The paradoxical nature of partnerships
Continuing the theme raised in previous articles, I want to discuss in more detail why it can be so difficult to maintain a partnership in business.
By its very nature, a business is multi-faceted and contradictory. Therefore, it takes opposing qualities from a founder to create it, to keep it, and to scale it fully. There are few people who balance somewhat polar qualities — relationship-building and analytical perspective, openness to new ideas and orderliness, caring for people and performance, sensitivity to changes in context and emotional stability.
Not surprisingly, the best founders intuitively choose business partners who seamlessly complement themselves in psychotype, experience, and skills. First, such an alliance helps guard against unfortunate mistakes because it neutralizes individual blind spots. This is similar to the difference between grasping an object with one hand and two hands — in the latter case, the gap disappears.
Second, each partner is relieved of duties that are repugnant to his/her nature. If one cannot tolerate active travel, meetings and communication with partners and investors, the other needs it like oxygen to his/her lungs. Ordering and optimizing processes in one partner causes depression and boredom, and in the other, on the contrary, delight, like a child unpacking presents at Christmas.
Most importantly, this union allows for the creation of a meta-level system in terms of complexity, flexibility, and sustainability. An anti-fragility emerges, that is, the ability of business to paradoxically benefit from all that kills the rest.
But there is a tiny nuance that in partnership determines: “To be or not to be.” It’s an honest answer to the question, “Do you value your partner’s contributions as highly as you value yours?”. The answer seems obvious. However, it is what initially creates a partnership that often ends up destroying it. After all, some qualities are in short supply with you for a reason. Often this means that you have a taboo towards them inside, making you feel condemnation, revulsion or fear.
No wonder you have conflicting feelings toward people who have in excess what you do not have — envy and irritation, admiration and contempt, curiosity and suspicion. Such a partner you both attracts and repels. Recall your childhood game with two magnets. Depending on how you turned them to each other — they either stuck together instantly, or, conversely, no force could connect them.
Carl Jung quotes the medieval alchemists: “In sterquiliniis invenitur,” which literally means “In the mud you will find everything. Psychologist Jordan Peterson translates it as: “What you need most, you will find where you least want to look.”
My experience tells me that a partnership is successful as long as each partner equally:
- Recognizes the need for conflicting qualities for business,
- Humbly acknowledges their area of deficiency,
- Has learned to sincerely appreciate in the other what he/she does not have.
In essence, partnership is a test of individual maturity. It means thanking fate that, like yourself, your partner is exactly who he/she is.
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As a business therapist, I help tech founders with rapid business transformation. My specialty is accelerating decision-making at the intersection of business and personality.