Habit 6-Synergize


Have you ever seen a flock of geese heading south for the winter flying along in a V formation? Scientists have learned some amazing things about why they fly that way:


What does synergize mean? In a nutshell, synergy is achieved when two or more people work together to create a better solution than either could alone. It’s not your way or my way but a better way, a higher way.

To better understand what synergy is, let’s see what synergy is not.


Synergy is:                                                                   Synergy is not:

Celebrating differences                                                 Tolerating differences

Teamwork                                                                     Working independently

Open-mindedness                                                         Thinking you’re always right

Finding new and better ways                                          Compromise


Synergy is Everywhere

Synergy isn’t anything new. If you’ve ever been on a team of any kind, you’ve felt it. If you’ve ever worked on a group project that really came together or been on a really fun group date, you’ve felt it.

A good band is a great example of synergy. It’s just not the drums, or the guitar, or the sax, or the vocalist, it’s all of them together that make up the “sound.” Each band member brings his or her strengths to the table to create something better than each could alone. No instrument is more important than another, just different.


Celebrating Differences

Synergy doesn’t just happen. It’s a process. You have to get there. And the foundation of getting there is this: Learn to celebrate differences.

When we hear the word diversity, we typically think of racial and gender differences. But there is so much more to it, including differences in physical features, dress, language, wealth, family, religious beliefs, lifestyle, education, interests, skills, age, style, and on and on. The world is fast becoming a great melting pot of cultures, races, religions, and ideas. Since this diversity around you is ever increasing, you’ve got an important decision to make regarding how you’re going to handle it. There are three possible approaches you can take:


Shunner’s Profile

Shunners are afraid of differences. It disturbs them that someone may have a different skin color, worship a different God, or wear a different brand of jeans than they do, because they’re convinced their way of life is the “best,” ”right,” or ”only” way. They won’t hesitate to get physical about it if they have to and will often join gangs, cliques, or anti-groups because there’s strength in numbers.


Tolerator’s Profile

Tolerators believe that everyone has the right to be different. They don’t shun diversity but don’t embrace it either. Their motto is: “You keep to yourself and I’ll keep to myself. You do your thing and let me do mine. You don’t bother me and I won’t bother you.” Although, they come close, they never get to synergy because they see differences as hurdles, not as potential strength to build upon.


Celebrator’s Profile

Celebrators value differences. They see them as an advantage, not a weakness. They’ve learned that two people who think differently can achieve more than two people who think alike. They realize that celebrating differences doesn’t mean that you necessarily agree with those differences, such as being a Democrat or a Republican, only that you value them. In their eyes, Diversity=Creative Sparks=Opportunity.

The truth is, celebrating diversity is a struggle for most of us, depending on the issue. For example, you may appreciate racial and cultural diversity and in the same breath look down on someone because of the clothes they wear.

Roadblocks to Celebrating Differences

Although there are many, three of the largest roadblocks to synergy are ignorance, cliques, and prejudice.

Ignorance. Ignorance means you are ignoring something, hence the word ignorance.  You don’t know what other people believe, how they feel, or what they’ve been through.

Cliques. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be with those you’re comfortable with; it becomes a problem only when your group of friends becomes so exclusive that they begin to reject everyone who isn’t just like them.

Prejudice. Have you ever felt stereotyped, labeled, or pre-judged by someone because your skin’s the wrong color, or you live on the wrong side of the tracks? Haven’t we all, and isn’t it a sick feeling? We aren’t born with prejudices. They’re learned.


Finding the “High” Way

Once you’ve bought into the idea that differences are strengths and not weaknesses, and once you’ve committed to at least trying to celebrate differences, you’re ready to find the High Way. Synergy is a creative cooperation, with an emphasis on the word creative. Synergy is 1 + 1 = 3 or more. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Builders know all about it. If one 2” x 4” beam can support 607 pounds, then two 2” x 4”’s should be able to support 1,214 pounds. Right? Actually, two 2” x 4”’s can support 1,821 pounds. If you nail them together, two 2” x 4”’s can now support 4,878 pounds. And three 2” x 4”’s nailed together can support 8,481 pounds. Musicians know how it works too. They know that when a C and G note are perfectly in tune, it produces a third note, or an E.

Great teamwork is like a great piece of music. All the voices and instruments may be singing and playing all at once, but they aren’t competing. Individually, the instruments and voices make different sounds, play different notes, pause at different times; yet they blend together to create a whole new sound. This is synergy.

The wonderful by-product of teamwork and synergy is that it builds relationships. Basketball Olympian Deborah Miller Palmore said it well: “Even when you’ve played the game of your life, it’s the feeling of teamwork that you’ll remember. You’ll forget the plays, the shots, and the scores, but you’ll never forget your teammates.”



Habit 6 Synergize – Worksheet


1. Define synergy: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.


2. Share an example of synergy that happened this week with you, anytime in your life, such as creative problem solving, teamwork: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.


3. When we hear the word diversity, we typically think of racial and gender differences. List five other categories that can relate to diversity:

  1. _______________________________________________________________________________.
  2. _______________________________________________________________________________.
  3. _______________________________________________________________________________.
  4. _______________________________________________________________________________.
  5. _______________________________________________________________________________.


4. Define Shunners: ______________________________________________________________________.


5. Define Tolerators: ______________________________________________________________________.


6. Define Celebrators: _____________________________________________________________________.


7. Think about someone that irritates you. What is different about them? What can you learn from them? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.


8. Rate your openness to diversity in each of the following categories. Are you a shunner, tolerator, or celebrator?



























9. What can you do to become a celebrator in each category? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.


10. What are the three roadblocks to synergy? 1. _______________________________________________ 2. ________________________________________ 3. _________________________________________.


11. Define ignorance: ______________________________________________________________________________________.