F Is For Friends

Welcome back! What a great week we will have!

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Jim writes in The Seasons of Life that spring is a time of resurgence—new beginnings and new opportunities. Similarly, today, regardless of the past, we all have new opportunities to become who we desire in our heart and mind to be—the husband or wife, the parent, the employee or employer, the friend (the focus of today’s edition). We have the opportunity to experience the health and vitality we deserve, to have the boldness and clarity to challenge stagnation or mistakes from the past. In essence, we have the chance to start fresh again today and throughout the year.

It’s hard to believe we are already on Week 20. We trust you are experiencing growth and shifts in your vision, thinking and actions. If you’re behind in the program, that’s OK—just start today with this week’s lesson. Remember, we’re looking for the diamond or thought or concept each week meant uniquely for us and our situation. You’ve already enrolled—made a commitment—and that’s 70 percent of the victory. Now let each week provide an insight or change that will help take you toward your desired outcome.

Life is full of opportunities. You are a winner—go for it!

Part Three—Friendships

This month, we are exploring the secrets of successful relationships and seeking to understand what the ingredients to healthy relationships are. Ultimately, one person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.

We will look at four main areas:

Basics of Healthy Relationships. There are certain fundamentals that, if mastered, will take you down the road of healthy relationships. The key to understanding relationships is that relationships involve people. And while every person is different, there are general principles that make most people tick. If we understand these basics or fundamentals and operate accordingly, we can make our bad relationships good and our good relationships great. We covered these basics two weeks ago.

Family and Spousal Relationships. The primary relationships most people have are with their family. Yes, that wonderful enigma we call family, those deep and meaningful relationships that can bring the highlights—and the lowlights—of life. That group of people, many of whom we didn’t even get to choose, who will walk through this life with us. Your family relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship growing and flourishing. We discussed how to have great family and spousal relationships last week.

Friendships. Second to family, friends are the most important relationships we have. Friendships are unique because they are the relationships we have that are almost entirely voluntary. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings, but you do get to choose your friends. So many times, we find these relationships provide matchless dynamics not found in our other relationships. These can, in their own special way, enhance our other relationships, making these friendships especially unique. We will take a deeper look into successful friendships this week.

Business Relationships. Many people don’t understand how powerful relationships are in business. You’ve heard me say it before, but you cannot succeed by yourself. It is hard to find a rich hermit. So many times, we underestimate this unique dynamic and the potential it has to take us to new levels in our businesses. We may understand that family and friends are about relationships, but mistakenly think “business is business.” The fact is, even in business, relationships rule. Think for a moment about two salespeople: one is a friend and one you’ve never met. When it comes right down to it, you are most likely to buy from the one you know. That is the foundation of relationships. Next week, we will look at how to have great business relationships.

This week we take a closer look at the importance of friendships.

As I mentioned earlier, friendships are the second-most important relationships we have in life, second only to family relationships. We do well to place a high emphasis on friendships and their positive role in our lives.

Here are some important thoughts on finding and developing lifelong friendships.

Choose your friends wisely. Remember, your associations, your friends, have an effect on you. The character flaws that your friends exhibit, if you spend much time with them, will inevitably begin to work their way into your life. An old proverb says, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” Your friends will be the primary influencers of who you are. Understand that there are two parts to influence: influence is powerful and influence is subtle. You might not let your friends push you off course, but you might let them nudge you off course and not even realize it. So pick good ones. It is also true that if we surround ourselves with good friends, we will see their positive aspects rub off on us as well and make us better people because they are in our lives. So surround yourself with people who have something of value to share with you. The impact can be significant.

Commit time to your friendships. One thing I have noticed is that we tend to go through stages in life where the pendulum swings too far in one direction. One example of this is when people get married, they tend to spend very little time with their friends as individuals. Now, of course our families should take priority, but many times we end up neglecting friendships that could and should be meaningful and beneficial to our lives. No matter what your time commitments, whether work or family, be sure to set aside time on a regular basis for your friends. If you are married, both of you should give the other time to spend with friends. Your partner will be better off, as will your marriage. You will also set a good example for children who need to see healthy adult friendships.

Balance fun times with meaningful times. Friendships have a tendency to be centered on entertainment or fun, especially for men—going to sporting events or doing outdoor activities. Those are good, but they also need to be balanced with making sure we have good, challenging and meaningful times, too—good discussions and thoughtful times. This is what rounds out relationships and friendships. Now we know the opposite is sometimes true with marriage relationships—we get so tied up in the mundane or the “important” that we often forget to have fun. So monitor your friendships and make sure you are getting everything you can from them.

Remain loyal. So many times we let friendships go too easily, yet the best relationships are those that last for long periods of time and remain through tough times and good times. Too many people today have a tendency to avoid their friends who are going through hard times, but I believe we become better people by remaining loyal. This is character building at its finest. Now, sometimes your friends will not be loyal to you, but you can remain loyal, because it’s not based on their loyalty, it is simply a decision. Plus, there is something good that happens when you stick it out. Now, obviously, I’m not saying to support harmful or illegal behavior—that is an entirely different subject and would require different guidelines. But, in general, when times are hard, be loyal. When friends aren’t loyal, be loyal.

Let your friends be resources. Our friends are tremendous resources, and they have so much to offer us. They have strengths we don’t have. They have insights we don’t. Too often, we have these tremendous resources around us and we fail to get all that we can from them. Now, make sure this is a reciprocal benefit and that you are bringing your best to the friendship as well. So often we try to do it on our own, when we could have others help us shoulder the load. Go to your friends and ask for their help and insights. Let them help you.

Care for your friends. One of the things that has happened in our highly mobile society is we have lost our ability to care for those around us. In the past, people lived in the same neighborhoods for decades; everyone knew each other and cared for each other and their children. When someone was sick, the neighborhood pitched in and helped out. This falls to families most of the time, but now many families live thousands of miles away from one another. Therefore, friends are the ones who can do such a great service for one another by providing that net of care around each other. Life is tough sometimes, and we need good people around us to help out. This is, as the saying goes, what friends are for.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

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