A viewer of one of my shows sent an email describing the following sad story: Several years ago, I started a business with a childhood friend. Many people recommended that we sign a business contract with an attorney, but it felt strange to involve lawyers in our close relationship so we avoided it and opened the business on the basis of good faith. For the first two years, everything was fine, but then the business ran into trouble and things started to deteriorate. We started blaming each other for our troubles, we lost trust in one another, and today, as much as I hate to admit it, we hate each other. This is killing me, Dr. Laitman, is there anything I can do?
I can understand why this viewer and his friend thought they did not need legal counsel, but their decision condemned their business and their friendship to failure. We are all egoists, and we all deny it. When our ego is happy, we think everything will always be fine. When our ego suffers, we think everything is bad. This is human nature. Actually, this is the nature of all things, but it is most noticeable in human beings.
Therefore, to remain friends, do not start a business with them. A sound business is not based on friendship, but on strict egoistic conditions that satisfy the interests of all the parties involved. A business requires making businesslike decisions, which have nothing to do with friendship, but only with cold, selfish decisions.
The essential role of lawyers, therefore, is not only to determine how a business should operate, but also what to do when things go wrong. If there is a detailed contract, there will be no disputes and the partners will know what to do.
When you mix business with friendship, you expect your partner to adhere to two different codes of conduct: a business code and a code of friendship. When there is a problem, the codes begin to clash, as it happened to this viewer. Then, either the business or the friendship falls apart.
If I enjoyed playing soccer with a certain person as a child, it does not mean I should do business with him. On the contrary, it probably means I shouldn’t.
Since this viewer asked me for advice, I would suggest that he and his friend contact a good lawyer and seek advice on how to rebuild their connection. It is not simple, and it may be too late, but this is my advice now that they have made the mistake and are trying to save their friendship.
That lawyer should rearrange the connection between them on a completely self-centered basis so that both parties can feel satisfied in the situation they are in. If no such arrangement is found, the two should part ways.
It is not as if there is no more room for reconstruction, but there must be a clear and solid egoistic basis for their business and non-business relationship. If they are both satisfied with it, they might be able to rebuild from there.
I hope that in the future, they will learn not to ignore human nature. We are egoists, and we should behave accordingly. Then, above our egoism, we should build connection, but without undermining our basic nature.
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