In any partnership, you’re either making each other better or making each other worse. This goes for friends, couples, and business partners.

In a negative relationship flywheel: you egg each other on towards ultimately suboptimal activities.

It starts small. One of you misses a deadline, doesn’t hit a target, or lets the team down. One person’s shortfall is an excuse for the other to let their standards slip.

If they are always a little late for the Zoom call, you think it’s fine for you to be too. Next, you’re late for team calls and client calls. It’s normal to rock up at five minutes past. You have an unspoken agreement, but outside of your partnership it costs your reputation.

One partner’s unhealthy habit is inadvertently copied by the other and then it becomes a regular occurrence. A habit, a tradition, an everyday thing. Unhealthy behaviour ensues all round. You normalise destructive patterns. You self-sabotage, cross-sabotage and find safety in numbers.

Suddenly you’re lazier, bitchier, more judgmental or less ambitious. You’re adjusting your goals based on lower measures of success, you’re excusing away progress and heading down slippery slopes without realising until it’s too late.

It feels kinder to support your partner instead of calling them out, and they do the same for you. You’re holding each other back by validating each other’s weaknesses, under the guise of solidarity.

In a positive relationship flywheel: you bring out the best in each other and the benefits compound.

One person improves and the other is inspired. One person's progress raises the bar for the other’s ambition. They up their game to match, and the other notices. They cheer each other on, they give the encouragement they don’t give themselves. They offer critique with love and it’s taken on board. One reminds their partner of when they’ve succeeded in the past and how capable they are of doing it again.

Compounding effects mean this continues indefinitely. As a partnership, you reach a new height. You see the benefits of every decision. You have faith in the process that got you here. You believe you are unstoppable, and you have someone who understands. You converse in your own shared language, and you are motivated by seeing what else is possible.

In the early days, you might not realise where relationships are heading. But over time it will become clear.

Spot the early signs of your relationship flywheel and decide how to flip them in your favour today.