Recently, I began doing business in some new circles — and with some people I don’t really like. A few of the folks in these circles have what I would call “polarized reputations” and over the past couple weeks a few people with whom I speak with regularly have been forthcoming to me with their sentiments about these folks.
I have avoided most circles because I don’t like to get caught up in the high school-like cliques that seem to exist in my business. But, practically speaking, it’s inevitable. While it’s easy and convenient to avoid these groups, being overly selective can come at a cost, too. You might be missing out and you risk being labeled a snob.
Being selective with whom you associate and do business with, in and of itself, is not bad practice. But there is a fine line where we can become overly selective. When that happens, you could be running the risk of limiting your potential.
Sometimes you have to do business with people you would not choose as friends — and that’s okay. Like family members, you don’t have to be best friends with everyone that is doing business with you. You just have to be able to sit in the same room, or call, or video conference together.
There is more to it than this, though. While you might not enjoy or even appreciate the way some people pursues their business or personal brands, chances are there is a lot you can learn from them. After all, if they weren’t successful, you probably wouldn’t think about them at all.
One thing I have learned is that success breeds controversy. Partly because being successful involves making decisions and taking actions that others don’t like. Partly also because people really do try to take you down as you climb.
By taking an honest look at what makes people successful, you can accumulate wisdom without necessarily going through the pains and failures that they went through. But you can’t do this when you write them off because of personal differences. In a way, you have to swallow your pride to some extent if you want to get ahead.
A recent work experience for me that was excruciatingly painful also gave me insight and perspective about myself and my business. I did not enjoy the dynamic nor did I desire to remain part of it long-term but, while I was part of it, I made sure to make the most of my time. When you have little or no choice about who is involved with you during a certain season of your life, you are essentially forced into a situation that you might have otherwise avoided. You can choose to accept this or fight it. Accepting it can lead to good things but fighting it almost certainly does not, just like avoiding the situation altogether assures you will not benefit from the experience.
Next time you see yourself avoiding a business relationship because of personal differences, consider what sort of gains or benefits you are leaving on the table that could be yours if you swallowed some pride and put yourself into an uncomfortable situation. The trade-off might be worth it.
By Ryan Gerardi