People are unique and different in so many ways. I’ve learned to value these differences in personality and talents. Urbanleaf has benefitted from this and the company is stronger as a result. Personally, I feel I’m a much better human being for having learned this and for adopting a ‘value differences’ attitude.
Rewind 10 years. I was much more ‘me’ focused, ego-led, wanted to be heard, wanted my ideas to come to fruition, wanted to make things work. I thought (wrongly) that running a successful business I had to keep innovating and be entrepreneurial and make stuff happen from all the ideas and connections with people I was making. If anyone stood in my way I would fight with them (metaphorically speaking). If I had an idea I’d sell it to my business partners with such force and passion that it was difficult and uncomfortable for them to disagree. In essence, I attached my emotional needs to my ideas. I got my energy from coming up with the idea and giving it a go.
Of course, when you’re starting a business this dogged and determined approach is very useful. Taking risks surely something will work. But the problem with this approach when I did find something that worked is I was then ready to move on to the next idea, usually bigger and better! Of course, this isn’t sustainable and frustrated my business partners immensely.
Tom, my current business partner and I used to despise each other’s approach to business. I literally spent hours a week talking to whoever would listen about how Tom ‘didn’t get it’. Back then I didn’t value his differences and talents, I didn’t even see any. He was just a barrier, a hurdle to jump over, an obstacle to overcome.
Listening to all this was a friend I’d recently got to know. Paul Brown is his name. He is a living genius. I managed to persuade Tom that bringing Paul into the business would help us to achieve our goals as he had lots of experience and was a decent fella.
It wasn’t that long into his tenure when he emailed Tom and I a link to a personality profiling website which was based on Myers Briggs. He asked us to complete it and then send the results to each other. For anyone who knows Myers Briggs there are 16 personality types and Tom came out an INTJ – The Mastermind and I came out an ESFP – The Performer.
Reading my profile, which was something like 80% accurate, I was astonished to read all about my strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, likes and dislikes, etc etc because after all I’m an individual! Which of course we all are. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have similar (or different) personality traits.
But for me the penny dropped when I read Tom’s profile (and Tom says the same about reading my profile). Wow! Now I understood in 15 minutes of reading why Tom acted the way he does and why we rarely valued each other or saw eye to eye. On that day our relationship began. On that day, we started to understand and value each other’s differences.
Fast forward to the present day and our relationship is as strong as superglue. We have grown together, we are still evolving together and we talk regularly about why this has happened and come to the same conclusion. We value each other’s differences and talents and equally as importantly we share the same values. That’s a blog for another day…
But let me give you an example of how we work together as a team to create the best possible company that Urbanleaf can be with Tom and I as its leaders. I still make all the people connections and come up with most of the ideas (although Tom does come up with a lot too these days) but now I attach no emotion to them and provide Tom with an opportunity to think about them and then decide whether it is worth pursuing. He decides which one of the 15 ideas we should pursue. On the outside people may think I’m the driver of Urbanleaf because people see me and hear me more, but in truth it is Tom who has Masterminded our success. For that I will be eternally grateful to both Paul and of course Tom.