Straight Talk: Howdy Partner!
by Stella Nicholls
Depending on which era you were born, if I said ‘Pinky’, a lot of you might respond with ‘& The Brain’.
The thought of the unlikely duo immediately brings the ‘Pinky & The Brain’ theme song to mind – it’s a bit of an earworm – and the recurring regularity with which it pops into my consciousness has me singing the tune incessantly. The cartoon isn’t even from my childhood era, but my children’s (I’m more of a ‘Tom & Jerry’ fan).
Whether you are team ‘Pinky’ or a regular ‘Cat chases Mouse’ enthusiast, there is no doubt that we are all familiar with many famous duos.
I’m sure for most folk, it would be impossible for me to say ‘Ant’ without you thinking ‘Dec’ or if you grew up when I did in South Africa, Laurel without Hardy would be unimaginable – yes South African telly was a bit behind the West and we watched countless reruns, some even dubbed into Afrikaans. Suffice it to say that so entrenched in our minds are these famous partnerships, that we would never think to utter their names in the wrong order. I mean who has ever said, ‘Clyde and Bonnie’ or ‘Cher and Sonny’?
Which leads me to the thought that just as famous duos become synonymous with each other and are almost ‘tarred with the same brush’, so the partnerships that we take on in life, whether in friendship, marriage or business, may do the same.
Partnerships should be cohesive and mutually beneficial relationships where both parties are equal influencers, respectful and where neither party is overly controlling, domineering, or dependant. In a perfect world, at least, that would be the ideal, but as humans, perhaps we can content ourselves on being two imperfect people who are ‘perfect’ for each other and who are both trying to do our best to work on a relationship and where we accept each other’s idiosyncrasies.
And relationships do take work and investment – investment of time, energy, finances and emotions, to name but a few. So, entering a partnership, whether personal or professional, should be done with care and the realisation that much ‘sowing’ will need to take place in order to ‘reap’ a healthy, vibrant and flourishing duo.
When entering a partnership, given that there is such investment, we should be mindful to choose carefully, someone who is like minded and who we wouldn’t mind being associated with and influenced by, whether professionally or personally. Relationships are like being on a seesaw, when evenly balanced, the motion is seamless and flows but if one person is much ‘heavier’ than the other, the ‘even keel’ will be lost, leaving one sitting heavily on the ground, whilst the other bounces off into space with the momentum. That’s not to say that every pot doesn’t have its lid but let’s choose lids that fit.
One infamous duo, who have gone down in history as the world’s most notorious gangsters, are Bonnie and Clyde. Their story was glamorised and romanticised by the classic 1967 film (in which they were played by Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty) and by the American press, calling them ‘Romeo & Juliet In A Getaway Car’. As a result, they have almost become folklore ‘heroes’, or should that be ‘anti-heroes’?
According to Jeff Guinn’s book, ‘Go Down Together: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie & Clyde’ the reality was a lot less glamorous and, I think, a little disturbing, even tragic. They both came from impoverished backgrounds – Clyde was imprisoned at a young age for crimes such as being in possession of stolen turkeys and while in prison suffered abuse at the hands of his fellow inmates, which left him bitter, rebellious and a killer. On his release, Bonnie and Clyde partnered up, having fallen in love, and almost bumbled their way through their crime spree, sometimes only coming away from a robbery with a couple of dollars, before being ambushed and shot by a posse of officers from Texas and Louisiana. It seems that theirs was a perilous partnership, a relationship that encouraged the toxic side of each other, egging each other on to a life of crime.
As a child, I remember a girl, who made a huge impression on me. I had always been shy and quiet, getting on with my work and not saying boo to a goose. That is, until I met the new girl. She was confident, loud, fun, wild and full of adventure, everything that I thought I wasn’t, and I was drawn to her, the proverbial moth to the flame. Needless to say, she was good for me in many ways, easing me out of my shell. Well, easing is not the best choice of words. Popping me out, like a pea from a pod is more accurate. But her strong influence also had a negative side too, and I found myself drawn into all sorts of naughtiness and I began neglecting my schoolwork.
It culminated in us being called into the headmaster’s office to be punished for making catapults out of wire and aiming tiny bits of bruise inflicting ammunition at anything that moved. The headmaster’s eyes widened in surprise when he we walked into his office, having owned up to our misdeeds.
As quickly as my friend had arrived and transformed my life, she was gone, moved away to
another area with her family and I was back to being me again. Well almost, a tiny spark of rebellious freedom stayed with me.
Living life or doing business with a great partner is the best experience, and as I’ve found, can lead to you climbing mountains that you never thought possible. I only have to look at Llew Nicholls and Dan Frye – founders of Grow – to see how two people with opposite talents but similar vision, have the ability to build something great.
So whether planning our next ‘world takeover’ or looking for that person ‘to do life with’, perhaps it’s wise to pause, take a breather, and give some serious thought to who our ‘Pinky’ or ‘The Brain’ will be.