“Two are Better Than One”
THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIP
By Coach Lorne McAlister
- Your strengths are stronger and your weaknesses are weaker than you realize.
- You need help.
- You are also precisely the help someone else needs.
“Again, I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down, his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
“Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition.” Mark 6:7
THE POWER OF 2 is great book by Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller on how to make the most of your partnerships at work and in life. Their work at Gallup has generated the following eight elements of a powerful partnership.
1. COMPLEMENTARY STRENGTHS:
Everyone has weaknesses and blind spots that create obstacles to reaching a goal. One of the most powerful reasons for teaming up is working with someone who is strong where you are weak, and vice versa. Specializing allows both people to spend more time doing what each does best and allows the two to tackle together challenges neither could alone. Individuals are not well-rounded, but pairs can be.
You should be able to name these qualities for yourself and your counterpart without much hesitation:
“I bring _________________ to the partnership; my partner adds ________________.”
Your strengths are stronger and your weaknesses weaker than you realize. You need help. You are also precisely the help someone else needs.
“The same man cannot be skilled in everything; each has his special excellence.”
2. A COMMON MISSION:
You can’t paddle a canoe in two directions at once!
When a partnership fails, the root cause is often that the two people were pursuing separate agendas. When partners want the same thing badly enough, they will make the personal sacrifices necessary to see it through. Without a shared mission, partnerships inevitably break into two individual pursuits. With a common goal, two people, who might otherwise knock heads, subordinate their personal concerns for the sake of the accomplishment.
Although you and your partner must agree on your mission, you don’t need to have the same reasons for pursuing it. This usually does not hinder the alliance, particularly if both of you understand the driving force motivating the other and work to see those hopes fulfilled.
“A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship.”
John D Rockerfeller
Humans have an instinctive need for fairness. No one likes to be taken advantage of, to get the short end of the deal. Because the need for fairness runs deep, it is an essential quality of a strong partnership.
Worries about fairness arise immediately at the prospect of teaming up with someone else. Children quickly figure out how to establish and maintain fairness. How shall they split a piece of chocolate cake? One girl should cut it; the other get to choose her half.
If the first partner offers to buy the second partner out, the second partner can turn and offer to buy the first partner out at the price that the first partner offered. Fairness must be in the foundation of working lasting partnerships.
Working with someone means taking risks. You are not likely to contribute your best work unless you trust that your partner will do their best. You need to rely on your counterpart to look out for your interests and vice versa.
Without trust, it’s better to work alone. Both people doubt whether the other will fulfill his end of the bargain. Both must verify the other’s actions. Both must make contingency plans in case their counterparts fail. The frustration and inefficiency of not being able to count on someone is more hassle than the burden of handling the full load along. No trust, no partnership.
In a Tit-for-Tat world, where most people return good for good and bad for bad, the world you inhabit is the world you make. Your reputation precedes you, biasing the way new colleagues deal with you. Your first moves, friendly or hostile, tip the balance for future interactions. When you exhibit trust, you will most often find trustworthiness. When you are selfish, you will most often find selfishness. When you compete others must resort to competition. If you choose to play the game strictly for our own advantage, your attempts at collaboration will indeed be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.
In the end, the degree to which you succeed in forming trusting partnerships is less a reflection of how people trust you than how you trust them; less a reflection of their trustworthiness than of your own.
We see the world through our own set of lenses. What’s normal for one person is a serious flaw for another. Whenever two disparate personalities come together, there is bound to be a certain friction from their differences. This can be a recipe for conflict unless both learn to accept the idiosyncrasies of the other.
You form partnerships fastest and easiest with people most like yourself. Deep seated biases make you more trusting of those who look most like you, who think like you, or with whom you have the most in common.
There is a natural propensity to believe you are normal and that the other person, to the degree he or she differs from you, is a bit off. We tend to forget or disregard information that disagrees with us, but we remember what reinforces our own views. We are inclined to believe positive news about those we like and negative information about those we don’t. Psychologists call it "egocentrism".
One of the greatest challenges of any partnership is learning how to work in close quarters with another over-assuming, fallible, emotionally driven, partially informed, idiosyncratic being moving up and down on the tides of life just like you.
This element of partnership does not require you to tolerate every kind of behavior. No collaborator should feel any obligation to endure abuse, sloth, dishonesty, selfishness, or a partner taking sole credit for joint accomplishments.
You must decide what quirks you personally cannot accept.
Be careful about making your list of unacceptable traits too long.
Learn to live with and find ways to handle aspect in others you would prefer to change.
If your partner does something that bothers you, you need to recognize it before you can resolve it.
The best way to deal with a frustrating situation is called "active acceptance". Active acceptance means acknowledging a negative, difficult situation and dealing with it in a constructive way. The individual dispenses with fruitless attempts to control what is neither controllable nor changeable. It focuses on your partner’s strengths rather than weaknesses, accepting him or her as is and being understanding when they err.
“He that studies revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well.” John Milton
People are imperfect. We make mistakes. A partner sometimes does something wrong.
Without forgiveness, the natural revenge motives that stem from friend-or-foe instincts will overpower all the reasons to continue a partnership, and it will dissolve.
Revenge is sweet. Revenge punished the offender. Revenge’s only reward is the satisfaction of seeing the other guy hurt. The human mind admires a good payback.
Venting to reduce anger is like using gasoline to put out a fire. By fueling aggressive thoughts and feeling, venting also increases aggressive responding.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. Forgiveness is a decision. It’s the only way you and your partner can process and proceed when you have been less than your best.
Just as hope is the only way to look into the unknowable future, so forgiveness of the only way to deal with the unchangeable past.
“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”
The only way two minds can be united in one mission is if the pair communicates well.
Two heads are not better than one if the two people do not talk enough to each other. Without coordinating their moves, collaborators risk knocking heads or making deal-wrecking assumptions about the other’s intentions. In the early stages of a partnership, communicating help to prevent misunderstandings and to assure each person of the other’s trustworthiness. Later in the relationship, a continuous flow of information makes the work more efficient by keeping the two people synchronized.
President Theodore Roosevelt while on an expedition down Brazil’s River of Doubt in 1913 was visited on morning by three Nhambiquara Indians. “They left their weapons behind them before they appeared and shouted loudly while they were still hid by the forest,” wrote Roosevelt. “And it was only after repeated answering calls of welcome that they approached. Always in the wilderness friends proclaim their presence; a silent advance marks a foe.”
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.”
Many people enter partnerships for selfish reasons; they can accomplish more collaborating than they can working solo. However in the best working relationships, something happens along the way. Some researchers call it "mutuality" when the natural concerns for your own welfare transforms into gratification in seeing your comrade succeed. Those who have reached this level say such collaborations become among the most fulfilling aspects of their lives. It is the one thing to have accomplished a great goal by oneself, they say, but individual achievements cannot compare to doing a great thing together.
Being a great partner is hard work. The two of you must always stay on the common ground of a shared mission. Both of you are apt to overestimate you own contributions, to see the other’s weaknesses clearer than his strengths, to find the other’s way of doing things odd, to make wrong assumptions and communicate too little and perhaps to find trust itself elusive. The most dangerous trap of collaboration is the convenient availability of someone else to blame for its failure.