Jan
14

The Value of Friends, Especially the Authentic Ones

By

Almost everyone has friends of some sort or another.  Just like people, friends come in all shapes and sizes.  Some we may have had for years, some maybe just for a day.  Not all of them necessarily close or good friends.  In fact, most are likely to be surface or what I call social friendship.  It’s not the length of the relationship that we should be measuring, but rather the quality of the relationship. 

Social friends can be great for when you just want to get together to do something and don’t mind (or even necessarily want) a serious conversation.  They can be great for lighthearted fun.

While I value all my friends, I value my true and authentic friends the most.  In fact, I expect I could live fairly happily with only a handful of authentic friends and no others. 

Why, because authentic friends are the people who accept you for who you are.  My observation is that while social friends may listen, they aren’t really all that interested.  Authentic friends listen and generally do not judge.  They know all your idiosyncrasies and like you anyway.  You must admit it, we all have idiosyncrasies.  Some of which drive others around us crazy.

I think it is important to choose your friends wisely.  To invest your time, attention, and emotional energy on those that are truly authentic already as well as those that could become authentic.

  • Who would you miss if you could never talk to them again and what about them would you miss?
  • Who would you not miss if you didn’t see them again?
  • Do you have friends that you feel drained after interacting with them?
  • Who do you spend your time with?

If it is predominately people in the second category I’d like to stop and very seriously think about why is that?  What are you getting from those interactions?  Is perhaps a spouse getting something from your friendships but you are not?  If you answer not much (or something like that), I’d like you to very seriously ask yourself why do you hold on to those friendships, whether they are really important, and what would be the worst that would happen if you stopped spending time with them.

If you are spending much time with people in the third category, the one that leaves you drained.  My strong advice is run for the hills if you can.  Ok, well first you should do the same analysis for the second category.  It may be that this person is just having a rough patch in life and leaning on you quite a bit.  However if the person is chronically in a rough patch you need to ask yourself if they actually want to get out.  Maybe they are gaining something (e.g., time, attention, financial support) from living in crisis mode.

Here’s the “Backstory” (and hopefully a laugh or two)

Earlier this week, Cranky and Depressed Faith showed up for a while.  She was feeling tired, frustrated, and down about some things that had happened.  I vented a bit via email to two of my friends, friends I put in the authentic category.  It was nice to feel like I could talk with someone about how I was really feeling.  The first, Gail, was great about helping to reframe some things and telling me to cut myself some slack.  She was right.  I had real reasons to be tired and feel overwhelmed.  I was adding additional pressure to myself that I really didn’t need to.  The second friend helped me through their honesty and through humor.  Chris did not judge, he simply said I’m here, I’m your friend, and I’m available to talk.  Chris’s email helped me to feel better all by itself.  To simply know someone cared about my mental and emotional state.  Chris went a bit further when he sent along a second email.  One I’d like to share. 

Faith

Ok – this is the best I can manage on the run!  Will have to tide you over for a bit until I can manage a better response!

Chris

A paraprosdokian  –  A figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. It is frequently used for humorous or dramatic effect, sometimes producing an anticlimax.

  • I asked God for a bike, but I know God doesn’t work that way.  So I stole a bike and asked for forgiveness.
  • Do not argue with an idiot.  He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.
  • I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather.  Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.
  • Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  • The last thing I want to do is hurt you.  But it’s still on the list.
  • Light travels faster than sound.  This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • If I agreed with you we’d both be wrong.
  • We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  • War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
  • Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • The early bird might get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
  • Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good evening’, and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.
  • To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism.  To steal from many is research.
  • Some people are like Slinkies … not really good for anything, but you can’t help smiling when you see one tumble down the stairs.
  • I didn’t say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  • I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with “Guess” on it…so I said “Implants?”
  • Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?
  • Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
  • Why do Americans choose from just two people to run for president and 50 for Miss America ?
  • A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
  • You do not need a parachute to skydive.  You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  • The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!
  • Always borrow money from a pessimist.  He won’t expect it back.
  • A diplomat is someone who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you will look forward to the trip.
  • Hospitality: making your guests feel like they’re at home, even if you wish they were.
  • I discovered I scream the same way whether I’m about to be devoured by a great white shark or if a piece of seaweed touches my foot.
  • Some cause happiness wherever they go.  Others whenever they go.
  • I used to be indecisive.  Now I’m not sure.
  • I always take life with a grain of salt, plus a slice of lemon, and a shot of tequila.
  • When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.
  • You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
  • To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  • Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.
  • Some people hear voices.  Some see invisible people.  Others have no imagination whatsoever.
  • If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?
  • Change is inevitable, except from a vending machine.

In Conclusion

I was in complete stitches when I got done reading the list.  Getting this list was the final step in kicking out Cranky and Depressed Faith.  I hope it too made you laugh.  If not at all, at just a few. 

Authentic friends.  They are the one’s that can lift you up when you are down, “get you” but still like you, will go to bat for you, and are willing to share your life journey – if even for a day or two.

How do you get more authentic friends?  By being more authentic yourself.  It’s that simple.  Like the old cereal commercial with Mikey.  “Try it, you’ll like it.”

A Final Word of Thanks

Gail and Chris – Thanks for helping lift me up when I was down.  Your work here is done.

Elaine – Thanks for working with me to take our friendship to the next level.  To be authentic in all our interactions from this point forward.  You just need to say what you are thinking and not make me work so hard to read between the lines!  As I said before, you have my permission.   Use it.  No guilt required my friend.  :-) 

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