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Opinion: Dare to dream

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sunriseIs this the dawning of the 'Age of Collaboration', asks Olivia Stefanino, as she looks ahead in 2009. She suggests that collaboration could be the magic word to ensure survival in the tough times ahead.







Whatever the doom and gloom of the past year, the start of 2009 provides us with an opportunity to shake off the emotional debris of the past and to turn our attention to building a better future.

Photo of Olivia Stefanino"The future doesn't have to be bleak – despite what all the media pundits suggest. In fact, by shifting from an attitude of competition to one of collaboration, the whole kaleidoscope begins to change."

Is it going to be plain sailing? Probably not – at least not if the economists and their ilk are to be believed. But while the temptation may be to pull the covers over our head and simply wait for the storm to pass, make no mistake, for those fuelled with courage and who enjoy the excitement of a challenge, 2009 offers plenty of opportunity.

And that has to be great news for those of us in the coaching industry – for isn't our role precisely to encourage, enthuse and enlighten?

As Einstein once famously said: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." And if we're to get the world out of the mess it's currently facing, then we're going to have to start by introducing some new ways of thinking.

Personally, I think there's slightly more to it than simply adopting some fancy new ways of thinking. I suspect that what's required is a 180-degree shift in attitude. But exactly what is the attitude that needs to be changed?

In evolutionary terms most would agree that so far, it's been about survival of the fittest, which suggests a self-centred approach that's based on competition. But with all of our knowledge – and exponentially growing technologies – are we actually happy with the idea of mere survival? Shouldn't there be something more?

I passionately believe that the future doesn't have to be bleak – despite what all the media pundits suggest. In fact, by shifting from an attitude of competition to one of collaboration, the whole kaleidoscope begins to change. And it creates a very pretty picture indeed.

Already, I've spoken with both my coaching and marketing clients about taking a collaborative rather than competitive approach and that in itself has been an illuminating experience.

"Working and living in a competitive world is draining and can leave you feeling as though life is just one big battle zone. But shift your thinking to collaboration and suddenly you're gazing out on a brave new world."

Working and living in a competitive world is draining and can leave you feeling as though life is just one big battle zone. But shift your thinking to collaboration and suddenly you're gazing out on a brave new world. Former competitors can become strategic alliance partners. Rather than going it alone, we can find other organisations with different products and services who are seeking to reach the same target audience.

With an attitude of collaboration comes an economy of scale. Promotional budgets are shared; PR becomes more effective; powerful relationships are forged. It's no longer just about looking after your clients and customers. It's about looking after their clients and customers.

During a recent discussion with one of my clients, he went on to describe this new shift in approach as "bordering on the mystical". And he wasn't being funny. I could see the relief in his face.

If what we've been doing is no longer working, then we're being invited to find a better way. It's both a challenge and an invitation. Perhaps the hard times we've been experiencing have been paving the way to a new age – 'The Age Of Collaboration'. Are you being called?

Olivia Stefanino is the author of 'Be Your Own Guru' and has run leadership and coaching programmes within both blue chip organisations and SMEs over the last 10 years. To download her free tips booklet '127 ways to harness your personal power' visit www.beyourownguru.com.

To read more opinion pieces by Olivia, click on the following titles:

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

The secret that every good coach should know

Generation Y - problem or opportunity?

Bite-sized coaching anyone?

Grumpy old coach?

How do coaches set their fees?

Can coaching beat the recession?

Coaches - are you prepared to offer a money back guarantee?

To read our spotlight on Olivia, click here.

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