You’ve overachieved – complimenting a life choice

Dave and I are both aware that we’ve been very lucky to have overachieved in our choice of a business and a life partner.

The winner is sign

A while ago Dave and I had dinner with some of my long-time basketball friends – a teammate, a male contemporary and our coach. Dave had met my teammate and male friend before, but it was the first time meeting with my coach. Having heard many of the stories of our escapades and successes on the Quebec team, Dave went to the dinner expecting to have a great time. As I expected, we got into some good conversation very easily, the years just slipping away with the warm friendships we all shared. Dave was a welcome addition to the conversation as we talked about issues of the day and shared some of our perspectives and experiences. My coach showed a keen interest in Dave and Dave in him, and they had a good, intense conversation. As we were wrapping up dinner, without hesitation my coach turned to Dave and declared, “You’ve overachieved.”

I knew immediately what he meant, and I suspected that Dave did as well, but he forced my coach to explain, and explain he did. He was quite assertive that in marrying me, Dave had done well – actually better than well – he had overachieved. The reasons were laid out with obvious affection for me, but also mischievous humor. My coach was at it again – being controversial with his bold declaration. Dave took the claim in the spirit that it was delivered and had a good laugh about his good fortune. We left the dinner with a smile on our faces and another memory of a coach who loved to say outrageous things and see where things went from there.

A great deal

Since that time I have used the same declaration with Dave to reinforce what a great deal he has with me. I have worked side by side with him in business and in life since the day that we married. I have supported and encouraged him and helped bring his inventions and innovations to life through the business side of our relationship. I have been there when he needed help after a recent operation, lifting and fetching as needed. In short, I have been there with him and for him at home and at work. And none of this has gone unnoticed by Dave. He knows and appreciates this and more, even if he doesn’t mention it every day.

A great catch

But if Dave’s friends were like my coach – that is, bold and mischievous – they would assert that I have overachieved in marrying Dave. They know him to be a great catch, someone who is both fun and serious, a person who loves a variety of sports and athletic pursuits and who can go deep technically for a long period of time. Dave is intense in whatever he does, learning things to the best that he can in as short a time as he can spare.

A great match

It turns out that we have both overachieved in our marriage, each selecting someone who is not just a good match, but a great match. The part that works for both of us is that we overlap in many areas of capability and interest, but have our own distinct areas of competency as well. The overlap gives us just enough to allow for meaningful conversation and the distinct competencies give us an opportunity to contribute something to the other.

As our young friends, relatives and colleagues are at the stage in their lives where they are making choices about a life partner, our toast to them can be summed up easily – “May you overachieve as we have.”

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Nancy Knowlton
Nancy Knowlton is co-founder and CEO of Nureva Inc. and previously the co-founder and CEO of SMART Technologies. She writes about education, entrepreneurship, business management, technology, innovation and other passions.