After a 20-plus year relationship (the first half cohabiting, the second married), I started to ask myself how—and why—I had accepted an extremely unhealthy relationship/marriage, while my professional life thrived.
On further reflection, I realized that the two major low points in my marriage happened at the same time as the two biggest highlights of my career (up to that point).
Eventually I found the courage to file for divorce.
As the years went by, I reestablished my emotional self outside of my relationship. I rediscovered my true self, and found intense clarity around what’s meaningful to me in relationships—more than I had ever experienced.
Recently I became friends with an artist who was going through his own divorce. We discussed his art and how it translated to products. As we explored various business opportunities, I realized much of my business advice to him could be applied to relationships as well.
That conversation inspired me to take a closer look at my business relationships—why they worked, the key elements of success, and how I navigated negative circumstances with business partners—usually resulting in a deeper level of mutual respect and trust—in a way that made our relationships even more productive.
As I recognized the benefit of these business relationship practices, I started to apply them to my personal relationships, filtering personal dynamics through the lens of mutual benefit, full disclosure, and other basics of professional communication. I started to put my tough-but-fair business reputation into practice in my personal relationships.
Until then, I’d interpreted the boundaries I applied in work relationships as being too harsh to translate to personal interactions. I was wrong.
What I've learned, while certainly specific to my situation, is that best practices in business relationships can be applied to fantastic effect in personal relationships, too. I'm still learning, but I find myself coming back to a few core principles I've learned in my business relationships.