To Partner or Not to Partner – That is the Question

Ahhhh the idea of partnerships… It’s an intriguing one, isn’t it?

Whether we’re talking business ideas or romantic relationships, that fresh-out-of-oven energy – nothing quite like it.  

The exhilaration of launching a business with someone and the dopamine rush that comes from sparks flying – it’s all pretty intoxicating.  (I mean, who doesn’t love a good late-night, “let’s start a business” chat?)

But in either scenario, before you’re swept completely off your feet, it’s always wise to pause and take a conscious approach.

Let’s first frame this up.

Now that we’ve started to use the “S” words – spirituality and soul – let’s look at this through that lens.  You guys are ready for this.

Here’s the skinny: Our souls come to this earth with an individual agenda, a unique purpose to fulfill.  Something that you and only you are meant to do.

Others come into our lives who may play a role in fueling our mission. 

And thennnnn we layer on man-made agreements.  Human contracts.  And expect that once it’s inked it’s permanent, here to stay.

And that’s where things can get a little tricky.

Life kicks in.  Pressures mount.  Experiences shape.  Noise increases.  Perspectives change.  Aging happens.  The lens widens.  Egos overtake. Priorities reorder.  Direction shifts.  

And then the “Oh fuck” moment.  It started off so perfectly.  What happened?

Have you ever found yourself in this position?  I know I sure have.

I’m not here to make a case against partnerships.  But I am making a case for vetting it all out up front, having the deep convos with yourself and with others and deciding if that path feels right for you.  It really all comes back to knowing yourself.

The Key Ingredient

Do I think partnerships can be fulfilling and productive and lifelong?

Yes, I do.  Absolutely.

But only if one essential ingredient is incorporated in an intentional way.

And that ingredient is GROWTH and the conscious conversations that fuel it.

Conscious conversations are a must.  And they need to be happening on the reg.  As in, put it on your calendar, commit to it and execute.

Conversations that involve asking the right questions, the hard questions, the deep questions, right out of the gate and throughout.

Over the last few months, I’ve witnessed business partnerships come to end. 

One fizzled because as the numbers grew, one partner was quickly becoming subsumed with fame and fortune, and what was propelling the other was making the world a better place.

Another came to a halt because one partner was showing up every day and doing the work and the other was all hat, no cattle, and wasn’t following consistent daily practices that were aligned with the long-term vision.

While the outcomes were unexpected, the experience can still be steeped in growth, as it takes courage to walk away from something that is no longer a good fit, a new level of self-awareness that comes from evaluating what you learned and expansion that comes from stepping into the unknown.  

Client Breakthroughs

My clients are making huge leaps in this area as they really harness their own authenticity.  One of my clients has been with his business partner for nearly a decade and is coming to terms that the partnership is past its expiration date.  They’ve tried a few last-ditch efforts to make things work, but it’s no longer in the cards.  He’s been weighing his options for a while, all of which had the common thread of partnering with someone.

Throughout our conversations, I asked him a number of times, “Do you really think you need a partner?”  At first, it was a resounding yes – “Well, I need someone to share all this responsibility with.”  To which I’d push back: “I get that you want someone to carry the weight with you, but why couldn’t you just pull in what you need at the time that you need it?  Are you sure that partnership is the right model for you?”  A few sessions later, he came to our meeting and shared his “aha moment” – he feels confident he can do it alone.

Another client was in the process of launching a business when it became abundantly clear that it wasn’t exactly a perfect pairing.  Through the process, he realized that he really doesn’t need to partner with anyone – he already has everything available to him – the network, the resources, the experience, the knowledge and now he knows how to harness his personal power.  As a matter of fact, he’s pretty freakin’ dangerous on his own, in the most positive sense of the word.

While some are parting ways, others are digging in and rekindling the flame that was there at the beginning. Through having real, raw, vulnerable conversations, new ways of problem-solving, dealing with adversity and holistic ways of living that uplift not only themselves, but others, are emerging.

Doing the work in the NOW

I believe that one of the reasons that a lot of partnerships don’t last the duration (again, whether we’re talking business or personal) is that people often overfocus on the future – the dreamy image of what a multi-billion dollar company or the blissful marriage will look like, and what’s going on in the NOW can easily be overlooked.  I want you to take a hard look at what’s going on in the NOW.  How are people showing up?  Are there red flags you’re ignoring?  What concerns do you have?  What is your intuition telling you?

IF you choose to enter into a formalized, legally binding arrangement, (which is a decision I totally respect, by the way) I highly suggest you invest A LOT of time and energy upfront getting to know the other person on multiple levels.  

I’m reading a book right now called “The Way of Integrity,” and the author discusses that the two most influential factors that shape individuals are trauma and family culture.  They both play a huge role in shaping the relationship we have with ourselves, and how we interact with others.  Not saying that you need to play psychotherapist, but I am saying there’s a lot of upside in getting to know someone in the depths.

What do you know about your business partner’s experience with trauma?  What do you know about how they handle conflict?  What do you know about how they process uncertainty?  What do you know about what triggers them?  What do you know about their fears?  What do you know about their limiting beliefs?  What do you know about what they truly stand for, their essence and their personal brand?  What do you know about their desired legacy, and how they are designing their days to achieve it?

All of that is buried in there somewhere, and it’s just a matter of time before it bubbles to the surface, courtesy of life experiences that serve as catalysts.

If you decide that partnership is right for you, by committing to doing the growth work along the way, you can keep the relationship vibrant and dynamic and filled with the same exhilaration that was there at the get-go.  It is possible, if and only if you choose growth.

Do you want to explore this way of thinking in your own life? I’d love to help.  Grab a time here and we’ll chat.

Have a great week!