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Power of Partnerships

Occasionally ideas simply pop into my head.  They come as gifts of the universe or God or some Giver of gifts.  When I write this, I have to laugh.  I laugh because it is true for me.  At the same time, I realize how the truth of this could tempt me to want to manipulate it.  I am tempted to think, why not have money pop into my hands instead of ideas popping into my mind!  I could immediately spend the money.  Ideas come, but they seldom have any value until I work with them, fashion them and put them into a larger whole.

This is what I am doing with this inspirational piece.  The phrase, “power of partnerships,” came into my mind.  It would have been the easiest thing in the world to ignore it.  On the surface, the phrase sounds true enough, but there is nothing special about it.  There is nothing that inherently attracted me to the phrase.  But I have learned to receive this kind of gift---even if I do not know what it might mean---and then begin to work with it until its value starts to become evident.

The phrase, power of partnerships, clearly affirms the important of partnerships.  A partnership is two or more people (or maybe, teams) who are committed to work together.  In some cases in the business world, a partnership might even become contractual---a legal entity.  In any case, a partnership is more than one person working together toward some agreed upon end.  There is a sharing of responsibilities, resources, etc.

The term, partnership, has wide-ranging applications.  Marriages have been called partnerships.  I personally have been in partnerships with colleagues in my own colleges and, even, colleagues in other universities around the country and the world.  I recognize there is nothing inherently spiritual about the idea of partnerships.  But the idea certainly can go in the direction of the spiritual.  And that’s where I want soon to take it.

Before doing that, however, I would like to focus a little on the idea of partnerships having “power.”  We know this to be true, or at least, guess it must be true.  However, unless we incorporate this fully into our consciousness, we cannot realize the full impact.  Let’s look at some of the reasons partnerships have power.

The most obvious reason partnerships have power is the factor of addition, if not multiplication.  Two heads are better than one, goes the old saying.  In most cases this is probably true.  And so it is with partnerships.  For me the huge advantage is the fact that I am not alone.  All things being equal, partnerships can do more, can do better and do it longer than any single human being.  Metaphorically speaking, partnerships have more hands, can offer more effort, get tired much more slowly, etc.

I also think partnerships typically are smarter than the single individual.  I routinely face the limits of my potentiality.  Even if I operate with a growth mindset, I cannot do it instantaneously.  Especially partnerships with folks who think differently than I do, have different experiences than I do and have complementary competencies add immeasurably to what I might bring to the table.  I have a great deal of experience in life that backs up this contention.  All this seems evident and true to me.  And there is power in this truth.

Having said that, let’s now take the idea of partnerships in the direction of the spiritual.  Other than marriage, I don’t know where else in the spiritual world we talk about partnerships.  But we do think about spiritual teams.  And I also think about spiritual communities that have many of the characteristics of partnerships.  And there clearly is power in these spiritual communities.  Let me offer two examples of the power of partnerships with respect to spiritual communities.  These communities are not there to make products or make us richer, as perhaps in the business world.  But they help.

The power of spiritual communities is routinely experienced in times of sickness or misfortune.  No one wants to be alone in the midst of trouble, misfortune or sickness.  The community is there with us and for us.  In fact, there may be nothing the community can do to change the situation, but the community’s presence can be a healing presence.  In fact, I have watched communities heal people unto death!

A second area I have seen the power of community function is in its generational function.  By this I mean the ability of a spiritual community to be generative and re-generative.  Not all spiritual communities do this.  But the good ones are generative.  They come up with new ideas, new ways of being and new ways to live authentically the spiritual life in a chaotic world.  And good spiritual communities are re-generative.  They continue to embrace the new and the young in the community to provide for a meaningful life that will outlive all current members.  Most spiritual communities do not have this power.  That does make them bad, but they are not powerful.

I appreciate learning long ago the truth of the power of partnerships.  I am not sure I had this language.  I am grateful for the gift of the idea.  I now have language to talk about an important truth for my life.

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