Whether in business or in your personal life, a strong creative partner is incredibly important to grow and develop yourself and your work. Having someone there to bounce ideas off of or to listen to you rant, or vice versa, gives another perspective that you just can’t do on your own.
But not everyone is cut out to be a partner, especially one that fosters an environment of creativity. There are a few key characteristics that are critical to a successful partnership. When missing, it can lead to disaster for any joint endeavor, as well as a potentially valuable relationship.
Of course the number one characteristic of a creative partner is that they are open-minded and are willing to entertain ideas that may not have been theirs to begin with. This applies doubly for someone who is going to be a part of evaluating creative solutions. Also, just because someone says they are open minded isn’t enough in this case. Having proof that they have taken other people’s ideas, given them credit for their valuable input, and then implemented them is what you’re looking for. Which leads to the next point…
Talk is cheap. We all have grand ideas, and things that we are aspiring to do or become. However, a partnership is not there simply as a brainstorming session. Partners are there to help you as you help them, and you both work towards a common goal. The key word being “work” here. If your partner loves to chat and come up with creative ideas, but then can’t seem to find any time to get the actual work done, then they are less of a partner and more of a visionary. And we all need a visionary, but that’s not the same person you want on your side working next to you when the rubber meets the road.
On the flip side, a partner should also understand the limitations that you have as a unit, as well as the limitations of the world around you. It can be incredibly tempting to push forward when it seems that things are taking a little longer than you would like, but that should be within reason. If the partnership planned to reach a milestone, or to have something in life accomplished by a certain date, setting a realistic date will keep tensions in check and partnerships from fraying over the stress to meet what in any other situation would be considered impossible.
There will be times when no matter what, all the planning and perfect execution in the world could not have stopped a defeat. You have just been hit with a serious blow to your plans, or even your personal well-being. Having someone there who won’t throw the blame solely on your shoulders, but instead is there to guide you, is going to keep you motivated to try again. If you are not failing, you’re not aiming high enough, but that still doesn’t make failing an easy event. Your partner will be there for you, just as you will be there for them.
The final characteristic I am going to mention is that your partner is as invested in your partnership as you are. Keeping a partnership going is hard work, on top of whatever goal you are trying to achieve. If both sides are not as invested, it will become clear and that can lead to resentment and blame placed on the side that is perceived as not holding up their side of the bargain. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, then the original terms of the partnership need to be revisited and revised if deemed necessary. Otherwise, there’s no hope for a lasting partnership when there are bitter feelings involved.
Whether a business partner or a life partner, these are some of the major characteristics that you should make sure are a part of any new partnership you’re agreeing to. But if you are already in a partnership that you feel is failing, I would suggest asking yourself if you have been doing your part before placing any blame on the other side. It is incredibly easy to feel superior and above reproach, but don’t let that confidence blind you from the fact that you may in fact be the one bringing things down.