Two dozen principles from a lifetime of collaboration
Here are two dozen principles (and a couple bonus ones) that have guided my relationships over a lifetime of collaborations and partnerships with others.
1. Have the best intentions
Have the best intentions for the other person, always. Only pure intentions can sustain lifelong relationships.
2. See every relationship as a blessing
Treat every relationship as a blessing because you will learn something from everyone. Not all lessons may be what you wanted, but they were all probably needed.
3. Discover what matters
Discovering what matters to others is key. Without knowing what matters to them, it’s hard to care for what they care about.
4. Talk less and listen more
If you want to know how to know what matters to others, learn to talk less and listen more. Sooner than later, they will talk about the topic that is close to their heart.
5. Be fully present
Be fully present whether you are engaging with the other person live or you are thinking about their projects asynchronously.
6. Recognize their potential
See more potential in others than they see in themselves. When someone they trust raises their bar, people often switch on the fast-track mode for their growth. You will soon learn that this will fill your heart as well as theirs.
7. Create possibilities
Create possibilities proactively. Don’t wait for others to ask for help because most people don’t ask for help (even when they should). Remember that if your help is truly valuable, they will miss you in their past.
8. Use your superpowers
Be ready to harness your superpowers to help others. This will be valuable for them while helping you to strengthen your superpowers even more.
9. Be transparent
Be generous when offering help in your area of strength and transparent about your lack of expertise in other areas. When you are asked for help in those other areas, refer the asker to someone you trust rather than offering mediocre help.
10. Connect where there is hunger alignment
With their permission, connect people that might have mutual opportunities for each other. Bonus points if you time the introduction to a point where both are hungry for what this opens up for them.
11. Point out blind spots with care
Point out blind spots only if you see that others are hurting themselves. Do it with care and only for the right intentions. Remember, it goes both ways.
12. Grow your own capacity to help
Invest in yourself every single day without fail so that in addition to personal growth, you can also increase your capacity to offer meaningful help.
13. Be gracious about mistakes
Mistakes happen. When they do, don’t read in-between lines or make assumptions. Reflect to capture the lessons to be learned, if any.
14. Respect necessary endings
When people walk out of your network for whatever reason, wish them well. If the relationships are meant to be, they will return, otherwise, be grateful for the journey together.
15. Give without hope of getting
Don’t expect a lot from anyone, even from the ones that you helped a lot. — Some people reciprocate, most don’t. No need to overthink and create a science project about it.
16. Scale your ability to help
Create assets from your thinking and experience along the way so that your insights can help more people — this is the surefire path to scaling your ability to help people.
17. Choose your timing
Interrupt when the reason for interruption is of high value to others, or else invite them for a conversation at their convenience.
18. Help others “play in their zone”
Remind others often about their strengths as people tend to forget them. The more you help them “play in their zone,” the better it is for them.
19. Nudge instead of nag
Nudge others for their own good and they will thank you later. No need to resort to nagging.
20. Model vulnerability
Be vulnerable, but don’t expect others to get there unless they choose to and until they are ready. It’s not a contest.
21. Laugh with others
Feel free to laugh at yourself, laugh with others, but never laugh at them.
22. Set your default to trust
Trust first. A few people will take advantage of you. Factor in this reality so that you don’t penalize the rest of your relationships by moving from trust by default to suspect by default.
23. Handle conflicts with grace
Don’t get too stressed about a conflict. Just remember that even if another person’s frustration affects you, it may not be about you. Ask how you can help.
24. Listen to heart over head
Whenever your head tempts you to judge, listen to your heart and you will mostly be fine.
And finally, two bonus life principles that have stood me in good stead:
25. Play the infinite game
Don’t keep score. It’s not worth your time. Instead, aim to keep the game of life always in play with generosity and compassion.
26. Take it easy
Don’t take life too seriously. When we stretch the timeline long enough, we are all gone eventually.
Note: A heartfelt thank you to my friend Anaik Alcasas who helped me with this and many other projects.