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"No man is smart enough to project his influence very far into the world without the friendly cooperation of other men," said Andrew Carnegie. In anything that we do of any significance, we are necessarily bound to a system of partnerships. Therefore, the careful selection of these partners is vital.

We should probably be aware of the fact that things that we would not want in ourselves, we would not want in a partner. That, of course, establishes a pretty high standard, but it is a reality that we cannot ignore. Ira Hayes says that there are five things that destroy success.






These are qualities that we certainly do not want to see in ourselves or in our partners.

The apostle Paul speaks of the problem of being unequally bound together with others. It makes sense that, if the partners of any endeavor hold conflicting motivations or methods, the project is not destined for greatness. Indeed, it may be headed for disaster.

Taking a hint from perceptive psychology, we might conclude that there is the greatest chance for success where partners see things similarly. Moving back to the guidelines of the perceptual determinants, we might ask some key questions.

1. Are our beliefs pretty well similar?

2. Do our needs conflict?

3. Are our attitudes compatible?

4. Do we share common values?

5. Is the range of our past experience not too dissimilar?

6. Does threat control either one to an unhealthy degree?

If the perceptual determinants of both partners are not too similar, then one can expect similar perceptions and thus behavior can harmonize. On the other hand, if beliefs, needs, attitudes, values and past experience are polar, then perceptions will be widely divergent, and behavior will not likely be parallel.

What should one ordinarily look for in a partner? What traits should be common to all partners in a project? Consider these.

1. A natural inclination to work hard.

Look for someone who willingly puts in long hours working to accomplish a task or reach a goal. This hard work, however, must be productive, not just a spinning of the wheels.

2. A realistic appreciation for money.

Look for someone who appreciates money but who is not in awe of it. The desire to acquire is not a sin. A man who does not want money is an exception.

3. The ability to learn rapidly.

Since learning is life-long, skill in learning is a great aid. Look for a man who reads broadly and consistently.

4. A willingness to compete.

I would want to work with a real competitor, one who wants to WIN. Noble goals require considerable struggle, and usually they are available only to people who are willing to strive hard.

5. A commitment to self-improvement.

I plan to grow and improve the rest of my life, and I don't want to be yoked to a partner who is not committed to growth. If I grow and she does not, the gap between us will grow and soon a parting will result.

6. Courage.

There is always enough risk and threat in any great project to strike terror into the timid heart. Courage to face danger and perhaps failure will be required on the rough road.

7. An attention to details.

Attention to small things is a fundamental requirement for success. Follow through is great for the golf swing, and it is great for business, too.

8. The ability to organize time.

Look for that person who has goals and has a plan for achieving them. He organizes his work schedule against a clock and a calendar, and he controls the schedule.

9. Persistence.

This is the "never say die" man: he never gives up. He gets his motivation from within. Ira Hayes says one-half of all people fail because they quit doing something because someone didn’t like it.

10. The ability to move with people.

Some people move against other people. They are rash and rough. Some people move away from people. They are frightened and do not want to get involved. Some people move with people. They are interested and involved with those around them.

No one can possess all of these characteristics to the ultimate, but neither should anyone be void of them. A careful consideration of these traits in yourself or your potential partner will save a lot of heartaches and perhaps some heartburn too.

There is a sign in Oklahoma on a remote country road that reads, "Select your ruts carefully--You'll be in them for the next twenty miles." There's a sign on the road to success that reads, ''Select your partners wisely—you’ll be traveling with them through many rough miles." I wish I had learned this earlier in life.

Kenneth Shelby Armstrong M.A., Th.D., Ed.D.

Select Peer Partners Carefully