|Meredith Bell and Denny Coates, co-founders of PSS|
What does it mean to be in business with someone else for 25 years?
A business partnership requires every bit as much work as a strong marriage. Both require an enormous amount of trust, respect and commitment, none of which are guaranteed or automatic.
When I reflect on what these years of working with Denny have been like, I feel gratitude and appreciation about all the ways our relationship has enriched my life.
But it wasn’t always like that…
You see, in the early days of our working together, I was quick to get defensive if Denny gave me constructive feedback about something I’d done or offered an alternative to an idea I’d proposed.
I had my ego tied up in the need to be right, and I felt I looked bad if I made mistakes or hadn’t come up with the better idea first. So I took his input very personally and would sometimes let it bother me for days.
Now, Denny is an expert at giving feedback and offering suggestions, so it wasn’t that he was harsh or insensitive in the way he delivered it. I just didn’t want to hear that I was imperfect! I was overly concerned that he’d think less of me if he spotted one of my shortcomings.
I have to admit, I reacted badly at times, which resulted in some tense moments and hurt feelings on my part.
Gradually I came to understand that his motivation was to simply address the situation, not to attack me. I realized that the real issue resided within me. There was nothing wrong with his delivery.
I had to recognize that low self-esteem about certain aspects of myself created that negative reaction, and strengthening the way I viewed myself and my worth were keys to solving the problem.
It took time and consistent effort to monitor my internal reactions and move past the discomfort I felt when he gave me feedback or suggestions. But over a period of months I could feel the shift in my attitude and my reactions.
If you saw us interact today, you’d wonder how this was ever an issue. The trust and respect are solid. We are equally strong in voicing our opinions and responding openly and positively to each other’s input. We quickly work through differences and accomplish amazingly creative outcomes.
And so we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of our company with great enthusiasm and a bond that’s stronger than ever. I am grateful every day that Denny and I are on this ride together.
“If you think and achieve as a team, the individual accolades will take care of themselves. Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.”
Michael Jordan, American professional basketball player (1963- )