I asked myself a question the other day. Which is the harder relationship to manage; intimate relationships or business relationships? Are all relationships essentially the same thing or ‘ same same but different‘? The end result was an exploration into the often unconsidered realm of business relationships where hugging and kissing is replaced with handshakes (unless of course you are Italian or French and kissing is a 24/7 obligation).
Now I have had my fair share of relationships and also worked in some big international organisations; but it has been my move to Bali that has truly given me insight into the intricacies of the business relationship. The island of Bali is a mini business cosmos.
The interesting element to business in Asia is that it is relatively easy for a Westerner, with a modest amount of money, to suddenly become a business owner or to buy into a business relationship. As happens all over the world, a lot of these highly creative and enthusiastic people may not have had formal training in management, leadership, business practices, or financial management. But like the word training implies, most of these skills can be learned. I believe that the real challenge is entering the right business relationship.
Tony Robbins a prominent American Success Coach – suggests that the most important part of a successful relationship is ‘selecting the right person’. Now that may sound pretty simple and you probably think that is exactly what you do. But let me assure you, when the love chemicals are firing off inside your body, most people throw their list of must have and ‘not want’ partner qualities out the rear window of the freight train. Now if selection is crucial for a successful intimate relationship, then the same should apply for a business relationship. For example, if you highly value honesty, then dont choose a business partner who is all about making the deal (at the expense of the truth).
In the last issue of Insight magazine I talked about ‘thoughts creating emotions’. In intimate relationships, love generates powerful emotions. An equally powerful emotion is generated by the thoughts, beliefs and experience that people have in relation to money. So donâ€™t for a second think that there is more emotion involved in intimate relationships â€“ because we all know from experience that money stimulates extremely powerful emotions. In business, the emotional currency is money.
Another challenge with business relationships is that most people identify themselves with what they are at work; whether it is a Doctor, Manager, Business Owner, CEO, or Director. Essentially this title becomes their personal identity and something that a very uncompassionate ego thrives on. Eckhart Tolle, who wrote the Power of Now, has written a fantastic new book called A New Earth, where he spends half the book talking about the destructive nature of the ego. So be aware that in business relationships, people will cling to their business identity so strongly, that if you challenge their performance of that role, you are effectively challenging who they are on planet earth.
As an aside; some ancient teachings suggest that to reach ‘enlightenment’ one has to free themselves of their ego. So my advice to you in a business relationship is not to attach yourself to your title. Know that you are much much more than just a CEO or a business owner. You are you. An incredible human being put solely and meticulously on this planet to grow and flourish for the term of your natural life.
Like intimate relationships, it is important that business partners have aligned goals and not just at the start of the relationship!! This is probably one of THE MOST important exercises before a business relationship is formed. You need to be absolutely clear on where you see yourself and the business in one year, five years and 10 years. Of course nothing is fixed in a constantly changing world, and goals should be reviewed at least every 6 – 12 months; but you need to know that your initial goals are aligned and complimentary. If your goals are not aligned, please consider choosing a different partner (just like you would with an intimate partner).
You also need to understand whether your future business partner has the skills to perform the role they are signing up for. Before you rush into this potentially new relationship (and are blinded by the slightly more physical chemical called $$$$), do some due diligence to determine if the potential partner has the skills to perform the role. If they have an amazing concept, but no money in the bank, should they be in charge of the financials. If they have had a history of failed projects where someone else was always to blame could there actually be another reason for the failures? Dont rush into a seemingly good deal until you are sure that your new partner has the skills and ability to perform their role. And dont be blinded by greed or dollar signs.
The last thing is the need to formalise the business partnership in much the same way as with an intimate relationship; where you exchange vows in front of a number of witnesses to “be faithful to your partner”, “love them if they are being annoying”, and “pick up the bill when they have forgotten their money”,. This may seem unnecessary at the beginning, when everyone is excited about the future but just wait until the normal business challenges arise. People’s memory of exactly what they were meant to deliver becomes a little hazy, especially when the bank manager calls. “But I thought you meant
A final reflective thought
Never forget that life is about growth. It is through emotional challenges that we make our greatest personal growth. We can tick all the right boxes selecting the right partner, having aligned goals, having the rights skills, and having the right contract but life has a way of knowing the REAL big picture and giving us exactly what we need in order to grow into the person we have the potential to become. So be prepared, tick off the right boxes and then get ready for the beautiful and thrilling ride that is called life.
Keep it real