“Not everything is about you,” Clary said furiously. “Possibly,” Jace said, “but you do have to admit that the majority of things are.” ― Cassandra Clare, City of Glass
When I was a kid, my mother always taught us to share with others. Whether it be sharing food, or toys, this lesson was one I think many people learn from an early age. I think across cultures and countries the idea of unity over self is something that is an underlying lesson.
So how is it that once we are grown up, some even having kids of their own, that we revert to this childish behavior of making it all about us? Why can we not recognize that there is a bigger goal of unity, collaboration and working together instead of getting what we want out of things? And note that I am not just applying this to animal rescue and welfare but to the broader discussion of people helping other people. Why do we need a term such as random acts of kindness to point out people helping others and sharing unconditionally? Why is this not just considered the normal way to do things?
I was meeting with the director of a local shelter some time ago and she made an interesting comment that applies here. She said, “Other businesses compete and are not always pressured to accept a working together model, so why is it that animal shelters need to work together all the time? We’re in competition with one another just like any other business.” It was an interesting discussion that we were having and her point got my attention for sure. I replied that I disagreed with her premise that other businesses do not work together. What’s the purpose of the Chamber of Commerce after all, and why are there countless types of business associations for professionals in every industry and country then if collaboration is not a central premise? Businesses of all shapes and sizes work together on common goals recognizing that they can accomplish more together than they can separately.
In animal rescue as in other businesses, the idea of your brand is something that is important. Everyone likes their name, logo, or brand that they have created and they are reluctant to abdicate their brand in lieu of someone else’s for fear of losing their own identify. In short, it’s an ego thing. After all the definition of ego is “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.” Note that I am the first one to say that everyone SHOULD keep their brand and their identify because it defines them and it’s something they are proud of. The simple fact though is this:
You do not have to make it all about YOU in order to retain your brand and your identity. You can work together towards common goals; you can be a part of a bigger brand, a bigger cause and a broader solution to a problem. You can accomplish more working together than you can alone.