When I was 10, I discovered The Three Musketeers: a swashbuckling tale about four inseparable friends living by the motto “all for one, one for all.” The book became an instant favorite – but not because of the wine, women, song or adventure.
What I actually enjoyed most was the camaraderie between the main characters. My family had just moved and I was really lonely; the idea of having loyal friends inspired me. I read the book and fantasized about having people to share my own adventures with.
As an adult, I can look back and say my wish came true. Throughout the years, I’ve been surrounded by some amazing people. Thanks to them, I understand why having the right friends is extremely important – especially in a culture where others always come second.
Your Friends Are Your Teachers
Before I started teaching adults as a life coach, I worked with kids as a volunteer. Something I noticed was how quickly children learn from each other. New words, actions and opinions are exchanged and absorbed immediately at a young age.
If one kid starts cursing, it’s hard to stop the others from doing the same. If a few kids are good students, the rest of the class tends to work harder. Kids spend most of their time around other kids (not their parents) so that’s who’s example the follow.
Truth be told, adults aren’t much different – just less obvious. We instinctively follow what’s popular (i.e. fads, fashion). We conform to others and give in to peer pressure. Like children, we do what everyone else is doing.
Since “those around us” are usually our closest friends, that’s who we learn the most from. It’s impossible not to pick up words, ideas and attitudes from your inner circle. That’s why having the right friends is so important.
Personally, I got fortunate. My oldest friends are honest, smart and kind; I learned a lot from them. As adults, they’re ambitious and hardworking, which pushes me to aspire for more in my projects. Without them, I wouldn’t have many of the qualities I like in myself.
Are your friends improving you or not? Do they inspire you to be a better person – or do they enable you to be something you don’t want to?
We’re constantly influenced by the people we spend a lot of time with. Surround yourself with people you want to be like, and they’ll help you take on the traits and qualities you most admire.
Your Friends Are Your Team
In my previous post, I said that any relationship is about individual sacrifice in the name of a collective good: this is also true in friendship.
Your friends are your team. You spend time with them, do things together and strive towards common goals. If they’re right for you, they’ll be a big help in life; if not, they’ll hold you down.
Good friends are there to help you celebrate your victories and overcome your losses. They’re there when you get dumped, lose your job or break down emotionally. They’re also there when you find the love of your life or get promoted and want someone to celebrate with.
Life is full of ups and downs, and ideally you want friends who support you no matter what; help you reach your goals; encourage you to be all you can be. With a strong team like that, life’s ups and downs becomes a lot easier to handle.
If, instead, your friends are malicious or negligent – if your team is weak – you’ve got nobody to depend on in crunch time; nobody to help out when things get rough; nobody to bring out the best in you.
It’s also hard to have relationships with people who refuse to invest in you. Friendship is about giving, but it’s also about taking back. When someone’s only interested in taking from you, how can you remain with them in the long run?
A lot of people want to be friends with those who have social status; money; power. Just remember that none of those things matter when someone isn’t a good fit for your team. Try to surround yourself with people who will invest in you – and do the same for them.
I don’t believe in artificially pursuing friendships, but I do believe in 2 things:
- Being around people you want to be like.
- Being with people who can give as well as take.
Those two rules gave me the best friends anyone could wish for. I’m a better person thanks to the people around me, and I know I can count on them to support me indefinitely and unconditionally if the need ever arises.
Having the right friends is extremely important. Surround yourself with good people, learn to give and take from them and it’ll pay off in more ways than you know.