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“The secret of happiness: Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.” – Daniel C. Dennett

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The other day I was reviewing the results of our leadership coaching program with my two partners. As we reviewed the impact with the client, I couldn’t help but think: “I’m getting a really good deal.”

A little over two years ago, I was brainstorming ways to collaborate in the coaching realm. Today, I’m partnering on most client engagements – with Jill on most entrepreneur engagements, and with Jill and Mary-Beth on most executive and team leadership engagements.

Jill brings her unique perspective/experience with well-being, life-work integration, self awareness, and something we like to call a GSD (Get sh*t done) mentality.

This partnership enhances the value of our coaching programs exponentially. And Jill feels like she’s getting a good deal by partnering in this way.

But here’s the thing: I think I’m getting just as good of a deal as Jill. I bring my 10 years of business coaching experience and then Jill brings her 20 years of entrepreneurship, wellness, and marketing savvy to the table.

Together, we’re creating an exponentially better coaching experience for our clients and we’re having more fun in the process. It’s a dream scenario!

Mary-Beth, our third partner, brings 15 years of executive coaching experience, values-based leadership, and executive presence savvy and she feels the same way.

But wait, how is it that all three of us all feel like we are getting a really good deal? Shouldn’t one person feel like they are getting a better deal than another?

None of us would run our leadership coaching program without the other two.

Without Jill’s experience in the wellness realm and her ability to connect and build deep trust quickly, there’s no way Mary-Beth could hire this function out to contractors.

And Mary-Beth’s executive coaching experience and values-based leadership skills means I don’t have to worry about that aspect of the business as much. Sure, some of these things could probably be hired out, but then we’d be managing people instead of putting our time and energy into running our program and getting stellar results for our clients.

And finally, I can bring my sales and business development skills, positioning us for winning more deals.

The sum is greater than the parts.

Playing Positive Sum Games

This single mindset shift has been huge for me. I’m talking about the shift from thinking about business as a zero sum game (for me to win someone else has to lose) to a positive sum game (we can all win).

In my experience, the best entrepreneurs don’t think, “how can I win?” Instead they think, “how can I solve a problem in a way that we all win?”

In the coaching collaboration with my two partners, we get to work on issues we care about, while having a positive impact, while doing great work, while creating the opportunity for teams and leaders to become more effective.

Patagonia designs clothing and gear for outdoor enthusiasts while using their brand to inspire and implement solutions for the environment. They support over 1,000 environmental groups by donating 1% of their sales to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment.

The company is profitable, they design great products, and they are working to find solutions to the environmental crisis.

Win-win-win

YOUR JOB AS AN ENTREPRENEUR IS TO MAKE 1+1 EQUAL ANYTHING GREATER THAN 2.

We tend to think of partnerships as a way to get something done in half the time: if I have a ditch to dig and I convince you to help me with it, it will get done faster.

But the best partnerships are where the joint effort is more than an incremental return.

A simple example is when my buddy has his six and nine year old boys partner to empty the dishwasher. One of them climbs on the counter to put glasses away while the other brings the the dishes across the kitchen. The time saved not climbing up and down means more than double the speed improvements (assuming they can get along).

It’s when a marketer teams up with a great engineer to build a high-quality product with a real brand. Or when an engineer pairs with a designer to make their solution easy to use for the masses.

Where can you look at the raw ingredients – whether it’s people, capital, media, or something else – and dream up a unique combination where the sum is greater than the parts?

That’s when you’ll be able to achieve exponential growth in your wealth and impact, rather than simply linear returns. And most of all, look for the places where you can combine disparate items and people to create something where everyone feels like they are getting a great deal.

Live bravely,
Michael

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