Give Me a Ship!
Give me any ship you want, and I’ll get us where we want to go.
I’ll take any ship you can give me, even if we have to row.
You can give me a big ship or a small ship, doesn’t matter to me.
Yep, I’ll take one with holes in it and we’ll still get there, you’ll see.
I’ll take one that is old, or one that is new,
and especially one that has no crew.
You can give me one that is fast, or one that is slow,
And sure, I’ll take one that we would have to tow.
You can give me the one that’s stuck in the harbor or one stuck in the bay,
Hell, I’ll even take the one that they call the Golden Ray.
You can give me any ship but one, and I’ll get us where we want to go.
You can give me any ship but one, and in our sails the wind will blow.
All ships but one would work, yes, we would have our latitude.
But, if you ever gave me a partnership, I can assure you, we’d all be screwed.
Temet Nosce "Know Thyself" : Business Partnerships
Yeah, I’m not great at partnerships.
I’ve had two business partners thus far in my career. They both ended in remarkably dramatic fashion.
With hard work, determination, and the grace of God, both of those partnerships dissolved, and I am certainly better for having gone through them.
I am now the sole owner of all my businesses. 100%. No partners, no investors, no relatives, no benefactors of any kind. Just me, my banks, and the SBA. (But, that’s another post...)
Looking back at those partnerships, I can say with hindsight, I was as much to blame as anyone. Like most partnerships, the failure is mutual. You win together, you lose together. But, I learned a lot about myself. Failure will teach you far more than success ever will.
"Sometimes, the gap between who you are
and who you want to be is difficult to overcome."
It’s not that I don’t want to be good at partnerships. I certainly see the advantages, and some days I really wish I had someone to share the load, financial, work, or otherwise. It would help. But like most people, it’s taken me years to discover who I am. Sometimes, the gap between who you are and who you want to be is difficult to overcome.
As I look back at my life, it all makes sense. I’ve never really been a team player. I’ve always either been a stubborn, head-strong alpha, or, in many cases, a straight out lone-wolf.
I've never enjoyed or sought out team sports.
I’ll use my wife as a comparison. Truly my opposite in this regard. She was always an athlete and a team player. From High School Basketball to College Fast-Pitch Softball, she thrives in team sports. Even well after college, she would drive down to Jacksonville every week to play flag football, because they didn’t have any team sports here. She also volunteered to coach little league softball and found so much enjoyment out of that. I believe she craves teamwork.
My favorite sport to play is Tennis, and hell, I don’t even like doubles. If I win I win, if I lose I lose, but it’s all on me, one way or the other.
Now to call me an athlete is a bit of a stretch. I was a chubby Band geek in High School, and never really played sports. But in my late teens to early twenties, I got into fitness and started going to the gym. I got in good shape. But I did it alone, of course. No group fitness programs like Crossfit or Orange Theory, and I certainly NEVER had a workout partner. I can’t stand workout partners. "Are they going to show or not?” "Are they going to work hard or not?” No, thank you.
The gym is a perfect example of who I am. When I’m in the gym, I have my earbuds in, my hoodie on and up, and the unchristian phrase for “Go Away” tattooed on my forehead. I’m convinced everyone in the gym thinks I’m a jerk. I don’t talk. I don’t even make eye contact, so as to avoid conversation. I get in, do my work, and get out. Side Note: To those people who carry on full conversations in the weight room, What is wrong with you?!?
Even in the Marines, looking back, I constantly sought out jobs or tasks that were solo. I was a team player, when I needed to be, absolutely, but I constantly pursued positions of authority that would isolate me. (More on that in another post...)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very comfortable around people, and I enjoy community, but maybe in small doses. I love throwing parties, and being with my friends. My wife and I host parties and gatherings all the time. But, I think there is a small part of me that prefers to be on my own. Like it’s my natural state. I love going to the movies by myself, and I certainly don’t mind eating alone. I like taking walks on the beach, or hikes in the mountains… on my own with just my thoughts, and sometimes my prayers, but always with my dog.
While there are certain things about myself I would change if I could, I find it a much better use of energy and time to accept who you are and embrace it, use it! Instead of trying to be someone else, find strengths in who you are.
Over the years I’ve learned, “Hey, I’m darn good on my own and I enjoy it.” My businesses are better with me at the helm, unencumbered. I work faster with more decisiveness. I’m able to do more work, with less talk. Do I mess up? Everyday, twice on Sunday, but I keep moving forward, and I keep growing. And like tennis, if I win, I win, if lose, I lose, but I know who’s at fault, and at least I’m enjoying the game. At least it’s me, living my best life, being who I am.
Let me be clear, this isn’t a pass to stop working on yourself. There is always room for self-improvement. I work at being better with people everyday. I have to. Because, I’m sure there will be situations in the future where partnerships would be attractive. Maybe there will be a larger project where I need more resources or expertise. Or maybe a few young entrepreneurs and businesses I’d want to invest in… both very likely. So, I’ll keep working on myself, the best I can, but always being mindful of who I am, and being okay with it.
However, there is one incredibly significant and powerful exception to all of this: As I reflect, there is one partnership that I’ve been successful at. It’s not only my lifeline, it’s my foundation, and the reason I’m able to do anything. That is my partner in life, love, and all things- my beautiful wife, Brie. To say she’s amazing is the understatement of the year. We have two girls together, and are living in this thing called life. We support each other, and lift each other up, throughout all the craziness. We catch each other when we fall, we encourage each other when we climb, and celebrate each other when we succeed. I can’t believe I found someone that can put up with me. Y’all pray for her. It’s not easy.
To wrap up, I guess my advice, or the takeaway should be...