We are called to be strong companions and clear mirrors to one another, to seek those who reflect with compassion and a keen eye how we are doing, whether we seem centered or off course … we need the nourishing company of others to create the circle needed for growth, freedom and healing. – Wayne Mueller

I am so grateful for my 29-year friendship and 26-year partnership with Mary Anne Wampler. We have been a mirror to each other, have grown together through our own life’s journeys and supported each other no matter what. Early in the building of our business together, Helen Palmer, our Enneagram teacher, once told us that “we would do anything for the other that we wouldn’t do for ourselves.” That has proven to be so true that we marvel at her insight to this day. We have each other’s backs, we give each other space when we need it, we help each other when we are losing our way, and we support each other through difficult and happy times. After 26 years as business partners, we joke that we are the “healthiest” relationship either one of us has ever had. We are so blessed given that most business partnerships do not make it.

The secret to our success has been that each of us takes responsibility for our own growth and development. As teachers certified in the Enneagram, we knew that this transformational tool for ongoing personal and relationship growth and development would support our success and it has! Coupled with our commitment to listen and speak truthfully to one another, these have been the bedrock of our partnership success.

What rings true for me is that it takes two to have a healthy relationship, and for the relationship to work, both parties need to be willing to:

    • commit to bringing their best selves to any relationship, and when one doesn’t, be willing to take responsibility for how s/he showed up;
    • come together to listen fully and avoid making assumptions about why the other person did what s/he did – rather be curious and stay neutral, “seeking first to understand, and then to be understood” (Steven Covey);
    • ask for forgiveness when it is the right thing to do;
    • realize that sometimes it may not be that you did something wrong. It may be that the other person hasn’t yet seen that what is upsetting them is something in them that needs attention. Being gentle yet truthful in your feedback and giving them space to figure it out seems to work; and
    • examine, keep in check, and communicate the expectations you have for the other. It isn’t fair to have an expectation and not let the other person know.

One of the things I treasure most about the relationship Mary Anne and I have is that we know each other so well that sometimes I may not know I am struggling with something and Mary Anne will ask one question that opens the door for me to figure it out. I do the same for her.

I hope you have a relationship like this in your life. If you do, let the other person know how much you appreciate them, and if you don’t, the opportunity awaits!

So much of our work with our clients is to assist them in creating a culture that inspires and fosters the building of healthy relationships amongst all levels within the organization. One area of specialty is to work with business partners, helping them develop and sustain a strong relationship. We’d love to help build that culture or partnership with you. Give us a call if we can help.

Theresa Gale