What is a "friend"? Let's talk about real connections, not social media connections. In this blog post, I ideate on the concept of friendships and why I believe one of the secrets to happiness is to keep my circle small. This is a topic I've hit on multiple times because I have found it to be one life's Truths.
Friends – how many of us have them? Friends – ones we can depend on Friends – how many of us have them? Friends – before we go any further, let's be Friends - Whodini
My cousin Javier, who is living it up in England, introduced me to hip-hop when I moved from Puerto Rico to the states and it has been an integral part of my life ever since. I remember him teaching me the different artists and the different styles, but I felt something different when he popped in the cassette tape for Whodini - Escape. I immediately started dancing, popping and locking (as a small kid would) and felt an immediate connection with the music.
For those hip-hop fans like me that go all the way back to the 1980's, we remember Whodini for their funky rhythms and rhymes. A few of their hits were "Magic's Wand," "The Freaks Come Out At Night" and "Five Minutes of Funk." However, the one hit that was sneaky profound was their major hit back in 1984, "Friends."
My father, my teacher for street smarts and how to read people, always preaches the importance of understanding who is a true friend to trust and count on and who is not. Coming from the 1950's - 1960's streets of Puerto Rico, he was very strict about who was an actual friend and who was someone to watch out for. He could read energies from a mile away and determine someone's intentions by looking in their eyes. He continues to preach about keeping your inner circle tight and true.
I talk a lot about my father and his homies. I literally lived it. For some reason, my father brought me to his hangouts, with all the swearing, the machismo and the vulnerability they showed around each other. His friends were like a brotherhood. So much so that I call them all uncles. However, through all of these observations were hiding the true value of "friendship" that I wasn't seeing.
Many times we confuse "friendship" for proximity. What I mean by this is that you create a click from the homies you went to school with, maybe the ones you balled with or those that you hung out with in the neighborhood. But proximity does not equal friendship. I learned this the hard way and many times. Personally, I can be too trusting. When I meet someone new, I always find their best qualities and look for ways we can connect on a personal level. This has caused me to miss red flags and only see the flowery qualities that resonate with me, leaving me vulnerable and susceptible to getting burned. Multiple times, and even today into my 40's.
At least in my case, how many times have you thought you clicked with someone only to abruptly and swiftly drift apart? Is that the definition of a true friendship? Of course not! Shouldn't friendship be some related definition of complicity? Especially when it comes to beliefs. Haven't you left a hangout thinking, "they just don't get me"? What exactly does that mean? That's what I'm exploring here in this mediation. If they don't get your humor, then guess what? THEY'RE NOT YOUR FRIENDS, HOMIE!!
Some you grew up with, around the way And you're still real close to this very day Homeboys through the Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall And then there's some we wish we never knew at all - Whodini
Jack Canfield, in his book Success Principles,discussed a move to Phoenix while he kids were still young. Quickly after getting there, while they loved the beautiful scenery, they didn't have any meaningful friendships. His wife recommended that he get to know some of the schoolmate's dads and start to connect.
Jack did something totally different, and amazing. He posed the question, "If I am going to bond with them for only the fact that our kids go to school together, that's not a relationship I want to be in." Which is very interesting because this is exactly how I feel. I don't want to go to a kid's birthday party to hang out with his dad, have a few beers and connect on a superficial level, if any connection happens at all! I would prefer to be more selective, which is what Jack Canfield did in this story. He decided to go where he would normally go and naturally meet people there because it was then that he knew for a fact that they had at least one thing in common.
I'm gratefully to be early into fatherhood, but I have already bumped into this. There have been several times when I thought I had made a true friendship with another kid's father, only to have them sever all ties because my daughter did something childlike to his daughter. That's absurd! Think about it. If we were true friends or a true relationship was forming, we would get beyond anything, especially child's play. I mean, these people faked to be our friends only so that their kid can be my kid's friend. That is both wildly ironic and sad. And in my recent awareness, is how the majority of us live our lives. Making friends dispensable, completely tarnishes the word and devalues YOU. This is not a way to live relationships.
Some are ok, and they treat you real cool But some mistake your kindness for bein' a fool We like to be with some, because they're funny Others come around when they need some money - Whodini
I found it very interesting that on my recent newsletter, I posed a mediation around this exact subject. Here is what I wrote:
As I endeavor towards my audacious life and business goals, there will undoubtedly exist haters and detractors. Some of them will be well-meaning, just that they are coming from their personal fears and experiences. This is why I continue to surround myself with friends that will lift me up and improve the quality of my life. Who is in your circle?
My friend and mentor Peter Fioretti advised me recently to surround myself with people who are not only successful by my personal metrics but who are also hungry for growth. The core of the message is to design my circle of influence around people that have a burning desire to improve themselves spiritually, physically and emotionally. At this stage of our awareness, the finance part is secondary. This would ensure that the majority of the people that influence me are all doing so from a place of abundance and not lack and fear.
You are the average of your 5 best friends. This is a fact. In every way. Spiritually, physically, relationships everything. What this exactly means that these people will have the greatest amount of influence over you. This is another Truth I have come to find. While you're seeing them through the lenses of whatever story you tell yourself, the fact is, these people will help determine how and what you think about. That is powerful. That is scary.
You are who you surround yourself with.
Another friend and mentor, Don Wenner, told me about the 100-pennies analogy. Now, I've come to learn that this is a very famous Al Capone quote. But regardless of the source, his lesson is this: the dollar represents you. The cents represents those with the greatest influence over you. Would you rather have 100 pennies around you? Or would you rather have 4 quarters around you? Quarters are bigger and worth 25-times what a single penny could be worth. Try to relate this to your sphere of influence. That is what we get when we just amass a group of friends together without being intentional around who should be included. Do you want have 100-pennies being interchangeable, yet influential over you?
“Be careful who you call your friends. I’d rather have four quarters than one hundred pennies.” - Don Wenner (or Al Capone)
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