“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, working together is success.” – Henry Ford
If you want to triple or perhaps even quadruple your chances of success, partner up with someone who will work with you toward your goal. Two heads are generally better than one — not just twice as good, but three or four times as good. If you can get one smart, hardworking person to help you with each of your four main life goals, you will almost certainly achieve them — and probably much sooner than you think.
The myth of individual genius is destructive. It gives us the wrong blueprint for success, one that is more likely to bring us frustration and failure in our lives.
When we buy into the myth of individual genius, we think we have to do all the hard work ourselves. We think that our job is to discover some hidden well of creativity inside us — a source of ideas, power, and inspiration that will magically enable us to achieve our dreams.
But the truth is very different. Studies show that most successful people rely on the help or assistance of at least one other person. All my own experiences validate those findings, and so do the experiences of my friends and colleagues who have succeeded. (I can’t think of a single lone wolf who succeeded. I know several people who think they made it on their own, but what they did was rely on the help of others and then deny those people the credit they were due.)
Business surveys show that partnerships achieve greater success than individual proprietorships. Statistically speaking, they are more likely to survive the difficult start-up stage, they grow faster, net greater profits (for each partner), and last longer.
The same can be said of social partnerships. Married couples have higher incomes (per individual), enjoy better living standards, have more successful children (in terms of all the standard measurements), and view themselves as happier than do bachelors and single parents.
Much if not most of the world’s greatest art and entertainment has been the result of partnerships. (Think of Lennon and McCartney or of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound.)
The capacity of one single mind is enormous — maybe unlimited — but the likelihood that that potential will be fully tapped is very small. We are all limited by our emotional stupidities, our negative addictions, our self-limiting and self-destructive behavioral patterns. But those limitations can be broken through when you have a partner to push and prod you.
And when you reciprocate by pushing your partner to do and think and see more than he would on his own — well, then you have the beginning of something very powerful.
Think about your current goals. Pick one that you are not making great progress toward. Now ask yourself, “Who is helping me achieve that goal?”
If the answer is “nobody,” you have a great opportunity open to you. You have a chance to finally get your idea into action, do the sometimes difficult things that need to be done, make the progress that your goal requires, and one day — maybe sooner than you might believe — be able to sit back and say, “Hey, I did it!”
Almost all of my achievements are the result of partnerships. Top on the list — of course — are my three spectacular children, products of a partnership that is principled by my spouse. The movie I finally managed to produce was the result of partnering with PL, who “guilted” me into doing what I wouldn’t have found time to do otherwise. (We are engaged, right now, in the same process on a new script.) My first $100 million-plus business was the result of a partnership, in which I was the apprentice and my partner the master. The current similarly sized business venture I’m involved in is the product of an equal partnership at one level and a mentor/protégé relationship at another. My other multimillion-dollar business ventures are all partnerships, as are most of my real-estate deals. The stories I’ve had published, including those that have won literary awards, were all the result of working closely with a trusted editor. And even ETR itself is a partnership with several people.
So … who are your partners? Who are your coaches? Who is urging you to get up earlier, work harder, and think smarter? Who is giving you good ideas? Who is praising your successes and warning you about pitfalls? There is romance in playing the lonely achiever, but little potential in it.
Do this today:
1. Review your four life goals and identify the ones you don’t have partners for.
2. Think about what you need: an equal partner, a mentor, a coach, an editor, a cheerleader, or whatever.
3. Survey your friends and colleagues to determine if any of them would be a suitable partner.
4. Commit yourself to getting a partner.
That’s enough for today. In future messages, we’ll talk more about how to make partnerships work for you. And don’t worry if you don’t know someone who can help you. I’m working on some ideas that will solve that problem. Here’s something else you might want to do: Give a friend — someone you see as your intellectual equal — a complimentary subscription to ETR.