We are who we hang out with, aren’t we? If I asked you to “show me the friends you keep”, what might they tell me about “who you are”? Aren’t friends just the most valuable that we can have?
This week I’d like to take “Who is on your team?” from a few weeks ago one notch further. Who are your friends and why are they your friends? How many of them are “old friends” and how many have you added in the last years? How much contact do you have with them? Are they only friends “when in need”? Is life too busy to be in touch?
How good is it to spend time with friends?
At the footy, or at a BBQ or over dinner just to “chew the fat”. Where you can just “be you” and let your guard down for a while. To have a laugh and to test drive an opinion or theory or idea. To hear what’s happening in their lives and share in their joy or success.
My late mum used to say to me: “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are”. Sage observations. We all know that (perhaps after “you are what you eat”) how important it is that we surround ourselves with positive, uplifting and successful people so that we can each complement each other, as in “you are who you hang out with”.
Family and Friends
We can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends. Family members can be pretty tough sometimes, can’t they? I am blessed to include some of my family as my good friends. An important transition we all face when our children grow up is to stop becoming their ”parents” in the context of “lecturing” them, and waiting for them to ask for our advice before offering an opinion or suggestion. Amongst other aspects of course, the better we become at doing that, the stronger that relationship develops into one of being “friends”. For life.
My friends, his/her friends, our friends.
It has been such a joy to watch our (adult) children in their relationships in that as individuals they had “my friends”, and then as they grew into more serious relationships they added “his or her friends” until over time as they grew their own circles and families that developed into “our friends”. We still have those groupings within our own friends today ourselves, don’t we?
My friends are all over the world. I value and cherish their friendship and invest in maintaining those friendships despite the distances of the geographies between us. It is important to me to send an email to ask how things are going or even better, to pick up the phone and just call to “have a laugh and have a chat”. And when we do – it’s as if we just spoke last week. A lot of them are friends I made at school. Others in my tertiary education. Others throughout my working life and particularly working travels. Others through our personal travels. And many through our new life in Australia over the last 25 years. Often fleeting meetings (on a plane) or business associations have been able to develop into friendships that have grown and prospered outside the work or business realm. We have learned to know when to switch work or business on or off. Fact is, location doesn’t really matter. The truth is that we sometimes don’t see our Australian friends more often that we do our overseas friends. Does that matter? Not at all. It’s just like that with friends, isn’t it?
In business, friends are just as important. A large network of associates usually includes a sizable group of friends that are willing and able to help. By help I mean connect you when that is required. Or pick you up when you are down. Or offer some advice. Or sometimes just listen. Or ask you to connect them to someone. How much business is done through friends referring friends? A friend in need is a friend indeed.
You have all heard the saying “he or she has friends in high places”. I have learned that that is all relative, and that we all “have friends in high places”. That really is a matter of perspective, isn’t it? Friendship to me is about sharing access to such people. And I have also learned that “people in such high places” are usually delighted to be able to help, provided The Trust Triangle is in place.
More importantly I have learned that friends “look after each other” and that preferable business is preferably done with and through preferable friends. And that that is definitely a two way street.
I believe that recently ousted Prime Minister Rudd forgot about maintaining the support of his “friends in high places”. Maybe he thought he (like his predecessor in the end) was “the bees knees” and didn’t need them anymore and paid the price by being pretty crudely “dumped”.
Man’s Best Friend
A dog is supposedly man’s best friend. We have a wonderful relationship with our pet labradoodle and know that we have become best friends. What a wonderful daily reminder of so joyfully living each moment in the present. No thoughts of the past and no concerns about the future. Just all that matters is love and enthusiasm and what can be done to have fun (and get a pat) right now. Can you imagine the quantity and quality of your friendships if you were to welcome and treat everyone around you all the time with the unconditional exuberance evidenced by such a loyal and loving animal.
I like to include maintaining regular contact with my friends in my goals, so that I don’t forget something that is so important to me. It’s easily forgotten, isn’t it? We look back and another year has gone and we haven’t spoken or been in contact with so many people…. For example, one tool we use is a birthday calendar. What could be a better and more enjoyable time to remind someone important to you that you are thinking of them, than on their birthday?
Health, Wealth and Wisdom
I recently wrote in Gesundheit how one of the key measures that I use for my wealth is how many and the quality of the friendships that I have. Isn’t that so true?
So when last have you picked up the phone and spoken to a friend you hadn’t been in touch with for a while? In my networking soft skills grooming and training I teach my clients not only to contact someone when they need something, but to make a point of staying in touch from time to time throughout the year, sometimes just with a phone call or if possible over a coffee or a beer. That’s saying: “I value our association”. And guess what? If there is business to be done or referred, it will be an adjunct to that contact. But someone has to take the initiative. So why shouldn’t it be you?
Go on, pick up the phone. I know you will be so glad you did. And I also know that your friend will be so glad you did. Isn’t that just the way friends are?