After passing away, a man is looking back on his life.
His guardian angel asks him, “Can you see the two sets of footprints, following each other everywhere? One set is yours, the other is mine. I walked with you, and protected you, at all times.”
Suddenly, the man gets angry. “And where were you when I felt my worst? There, I see only one set of footprints.”
The angel smiles, “Where you see only one set of footprints, I was carrying you on my back, as you didn’t have the strength to go on.”
A partner. A life partner, a business partner, or both.
How do we recognize the right one?
We have eyes, sure, but we won’t spot our ideal partner at first sight. With time, our eyes open. However, time is our most valuable asset, and it shouldn’t be wasted.
So, how should we tackle this contradiction? How can we predict who will bring us joy, and who will bring us trouble?
I use the following analogy:
Life is like throwing a party, with lots of people turning up.
Some leave early, some stay all night.
Some laugh with you, some laugh at you, and some don’t laugh at all.
In fact, none of that matters. It’s not until after the party that we recognize the true partnerships we’ve made.
Then, when it’s all over, only a few stay behind to help us clean up.
And, generally speaking, they aren’t the ones who made the mess…
I like the term ‘partner’. These people aren’t specifically friends, neighbours, spouses, lovers, or acquaintances. They’re simply partners. Whether in personal or business matters, all partners share the same characteristics. We can use these characteristics to spot them in the crowd. We do recognize them, even if, through prejudice or stupidity, we might tend to overlook them…
Partners tackle problems with us
A partner doesn’t need to have all the solutions to our problems. This is because we can solve our problems ourselves. We, alone, can tackle them. And even if we don’t have the answers, we can find them, or learn them.
In fact, we MUST solve our problems ourselves. It’s in our own interests. It’s important for us to know that we don’t need any support- that we can do it alone, and rely on number one.
Sometimes, we simply lack the courage or strength to face our problems alone. And that’s why we need partners. Someone to stand by our side when we’re in difficulty.
It’s not just about giving support, but also the ability to recognize that we’re in trouble. Indeed, to see the pain in our eyes when we’re pretending to everyone else that we’re fine…
They offer us a moment’s respite. They offer it when we need it, not just when we ask for it. This differentiation could even save our life.
Take the example of a friend of mine, and an experience she had at work. As a business co-owner, she worked hard. As a perfectionist, she didn’t know when to stop. Eventually, she overdid it. One day, in her office, she suffered a stroke. She assured her colleagues that she was fine, and didn’t need to see a doctor. Why? She needed to work. Her business partner, however, saw through her disguise and immediately called an ambulance. In hospital, she discovered that she’d been 5 minutes away from death.
Tackling the world alone can be dangerous. A partner acts as a fuse, an emergency brake. A partner is someone who can face problems with us, even if we underestimate them.
Two heads are always better than one, especially when they belong to…
I explained the reasons why listening is so important, and offered some methodology on how to listen, in the article Why we have only one mouth and two ears.
Life’s biggest battles take place in the human brain. Unfortunately, we aren’t mind-readers. We need people to tell us if something bothers them. To speak, even when it’s hard to do.
By listening, we show other people that we care. Listening doesn’t mean talking, or even giving advice. When listening, the less advice we give, the better. Generally speaking, people don’t need much advice throughout their lives. If they can’t do something, they’ll learn. If they don’t want to learn, life itself will force them to learn. What they do need, however, is someone to listen to them, give them feedback, and show them support. That, is something that life alone can’t provide.
We don’t need to hear the right answer. We already know it. We know what’s good for us, we just sometimes lack the courage or strength to recognize it. And, even if we do find the courage and strength, we become hesitant, ashamed and sceptical. This is normal.
By listening to us, a partner enables us to sort through our thoughts, to tidy up our mind, and, eventually, to unearth our own clear judgement. Listening, alone, is often enough. Still, some people find it difficult just to listen…
A good partner – what miracles can they work?
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