Many of us hunger to be productive. We want to maximize our time, minimize our effort, and achieve efficiency and effectiveness.
We take great pains to obtain a working environment and a skill set to enable us to attain this peak performance. We buy gadgets. Read “how to get things done” blogs. Reorganize our email folders.
And those are certainly helpful approaches, but I think there’s another facet that we want to be sure to pay attention to.
Part of our capacity is determined by our community. Our connections with others impacts how much we can accomplish.
Case in point. My wife and I have been working to setup our new household. On our own, some tasks would take hours, or be extremely expensive, if not impossible. But we have friends in the area. So, cleaning the parquet flooring in the living room took 1/3 of the time, because we had help. We were able to buy a used futon and pick it up because our friend has a car that’s larger than ours, large enough to fit the futon in the back of it. We needed to hang some hooks, and I don’t own a drill. But my friend does and he lent it to me.
So, we now have a clean floor, a futon, and some wall hooks, all because we have connections to others. Without those relationships, we would still be scrubbing, we would have had to buy a brand new futon and have it delivered, and I would still be at the hardware store scratching my head over which drill I should buy (corded? cordless? how much power? which bits will I need?).
In our independent society, we don’t necessarily like to think that our ability to accomplish tasks is based upon anything other than our individual attitude and aptitude. If I have the will and the know-how, then I can get it done.
Maybe. But maybe not. It seems to me that there are far too many situations where we need help, whether that’s some other resources (tools), some other knowledge (or skill), or just another pair of hands to help hold something.
I think it’s undeniable: part of our capacity, part of the measure of what we are able to accomplish, is closely tied to the people that we’re connected with.
And it’s more than just knowing people. I can be “friends” with people who wouldn’t let themselves be bothered to help. In that case, they don’t necessarily contribute anything to my capacity. And true enough, sometimes getting very well-meaning people involved in a particular endeavor ends up creating more work and a harder time of it.
Sometimes the additional capacity afforded by companions is more emotional fortitude than physical accomplishment. Whether or not they are helping hands, friends can offer encouraging words, life-giving perspective, helpful instruction. All of these contributions add to our ability to live life, to take advantage of the opportunities before us.
We might like to think that we are the masters of our own fate, the captains of our soul, the foremen of our projects. But we’re not. We’re just one cog in the machine, one organ in the body, interconnected–and interdependent–on the others in order to carry out our tasks.
Just think what it would be like to be connected to Someone who has unlimited resources, encyclopedic knowledge, plenty of discretionary time, and strong hands too…