Wednesday, November 14, 2007

100 %

Partnerships are difficult. By the stats they appear really difficult. Marriages that stay together are becoming more and more rare, litigation is now at such an all time high in North American culture that lawyers can concentrate on the creation or dissolution of partnerships specifically. Psychiatrists, counselors, businesses and friendships, to name a just a few, work on the premise of a partnership.

Entire business models revolve around partnerships and we all seem innately to want partnership in our lives. Many call that community. Why then is there so much difficulty with how we all approach our partnerships.

Trust is one of the issues and the topic today is an equally as important issue is expectation.

With most people there is concern going into a partnership. Very few things are laid openly on the table for all to see and the difficult conversations are swept under the table to haunt us later. This yields problems because then each party is working on their own perceived expectations - or baggage if you will. These unfounded expectations that have little or no merit because they are one sided. Your side.

Now we could go into further details about trust, jealously and pride [and we likely will in further blogs] but expectation needs to be explored as it really is a profound result of many of people's other issues. You bring your expectations to the table because of your experiences. You bring unrealistic expectations because of the baggage you hold onto. You see people not meeting your expectations because they are unsure of what you want; mostly because you are unsure of what you want. Explore yourself and communicate to find true expectations.

Further to communication there is a serious problem with balance. We are not all equal and yet in a burgeoning relationship [business, friendship or otherwise] there seems to be a need for a 50 / 50 result. This could be from legal contracts or any number of socioeconomic reasons but the point is that relationships are rarely ever delivered 50 / 50 and especially when judged in the short term.

Your wife/husband may work and take care of the children while you recover from a business deal or being injured. You may pay the mortgage while the wife/husband cares for the family. The idea guy at work may never input an number into a spread sheet. The CEO is likely to get the accolades when things go well and the problems when things go poorly, while the CFO is rarely heard from. Are any of these partnerships 50 / 50 at all times. Of course not. Why do you need your partnerships to balance in the tangible arenas? Life is not about "I did this so you should have done that" or else we would all have to be equal.

So what entails a great partnership and how could so many more survive? The judgment needs to be made not on what you get from a partnership but what you give. A partnership is about people delivering at 100 % of their capacity and continuing to do that as long as they are still involved. As a person's success and experience increases they can deliver more and more but the effort should always be at 100%. Certainly people will gravitate to those relationships where they can be gratified or their social standing sets them but taking the relationship of an elite athlete on a team we can see that the greatest players still need a partnership with their teammates. They each must deliver at 100% for the team to win despite the super-star being paid more. Teams that win understand this implicitly. So do marriages that stay together. Arguments may happen but the details are worked out and the relationship moves forward.

You cannot bring expectation or baggage to a relationship and have a positive result. You cannot remain static and expect a strong relationship. Communication will need to take place. communication that may rock the boat. It must happen to make sure everyone understands the results that are wanted.

If you want a strong partnership you must take the challenge to relieve your partner[s] of your expectations, then you must go through the adversity of discussing what everyone wants, you must have everyone delivering at 100% of their ability and not yours, and then, and only then, will the result be a stronger, more productive and happier relationship.

Repeat process at 100% effort as necessary.

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