An Effective Strategy for Driving People Away

Even if you’ve got the best ideas…

And the boldest, most scintillating visions…

Even if you’re the most powerful person in the world…

With swimming pools full of hundred dollar bills…

None of that matters, if you forget to respect and cherish the autonomy of your fellow human beings, and treat them as stars of their own show rather than merely a means to your end.

In the late nineties, I had a business partner. Kinda. We had no idea what we were doing, but we were serious enough about it that he moved in with me from New York to Michigan so that we could build the project.

The business started as my dream, not his. I invited him to participate, and in my mind it became our dream.

But it was really mostly just my dream, in the end.

He was highly skilled with web design, and I was barely an amateur. I was amazed by what he could do with code. With him, our website was more professional-looking than 99% of the other stuff out there (do you remember what most websites looked like in the nineties? My business partner’s designs were from the future).

Deep down, I felt I couldn’t actualize my dreams without him.

I think he knew I couldn’t actualize my dreams without him, too.

The fatal flaw in our partnership was that I came to treat him as a tool or an asset, moreso than as a partner and person.

I didn’t even realize I was doing it…

Until he told me.

For a long time, I’d tell him my visions, and he’d make it happen in web form. I was in awe of his ability to convey my ideas.

In a way, I was Steve Jobs and he was Steve Wozniak.

Except Steve Jobs, for all his flaws, had his shit together better than I did. He was more than an idea person. He was a leader, even if that sometimes meant being a dictator. He was more confident and competent than I was back then.

I wonder how Jobs would have responded to my partner, when he quit, and informed me that all I did anymore was exploit him and use him up.

Didn’t see it coming at all, in my foolishness.

I felt remorseful. Guilty. I knew he was right.

Our dream became just my dream again. And then it died. While I pouted. And did copious amounts of drugs. Because I was no Steve Jobs after all.

Since then, I’ve been careful not to use people.

Sometimes, I’ve noticed myself doing it, so I stopped.

Over the past several years, I’ve become just as interested in other people’s dreams and successes as my own.

Sometimes, they become interested in mine, too.

You show me yours, I’ll show you mine…

I want to participate in other people’s health, wealth, and happiness.

We can all actualize our dreams without using and controlling each other.

Just playing our parts…

Celebrating ourselves and each other…

Living, learning, and getting better every day.

Also published on Medium.