Growing up we moved quiet a few times during my formative years. It seems like I was always the new kid at school. I guess with so many fresh starts that through the years I learned a lot about the kind of company you keep.
I used to think that as the new kid, I was the one in need of a friends. But one day I realized that some people go their whole lives without ever discovering a true friend. I decided then and there that whatever other people might one day say about me, that the best thing they could say was that I was a true friend.
When I was sixteen I read an older edition of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie (it’s still on my the shelf over my desk today). To simplify and summarize the book, I learned that winning friends was really all about being a friend. So I set out to be a good friend to the people I already knew. I asked questions, listened to stories, and shared positive insights into my friends’ lives. It’s amazing what you will learn about people if you will just ask questions, listen and actually care.
Every year while I was in college, I looked around and made a list of people that needed a good friend. I made it a point to find time to be in the Laundry mat, cafeteria, library, etc. at the same time that they were in order to have an opportunity to ask good questions and listen. At that point the caring part came pretty natural to me. It’s hard not to care once you have heard someone’s story.
As the years have gone on, I’ve gotten close to several people and had several best friends. I wish I were able to be closer to everyone. Unfortunately geography and busy schedules have cause some friendships to wane in intensity. (In reality you can only keep 3 or 4 good friendships going at once… with all my heart I wish it were more).
Being a good friend is a combination of things that is really just one thing… like pie, several ingredients make up the whole. 1. Ask good open ended questions and let your friend talk. 2. Listen and ask follow up questions like “how did you get involved in (whatever they are most passionate about).” 3. Care, genuinely care. Your friends need to know that you care.
I hope all goes well on your pursuit to being a good friend.