Friday, 28 July 2017

This is how a collaborative person works: 25. put your ego to one side

(This post draws heavily upon the experiences of Paul Macalindin as described in his book Upbeat, which chronicles his inspiring work with the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq.)


'A deeper blow came from the German Friends themselves, who decided to pay Gudrun, a former orchestral manager, ten times more to run this project than they had paid me for running the NYOI. It wasn't even as if anyone had done any fundraising. The British Council in London had put up all the cash. I sat in our final board meeting before departure, staring out of the window and trying my best to hold onto my integrity in this emotional smorgasbord.'

From Upbeat: the Story of the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq by Paul Macalindin


The above quotation describes Paul's feelings upon finding out that someone was to be paid ten times more for managing a ten-day tour of Kurdistan than he had been paid for managing the NYOI. Understandably, Paul found this news somewhat indigestible, and he would not have been human if he had not been sorely tempted to respond to the demands of his no-doubt outraged ego.             

But Paul did not respond to his ego's demands. Instead, being aware of the emotions fermenting within him, he sought to manage them as best he could; through a conscious effort of will he put his ego to one side.

Being aware of the influence of one's ego and being able to put it to one side for the greater good and (arguably) your own long-term interests, is invaluable to those who need to do any work that requires significant collaboration with others.    

If Paul had given in to the demands of his pained ego and sought to right the perceived wrongs that had been done to him, the consequences would have begun eating away at the foundations of trust and tolerance upon which all successful collaborations are built.

Eventually, sensing the increasing damage and knowing who seemingly had caused it, Paul's partners' would likely have blamed and eventually punished him for his lack of generosity and inability to selflessly put the higher goals of the project first.  

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