How to find them and when to let go.
Once a month I travel from my home in southern Georgia to Indiana, my home state. On every trip, I stay over outside Nashville, TN with one of my closest friends, Kay.
As we shared a meal recently, telling stories and recalling the past, I was struck by the beauty of our relationship and the blessing it is in my life.
I’m not someone who easily makes friends. I tend to be quiet, keeping to myself when I can. It’s the stance of a person who’s been trounced by someone else’s drama one too many times. It’s hard, because I love people. I want others to be happy, though I learned long ago I cannot make another person happy. Still, I try to share my happiness and enthusiasm for life wherever I can.
My mom used to tell me I would be fortunate if I had one very good friend in my life. Of course, she also told me not to trust anyone. It was confusing as a kid, do I trust or do I not? I can’t have a relationship without trust, so friendships were a little dicey.
As I got older, I realized my mom had been sharing her own experiences and attitude toward life and with people. Thankfully, my life is different than hers. I have excellent friendships with several people.
I love this quote by Jim Rohn. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
After seeing it a few times, I chose to apply Jim’s statement to all my relationships, including people I considered friends. I found most of them contributed as much to our relationships as I do. There was one I had to take a hard look at. In the final analysis, it was clear I needed to cut ties.
My benchmark is simple. If people lift me up or encourage me to reach for more (within reason), these relationships are contributing to my well being and I to theirs. If I have to significantly drop down to reach another person’s level, we may be in each other’s lives for a season, to learn a lesson or two, but eventually, one of us either stays up or down.
The trajectory of our growth should mirror that of our relationships. We either grow or go our separate ways. It may sound a bit harsh, but we only have so much time on the planet. I want to spend mine working toward a better future for those coming behind me.
You are as healthy as your relationships. When was the last time you evaluated yours? What are you striving for? Do the people you spend the most time with contribute to your goals? Do you contribute to theirs? Is it time to make some changes? How do you know? I’ll answer these questions and more in my upcoming series on relationships.
Robin Aldrich is the author of Bootstrapped! Creating a Small Business on a Budget. Robin founded the Boomerang Business Project in 2015 to help other small businesses thrive through personal and professional development.
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