On a scale of 1-10 how good a friend are you? If you are like most people, you would consider yourself a pretty good friend, but know that there are times that you could be better. Let’s find out. I am Leigh Wilson and this…is Focus Forward Business Design.
Ulysses S. Grant once shared that “The Friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity.”
If you think about this, you will probably agree that it is easy to be a friend during the best times vs the challenging ones. I mean who doesn’t like to laugh and celebrate the wins…both big and small? But, what about those other times? If you think back on when your best people have been there to lend you the support that you needed during a particularly tough time in your life, or a time when you needed advice on a decision that literally had the power to change your future, isn’t it true that you hold those memories closer to your heart than the friend that is only available to share in the great moments?
You have probably never thought about it this way, but being a great friend is a skill set like any other highly refined skill that has to be practiced on a continual basis. You would think that it would come naturally to be a great friend to those in your closest circles…but it doesn’t always show up when it needs to. In order to be an amazing friend, it has to be an intentional act. You have to make a true effort to become better at this part of your life.
I am going to give you 5 things for you to add to your intentional plan of being a better friend.
1. Open up your mind. So often people fall into the mindset that leads them to believe that they must agree with everything that their friend does…or vice versa. But how boring would the world be if we all saw everything as equal and there was no discussion or compromise? Being that friend that does not stand in judgment and is open and in fact welcomes new ideas or thoughts can be refreshing and truly lead to conversations that build a deeper level of friendship.
2. Care about the journey. You know what your friends are working on, what goals they are striving for. Being that friend that not only asks and encourages them towards the mission, but also maybe finds small ways to help them realize the win sets you apart from so many others. You may know the person that is trying to prepare for a marathon or lose 25 pounds. When you saw them did you ask how it was going and what improvements they were seeing. Maybe that led to a discussion of what their frustrations were…did you listen, or did you just ask to ask? Now, you can get your feathers all ruffled because I have the audacity to ask this question, but I will challenge you to look around or listen and you will find that most people are not having truly engaging discussions that come from a place of caring. They are filling the air with words.
3. Be present. This one could be tied to the 2nd one but goes a step further. In today’s world most of us are going 6 different directions and trying to convince ourselves and others that we have it under control and everything is getting our utmost attention. If you have ever been one of the 6 things that someone is trying to deal with then you know that the last statement, simply isn’t true. The days of multitasking being something that is a positive on a resume are gone, as people have realized that being present and focusing on the person or task at hand results in a better end project or result and better relationships. More than ever, I find that people are not truly present when they are in a conversation with someone. When was the last time that you saw 2 people in a restaurant talking when one of them, or both were not also texting or emailing on their cell phone? It’s easy to say that “Oh, I can listen and text”. To that I would say, you are right…you can listen, but did you hear, and can you contribute meaningful responses that require thought to the conversation…not likely. Being present in a conversation has got to be one of the most lost pieces in today's world. I challenge you the next time…even later today when you are in a meeting, or at dinner or even a conversation in the hall at work, really stop and listen and interact with the other person at a meaningful level. Try to take away something from the interaction that you could learn from or share with another if appropriate. In order to do this, you have to be actively present.
4. See your people more often. Isn’t it crazy how time flies and how amazing it is that the people you care about the most, oftentimes are the ones you see the least? This is not intentional…it’s just life. We get so wrapped up in day-to-day work, kids, and pure survival that we forget to see those that add so much to our world. Here is an exercise for you. Write down the top 5 friends or couples that you enjoy spending time with. Now try to figure out when you last spent some quality time with them. Maybe it was lunch, an evening out, maybe an afternoon on the golf course or even something big like a vacation together. If it was more than a month ago then we need to give this area some attention. Now, I will be honest I really wanted to say if it was more than 2 weeks ago, but I thought I would build you up for success and give you something to work towards 😊
Everyone has a limited amount of free time and I think that we can all recognize and appreciate this. As my husband and I were challenged with how to see the people that we really wanted – as he is my social butterfly… we needed to find some options. So, we started introducing friends to friends which accomplished a couple of things. One, we got to see everyone more often and two we quickly realized that many of our friends had a lot in common and now they had grown their circle of friends. This has turned into long weekends with 6-12 people as well as frequent dinner parties that rotate from home to home. I encourage you to take that list you made and get out your calendar and start booking time to hang out with those that make your world a better place.
5. I saved this one for last as it is the most meaningful. You know friendship is truly a privilege and should be treated as such, but so often we fall into a groove and just assume that our friends will always be there. We need to be grateful for the friendships that we have and take the time to tell those around us how much they mean to us. This tends to slow us down and make us reflect. When was the last time that you stopped and told someone how important they are to you or how much value they add to your world? In this same theme… apologize when necessary. Just step up, own the screw up and move on. Finally, say thank you and really feel it when you say it. Those two words can be more impactful on a friendship then we give them credit for.
I hope that you have a list of things that you are going to do to be the best friend that you can be. If you have found this enlightening, please hit “like” below so that we can continue to help others live amazing lives. Remember it is always your choice to Focus Forward!
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