Should I invest in this relationship? (analyze someone's growth trajectory)

I want to talk about the idea of partnerships and relationships. There’s a business application here for some of you. You may use this for any kind of relational commitments you want to make, but really fly at a high level at what it means to be able to understand, "I only want to form partnerships, business associates, people that I bring on the team and make hires with or make relational commitments to people that know how to live from a secure core or a secure identity."

I want to walk you through some questions that I am processing. Maybe I don’t ask them directly, and maybe I do. I’ll give you a way to practically do this at the end so that you can do the same. I want to dive into those questions first and give you a sense of how this works for understanding someone at a real depth.

If I am interviewing somebody, whether to hire or a business associate or team member or partner I want to get into this issue, I ask these questions. Like I said, I may not ask it directly, but if it’s a relational commitment, I'm going to look for these things.

One: Do you know your pressure points and how to eliminate repeating mistakes in high-pressure situations? I want to know if you know yourself. What are those trigger points when you’re under pressure and your form breaks down? Do you know how to recognize that and eliminate mistakes in high-pressure situations? You’re a resilient person if you’ve always got that forward lean towards growth, and when you do, you’ll learn how to use mistakes to propel you. You’ll nurture momentum out of those. For a lot of people, what they don’t understand is what sabotages their life are lots of small choices, and these have an accumulative effect when the pressure is intense.

Life doesn’t tell you when the game is on the line. The movie reel doesn't stop and no one says, “Okay this is the intense moment, dig deep!” No, it just happens. Something goes wrong in a relationship you value, there is an unexpected curve ball you get with your business or with your startup or with the team culture you’re building, maybe there’s a health crisis. Usually what happens is a stacking of events. The phrase that I use is I’m trying to develop “powder keg awareness."

When are those moments when it starts to feel like it’s really building and that powder keg could explode? I want to know my pressure points and I want to know how to eliminate mistakes in high-pressure situations. I want to be on a path with those that are the same.

Two: Do they know how to recover under pressure? Because here is the reality. That pressure isn’t just going to magically go away. Most people think, "Oh, I’ll get all the pressure and all the problems gone, and then I can feel peace and rest."

That’s never going to happen. You solve problems, new problems come about. The key is, do you know in the moment of craziness how to recover under pressure? I want to know if they know themselves and what brings them emotional fulfillment, how they get margin in their lives to make sure that these activities are happening. For me, I’ve had to change my morning routine recently because of some other circumstances in life. It’s just changed. So I need to make sure that in the morning I’m doing three certain things, and if these three things happen, I can approach the rest of the day like it’s an adventure.

So I'm learning how to recover under pressure with a new rhythm, a new routine. I love lingering talks with friends, movies, being out in nature, whatever it is. I've got those things. You've got to find those things, and then build time for them. You read when your life is crazy, if that's what refills you.

Three: Do they know how to quickly recognize when others are being objectified? I want to know, do you know how to recognize when you're being insecure and others just become objects to meet the insecure needs of your identity? If you do that, you're going to put a focus on what they can do for you. You're not recognizing that there are interpersonal fears at work, you're not aware of everything that's happening around that. If you want more insight on this one, listen to my podcast episode on Mastering Conflicts, where I go deep into what it looks like when these fears are bouncing off of each other's insecurities.

Four: Can you articulate a time where you were being your own worst enemy and what you did to change it? Again, if I ask it directly or if I'm looking for this, I want to know that there's a trajectory of growth in their life, that they recognize what's happening when things start to break apart for them. It's just as simple as the word "awareness"--that they see it, they understand it, and what do they do to change it? I want to know about growth moments that they've had and I want to know that they can at least articulate one, especially if it's in a situation where I'm interviewing someone but a relationship could be forming.

I'm on the lookout for this because this changes everything about what it means to take a journey with somebody. Sadly, so much self-help stuff about relationships talks about how “you become like the five people you spend the most time with,” and the advice given in this sad way of saying, "If you want to change, you've got to change your friends." Well, they may be in seasons where they need your support, and yes, you do need to have a pro-growth trajectory for your life and that will often times either move relationships forward or the relationship changes. I want to know that I'm connecting with somebody who is viewing things from a standpoint of growth.

If I'm talking to somebody who is a possible business associate or partner or a team member or a new hire, I'm going to want to know two other things. The first four apply to all relationships, but these next two really gets specific with that.

Five: Tell me of a time you decreased your influence to step away from something you helped build or lead. Everybody is involved in something that they dove into and helped to make better or something that they started. If they're applying for something and want to be on the team with you, there's got to be something they can point to. Here's the thing that I've noticed in working with people. When people are insecure, they cannot step away from something that they've helped build or lead. When they're secure, they can let it go on to its next iteration. So I want to get into what they've helped build or lead, how they stepped away, and if they caused it to crash and burn because they needed it to only be successful if they were a part of it or if they helped nurture it beyond them. Not that it's a guaranteed thing that they could step away and it'd be successful, but I want to know what they did to try to help ensure that.

Six: Tell me of a time when you were frustrated with a team member and what happened so that you could lead them better--or did it break down? I want to know if they can get aware of their frustration in leading people. You can't lead people that you're perpetually frustrated with. All good leaders are going to see farther and move smarter than some of the team members at different points, but I want to know an example of how you handled that frustration well and what you did in the midst of that frustration. It doesn't mean you've handled every situation perfectly--this isn't a situation where I want them to feel pressured to prove--I just want to know that they're recognizing the inner workings of these things.

These are the questions that I'm looking for. I want to see where their growth trajectory is at, how they're structuring their thinking, their mental framework, their routines. The tips below will help you evaluate partners, team members, and relational commitments. Learn from the bad decisions I have made and save yourself some unnecessary pain. My worst decisions have been because I was covering up present concerns, chasing the future, and believing people just because they say they're going to do it. Through pain I’ve learned to recognize when people want to do a favor for me only to tie strings to me. Learn how to recognize trouble coming around the corner with the tips below and you start to see those strings coming

So here are some tips.

A - Do some investigating. Don’t let subjectivity get in the way and your emotions run crazy. I've been there and done that, and I should have asked more questions. A lot of people buy a house because they emotionally want it and then they use their logic to justify it. The times that I want to think fast, I need to think slow, the times that I want to think slow, I probably need to think fast. If you want some help on this, listen to my "Improving Decision Making" podcast episode, because I gave you a filter for it.

B - Know why they want to help or link up. Know their motive, and if it's a team member or associate or partner, ask about it.

C - Understand clearly what they expect to get from you and what you expect to get from them. Specifically in business partnerships and associates and team members, you want that to be as clear as possible. This is what I'm doing, and this is what you're going to get. This is what you're doing, and this is what you're going to get.

D - Ask somebody you trust; an advisor, a mentor. If you are married, see if it passes your partner's test. When I haven't listened to my wife's concerns, it's hurt our family, and so I've just had to learn to go, "What the heck am I doing, not slowing down and asking what she thinks?" Some of you may hear all these and need to make some changes and cut some strings or do some more homework, but there is a way. That is, you learn to live and lead and relate out of security and you can get a lot more intelligent and aware. Not perfect, though--we're still going to make mistakes about the relationships that we're forming.

Keep on this journey. When you're relating out of a secure identity, it's going to overflow into clarity about what you're doing and building the party that you want to build, not trying to break into somebody else's party, and it gets to be based on these different characteristics and qualities we've talked about. 

Listen to the audio here.