“I prefer to win titles with the team ahead of individual awards or scoring more goals than anyone else. I’m more worried about being a good person than being the best football player in the world. When all this is over, what are you left with? When I retire, I hope I am remembered for being a decent guy” (Lionel Messi).
In the midst of coordinating appointments, hearing news reports about nuclear war threats and mass shooters, and brewing storms, listening to calls from distressed persons dealing with major health crises and more, a strange reality emerged in my life. Totally unexpected, never before imagined, and even unscripted! Two weekends in a row I was invited to do the Patricia McDougall Radio show in Washington, DC. (See links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYhtSzrnSj8 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwYs8OJav00 ). I was a little bit apprehensive because I did not know where this would lead or what I would be asked to say on a live broadcast. I like quiet, private, simple, and low-keyed. However, with her infectious smile, her bold approach to life and engaging personality, I do not believe that many people ever say “No” to Patricia McDougall. So, with her convincing smile and encouraging approval, Ms. McDougall, simply said, “Just follow my lead.” Two radio shows later, the rest is history. Some famous words began to play in my head, “What’s going on; Yeah, what’s going on; Tell me what’s going on; I’ll tell you what’s going on…” (Alfred W. Cleveland, Marvin P. Gaye, & Renaldo Benson).
What’s happening here is SYMBIOSIS. Having roots in Biology, symbiosis relates to the “living together of two dissimilar organisms, as in mutualism, commensalism, amensalism, or parasitism” (Random House Dictionary, 2017). This word can describe relationships ranging from the fungi in lichens and bacteria living in the intestines or skins of animals to the relationships between a mother and her infant or between individuals and groups. An elaborated definition from Psychiatry describes “a relationship between two people in which each person is dependent upon and receives reinforcement, whether beneficial or detrimental, from the other” (Random House Dictionary, 2017). The goal for all of us is to increase the former, healthier version of positively reinforcing relationships so that we can live fulfilled and well-adapted lives.
Celebrated life coach and author of The Success Principles, Jack Canfield noted, “By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved – and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses – you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.” This is exactly what my radio interviews with Ms. McDougall facilitated. It allowed me to put my experiences over the last few weeks and months into perspective. I was able to distill the pure goodness from my experiences and focus on creating more. It also permitted me to share with others how one single decision can change their whole lives forever, because a single experience of what is possible means that you can never go back to thinking that your future goal is impossible. I say this because in January 2017, I joined the John Maxwell Team and started consolidating my expertise in training and consulting and began learning new techniques for bridging the gap between my two worlds of academia and business. Meeting Ms. McDougall brought all the spheres of my life together in a single frame. My sisters, you can have it all – marriage, family, work, and business! You just cannot have it all in the same season with the same dimensions.
Ms. McDougall is an extraordinary lady – an employee of Howard University, a small business owner and devoted to her family. In reflecting on Jack Canfield’s advice, I discovered that this is now one of my most valuable relationships. The simple reason is that this is where the questions that I have been asking about business and education, or more appropriately, “the business of education,” are being answered in my association with Ms. Patricia McDougall of Patricia’s Professional Photos and “On the Scene with Patricia McDougall.” Since meeting her, I have had a behind the scenes look at the life that I began to ask the John Maxwell Team about since January 2017 when I first started training. As I have spent several weeks deepening my relationship with Ms. McDougall, I discovered how my university association provides an anchor for the goals that I have in providing the types of products and services that express my brand.
I have been able to go behind the scenes and meet other small business owners who have made significant impact in their spaces and they now go out as a team to share their expertise with others, for example the Small Biz Lady, Ms. Melinda Emerson and Ms. Dawn Brolin. This symbiotic relationship provides mutual benefit as what I had attempted to learn on my own became a collaborative experience when I opened myself to learning about her business and doing my business. Several radio interviews provided a new platform not just for exposure, but of building expertise. Learning to speak about brands, promoting products – my own or someone else’s, in a live broadcast, gave me the opportunity to do something that I had never done before. Here was my live, on-stage introduction to Mass Communications 101. As I followed this phenomenal leader who empowered me to do what I do, I found the vocabulary and the perfect synergy to promote her brand while exploring my own.
So, I celebrate the power of symbiosis today through my healthy, mutually beneficial relationships. They range the gamut, just as yours do, from my mom and other relatives, to relationships with friends, neighbours, professional colleagues and more. Note that other types of relationships are predatory. We all know of the eagle swooping down to capture its prey. Only one survives that relationship – the eagle. As the eagle is the hunter, there is no protection for its prey who is being chased in an open field with no protection in sight. The only places of refuge may be small holes where the prey may fall into because they are running in fear, or in tree trunks that have a small enough opening that provides entry and security until the danger to the prey has flown away. Other relationships are parasitic. These relationships are maintained by a host and the parasite. For example, a fruit tree and the passion fruit vine. Fruit trees provide a delicious harvest to those who would enjoy their offerings. However, they become hosts to vines that run all over their trunk and foliage, eventually blocking out the sun. Over time, the vine will become so huge and fruitful that it kills the original fruit tree. Another host and parasite relationship exists between humans and worms. Worms can multiply rapidly within the human body and cause many symptoms of disease. If not properly diagnosed and treated, some worms can affect the brain, vision, digestion, sleep and more. With treatment however, parasitic relationships can be curtailed and the parasite destroyed before killing the host. The same is true for our relationships with others.
Celebrated author and wealth expert, Robert Kiyosaki said, “Finding good partners is the key to success in anything: in business, in marriage and, especially, in investing.” He is right. What attracts us to people may be the very thing that later drives us apart. No situation is ever perfect, but we have to at the very least attempt a partnership for success. The athletes, like Lionel Messi, will tell you that it took many years of training and sacrifices before they found a winning coach with a winning team. Pick your coach, work with your team and remember that “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success” (Henry Ford).