Build Collaborative Relationships

Today is Friday, so this post is on interpersonal competence.

On Wednesday, I quoted a long passage from Margaret Wheatley’s book Turning to One Another.  As you’ve probably guessed, I really like this book.  The last two pages have a picture, taken in 1952, of a group of Vietnamese women carrying baskets on their head and walking on some railroad tracks.

The women walk in pairs; holding the baskets on their heads with one hand, and each other’s hand with the other.  By holding one another’s hand, the women maintain their balance on the narrow railroad track.  In Dr. Wheatley’s terms, they are turning to one another to maintain their balance.

I first read of a similar story about a zillion years ago when I was a Boy Scout.  Boys Life was the official publication of the Boy Scouts in those days (it still may be).  Like most others things with words, I used to read every issue cover to cover. 

In one issue there was a story about a scout troop who came across some abandoned rail road tracks on a hike.  The Scout Master challenged the troop to see if they could walk 100 yards on the rails.  Most of the troop tried with no success.  Finally, two scouts said they could do it.  Each got on one rail.  They held hands for balance and walked the 100 yards with little trouble.  That story was meant to illustrate the importance of working together to accomplish a task. 

I had forgotten about this story until I saw the photo at the end of Turning to One Another.  When I saw that photo, I smiled.  Sure, it reminded me of that long ago article in Boy’s Life; but it also reminded me of the importance of working collaboratively with the people in your life to accomplish your goals.

The common sense point here is simple.  Interpersonally competent people know the importance of building strong, collaborative relationships with the people in their lives. 

In future posts, I will spend time describing my thoughts on how to build strong collaborative relationships.  But for now, keep the image of two people walking on the rails of a railroad track holding hands to keep their balance, in your mind.  That’s a great start on building collaborative relationships.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  I am not posting regularly on my blog right now, as I want to concentrate on this one.  It is still up though.  Please don’t cancel your RSS feed as I will be posting there occasionally.  And, you can still get a free ebook version of my book 4 Secrets of High Performing Organizations by visiting . 

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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