The Toughest “Soft Call” You’re Likely to Make
by Ken Goldstein
First in a Series of Ten
You’re going into the roughest, toughest, most ruthless, unending, dirty, nasty, few-rules-everything-at-risk, energy-consuming and only momentarily gladdening bash up fight of your life. It’s called your career.
Who do you want in your corner?
You train, you study, you fight your way up the ranks, but somewhere along the way you make a choice that you don’t even realize is going to have significant impact and maybe determine your outcomes in those fights — your life partner. Boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, domestic partner, husband, wife, call him or her what you want. You make this choice for romantic reasons, for family reasons, for selfless reasons, for religious reasons. Do you make this choice for business reasons?
Well, I suppose there are people who are that calculating, in the olden days some folks talked about “marrying up” and such, but that’s not what I am talking about here. I am not at all talking about making a political call to better your career by making business value part of your criteria of choice. I am not even suggesting you must have someone in your corner, that may not be your style, and that might be a great choice. My point here is if you have the wrong life partner on any number of levels, if you and your partner pick each other without enough thought and are not where you should be, it is going to be mighty difficult to fight the battles ahead. I am sure fighters can go into a title match without anyone in their corner, but that certainly would be a lonely place to look each time the bell rang.
Successful business executives Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober (turned authors!) cover multiple aspects of this complex topic — practical and advisory — in their extraordinary book:
They have conducted significant academic research with dual working couples and found unending common themes that lead to success and lack of such in personal and professional circumstances. For me, the key takeaway was the concept of being mutually supportive on an ongoing basis. This would seem like such a simple working premise, but think about it, how many couples do you know where both partners are equally supportive of the dreams, visions, hopes, challenges, and aspirations of the other, whatever they might be, and however they may evolve and change? We may praise this activity when we see it and think how wonderful it is for making the happy home, but the equal observation is that it makes for the same success in the workplace.
You might believe in yourself at any given time, but when that sucker punch comes and you are on your back looking up at the little birdies going around your head and the referee getting close to 10 on the count, who is going to make sure you are back on your feet? You? Well, you are going to have to get the feet under you, surely that’s your problem. But you’ve just taken a hard hit to the head, perhaps even a sneaky baseball bat. Could be your confidence is shaken, your values are confused, or you’re just lost and dizzy and can’t find your way back to arena. When someone believes in you more than you believe in yourself, you will go back, every single time, and the simple act of going back is an act of winning. Likewise, when you offer the same selfless encouragement to someone day after day, you grow stronger, smarter, more focused, and better at what you do, no more what it is you do. It absolutely must go both ways or it does not work.
Believe in someone 100% all the time, help them with their strengths and weaknesses, and receive the same encouragement in return and you have every chance at success. Blow this off at your own peril. Let in someone who doesn’t really believe in you and the chances of that being a self-fulfilling prophecy become frighteningly tangible.
Give and get, learn and teach, share the lessons and overcome the obstacles. If someone is going to be in your corner and you in theirs, the fight will be a lot less scary.