I have often heard each of us is the sum total of the five people we spend the most time with. I’m not sure who did the research on this or how one would measure such a statistic, but I suspect there is a lot of truth to it. Even if the statistic is not entirely accurate, who can argue that those you surround yourself with help shape your life. This is why I have spent the last two weeks writing on the importance of having mentors (here) and mentees (here) in your life. Today I end this three part series on life altering relationships by focusing on what is surprisingly the most difficult for many of us - the relationships of close friends. In a world where you can have and even purchase hundreds or thousands of friends and followers on social media, it seems there are fewer people who possess deep and lasting relationships. Make no mistake; it takes time, effort and vulnerability to have close friendships. It is easier to live in the world of pseudo-friendships, but we keep others at arm’s distance to our own peril.
The character and skills you possess are undoubtedly being influenced by those ahead of you and those behind you; they are influenced even more by those beside you. The mentors and mentees in your life are there for a season. Your friends can be with you for a lifetime. Your mentors and mentees see a part of you while your true friends see all of you. Your mentors give you tools for success and your mentees give you a mission to pursue. But it is your friends who give you joy, motivation and encouragement along the journey. I see these three relationships as the legs of a three legged stool, all necessary for the stool to accomplish its purpose. Yet it is the friendship leg that is first among equals.
Having a mission to pursue and the tools to accomplish the mission without friends to share it with will result in joyless productivity and possibly burnout.
Having a mission to pursue and the joy of sharing it with friends without the needed tools that come from a mentor will lead to a lack of productivity.
Having the proper tools to carry out your mission and the joy of friendships without people to invest in will lead to frustration.
There’s no doubt you must have all three of these relationships to thrive. Having mentors requires you to have the faith to follow. Having mentees requires you to have hope they will achieve. Having friends requires something more difficult - love. Faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love.
Who in your life would you call a close friend? What can you do to pursue deeper relationships with a few people? The best way to have close friends is to be one. Successful people go first. It’s your move.