In the recent movie, In Good Company, there is a scene where the conglomerate’s big boss gives a pep talk using the idea of synergy as though it were a disease. Months ago I had planned to write about the synergy habit from Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. How dare Hollywood poke fun at synergy! Synergy is fun.
Twenty-five years ago in my business courses, synergy was defined as the idea that the sum of the parts was greater than the whole. Here is another view of synergy, one that wasn’t on the test.
Synergy comes from the Greek word, sunergos, which means “working together:” sun meaning “with” and ergon meaning “work.”
Why is working together a key concept or habit?
Because for the most part, it is not how we were raised. Traditional schooling rewards individual effort. Many children consider working together as “cheating.” In our early lives, the rewards for working together are rarely tangible and are not easily measured or reinforced. In America, we have a culture of being the “Lone Ranger,” and depending on others is not a valued trait.
The dynamics of a healthy family is synergistic.
In a strong family, we are more than the composite of each individual when working together. The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Working together, or synergy, creates more than the sum of each individual’s efforts. Covey tells us “the essence of synergy is to value differences, to respect them and to build strengths to compensate for weaknesses.” Covey challenges us to take the differences within our families to create an environment that fulfills each person, nurtures self-esteem and self-worth of every individual and creates opportunities for every individual to mature into independence and eventually into interdependence.
Trust and cooperation help create effective communication that make working together a fruitful, instead of a frustrating, experience.
Mike and Cathy, who have worked in community theatre for years, explained to me why they continue to work on plays in differing capacities year after year, even though finding the time is difficult, money is tight and not everything runs smoothly.
“We’re addicted to seeing something come from nothing. At first there is the idea of the play. Then people come together. The ideas go back and forth. We practice. We’re exhausted. Finally, we have this wonderful experience of everyone working together, even though we might have had our differences, and didn’t see quite eye-to-eye on a lot of issues. But in the end it’s a great experience, and you make wonderful friends, lifelong friends,” Mike told me.
“We love being part of something bigger than ourselves,” Cathy added.
Cathy and Mike have the habit of synergy, working together, to help make their lives richer and more meaningful, along with their co-workers and other members of their community.
Years ago I saw these words inscribed on a church wall in St. Louis:
In similarities, friendship.
In differences, tolerance.
In all things, unity.
These words are a formula for synergy, an essential habit for effective families.
Create a “working together” environment in your family, so everyone loves being part of something bigger than themselves.