A few years back, in 2013, I found myself needing a website and decided to hire a web designer for the job. We engaged in weeks of back-and-forth communication, providing feedback and making adjustments. However, the designer eventually resigned due to my continuous requests for changes. Undeterred, I hired two more designers, hoping to achieve the desired result finally. Unfortunately, the same frustrating pattern repeated itself.

After four long months, I still didn’t have the website I had envisioned. It was during this reflection that I had a crucial realization: the designers’ failure wasn’t due to a lack of skill but rather their approach to the project. They viewed it merely as a technical task, focusing solely on coding and neglecting to consider the perspective of a business owner or manager.

On the other hand, I saw the project as a strategic opportunity to optimize our digital channels for lead generation. I expected the designers to truly understand our brand, our goals, and how the website would fit into our overall strategy. I wanted them to become more than just designers but rather thought partners who could question my decisions and offer constructive input.

Upon reflection, I realized that my experience with those web designers taught me a valuable lesson. It became clear that my initial expectation of hiring someone solely to design a website was insufficient. What I truly needed was a collaborator—a thought partner who could bring a deeper level of understanding and insight to the project.

From that point forward, I consciously adopted this mindset in every endeavour. Whether working as a freelancer, joining a new team as an employee, or managing client relationships, I aimed to be more than just a task execution machine. I wanted to transcend the boundaries of a traditional role and become a true thought partner.

Being a thought partner means going beyond the surface-level requirements of a project. It involves investing time and effort to understand the broader goals, vision, and challenges faced by my clients or employers. By immersing myself in their world, I could grasp the intricacies and nuances that influenced the project’s success.

Instead of executing tasks according to a set brief, I actively sought to engage in meaningful discussions and offer valuable insights. I proactively questioned assumptions, challenged ideas, and provided alternative perspectives. By doing so, I aimed to contribute to the strategic direction and overall success of the project.

Being a thought partner is about developing a relationship built on trust and mutual respect. It’s about fostering open communication, where ideas can flow freely, and both parties feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and concerns. By establishing this collaborative dynamic, I believed that we could achieve outcomes that exceeded expectations.

Embracing this mindset had a transformative impact on my work. I discovered that by positioning myself as a thought partner, I gained a deeper sense of fulfilment and satisfaction in what I did. It allowed me to make a more substantial and meaningful contribution beyond the confines of a specific role or job description.

Moreover, being a thought partner fostered stronger and more enduring relationships with my clients or employers. They appreciated the value I brought—the ability to understand their needs, anticipate challenges, and offer innovative solutions. This, in turn, led to more opportunities, referrals, and a reputation for being someone who could deliver exceptional results.

In conclusion, recognizing that a mere website designer couldn’t fulfil my need for a thought partner was a pivotal realization. Since then, I’ve strived to embody this mindset in every project. By going beyond the surface and becoming a true thought partner, I’ve been able to forge deeper connections, make more significant contributions, and ultimately create a greater impact in my work.

These reflections and musings are things I share daily. So, if you’re interested, feel free to follow me here or subscribe to my website for updates on new posts.

– Century Favour is Managing partner at Endgame the Strategy Company and a Co-Founder at DO-Takeaction