Your biggest competitive advantage is a little thing, one you may overlook way too often. It can destroy your business. Or, it can elevate it to heights that may astound you.

Nick Greer, a self-made millionaire and highly successful entrepreneur, shared the secret with a group gathered in Prague to hear his keynote at last year’s global entrepreneurism conference. When it was time for him to deliver his one-two punch, his “don’t-forget-this” statement, he offered that the most important key to building a thriving business is not what you might expect. It’s not great innovation. It’s not amazing strategy. His bottom line was simply this: it’s all about creating and building effective relationships with others. [1]

Nick is right! His research, validated by others, repeatedly demonstrates that relationship encounters can make, or break your business. They can change the trajectory of others’ lives for good, or they can cause people to run for cover. Maybe even to leave. And, sometimes, they are your best, hardest working employees who leave, costing you, on average about 1½ times their salary to replace them. More disconcerting, sometimes, it’s your customers who leave.

The word “relationship” is a contranym, in so many ways. You know, a word that it is an antonym of itself. Like “out,” for example. As in, “our business is out of this world,” meaning that it is remarkable in every way. But, you could also say, “we’re going out of business,” which, of course, implies its opposite.

When you apply this pattern to “relationship”, on one hand you could say, “That relationship experience changed my whole life.” And, you would mean that you would be forever better because of the relationship experience you had. Or, it could mean exactly the opposite.

For example, I had a 2-minute relationship exchange, which shifted my entire life trajectory in ways that are utterly astounding, and have led to the successful creation of an explosive international business, operating in 31 countries, with a network of amazing relationships with over 300 consultants. As an anxious, young, new FranklinCovey facilitator, I remember Stephen Covey listening to the words I wasn’t saying, and noticing both a strength I had, and a purpose that mattered deeply to me, neither of which I was aware of before that moment. That two-minute relationship experience, one of being truly seen and heard, has inspired me over, and over again, to be a better person and to stretch into my own infinite possibilities. It still calls me forth to higher places, every day – to be what he saw in me.

I also could attest to the use of the word relationship, to mean a de-motivating, discouraging factor in the demise of an important work experience – one that ultimately broke down because I would not continue to “volunteer” my talents and time in the context of constant negative relationship interaction. My supervisor’s boss somehow found it important to criticize my approach to the most meaningful and important part of my work, and did so, without having the bigger picture of why I was doing what I was doing. She didn’t do it just once, but repeatedly. Over time, my eager, enthusiastic heart, mind, hands, and back became increasingly withdrawn until the flames of passion for my work had dwindled and died. It seemed that the easiest thing to do was to leave.

Every day, you have relationship encounters. Do they change the trajectory of others’ lives for the good? Or, do others wither and leave (emotionally or physically) because of negative relationship experiences you create? The answer to these questions will determine how big (or small) your competitive advantage is in the end.

[1] Nick Greer, Relationships: The Key to Business Success. Keynote delivered July 2016. Prague.

To learn more about how to revolutionize results and relationships, and inspire others to greatness, you might be interested in joining our free webinar on 8/22 at 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. CST: Unlocking the Passion, Purpose, and Potential of Others. You can register at this link: If you are more interested in Discovering YOUR Passion, Purpose, and Potential, you may prefer to join us on 8/15 at 11:30 a.m. CST. Register here:

NOTE: this article was written by DeAnna Murphy, Lisa Gregory, and Steve Jeffs, the People Acuity thought leader team.

DeAnna Murphy, a 23-year organizational development veteran and CEO of People Acuity, has led the 7-year research process with the People Acuity Analytics team.  It has involved over 10,000 individuals around the globe participating in original qualitative and quantitative research, exploration of over 1,000 academic and practitioner articles, top-rated marketing reports, and analysis of 200 of the best-selling books in leadership, self-help, business, and psychology.  People Acuity, an affiliate of Strengths Strategy, is in 31 countries, and includes over 300 practitioners across the globe.

Lisa Gregory is a thought leader and Manager of Product Development and Delivery at People Acuity. With 17 years of business experience as a trainer, coach, advisor, entrepreneur and corporate leader, Lisa has extensive experience in learning and development, at both strategic and implementation levels. She has worked with leaders in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies and has broad and deep knowledge of the challenges facing top executives, employees, and managers as they strive to bring their best to an organization and to their own lives.

Steve Jeffs is the Chief Scientist, Senior Faculty and is co-leading the international expansion of People Acuity. Integral to the People Acuity Analytics team, Steve recently presented the validation of our Foundations of Interdependent Teams Scale at the World Congress of Positive Psychology. He is a registered Psychologist, multi-award winning Executive Coach, energetic facilitator and scientist. Fascinated by interdependence and synergy, Steve is completing his Doctorate in this field, and applies this learning, consulting with organizations and in Executive Coaching with Senior Organizational Leaders around the world. Steve lives in Dubai, UAE, and operates globally.