Thursday, December 3, 2009

How to Choose and Attract Friends Wisely

This post is by Justin Dixon Follow me on Twitter Photo courtesy of h.koppdelaney
A quick thanks to @zebrapolkadots for inspiring this post.
When Dale Carnegie passed away his tomb stone was made to read:
“Here lies a man, who knew how to surround himself with men better than himself.”
Carnegie himself chose this so that not only could he lift up those around him, but also because this had been one of the main keys to his success. The fact is that if you took the top five people you spend time with, you will normally find that your income, is the average of the five. Please note that while income should never be a determining factor for a friendship, as that would be an empty relationship, there is still something to this. It goes beyond finances to your habits, attitudes, and through those ultimately to your character and destiny. So having the right friends is important, but how do you get friends like this?

Be the type of friend that you want to have. The first thing you have to do is you have to be somebody worth being a friend to. One great way to start this would be following some of the advice of my friend Mary Jaksch in her great article on true friendship. The main point is that if you want real friends you have to commit to be that real friend. Make a list of all the qualities that a perfect friend would have. How can you improve yourself in these areas? Focus on that, when you’ve got that right real friends will follow. Build yourself, and they will come.

Choose quality over quantity. It is good to have lots of connections. It is essential to treat everyone with the respect and kindness that you want this world to have. This however is not about what connections you have, and who you are nice too. This is about who you make a regular habit of spending time with. Unlike connections this is not a case of the more the merrier; this is a case of the more valuable the better. One true friend that helps you be a better person is 1,000 times better than a hundred friends that keep you living a life of mediocrity.

Never compromise. I’ve always had strange values as a young man. I didn’t like how the guys in middle school talked about women. It was disrespectful to both the girls, and to themselves as human beings. These same guys had been my friends for the last two years, and we did all enjoy goofing around, and joking together, but enough was enough. It came to a point where a comment was made, and I told them that if they made a comment like that again, that I would find a different table to eat at. It only took five minutes for that to be broken. I stood up with my food, and walked over to where someone I had just started connecting with and asked if I could sit down with them. This new group of people were my friends for the rest of middle school even on towards today. Oddly enough there were no hard feelings, though my old friends did watch their words around me on the few times that we did hang out again.

The point of my story? Never compromise who you are. Never compromise your values. If you have to do this to keep a friend than cut them loose. They can find more friends and so can you. It is an insult to both the person holding you back, and to yourself to think that one will not be able to find more friends ever again. Its not an insult to leave the company of those that you don’t want to mimic, its an opportunity for both of you to move forward. Go ahead and keep the connections, just be picky about who you spend your time with.

Be an original. The fact is that not much would be gained if all of our friends were exactly alike. So know who you are, and be that fully, proudly and boldly. It doesn’t matter how strange that ends up being, or whether your fiends agree or not. People want genuine friends, and in being genuine you are probably not always going to agree. This is natural, and good. Don’t shy away from it.
“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.” ~ John Mason
Put yourself out there. This is coming from a natural introvert. Look up the events in your area, to see if anything catches your eye. I like to check For those not familiar with this service, you just search for your interests and see if you can find others in the same area with the same interests that want to meet up. This is actually a lot of fun, and a great way to find people with similar interests and values. You can also meet a lot of people that will stretch you as a person. Go up and introduce yourself at parties. I know this can be scary; it still scares the willies out of me, but really what have you or I to lose? If they are not your friend before, and they decide to not be your friend after-wards what have you lost? On the other hand if you don’t try to put yourself out there, and they would of been a life changing connection, than you will have lost a piece of your own potential. For some other quick tips on how to put yourself out there in this age of technology you can check out this article from my friend Anastasiya Goers of Balance in Me.

Always, always, offer value. No matter what else you do, this is they key factor in attracting people to you. We only have so much time in our busy lives, be somebody who is worth spending that time with. Ways to do this include challenging your friends to be as great as they could be, being original, being honest, being good-humored, being inspirational, being supportive, and sometimes just being there.

My network of friends keeps on geting bigger, but I cannot say that I have a huge network of friends yet. What I can say is that I cherish every friendship that I have. I can say that the people I choose to spend my time with make me a better person, and that every single friendship that I have is 150% worth it! What about you? Whats the most valuable advice you’ve ever gotten on friendship? How do you pick your friends? How are you a good friend to others?