that is how most history is told, as a series of events mostly carried out by a single man taking single actions that change everything. It’s a good story but there’s an alternative telling.
I look at all the women who saved Moishe before he got to that pivotal, smoky moment and later on, at all the people who agreed to walk out of Egypt with him – an entire people doing the equivalent of what Abraham did when he left his father’s house, and doing it together – and you have a more complex, interconnected portrait of success. The collaborative kind.
In this new year, I wish us all more personal success, the kind that comes from interconnected-ness, interdependent-ness and a whole lot more compassion for others. Happy 2016.