Duos work because sometimes, it just takes two
Simon needed Garfunkle. Jerry needed George. Jack needed Jill. And to finish on a sports duo, Shaq needed Kobe (and vice versa).
What does all of this matter? Sales, projects, getting work done, that’s why it matters.
If you’re on a project by yourself, it’s all yours, win or you lose—and if you do win, you get all the reward. Believe me, I get the appeal. And there are no doubt instances that require solo behavior. But even Han Solo needed Chewbacca (and a host of others). Sometimes, it just takes two.
My first introduction to the importance of duos was Simon and Garfunkle. No, not the musicians, those were two of our family dogs growing up, the first two we had at the same time. They loved each other (until we had to give Simon away, but that’s a story for another day), and my brother and I loved them. But the human musicians with the same names make a great example, too. Few can write lyrics like Paul Simon can—introverted, playful, and poetic all at once. But Simon could never sing like Art Garfunkel could. That duo split a long time ago, and they’ve done various things since, but together they created a body of work neither could have produced alone.
One of my favorite duos was Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Of course, Michael was incredible with or without Scottie, but basketball is a team sport. One guy acting alone can’t win, no matter how talented he might be. And Scottie was the right-hand man Michael needed. He was good enough to make Michael great—and Michael made Scottie great in turn. They needed each other.
Just like Paul McCartney and John Lennon needed each other. Steve Jobs needed Steve Wozniak at Apple in the beginning. A U.S. Fighter Pilot needs a wingman. Where would Jerry Seinfeld be without Larry David (aka George)? Where would Bert be without Ernie? And how about Jack? Jack would be lying on the bottom of the hill if not for Jill.
All of these people had their gifts and talents, and yet none of them could do everything. They needed other people with different gifts to become as successful as they did.
You need other people, too. So do I. To name a few:
I need a business partner for my business. I have Shane Snively.
I need insurance specialists. I have Mitch Long.
I need an editor. I have Caroline Ailanthus.
I need a do-it-all type person. I have Scott Upton.
And let’s not forget, a better half—my wife.
It doesn’t have to be duos and it doesn’t have to be a major project. For most people, most of the time, whatever you’re doing will work better as a collaborative venture.
But you can’t just wait for the help you need to turn up. You need to put yourself out there and offer help to others. You also need to be willing to share the credit. If you run a business, you can make sure that your workplace culture supports collaboration, including collaboration with people outside the company. That’s important to us, and that’s why when someone on our team needs something, they reach out to other people.
It’s very easy to think you can do it all. And as I said above, often you can. But think ahead. Your partner might not even be in your company and it might be for something small. You may need to outsource your insurance sales team or your marketing team. The point is for the different areas you are looking to drive success, think of having a duo. And if you don’t think it’s smart to share the work and share the glory, think of some of the most successful people we have known. Duos worked for them.
And always remember that 100% of nothing is nothing. Sometimes, it just takes two (or more!).