You need this kind of friend and colleague

This morning I received a call from former colleague that is now a good friend. He is a friend that has a very different way of thinking from me and he has made me a better person.

First of all, he is this big personality from the East Coast and I am a fairly laid back guy from the South. In fact, one of his East Coast sayings that I like, is “On the East Coast there is no such thing as defensive driving, you have to drive offensively to survive!”. He is a detail oriented person who gets things done, does them exceptionally well, and gets them done quickly. Me, I am a “big picture” person, that looks at trends and patterns and usually fairly good at setting overall direction and developing strategies, but not nearly as good as he is at execution. If you are familiar with Thinking Styles, I am a Creative-Strategist and he is a Refining-Implementor. We met in a company in the Midwest where they liked to pair people of complementary thinking styles / personalities into a “dyad” (two working as one) to lead many of their teams. So, we were paired to lead one of the corporate teams.

At first, it was a bit bumpy, especially as there was one characteristic that we shared. On the DISC assessment, we are both high D’s. If you are familiar with this assessment, you realize that one thing that means is that both of us wanted to be in charge! So, there was a bit of friction in that area. Additionally, what started off as a source of friction / irritation and eventually became a source of strength was that when I had an idea, his first question was “How?” and when he had an idea, my first question was “Why?”. We irritated each other a bit, at first, asking each other these questions, but soon learned that this was a key strength of our partnership.

We soon learned that together we were able to look at things in a more holistic way, that he saw things that I did not see and vice versa. We learned that together that we made much better decisions that we could have individually. We made, and still do, each other better.

The key thing was that we earned to respect each other’s personalities and strengths. We also soon came to value each other’s way of thinking and how we made each other better.

Through this good friend, I have experienced the importance of having people in your life who think differently than you do and that are willing to challenge you and your thinking. Because of his thinking differently and willingness to directly challenge my thinking and ideas, he has made me better and I am deeply grateful to him.

Who do you have in your life that thinks differently than you do? Are you inviting them to challenge your thinking? Are you allowing them to make you even better? If you don’t have someone like that – fine them! If you do have someone like that, but are not allowing them to help you, you are making a mistake! Invite them into your thinking and invite them to challenge your thinking and make it better. It will change your life.