Together We Work

We Forgive Because, Together, We Work

It was my last night in Italy on what was was a particularly draining, transatlantic business trip.  The average day included 12+ hours of working sessions, followed by 2 or 3 hour email marathons.  The trip was immensely successful, but I was drained – physically and emotionally.  I plopped down in a leather chair in front of the fireplace.  It was nice to finally appreciate the comfort our Italian villa bed & breakfast intended.

Soon after I sat down, two fellow business travelers struck up a conversation with me.  The British pair were account representatives for another manufacturing firm and were wrapping up “aggressive negotiations” with one of their partners.  As the dialog progressed, I was struck by how well these two balanced each other.

The more senior gentleman was more reserved and filled the role of the conservative, voice of reason and patience in negotiations.  The younger gentleman was much more tenacious and referred to as occasionally “unrelenting”.  Throughout the conversation, there were comments from the superior such as, “that’s why I didn’t bring you along on that negotiation – you would have destroyed them!”  Yet the younger gentleman did not mind, responding “of course!  I understood and agree with you – I would not have been a good fit in that trip.”

This trip had been a success for them because, as they confided in their new found friend, “our partner had every right to be angry with us – frankly, we’ve got some issues to work on.  But we were able to leave with what we needed.”  No doubt due, at least in part, to the great balance of these individuals.

Shortly before retiring for the evening, the older gentleman summed it up well:

“I’m not perfect and he’s not perfect.  We both have weaknesses.  However, he forgives bits of me and I forgive bits of him, because together, we work.”

I went to bed pondering that thought and the implications for Servant Leaders.  Serving our organizations includes making the necessary sacrifices to balance our own weaknesses.

As I look back on my greatest success stories, they’ve often been in positions where I had a great partner – someone that balanced me well.  A great partner is not someone who is perfect, but someone that fills your gaps to make both of you, together, better.  It is when we can focus on our strengths and we have someone with strengths in our weaknesses to balance us, that we are most successful.

Question: Who balances you?  Do you forgive bits of that person because, “together you work”?