This week I heard the tale of two close friends who went into business together. They had known each other since their school days. They had brought up their children in the same neighbourhood, shared the same ups and downs of parenting and supported one another through times of personal crisis. But they had never had a serious argument.

A very long time ago I read a book about marriage. It was written by a Catholic priest (the reason I was drawn to it, after all what does a Catholic priest know about marriage I wondered)? There was a passage in the book that jumped out of the page and remains with me to this day.

The priest told of how when young couples came to ask his permission to be married in his church, they would look into each other’s eyes and share with him their perfect vision of their future lives together. He told about how he didn’t like to spoil their dreams but would ask “have you had a serious argument yet?” And like the two friends starting out in business together, they would mostly answer “no of course not, we love each other!”  His advice was, and mine would also be, to go back home and not to come back until they had!

Good business partners, like couples in marriage, need to be able to weather all kinds of storms together, the most turbulent of which is massive disagreements that culminate in ugly rows.  Now my business partners and I do not row much, if at all. But we have, over the years, had our major differences and been upset by comments made to each other.  But our vision of the future and our collective desire to achieve it, plus our deep seated respect for one another, has always pulled us through.

Today as I wrote my blog, I reflect on the outcome of the story of the two best friends in business. Not only did they eventually lose their business, they lost their friendship too.

So my conclusion is: In business, as in marriage; it is nice if you like each other’s company but it is essential to have (and to maintain) a deep respect for one another. Not for your similarities but for your differences.  It is the differences (the diversity of mindset and skills) that enables consistently good decision making. From there everything comes, including longevity and success.

Have a good week,