I met with Rob Evans of AllBids last week. He attended the Edge of Leadership Un-Conference last year and had a brilliant time. More than that, he was able to connect with Peter Gordon, the CEO of Hands Across Canberra, a local community Foundation that raises funds for various community organisations in Canberra. Inspired by the stories of business-community collaborations, Rob met with Peter and together they worked out a project where people could sell their unwanted goods and donate the money to Hands Across Canberra. It’s called “Canberra’s Biggest Garage Sale”. Check it out here.

What I love about this story:

It’s the power of collaboration for leverage. As Simon Sinek says, as a book title, Together Is Better. Hands Across Canberra is built on that premise: collective small contributions can wield a big impact. By partnering with business, such as AllBids, connections multiply, and so do the results.

Business and community enterprises can shape our community in a positive direction. We can’t leave it to government, or for people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Sometimes we get given a set of boots in life with no straps, and we need a little help from others to get them on. As a compassionate society, and as compassionate leaders, we can do that for each other.

In terms of Boundless Leadership, where everything is possible, there are lessons here for us too.

There’s a paradoxical tension that exists between Boundless Leadership, the unlimited potential of teams and organisations, and exploring the limitations that keep us tethered from exploring those horizons.

One of those limitations is how many people we know and who we interact with. If we want to make a bigger difference, we need to connect with more people! Sounds obvious. Yet, we don’t often do it deliberately. We can trip over valuable connections or miss them altogether.

Where can we find these hidden allies to help extend our reach, results, and contribution?

Hidden allies are found in DIVERSE connections. This feels counter-intuitive. We gravitate naturally to people who are like us, with whom we have something in common. Conversations are easier, and we feel safe.

Yet when we immerse ourselves in groups where people have very different backgrounds, contrarian views, and unique interests, we open up the creative thinking channels. Pairing two unlike things is actually a creative thinking technique! So why not pair people who are different, for new insights?

This is the core premise of my Leader’s Edge Mastermind program: extend your network – and thus your reach, thinking, and contribution – by meeting with other people outside of your usual industry or social group. It feels weird at first as you adjust to people’s views and attitudes, then becomes rewarding as you see and experience a greater fulness of life and possibilities.

The Edge of Leadership Un-Conference last year was a gathering of diverse people: there were folks from construction, retail, health, social and community services, higher education. Some great collaborations emerged from it, apart from the AllBids and Hands Across Canberra venture as mentioned. Roxanne Ebina of Nunie and Yu started mentoring a woman through the Global Sisters program. She helped a new Australian citizen with limited language and business skills explore life as an independent entrepreneur. Lynne Strong donated one of her Archibull painted cows (The Archibull Prize is in itself a remarkable story of collaboration) to one of Peter Munday’s children charities through the Canberra Hospital Foundation. That wonderful creative cow now brightens the faces of children undergoing difficult medical treatment. All because of gathering together and taking the risk of meeting someone new.

Good stuff happens when people come together with curiosity and care.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Explore new communities. Go to that MeetUp, or business group. Try that new dance studio or sports club. Go to an event you wouldn’t necessarily go to.
  2. Seek out groups that invite diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Go with an open mind and heart and seek to understand.
  3. Start your own tribe and create diversity yourself. This is true Boundless Leadership: creating space for possibilities, new ideas, and boundless potential.

Be curious, there is much to see.