I’ve been thinking a lot about partnerships recently.
I’m involved in two major partnerships: a life partnership with Heidi, and a professional partnership with Minh. I feel that it’s vitally important for each partnership to act as an inseparable atomic unit (in regards to its own area), conducting its activities with the best interests of the individual partners in mind.
Heidi and I don’t make major life decisions alone, we have no independent personal finances, and we don’t keep secrets from each other. I really can’t imagine sharing my life with someone in other way.
Likewise, Minh and I make all our professional decisions together, we bill as a single entity, and we have complete professional disclosure. Our income is split down the middle, and we try to match each other’s time commitment. I know that there are other ways to go about business, but this suits me to a tee.
There’s something deeply fulfilling about partnership. You have to trust in the other person completely, and you feel a great deal of responsibility to ensure that you are taking care of them to the best of your ability.
That level of trust and responsibility are fairly difficult to accept at first. In both partnerships, we initially gravitated towards making things perfectly equal: splitting expenses, splitting the billable work, taking turns doing chores. Simply trying to feel that everything is undertaken in the same measure.
That sort of equality is superficial, unrepresentative, and (for all intents and purposes) impossible to balance. The beauty and value of good partnerships are that the partners are different and incomparable. Each contributes in unique and immeasurable ways, and I feel that you’re better off pursuing partnerships in which both are committed and not worried about quantifying value.
It may be difficult to do, but I’ve found that the sooner you think of yourself as one entity and the sooner that you stop keeping score, the sooner your partnership will flourish and the happier and more successful you will be.
But you know, YMMV.