Today we want to tell you why we've tried to live in tension for 13 years. It might sound miserable, but it's not. It's a tension we hold dearly to. Read on and we'll explain what we mean...
Yesterday we gave you a little history about how we got started 13 years ago. We also shared one thing we learned.
1. "Be thankful for small beginnings."
Today we’re sharing a second thing we learned. This one is CRUCIAL to how we run our business, our personal lives, and how we navigate all of our decisions. We've learned it the hard way sometimes and have seen how it can hurt us when we do it wrong. We've also been in this long enough to see the benefits of doing this the right way. So here it is:
2. Never sacrifice a relationship for an opportunity.
This is perhaps the most important thing we have learned. At the end of the day, all we have are relationships. We’ve messed some up along the way, that’s for sure. We’ve lost friends, screwed up dating relationships, and have experienced loss both personally and professionally by choosing opportunities over relationships at times.
Opportunities come up and sometimes they sound like they’ll change your life. Maybe they sound like a good networking opportunity or maybe they pay really well. Sometimes that’s great. Those things are needed to keep your career alive and moving forward. It’s often right to say yes to good opportunities. But we cannot think of an opportunity that we’ve been offered or that could arise in the future that would outweigh the benefits we have in having strong, healthy relationships with friends, family, and in business. You just can’t replace that. It sounds trite or like it’s “the right thing to say.” But we’ve lived it, learned it and found it to be true.
So, invest in relationships. Yes, take opportunities that come along...you have to. Life involves balancing so much, but always consider the whole picture first. If an opportunity will compromise or take advantage of a relationship, take time to consider what’s more important. What we’ve found is that for us, relationships trump the opportunity every time.
Our professor Warren at The Contemporary Music Center has been a guide and a mentor for us throughout our career. He is someone we still go to for advice to this day. Early on, we were preparing to go out on one of our first huge tours and he was talking to us about business and life. We were concerned about staying grounded, keeping level heads and not getting swept up in the hype of it all. He told us this:
"If you are aware of the tension, you're probably okay. If you've lost the awareness of that tension, then you're in trouble."
He was saying, if you're still worried about being swept up in it, it means you're not swept up in it yet. If you’re concerned about asking for that favor from a friend that could boost your career and are debating it heavily, you’re probably perfectly living in the tension. Keep that tension. As soon as you're swept up in it, or ask for favors without a second thought, the tension is probably gone which means your perspective might be gone too. You will start valuing opportunity more than relationships.
That's why we've spent 13 years trying to live in the tension. This word can be so negative, but we are talking about a positive, healthy tension. The tension of caring more about people than opportunities. The tension of trying to have integrity and strong character over “success” according to the world or industry standards. We try to hold this tension even if it feels uncomfortable and we try to hold it in every decision we make.
Relationship investments look different than opportunity or business investments. We’d venture to say that the relationship investments will always pay off in the long run...whereas opportunity investments might pay out quickly but may not last. We want to build lives, legacies and business that lasts...even if it takes longer. And yes, sometimes we've missed out on opportunities because we weren't willing to make the sacrifice. As we look back, we are always glad we did.
What are you investing in? Do you need more of the “good tension” in your life? That’s been one of our biggest lessons the 13 years has taught us. Tomorrow we’ll share one more thing we’ve learned in our 13 years...things aren’t always as the appear.