Friday, June 1, 2007

Part and Parcel, How to Grow a Partnership

To me the art of partnering is simple. First, anticipate the other person's actions and then help them along the way. Say they need to figure out how to finish a job. A partner looks for what needs to be done next and starts on that: The nurse who hands the doctor the correct instrument, the catcher that doesn't let the ball go through, the person who takes the other side of the box to help you lift, all are examples of what I mean. But how do you find that partner or become one yourself.

As I written earlier, my partner and I grew into our partnership. Common interests placed us together and we grew into it from there. But first lets ask ourselves this question. What is the value of a partnership? As a loner, I can tell you that I have wasted a lot of my energy trying to complete projects that didn't get done because being a loner I had no contacts, no connections, no person up the ladder that I could appeal to for help. Because I didn't "need anyone" I let myself believe that the failure of each project was the fault of others who just couldn't see what a great idea they were missing. As I began to think about this though, I realized that the failures were also mine. My individuality might lead to creativity but in order to spread a good idea I needed to change myself or add someone else to the mix.. So a partnership can bring you success.

When I started a side business, I began to look for ways to include someone else. As I look back, I can see that this first attempt was destined to fail. My small business had room for one employee so I decided to include my wife. Blithely, I assumed because we were married we were partners and that she would want to share in the creation of this business. But the contract of marriage didn't include her caring about what I was trying to create. She was glad to help on an hourly basis, or as an assistant but when she came home from her regular (part time job) she was quite content to relax and do her own things rather work with me to grow the business. Eventually, this difference of interests doomed the business and, yes, the marriage. I'd learned that wanting a partner or to be a partner didn't garuntee success.

I could see the value of having a partner but I couldn't see how to get one. I didn't have a boss who would one day walk into my office and say here's your new partner. I was on my own. Then I began to think back to a time when I did have partners. Back to the day when I played sports in college and after, and I remember what had always been the key to my team being successful. I helped everyone else be a better player. In football, I was a great blocker; in basketball, I led in assists; in volleyball, I was a setter; and in dance, I was a leader who learned to follow. In each of these activities, I was a partner.

The value of a partnership is that it can lead to success. To have a partnership, I finally learned, you have to be a partner.

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