Does the end justify the means? Yes, it may well do so, yet a surprising glitch is that certain means may not take you to the end you had in mind. As an adult, I always thought that if we were moving toward the same destination, things would work out just fine. But what I’ve come to understand is that the means to get there can cause just as much of a rift as the final destination.
Last week I did a workshop on “The Power of Two” for college students. In that session I talked about what happens when two individuals come together to do great things. One can be what I call a sprinter, someone like myself, or a deliberator, like my business partner Erika. As a sprinter, it doesn’t take me long to make a decision. Because of my sense of discernment, it’s usually a good one, but there have been moments when I’ve misstepped. Whereas a deliberator, like Erika, can take forever to analyze and reanalyze a decision, which has been a tremendous blessing to me personally and professionally.
It’s taken Erika and I a few hard years to get to this place, but here are some of the steps we now follow:
- Hearing – picking up on the intensity of what someone has to say. How important is the matter to them? It may be trivial to you, but it may be crucial to him or her. For example, based on the other person’s upbringing, the smallest infraction might have devastating implications. Don’t be afraid of difficult conversations; the more you have, the easier they become — I promise.
- Listening – understanding the other person’s perspective, even when you don’t agree. I call this “intentional and purposeful” listening. Not everyone communicates loudly; some communicate verbally, physically, through patterns of behavior, or even through absences. What is the person’s profile? If you can’t identify at least three patterns of behavior, you aren’t listening well — or perhaps you don’t care.
- Agreeing – putting your perspective down and picking the other person’s perspective up. Yikes, this separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls! A great exercise is to argue against your own perspective to get in the other person’s shoes.
- Negotiating – Bishop TD Jakes says we don’t get what we want; we get what we negotiate. Isn’t that the truth! Every relationship is a transaction requiring a great deal of compromise. Show me a partnership that compromises and I’ll show you the dream team. Life is not about convenience; it’s about what and whom you’re willing to be inconvenienced for.
- Modifying – each party makes a conscious effort to alter their perspective and behavior for the greater good of the relationship. As Pastor Keith Battle has said, it’s not about emotions; it’s about principles — doing something because you are disciplined enough to do it, not because you feel like doing it. As humans we are naturally selfish. We must train ourselves to put down our emotions, which means doing something even when I don’t want to, don’t feel like it, am exhausted, or am even angry. Yes, it seems simple, but “simple” doesn’t make it easy.
- Adopting – moving forward with a new way of thinking, being, and living. If several people tell you the same thing, you are a repeat offender and are not listening. Time to listen and adopt a new pattern of behavior!
There is nothing like a partner in business or in life to bring out the best and the worst in you, but the true power of a dynamic relationship is only realized with mutual respect and healthy communication.