Feel the love at work this Valentine’s Day!
Business relationships are very much like our personal relationships. They can be both fulfilling and frustrating and need a lot of tender love and care. Yes love- a word we rarely associate with work because it’s usually reserved exclusively for our personal lives. In this article we’re going to discuss how an attitude of love might help you in the workplace. This isn’t about sending Valentines’ cards to everyone in the office: it’s about bringing your authentic, honest self to the boardroom, so that you can create rewarding relationships built on the basic principles of trust and respect. So much of our working lives revolve around consuming that we’ve forgotten the fundamental art that underpins it all: connection.
In order to investigate this topic fully and fairly we are co-creating this article with our brilliant business partner Biba Binotti, whom I’m sure many of you know. Biba is founder and CEO of Global Warriors, a leadership development company not so dissimilar to 4D Human Being. In order to honour the theme of love we’ve decided to push through with a mix of narrative voices. Maybe it’s a bit messy? But so is love. Life isn’t a neat, linear Linked-in article. It involves lots of people, perspectives and contrasting points of view. So, in a sense this article not only discusses- but demonstrates- the power of love-bound business partnerships.
From meet-up to match made in heaven, how did it happen?
4D Human Being and Global Warriors are competing in similar markets. Yet instead of becoming competitors, we have evolved into collaborators. Ours is a story full of love and creativity and is testament to the power of love at work… in work! But how did it happen? How did we ‘fall’ for each other? How could we be sure that the other wasn’t ‘leading us on’? And how might you find and create love in the workplace?
We stayed open
We first met at an improvisation workshop. It was the last place either of us expected to meet a potential business partner and it would have been all too easy to play the games, say goodbye and never be friends. This is why openness is key because relationships aren’t just born in the boardroom. Some of the most amazing partnerships have arisen out of ‘chance’ meetings. Take for example actress Charlize Theron. She was at a bank on Hollywood Boulevard trying to cash a check from her Mum to help pay for her rent. However, the assistant refused to cash the check and so Theron proceeded to go crazy at the poor guy. Standing in line was a talent agent who handed her his card after witnessing the fit… and as they say, the rest is history: Charlize is now one of the most highly paid actresses on the planet! Yet this life-changing moment could have easily been missed had she- or the talent agent- not been open to unexpected opportunity.
Our relationship was born in an improv workshop, followed by a coffee shop and has blossomed into a partnership bigger and better than either of us could have hoped for! But if one of us had cancelled on that coffee date then the story would have stopped right there. So, stay present and connected with the world around you. Could your next big career break be standing next to you in the supermarket queue? Or at a friend’s engagement party? Don’t think of this as networking, especially if the word has negative connotations for you. Think of it as connecting with the world around you and seeing what it has to offer.
We were also both open to becoming business partners and friends. We can be our whole selves with each other without having to compartmentalise our relationship into distinctive work/life categories because when there is love, the usual boundaries separating work relationships and friendships blend seamlessly together. This mix of roles in our relationship has been hugely beneficial to both of our businesses because it has brought a deeper sense of trust, truth and connection to our work.
“The meaning of love is simply what it means to you. It’s your truth- expressed.”
– Biba Binotti
We created our own love
Luck, chance or conscious creation? You could put our chance encounter down to fate but we believe that there was a huge amount of conscious creation involved. In his book ‘The Luck factor’, Robert Wiseman compared 400 self-proclaimed “lucky” or “unlucky” people. What he discovered was that the “lucky” people tended to share similar attitudes and behaviours: they maximise chance opportunities, listen to their intuition and expect to be lucky. In order to demonstrate the power of perception in “luck”, Wiseman set-up a cafe with actors and left a £5 note on the floor outside. Then he sent in an unknowing “lucky” person who discovered the £5 note and then started up a conversation with a stranger sitting next to him with whom he eventually exchanged contact details. The “unlucky” person not only missed the £5 note but also missed the opportunity to connect and communicate with the people around him.
