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The Well-Partnered Approach

Since I was knee-high to a dot matrix printer, I’ve innately believed — no — I’ve innately known that well-partnered teamwork is the only way to move anything forward and feel good about it. I remember having an awareness of the advantages of teamwork and partnership about the same time I developed an awareness of personal brand — age five or six. I didn’t have the words for either concept at that time, of course, but I had the ideas down.

Being an only child who was made to be a globetrotter before most kids are weaned meant I was acutely aware of my status as a ‘new kid’ and ‘outsider’ from the outset. Being exposed to so many different people and cultures as early as I was mandated that I find ways of connecting. I think that mandate gave me the ability to see the best in people. (It also helped that my family was only ever in one place long enough to see everyone’s best behavior.) Seeing the best in everyone meant that I grew up with a genuine respect for people’s unique personalities, talents, and skills, and a thirst to partner theirs with my own. That desire to collaborate, to partner, and to be a team drove me to join a band that would take me to Hollywood and all over North America for a full decade of my life. It drove me to become a certified personal trainer in my Thirties; I wanted to coach, to cheerlead, and to partner with people who were interested in bettering their fitness and health. It’s driven me to build and lead teams across a variety of different industries, settling into Creative in the last ten years. Over the course of all that time and activity, I have learned a lot about human nature, and a lot about the nature of teams and partnered relationships. Throw in two marriages, and it’s been a master class. The biggest takeaway to date has been that my original childhood thesis was right — well-partnered teamwork is the only way to move anything forward and feel good about it. That’s not to say autonomous work need not apply. On the contrary, sometimes excellent teamwork means letting everyone do their own thing and come back to the team with their results. Independent work is critical to any individual’s, and any team’s, success, and I’ve found it to be most effective when there is a strong, supportive partnership or team structure in place. I’ve been fortunate that over the past three years of my career I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with people who also innately understand the power of a well-partnered and team-centric approach to work and life. This includes two bosses who both made it plain to me that they didn’t want underlings; they wanted partners. They respect other people’s talents, skills, and minds, and they are secure enough in themselves to be confident in their own talents, skills, and minds. That, My Friends, is golden. It’s the way we should all be operating, and aspiring to operate. It’s the way I’ve always known human beings can relate to one another, yet time and again, I’ve been in situations in which the tenor turned toxic because one person let their personal insecurities, fears, jealousy or scarcity responses spoil the partnership, team, or relationship dynamic. Tens of thousands of years of history have taught us that competition often results in horrific brutality, tragedy, and inequality. Isn’t it time to try collaborating to solve our problems? Isn’t it time to start looking at everyone in our lives as partners, with their own unique skills, talents, and minds? Isn’t it time to start viewing our entire species as one large team? At this point in my life and career, I refuse to accept anything else. I firmly believe that every conflict can be resolved by checking ego at the door, drawing on our humility and confidence (see footnote), accepting that we have something to offer to our fellow teammates and they us, and approaching each other in partnership. So I ask you this: As you move into your Friday, how can you bring this spirit of partnership and teamwork into everything you do today?

Hoof Note: I’ve long seen humility and confidence as perfect partners unto themselves. True humility understands that there are many perspectives and all are valid. True confidence understands that one’s own perspective is valid.

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