Co-founder’s Equation for Success

This is the final post in a series of five on co-founder conflict.

It is in the space between inner and outer world, which is also the space between people–the transitional space–that intimate relationships and creativity occur.” – D.W. Winnicott

In the previous four posts, I told you I was sharing my unique experience as a coach to high growth startups to discuss co-founder conflict. The truth is that what we are talking about applies to anyone in an organization that has to interact with others. It is about how to be human with other humans.

The Bet

When my partners and I brought our collective experience and training together to form Reboot, we identified an equation, what my partner Jerry Colonna will often refer to as “the bet,” which guides all we do. That equation is Practical Skills + Radical Self-Inquiry + Shared Experiences = Enhanced Leadership + Greater Resiliency. Reboot is a coaching company, yes. But more than that, Reboot exists as a container for us to do our work as humans. We believe that work can be the way we achieve our fullest selves.

As we have walked through these common manifestations of co-founder conflict and solutions or preventative measures for each, we’ve really been moving through this equation.

I began by sharing the practical skill of giving feedback in the context of caring. As we looked at what happens when one founder does not scale, we identified leveling up (practical skill), asking for help (practical skill after realizing you need help through a process of radical self-inquiry), and letting go of ego (radical self-inquiry) as solutions to the challenge.

The confusion and crisis that will follow from not outlining a strategy for ‘who will decide what’ can be avoided by articulating who will decide what up front and building relationships on trust and respect–values that emerge from a practice of radical self-inquiry.

When one founder becomes the hero and the other feels forgotten, the treatment plan is practical skills: sharing PR & perks and keeping a clearly articulated vision, purpose and commitment. Yet none of this would be possible without the self-awareness and vulnerability that comes from a regular practice of self-inquiry.

Reboot’s friend and teacher Parker Palmer speaks often to the incredible power of speaking to our fears and concerns. To bring them out of the shadow. When people share something particularly painful or hard to talk about, Parker will often respond, “Welcome to the Human Race.”

Shared Experiences

Our motto at Reboot is “Know you are not alone. Join the conversation.” The knowledge that we are not alone in our struggles, in our shadows, is prodigious. Through our work at Reboot, we find that time and time again, when someone is willing to open up and share about the things we don’t talk about, one of the most uttered responses is one of resonance: “Me too!” people will say. Sharing our true, honest selves is how we as a community help each other. By reading, commenting and sharing these blog posts, we know that these conflicts, these challenges of relationship are not unique. It is perfectly normal to be challenged and to at times struggle with relationships. By connecting on these issues, we can help each other.

An Invitation

The question we pose to you is: what you will do with this knowledge? I believe these challenges are an invitation. An invitation to do the work. To dive into our work, our lives, our relationships openly, vulnerably and emerge anew. Then, we become one step closer to the leader, the partner, the human we were born to be.

This post was first published on Techstars on February 1, 2016.