Our relationship may have started with a chance encounter but we were both positive and proactive in making things happen. We exchanged numbers, Biba called to arrange a coffee date and we both turned up with an attitude of “Luck.” To use the words of Wayne Dyer, “If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles.” What ‘luck’ and ‘chance’ are you allowing or creating in your business, team and client relationships? What opportunities might already be there if you step into them with love, care and humanity?
We listened to our intuition
One of the “Lucky” characteristics Wiseman uncovered was intuitive intelligence. We both believe our intuition played a significant role in our relationship. When describing the essence of our initial meet up we both said something along the lines of, “I just knew.”What did we know? We knew nothing about each other and yet we both sensed a strong impulse to interact. What we’re talking about is that gut feeling you get that guides you towards a certain decision or path. We quite often refer to these instances as “beyond words” because they exist in the body and not the brain. Unfortunately, once the brain catches up it quite often overrides our intuition because of conditioning and/or past experience. Now we may think that bringing the brain into the equation is helpful because we can then ‘weigh up all the options.’ And this is to a certain extent true for smaller life decisions. But when it comes to the big decisions- for example, love- the mind isn’t capable of weighing up all the possible options because there are simply too many to comprehend. So, in many cases your intuitive intelligence is far more reliable as it’s tuning into the intelligence of your whole body. It takes you away from your internal narration and brings you back to your authentic self.
We’re sure many of you have experienced instances in your life when you’ve had a gut instinct, perhaps about a dodgy salesman, but you end up buying off him anyway because the brain convinces you that you’re being silly. However, after buying you realise you have, in fact, been conned and the body was right all along. The same applies to the positive pulls. Listen to this innate intelligence and trust that you know what is right for you. Stop thinking and start feeling your way into relationships.
We embraced our differences
We were also both open and willing to look beyond the boundaries of our own businesses and our beliefs about what our ‘work’ should look like. Our duo grew out of our differences and so in many ways the cliché rings true for us: opposites do attract. However, quite often in life opposites don’t attract. In her latest book, ‘Braving the Wilderness’, Brené Browndiscusses how we are now, more than ever, being divided by our differences, differences that only distinguish one small part of who we are. “Clearly, selecting like-minded friends and neighbours and separating ourselves as much as possible from people whom we think of as different from us has not delivered that deep sense of belonging that we are hardwired to crave.” Not only does this limit our personal growth but it also boxes off our thinking. How could another perspective, or a different approach help your business? What individual, team or competitor who currently seems opposed to your view could in fact, offer you new perspectives and opportunities? Flexible thinking led us to an unexpected partnership, which we both believe, is greater than the sum of its parts.
We stayed present
One thing that eats away at relationships is rigid expectations: the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘shouldn’ts’ of the ‘love contract.’ Having fixed expectations about a colleague or business partner and how they should behave will often lead to disappointment and dead-ends. When we met we didn’t know what we were going to do together or where we would end up. There was no end goal or outcome in either of our minds. We simply enjoyed the process of building our relationship. So for us, present awareness is a key skill in developing healthy, happy partnerships. When you stay present with the other person you give them the space to grow and evolve. You stop pre-empting how they are going to react and respond and start seeing them where they are, in that very moment. We are all constantly developing as individuals and the same applies for relationships. If you go in with rigid ideas and pre-empted story lines you will inevitably restrict the relationship and the love that could grow.
“If you allow love, you allow change. If you allow change…anything is possible…”
We stayed curious
Compromise in relationships can often be viewed as a negative necessity: “it wasn’t the ideal but it’s what had to happen.” Yet what we’ve realised, from both our personal and professional relationships, is that this isn’t often the case. We know that compromise doesn’t always offer ‘the best of both worlds’ because it’s not always strategically or economically possible. However, when both parties feel heard, compromise can educate both parties, lead to greater growth and strengthen the relationship as a whole, even if it isn’t a 50/50 split. So, we’d like to reframe compromise as surprise! It doesn’t have to be viewed as losing out to someone but rather, gaining something new. By simply shifting your perspective you’ll not only gain more from the compromise itself but you’ll also stay much more open to offers and opportunities down the line. Can you find surprise in your next collaboration? And what could you gain from a collaborative compromise?
