Etymology: coined by J.R.R. Tolkien
: a member of a fictitious peaceful and genial race of small humanlike creatures that dwell underground.
In J.R.R. Tolkien's epic series of books, The Lord of the Rings, a magic ring of tremendous power and contagious evil is found in the possession of the unlikeliest of persons—a hobbit. The ring belongs to the dark lord Sauron who only needs to regain it to once more throw Middle Earth into darkness. Along with several companions, four hobbits set out on a journey to carry the One Ring to fiery Mount Doom, in the land of Mordor, the only place where the ring can be unmade. Though hobbits are the main heroes of Tolkien's adventure, they are unlike classic heroes. They are not naturally courageous. They are not great fighters. They are not fast runners. They are not even particularly intelligent. However, from the viewpoint of collaboration, it is only natural that the hobbits are the heroes, as they are the quintessential collaborators. They are unselfish; they put others before themselves. On his birthday, a hobbit gives presents to his friends as that brings him the most joy. They deeply value friendship and comradeship. They enjoy stories and talking over a good meal. They stick together. Because of these qualities, they have a natural resistance to the One Ring's temptation of great payoff / power to the individual who uses it... [PDF Format]
To be a hobbit is to be a good collaborator. You seek to find the best in others and work together to accomplish something you could not accomplish by yourself. In improv theatre, this useful behaviour is often described as "making your partner perfect."
I find that my best work, both in my research and theatre, is done when I'm collaborating with somebody else.