Collaboration: The New Gold

in Cell

What if right now, quite spontaneously, one of the cells in your liver suddenly gained its own independent awareness? What if it was able to perceive itself as a unique being, separate from all the cells around it? Would it notice that it shared similar needs with neighboring cells, or that it engaged in similar activities? Might it eventually come to recognize that it was but one small part of a greater organ, that it's existence was integrally interconnected with the existence of each fellow cell—even those on the liver's far southern hemisphere?

What if all the liver cells came to recognize their union as an organ, feeling a sense of patriotism with one another? What if shortly thereafter, they learned of another strange organ that called itself the heart? Might the liver cells begin to judge those foreigners that made up the heart, perplexed by the strange activities in which the heart cells engaged? What if they came to discover that when the heart fell ill, the liver too suffered; similarly, that when the liver fell ill, the heart suffered. What if in that moment, all the organs discovered that they were integrally interconnected as a unified body? 

Perhaps this body, you, recognized that there were other humans out there, each seemingly separate from yourself. Perhaps you also recognized that you shared similar needs with these other humans, that together you and they engaged in similar activities, each helping to fulfill the needs of another. Might you perceive your existence as integrally tied to the others, even those humans on a far away hemisphere of the earth?

What if the global society of which you were a part began to discover that it was integrally interconnected with all the other living organisms, even the land, sea and sky? What if every citizen realized that the earth itself was an organism, just like a teeny weeny liver cell, suspended in the body of the cosmos? Perhaps then we might gain awareness of a natural resource greater than gold, platinum, diamond or oil. 

Like the cells in our organs, we share connections with everyone and everything around us often in ways that we do not comprehend. If our eyes could see more than just light—could see all the various forms of energy streaming through our world—we would behold a continual exchange of power without beginning or end, without owners, lenders or leasers. Like runners in a relay passing the baton, or blood cells exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide throughout the body, or workers completing jobs for one another each day in business, our Earthly existence is a precision coordination of energies in flux, a sharing of power that is always in motion. 

The key to tapping this abundant flow of energy all around us is to collaboratively engage ourselves in it. Collaboration is the art of working together, of consciously directing our energies in alignment with those of other people and things. It enables us to fulfill pursuits that we as individuals could never singularly achieve, all the while exploring the nuances of our interconnectedness. Individualism has tended to obscure this great resource, but in this wondrous age of global connection—made possible by information technologies—it doesn't take much to tap this virtual goldmine of possibility.

The art of collaboration is the art of giving among givers, much like organs in the body each giving its best to the greater whole. We give our time, attention, energy, enthusiasm, expertise, trust, and appreciation to others, and therein experience our connections to that greater whole of which we are but one, small part. By giving of ourselves without overly imposing terms, we find ourselves invited to receive in equivalent measure. 

With every act, every thought, every intention, we reach into the world. We acknowledge, brush up against and contribute to one another's existence. The more our activities account for the interests and needs of others, the more others choose to share their energies with us. Pooling our power, joining forces as a united team, we might amaze ourselves with what it is that we can accomplish together. Contributing to that greater whole as integral parts, we nourish the abundance of connections all around us, and therein find ourselves full-filled.

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Scott Miller has articles online

Scott Edmund Miller has made significant contributions to the educational reform movement as a human development researcher, practitioner and school developer. He is cofounder and emeritus Board Chairman of Our Community School, a Los Angeles public charter school that received the 2009 California Charter Schools Association award under his leadership for "Best Charter School of the Year" in California. To find out more, please visit

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Collaboration: The New Gold

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This article was published on 2012/05/30