Start with this self-evaluation checklist…
How long does it take you to get back to someone? If you need time to think of a response, do you let them know within 24 hours that you received their message and you need a day or two to respond?
My bet is, you are incredibly thoughtful and intentional, and you try not to make decisions haphazardly. This message is for you: Based on your modus operandi, you aren’t haphazard, so take a leap and make a decision. You can always change course. In fact, making a decision and leaning into it is often necessary for the extra clarity you need. Confusion comes from being in your head drowning in all the possible choices and trajectories. Pair this with the previous paragraph: committing to getting back to someone within a couple of days is the perfect external nudge gifted to us to keep us unstuck.
If you dance slow, others will dance slow with you. They will put you on the slow queue, prioritizing their dance with partners who get back to them more immediately. Think about this for yourself: when you send a text or email, how wonderful is it when someone gets back to you immediately? Pretty wonderful.
Maybe you got back to someone within the 24 to 48 hours, and they don’t get back to you for a loooong time (and sometimes, never on particular emails). Check to make sure that your correspondence is boiled down. If you reply back with a therapy session or too much minutiae in your thought process, you’ve essentially dumped your internal work and your authority on their lap, and that’s not on them. This may be an indication that a phone call may be a better, more efficient way to communicate.
Are you continually apologizing or asking them what they want from you? The ones you want to collaborate with aren’t looking for agreeable people. They want to know what you want (too), to see where both your visions come together, and where the talents complement each other. That said, demands are off-putting. The approach is to find a mutual, equitable, inter-dependent relationship.
If you feel like you are doing all the work so you feel bogged down wondering if you are on the right path, first take a moment to see if you really truly understand what the others are doing, what risks they are taking, what they’ve brought and invested in this relationship, and how you fit into it and have done the same. The more experienced collaborators will arguably seem to be doing less work externally and enjoying themselves more. They make it look easier, and they seem to have time for more “luxuries.” When we take everything on ourselves, or when we micro-manage, life gets tedious and overwhelmingly busy, and we start to feel resentful, somewhat paranoid, and driven by scarcity.
It could be that you are being taken advantage of, and that they aren’t so collaborative and great. But make sure that that’s really the case before you jump to that conclusion. I offer this vantage point because it’s rather easy to think that others aren’t doing or risking as much as we are. It’s easy to criticize others for their perceived lack of true work ethic and mistaken judgments on equal work. We never really get to see the hard work and choices others labored over when no one is looking, the emotional work that they’ve done to get through them, and the financial and emotional risks they’ve taken. At least, that’s how we see things when we are struggling.
You are brilliant. We know it. You know it deep down. Take the leap. Collaborate and get a move on.