When is it Right to Forge a New Partnership?

by Andy Wood on September 4, 2017

in Exploring the Possibilities, Five LV Laws, Insight, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Money, Principle of Increase, Time

Jillian is a successful realtor with a proven track record and dozens of happy clients. She has been with the same national franchise for seven years, but lately is rethinking that relationship. She has received an offer from a competitor and, at the same time, has endured some unwelcome changes in her firm.  Is it time for Jillian to jump ship?

Billy is a young pastor. A firebrand communicator who has led his first church to significant growth in the 18 months he’s been there. But he’s beginning to encounter some resistance there. And at the same time other larger churches are bombarding him for his resume. Is it time for Billy to bail?

Steven works for the local chapter of a national non-profit who boldly advertises the degree to which they care for suffering humanity. But Steven sees a different side – one driven by ruthless management, questionable financial decisions, and huge employee turnover. At what point does he decide there must be a better way to change the world? And how does he know that the next organization won’t just be more of the same?

About that Greener Grass on the Other Side

Years ago I worked as a sales rep for a janitorial services company. The job was to contact building managers in a large city and offer proposals for them to change to our service. I took one grizzled veteran to lunch one day and he said something I’ll never forget.  “Changing janitorial services is like changing wives,” he said. “It may become a necessity, but it’s not something you do lightly.”

Whatever you do for a living or believe your calling to be, one way or another your path to success will take you through people, working with people. That said, it does make a difference which people you partner with. And while some partnerships, like marriage, were intended to last a lifetime (despite the advice I received), others are designed for seasons.

But that’s where it gets tricky.

What if you bail just before what would have been a blessing?

What if the “greener grass” on the other side of the “fence” turns out to be artificial turf?

What if in the process of seeing the next level of success, you find yourself at odds with the values and principles you say you cherish most?

What if you sign the contract with Dr. Jekyl but go to work for Mr. Hyde?

On the other hand, what if fear of the unknown or fear of change paralyzes you and you lose out on what would have been a life-defining opportunity?

How can you know?

Other than God’s handwriting on the wall you can’t.  Know, that is. But you can take wise action, even if it seems risky. Here are four tests to help you consider whether a new partnership, job, or relationship is right for you.

The Purpose Test – Is the relationship consistent with your life purpose?

“But I don’t know what my life purpose is.”

Then don’t do anything until you get clear about that.

But whatever you may call it – your vision, your purpose, your mission, your passion, your values (or all five), if the new opportunity calls or threatens to call you away from that, walk away. No amount of money, power, excitement or relief is worth that.

Consider this: Maybe your frustrations are because your current assignment is bumping up against your values. If you’re highly relational but working in a highly-charged task-oriented environment, you won’t be happy for long. But beware of ignoring your other values also and jumping too soon.

All that said, don’t assume that what is important to you makes you weird or out of sync with the whole world. There is an abundance of people, organizations, or businesses that joyfully move in the same direction you do. Just make sure to find evidence of that before you jump.

The Authenticity Test – Does the relationship let you be you?

You bring certain assets to any relationship. You have gifts. Talents. Personality. Experience. Passions and interests. And if you’re allowed the freedom to use those assets, you can add value to the partnership and the partnership can add value to you.

Other people don’t see it that way. They clearly want you, but they want you on their terms (a certain amount of which is fine). They want you squeezed into their mold. That doesn’t make them bad people, but they may be working in an incompatible system for you.

Not long ago I had to walk away from an offer from people I love dearly for that very reason. I think they still love me too, but it was a series of hard conversations. And at the end of the day the imagined partnership didn’t work out because I would have wound up being someone other than who God called and gifted me to be.

Remember, though, that authenticity doesn’t mean absolute autonomy. Part of any relationship is to sacrifice some of your “druthers” for a greater good or return.  But hopefully the new relationship can help forge an even better version of the professional or person you are.

The Teamwork Test – Will you be working with people who bring out the best in you and vice-versa?

Even people on the Space Station or in Antarctica work with teams of people. And their success depends on a lot of collaboration.

So does yours.

Make sure to thoroughly check out how the team, the organization, the flock, the gaggle, call it what you want, works together. What kind of culture do they maintain? What kind of turnover do they experience? If they seem happy-go-lucky, what do they actually accomplish? What are their expectations of you?

They don’t have to all be experts, but are they willing to learn?

They don’t have to be the crew of the Love Boat, but are they able to resolve conflict and work together?

They don’t have to be people pleasers, but are they willing to encourage you and your ideas and vision?

They don’t have to be a well-oiled machine, but do they offer systems and support that can make you more successful?

Changing partnerships may not be like changing wives, as the building manager said. But it is a change that you will later either celebrate or regret. Be wise.

The Growth Test – Will the new relationship enable you to increase your results?

In different seasons of our lives we prioritize different kinds of results. Even “retirement” (not a fan of that word) has desired results. The question is, for the season of life and work you are in, what do you want to accomplish over the next 3-5 years? How clear are you about that? How clear are you about what you will do if you succeed in reaching those targets or if you come up short?

Results can be measured in quantity. These are measurable outcomes like an increase in sales or a certain number of people added to the organization.

They can be measured in quality. Improving your communication skills, spending every night at home with your family, or developing quality friendships is harder to measure, but still important.

Results may involve personal measurables such as money, time, and energy. Make sure to weigh each against the other. For example, if you can make more money but it leaves you exhausted and you never see your family when they’re awake, is it worth it? Sometimes increasing your results may appear to be counterintuitive. You may want to increase your time with your family or at the beach house or your energy by doing the same work but cutting to half-time.


Not all opportunities, nor all partnerships are created equal. Sometimes they may offer the right idea, but base it on the wrong set of values. The right mission, but the wrong fit for you and your skillset. The right intentions, but the wrong people or support systems to make it happen for you. The right potential results, but the wrong sense of timing.

Before making the jump think through each of those questions. Talk it out with a coach or counselor (and most certainly your spouse!). But if the lights all appear to be green and the call is for action, then by all means act. Open doors don’t stay open forever. And life is too short to spend wondering what could have been.

Martha Orlando September 4, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Excellent advice, as always, Andy! We would all do better moving forward if we looked (hard) before we leaped.
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..HUGE! An Encore

Linda Turner September 22, 2017 at 11:35 am

Excellent advice Andy! I would only add that sometimes, I have been tempted to jump ship just because things were getting tough. I’ve stuck it out and grown because of the suffering. It’s like losing weight or toning up weak muscles. Unless one is willing to feel the burn and go the distance, one cannot achieve the goal. So it is like what you say Andy, unless one is sure sitting on the couch watching tv is going to get you greater results, best to stick it out with the current goal plan.

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