Make Relationships Work by Giving 200%

Make relationships work by giving it your all, even if you're only part of the project.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #289

Relationships! I just love relationships! Whether they’re business, friendship, romantic, or, well, you know, relationships make the world go ’round. Well, relationships and angular momentum.

There’s only one teensy-tiny problem with relationships: they force you to put up with other people. Other people expect us to do things for them, even if they don’t tell us. Project manager Leslie once gave me a tongue lashing for not getting sign-off on a project. Of course, no one—including Leslie—had told me that I needed to get sign-off on the project. But there we were. Mind reading was apparently part of my job description.;

Of course, everything’s different when I’m the one expecting them to deliver. Then, of course, they should know exactly what I want, when I want it, and they should deliver it on time. And the moment it’s late, my blood begins to boil. I sent along innocent little text messages. “Hey there. You’re a special, unique human being with high intrinsic worth. If you could just zip that marketing report over to me right now, I’ll be your friend forever.” They don’t send it and I want to kill them.

The 100% Relationship

The problem, of course, is that we’re each doing 50% of the work. Together, we should get 100% of the project done. Unfortunately, far too often we each do our 50% and together, we only get 75% done. That’s because we’re aiming too low.

Just shooting for doing your 50% perfectly isn’t good enough. Consider golf, a sport I might recognize if it were on TV with the title GOLF in big letters across the top of the screen. It’s common wisdom in golf that you don’t aim your club at the ball. If you do, you unconsciously slow down at the last minute and screw up your swing. Then the ball plops off the little wooden thingee and rolls gently into the sand trap, embarrassing you publicly.

Likewise, if you go through life shooting for doing the 50% of the work that’s your job, you risk having the golf ball of your life plop off the little thingee. No good can come of that.

In golf, you aim past the ball and you hit it with full power. It goes far, far away and you retire to the club house for tasty, fruit-flavored drinks, while someone else runs out to retrieve the ball.

Take 200% Responsibility

If you’re taking 100% responsibility, it means you act as the other person's manager.

In relationships, you should also swing past the 50% mark. My coach Michael Neill taught me about the “200% relationship.” Each relationship member takes 100% responsibility for making things work. With 200% effort going into the relationship, hitting your 100% goals should be easy. But what does it mean for you each to take 100% responsibility?

You Discuss Agreements and Manage Each Other

Don’t assume you’ll each magically do what the other expects. Sit down and discuss it. Make your mutual expectations clear. I’m sure you already do that with any relationship, right? So negotiating agreement is just your normal 50%. To get to 100%, you have to go one step further.

Ask the other person what you can do to help them get their part done better, stronger, faster. Do they need you to prioritize your part in certain ways? Do they need you to do things in a certain order? Do they need you to run an errand for them while they work on something time-sensitive? Take on what you can to help them, without expecting anything in return.

This works whether you’re dividing up tasks to open a new retail store or dividing up chores to make a household work.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.