Our Conscious Human Being program is a wonderful example of the power of curiosity in collaboration. Together we created a 16-week online development program that is a true co-creation. By weaving together our work we developed a brand-new experience to share with our clients, co-owned, co-created and co-facilitated by a collection of both of our teams and brilliant facilitators. Even the Conscious Human Being logo is a co-creation of both of our logos. Some might call this compromise but for us, it was a truly wonderful surprise!
We had the courage to trust
Whether it be a marriage, partnership or merger, all are bounded by a solid sense of trust. The question is: do you need a ring to know that you can truly trust them? Ultimately wedding rings, contracts and handshakes are all symbols: they symbolise the trust but they are not the trust themselves. A true sense of trust starts with self-trust: can you be your true-self in your relationship? And can you accept them as their true self- for better or for worse?
Above everything we base our relationship on trust. In every moment – from the stunning to the sticky – we can come back to trust. We can trust that the intention is good. Which is vital in relationships because we are all different people with different ways of working, leading and being in the world. But if we can trust that the other’s intention is good, then we can work with passion without worry. Alice Walker, American novelist and activist sums this up beautifully: “Love is big; love can hold anger, love can even hold hatred. It’s about the intention of what you want to do.” Love can hold any amount of push back. It is the silent victor. And as long as the intention is pure then the real essence of love can hold it all.
You may be surprised to hear that we don’t have any kind of legal contract in place for our co-created programme, Conscious Human Being. Usually when something commercial is brought to the table, contracts are immediately put in place to ensure that both parties are formally attached to the project. However, we have never considered signing on the dotted line because we both believe our trust is far greater than any legally binding T&Cs. We know that this is quite unique and perhaps edgy for some but it’s an interesting example of the strength of love in work. Many companies who do have these contracts in place still end up disagreeing and perhaps even end up in court. The same applies for marriages, which so often end in long and messy legal battles.
To use the words of Julianne Moore, “Love is giving someone the power to break you…but trusting them not to.” We have no legalities in place and yet in spite of our vulnerability, feel incredibly safe. This is what Brené Brown calls the ‘power of vulnerability’: the courage to show up and let yourself be seen. We feel secure enough to be insecure with the other, comfortable voicing any issues or concerns that arise. After all, we are human and we also have pangs of paranoia, worry and doubt, but because of our trust we can talk about problems and deal with them together.
Ultimately, our love isn’t about the projects: it’s about the people. And we both know that if our relationship were to end we’d both be more heart broken about the loss of the friendship than the finances.
We allowed ourselves to be loved
“To love and be loved in return.” The love lyric made famous by ‘Moulin Rouge.’ We want to expand this further so that it reads: “to love yourself, so that you can love others and be loved in return.” Our revision probably won’t fit the song but it does offer an insight into a love we so often overlook: love for the self. This is perhaps the most important piece of all because if you don’t love you, then how can anyone else’s love touch you? And how can you love another if you don’t know how to love yourself?
When you believe you are worthy of love you will start to see all the love that life is offering you. It might be a colleague who always makes you a morning coffee; a boss who shows concern over a sick loved one; or simply a client asking you how your weekend went. You will find that there is love is in lots of little places, right throughout your day and when you allow this love in, then you will have a lot more to give out. This is why self-love isn’t selfish because when you truly connect with yourself, you can create deeper connections with the people in your life.
…And we continue to work on our love to this very day!
To use the words of Barbara De Angelis, “Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get. It’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day.” Remember that your partnership is an ‘ongoing marriage.’ You never ‘arrive.’ So, our final piece of advice is to never allow yourself to settle. This way you’ll always keep working at the relationship, stay open to learning and will see each other’s development and change.
Wishing you all lots of love this Valentine’s Day…personally and professionally!
For more information about Global Warriors and our co-created programme, Conscious Human Being, please visit: http://www.globalwarriors.co.uk/