Be Loved, Be Inspired, Be Happy!
As humans, I think we have a very basic, primal need to surround ourselves with wonderfulness. We know that infants are at their most secure in their mother’s arms or firmly swaddled in blankets. Even as adults, who doesn’t like a soft snuggly blanket, or the feeling of sun on our skin? And what is it about a hug that just feels so good?
But we are not just physical beings. How we surround ourselves emotionally, intellectually and socially is very important. In fact, it is integral to our growth as people and our psychological well being. People say that you are the average of the people you spend the most time with, and I agree. But what exactly does that mean? With whom should you be spending your time?
Choose Your Friends
It is important to consider building relationships as something that you actively plan and do, not something that you passively allow to happen. Maybe that sounds a bit odd, because, after all, isn’t friendship something that just happens naturally? The answer is, well, “maybe.”
Some people will pursue your friendship, but they really are not the best friends for you. It is important to be selective. You would not accept a minimum wage job for the rest of your life just because the manager at your local coffee shop really wanted you to work there, would you? You wouldn’t buy a junky used car just because your neighbor’s cousin wanted to sell it to you, would you? Well, friendship is sort of the same. Like other opportunities that life may offer, every potential friendship that comes along may not be the best thing for you. They may seem harmless enough because, after all, what do they really cost? They cost time. And time is a very precious, limited resource.
So, who gets your time? Who is in your circle? How do you surround yourself with good quality people? You need to seek friends who will challenge you intellectually, soothe and comfort you through a crisis, celebrate your victories with you, mentor you as you seek to grow and improve, put a smile on your face when you are down and keep you grounded if you get too carried away with yourself. You need people who can and will honor you with true friendship and allow you to do the same for them.
Of course, not all of your friends can be expected to be all of these things, so you need a balance. To build my circle of friends and achieve a good balance, I have what I call the 33/33/33 Rule.
My 33/33/33 Rule
So, what does this mean?
- 33 percent of the people in my circle of friends are further along in their life journey than I am. I call this the Mentor Group.
- 33 percent are in about the same place as I am. I call this the Peer Group.
- 33 percent are not as far along in the journey as I am. I call this the Apprentice group.
This works well for me, so let me explain a little more about each group.
First let me clarify. Not everyone in my Mentor group has formally agreed to mentor or teach me. They are mentors simply because I can learn from their life experiences by being around them. And, because I know that they are kind and generous with their time, I know that I can ask for specific help or advice if I need it.
I am inspired by their lives. By their example, I find the courage to keep pushing towards my own dreams. I seek to build at least one mentor friendship for each of my major life goals. So, my circle of friends includes a couple of very successful self-made business people, a gentleman who is quite knowledgeable about investments and an absolutely amazing woman who travels the world and knows no limits. The time that these people spend with me is truly a gift and I do my best to soak up all of their wisdom and experience. In return, I try to show my appreciation and be helpful to them if I can.
- Give you specific, high-level “how to” advice
- Introduce you to other potential mentors
This group includes a couple of my closest neighbors, a dear friend who I have known almost my whole life and some new friends that I have met through travel and seminars. This is my immediate support group. They “get” me, because their lives are similar to mine. If I need something, I know I can call one of them, and likewise, they can call me.
These are my travel companions, my shopping pals and the ones who know my strengths and weaknesses. These are the ones who are there when I want to celebrate my latest success and they know that I’ll be around for their celebrations too. I exercise with them, have late night chats with them or just enjoy a few laughs and a night out with them.
- Offer encouragement and companionship on a day to day basis
- Keep you grounded
For these people, perhaps I am the mentor. Sometimes they are younger, like my neighbor’s teenage daughter. They look up to me and I am happy to give them advice. Sometimes, they are simply in an humble position because of their life’s circumstances, like the woman who cleans my home. I want to offer her hope and encouragement. This is a very interesting group though, because I find that, even though I might appear to be the mentor or the successful one in these types of relationships, it often turns out to be a good exchange. After all, it probably won’t be the sixty-year-old stock broker in my mentor group who turns me on to that great new dance tune or offers me a recipe for the best mango salsa ever. I myself am humbled as I am often reminded that most people have something to offer.
- Keep you in touch with what is fresh and new or different from your usual circle of peers.
- Allow you the joy of giving, just as others give to you.
The three groups are pretty well defined but, there are a few qualities that I insist on in all of my friends.
Integrity is important.
Whenever you deal with a person who is not truthful, who does not keep their word or who is not what they pretend to be, then you really don’t have a relationship at all. You just have an illusion of something they want you to see that is not really there.
A positive outlook is important.
Even if you are dealing with a very wealthy person full of good advice, if there is too much negativity, it is going to drag you down.
Loyalty is important.
A true friend sticks by you, even when things are a tough. If they have something to say, they say it to your face, not behind your back. They defend you when others are unfair.
As you mindfully build your circle, I hope that you are rewarded with a support network that serves you well.
As you journey through life, you will have setbacks and successes, as will others in your circle. Relationships may change over time. At some point, you may become more of a peer to those who were once mentors. Those who were once apprentices may become peers. In any case, as you grow, I hope that your friendships will too, bringing you strength and joy!